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Original Poem: "Never Poke a Rough Beast" with Commentary

Updated on November 1, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, and taking a creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my growing interest.

Mold Man


Introduction and Text of "Never Poke a Rough Beast"

How many times in our lives have we metaphorically "dodged a bullet"? Probably more than we wish to count. It is human nature to do all we can to forget about the bad past, live for a pleasant today, and create a good future.

Sometimes, however, while counting our blessings, we might be reminded of things in our past that we wish we had never done and people we wished we had never met. Of course, as the old saw goes, "Hindsight is 20/20." And once we can view the past from a good safe distant in the future, we can breathe a sigh of relief that things were not any worse than they were.

For example, suppose you went through a period of time engaging in a relationship with a truly nasty person, yet at the time you thought s/he was swell, fun, and even kind. Somehow, by the grace of God, you managed to escape the clutches of that nasty person and then from a good distance you could look back see what a terribly immoral, wicked, and utterly duplicitous individual s/he was.

The advice given in this piece comes from an attempt to reconnect with such a mendacious individual. After one has forgiven bad behavior, one would possibly refriend such a person, as long as the relationship remained a distant one, possibly based simply on some shared interest such as literature, politics, or coin-collecting.

However, if that individual then raised his/her dirty fist against you, you would be of the mind that one should "never poke a rough beast from the past," or s/he might turn against you and rend you to pieces.

Never Poke a Rough Beast

Never poke a rough beast from the past:
Likely, you will find yourself ambling
Among tombstones in the rain
Through a ramshackle garden
From which you fled
So many years ago.

Out of that moldy drizzle, you emerged.
Into healing waves, you progressed.
From a death-star specter, into the life-breathing spirit,
You returned, grateful that the Unsensed Force
Had directed your return home,
Where poetry could spray forth in joy.

Never poke a rough beast from the past,
Unless you are willing to be singed
By the bile spewing through his forked tongue.
Unleashing his aggressions, he is rabid
To strangle you with his tangled verbiage,
To erase you as he covets your triumphs.

Never poke a rough beast from the past—
The present will secure your future
As you walk in Spirit.

Mold Man in Art 1



Making poetry out of mistakes likely constitutes the bulk of the confessional lot of doggerel. Versification and drama offer the soul a place to flutter about as it approaches the landing field of light.

First Versagraph: The Same Snake

Never poke a rough beast from the past:
Likely, you will find yourself ambling
Among tombstones in the rain
Through a ramshackle garden
From which you fled
So many years ago.

You poked. He recoiled, and struck. Why? Because he is the same snake you ran from years ago. You could continue but you are not that stupid. You do not want to find your heart and mind scuttling along dead briars on the way to perdition.

Tell the garden to calm its hemlock. Brains in the rain can become smooth. Harbors in the dust can split rocks but think no longer on the "rough beast"—the past is a dead letter. He was jealous of all you possessed while he sucked and sniveled, split his brain into marbles of fading chalk.

Amble on. But do not ramble in the shade too long. Move on. Dot your eyes and cover your tees with the branches of forgiveness. Krishna is blue and you will die on the same branch where His sacred soul moved on to Heaven.

Second Versagraph: Mr. Mold Man

Out of that moldy drizzle, you emerged.
Into healing waves, you progressed.
From a death-star specter, into the life-breathing spirit,
You returned, grateful that the Unsensed Force
Had directed your return home,
Where poetry could spray forth in joy.

Rain is life-giving unless the life it is giving has forgotten itself. Mold is a smell you will remember. Mold on his jacket, in his hair, in his eyes, covering his ears, moving through his fingers, sliding down his back, entwining his legs with mold, and the nearly visible smell of mold.

Why did he smell of mold and somehow I did not notice? No, I did notice, but instead of looking, I just overlooked. Over-smelled, as it were. Yes, he smelled like mold. One of this bimbos described his smell as like her grandmother's house—no, dear, unless your granny's house was full of mold.

Thank you, "Unsensed Force," from delivering me from the left coast, as I traveled back on the bus, I lucked out not to be arrested for the pot in my purse. A two day trip, stopping at cafes for meals.

The joy of leaving a mold-infested, subhuman, snake-like man is enough to brighten my heart any time I happen to think back. Of course, I will soon not need to be thinking back. You, Mr. Mold Man, are dead to me, dead to me, dead to me. And one day soon when the last cell of my brain jumps on that thought with both feet, I will leave forever any last thought of the Mold Man, that sucking, sickening mold man, who'll be burning, burning his Mold like a pile of autumn leaves that has a hard time catching fire but once they do, they are gone, up in smoke.

Third Versagraph: Verbal Garbage

Never poke a rough beast from the past,
Unless you are willing to be singed
By the bile spewing through his forked tongue.
Unleashing his aggressions, he is rabid
To strangle you with his tangled verbiage,
To erase you as he covets your triumphs.

