Fragments of the Vanished Ones:

S o n g s  W r i t t e n  o n

F u n e r a r y  O b j e c t s


1) embroidered around the collar of the DRAGON TABARD


Radiant but silver-eyed and aloof

He humbly received his father’s throne.

He raised up altars and made offerings to the sky.

He raised up altars and made offerings to the mountain gods.

He raised up altars and made the offerings of living beings

To the rivers and the streams.


2) written in the border of a WEAVING WITH PHOENIX and DRAGON


The Golden Dragon

Dwells in the hidden tree

That holds the earth and sky apart,

That is the resting place of thirteen suns.


The phoenix,

Unconscious as a rainbow

Dives upward

Through the leaves and branches of  the sky.


3) painted on the back of a SHIELD WITH SMOKE AND WATER


Where is she;

Her small feet dancing,

Her small hands holding offerings

On upturned palms?


4) embossed around the edges of a GOLD CLASP with OJO GRID


The old slaves, sisters

Seized far off long years ago,

They have served her.

The sisters have bathed and dressed her.

They have oiled her hair.

They have watched,


5) stitched across the inner lining of a WATER TRELLIS DRAGON’S ROBE


Even a mountebank has a moment

When beauty transforms him.


“This verse was etched on the grave stone of a magician, reputed to enable others to see spirits. He was brought to court by the king. He gave the king give many foul tasting brews which made him ill. But, the King, rose from his fever and deliriously danced across the floor as if he were a god. When the King recovered, he remembered nothing. The magician was executed.”


6) embroidered on the collar of HAWKMOTH TABARD


“The King gave the master of the hunt a robe so beautiful that all envied him. Later, during a hunt, A jealous courtier shot the master of the hunt with an arrow through the heart. He claimed that he thought he had aimed at a golden pheasant.”


8) embroidered across the collar of an OJO TABARD



The new consort looks down

And shyly smiles.

Oh she blushes.

Oh how we are charmed.


7) stitched in the inner lining of CLOUD ROBE


The blind weaver felt the movements of the sky,

Imagining range on range of white mountain clouds,

Snow rising in the air.


Her clattering shuttle

Echoed like sure footsteps as she wove.


The king received the robe she made.

He held it silently, then had it hidden.

“No human,” he said, “can wear it.”



Contributor’s Notes: Douglas Penick was a research associate at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, studied and practiced under Tibetan Buddhist teachers for 30 years, and wrote and taught on Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese and Indian religion, history and culture. He wrote the National Film Board of Canada’s prize-winning two-part series on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Leonard Cohen, narrator) and the libretti for two operas: King Gesar (Sony CD w/ Ma, Serkin, Ax et. al.) and Ashoka’s Dream (Santa Fe Opera) with composer, Peter Lieberson. He has received grants from The Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry and The Graham Foundation and is the author of three volumes from the Gesar of Ling epic. Shorter works have appeared in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Malaysia, France (Parabola, Bombay Gin, Descant, Contrary, Agni, BODY, Cahiers de L’Herne, Hyperallergic, etc.) Short performance pieces have been done in Canada, Israel, Germany, South Africa. My novel about the 3rd Ming Emperor, A Journey of the North Star is available from Publerati. His new novel about spiritual adventurers and their disappointments, Dreamers and Their Shadows, will be available now.