No one willingly brings on and abides the shifting mental state of the wicked, who promulgate havoc with their very beings. No one endures long the "bile spewing" filthy tongue of the vile aggressive bloated egomaniac. No one can miss the danger of being strangled by the grab-bag of putrid tendrils stringing from the faithless brains of the lying liars of the world.

They will strike at your heart and mind, as they aim their venom at your soul. Your soul was not made to be singed in the acid of dark hearts, steeped in blackened minds that ramble in the sewers of hell.

No one willingly covets erasure at the hands of the devil's own spawn. No one willingly relinquishes accomplishments and singular triumphs to the rump wind of luciferian subterfuge. Playing in the valleys of despair wipes clean the chalked slate of promiscuity. The soul will shine, will shine, will shine under the sun of love, trust, hope, and faith.

Fourth Versagraph: Making a Spiritual Effort Now

Never poke a rough beast from the past—
The present will secure your future
As you walk in Spirit.

The future is secure for the one walking in faith. Leaving all rough beasts in the past where they belong, leaving the poking stick to the blazing fires of calmness, leaving all thoughts of rough beasts in the realm of burning might, leaving every stick of darkness to the bold fires of heaven, leaving the left-minded, brittle-brained Mold Man to his special place in Hades—all that leaving makes you both secure in the way of Zen: "The Way is not the way" means my way is not your way, Mold Man!

What the Mold Man does not know, he will learn after he begins to clean the mold from his fevered mind, clean the mold from his tortured heart, clean the mold from his beleaguered soul. Let him poke himself to a roused spectacle of disease, where he may become free at last. And for yourself, learn this lesson well: never poke a rough beast from the past.

Mold Man as Cartoon


Linda Sue Grimes at the SRF Windmill Chapel


Life Sketch of Linda Sue Grimes

The following original poem captures the tranquility of my favorite meditation place in Los Angeles, California, the Windmill Chapel at Self-Realization Fellowship's Lake Shrine.

The Windmill Chapel

In the temple of silence
By the lake, we sit
In stillness, meditating
In divine Bliss.

Returning to our daily minds,
We walk out into the sunshine,
And the flowers greet us.

The Literary Life

Born Linda Sue Richardson on January 7, 1946, to Bert and Helen Richardson in Richmond, Indiana, Linda Sue grew up about eight miles south of Richmond in a rustic setting near the Ohio border.

After graduating from Centerville Senior High School in Centerville, Indiana, in 1964, Linda Sue Grimes completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in German at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, in 1967. She married Ronald Grimes on March 10, 1973.

As a writer, Grimes focuses on poetry, short fiction, politics, spirituality, and vegan/vegetarian cooking, which results in her original veggie recipes.

Literary Studies

Although music was her first love, Grimes considers herself primarily a literary specialist as she creates her own poetry, studies the poetry and literary arts of classic writers, and writes commentaries about classic poems.

However, Grimes does continue to express her love of music by writing her own original songs, which she records, accompanying herself on guitar or keyboard. She shares her musical compositions at SOUNDCLOUD.

After completing the PhD degree in British, American, and World Literature with a cognate in Rhetoric/Composition at Ball State University in 1987, Grimes taught English composition in the English Department at BSU as a contractual assistant professor from 1987 until 1999.

Publishing History

Grimes has published poems in many literary journals, including Sonoma Mandala, Rattle, and The Bellingham Review. She has published three books of poems: Singing in the Silence, Command Performance, and Turtle Woman & Other Poems, and a book of fables titled Jiggery-Jee's Eden Valley Stories.

Grimes published her first cookbook in the spring of 2013, titled The Rustic Veggie-Table: 100 Vegan Recipes. She is working on a second cookbook and her fourth book of poems.

Currently, at Owlcation, Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple) posts her poetry commentaries. On LetterPile, she shares her creative writing of poems and short fiction, along with prose commentaries on each piece. She posts recipes resulting from her experimental cooking of vegan/vegetarian dishes. on Delishably. She posts her politically focused pieces at Soapboxie, and her commentaries focusing on music at Spinditty. Pieces on the writing process appear at Hobbylark.


Linda Sue Grimes has been a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda and a member of his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship, since 1978. A Kriyaban since 1979, she has completed the four Kriya Initiations, and she continues to study the teachings and practice the yoga techniques as taught by the great spiritual leader, who is considered to be the "Father of Yoga in the West."

Grimes practices the chants taught by the guru accompanying herself on the harmonium. She serves at her local SRF Meditation Group as one of the chant leaders.

Online Literary Presence

In addition to the contributions of her literary works to Owlcation, LetterPile, and SOUNDCLOUD, Grimes also curates her original creative literary pieces at her literary home, Maya Shedd Temple, on Medium, where she features her creative writing without commentaries. Grimes also maintains an additional online presence on Facebook and Twitter.

My Spiritual Journey: Why I Am a Self-Realization Yogi

"By ignoble whips of pain, man is driven at last into the Infinite Presence, whose beauty alone should lure him." –a wandering sadhu, quoted in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

Introduction: Salvation Is a Personal Responsibility

I am a Self-Realization Yogi because the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, who in 1920 founded Self-Realization Fellowship, make sense to me. Paramahansa Yogananda teaches that we are immortal souls, already connected to the Divine Reality, but we have to "realize" that divine connection. Knowing the Great Spirit (God) is not dependent upon merely claiming to believe in a divine personage, or even merely following the precepts of a religion such as the Ten Commandments.

Knowing the Creator is dependent upon "realizing" that the soul is united with that Creator. To achieve that realization we have to develop our physical, mental, and spiritual bodies through exercise, scientific techniques, and meditation. There are many good theorists who can help us understand why proper behavior is important for our lives and society, but Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings offer definite, scientific techniques that we practice in order to realize our oneness with the Divine Power or God. It makes sense to me that my salvation should be primarily my own responsibility.

No Religious Tradition

I did not grow up with a religious tradition. My mother was a Baptist, who claimed that at one time she felt she was saved, but then she backslid. I learned some hymns from my mother. But she never connected behavior with religion. My father was forced to attend church when he was young, and he complained that his church clothes were uncomfortable as was sitting on the hard pews.

My father disbelieved in the miracles of Jesus, and he poked fun at people who claimed to have seen Jesus "in the bean rows." My mother would not have doubted that a person might see Jesus, because she saw her father after he had died. My mother characterized my father as agnostic, and she lived like an agnostic, but deep down I think she was a believer after the Baptist faith.

Here’s a little story that demonstrates how ignorant about religion I was as a child: When I was in first or second grade, I had a friend named Caroline. At recess one day at the swings, Caroline wanted to confide something to me, and she wanted me to keep it secret. She said I probably wouldn't believe it, but she still wanted to tell me. I encouraged her to tell me; it seemed exciting to be getting some kind of secret information. So she whispered in my ear, "I am a Quaker."

I had no idea what that was. I thought she was saying she was magic like a fairy or an elf or something. So I said, "Well, do something to prove it." It was Caroline's turn to be confused then. She just looked very solemn. So I asked her to do something else to prove it. I can't remember the rest of this, but the point is that I was so ignorant about religion.

The Void in My Life and My First Trauma

Looking back on my life as a child, teenager, young adult, and adult up to the age of 32, I realize that the lack of a religious tradition left a great void in my life. Although my father was on the fence regarding religion, he would listen to Billy Graham preach on TV. I hated it whenever Billy Graham was preaching on TV. His message scared me. Something like the way I felt when my father's mother would come and visit us, and when my father would let out a "Goddam" or other such swear word, she would say he was going to hell for talking that way. I was afraid for my father. And Billy Graham made me afraid for myself and all of us because we did not attend church.

I never believed that things like swearing and masturbation could send a soul to hell. But then back then I had no concept of "soul" or "hell." I believed it was wrong to kill, steal, and to lie. But I'm not sure how these proscripts were taught to me. I guess by example. It seems that I had no real need for God and spirituality until I was around thirty years old.

My life went fairly smoothly except for two major traumas before age thirty. The first trauma was experiencing a broken heart at age eighteen and then undergoing a failed marriage, after which I thought I would never find a mate to love me. But I did meet a wonderful soulmate when I was 27.

Heretofore I had thought finding the proper marriage partner would solve all my problems, but I learned that my difficulties were very personal and at the level where we are all totally alone, despite any outward relationships.

The Second Trauma

A second trauma that added to my confusion was being fired twice from the same job at ages 22 and 27. At age 27 things started to make no sense. And it started to bother me intensely that things made no sense. I had always been a good student in grade school and high school, and I was fairly good in college, graduating from Miami University with a 3.0 average. That grade point average bothered me, because I thought I was better than that.

But then not being able to keep my teaching job and not being able to find another one after I had lost it very much confused me. It seemed that I had lost touch with the world. School had been my world, and my teachers and professors had expected great things from me. But there I was at age 27 and couldn't get connected to school again.

Feminism and Zen

I began reading feminist literature starting with Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, continuing with Ms. Magazine, and many others. The result of taking in the feminist creed led me to believe that I had someone to blame for my failure—men; men had caused the world to be arranged so that women cannot succeed outside the home. I began writing again, an endeavor I have sporadically engaged in most of my life from about age sixteen. I decided to apply for a graduate assistantship in English at Ball State University, feeling that I was ready to get out in the man’s world and show it what a woman could do. I felt confident that I could succeed now that I knew what the problem was. But that didn’t work out either. I finished the year without a master’s degree in English, and then there I was, confused again, and still searching for something that made sense.

I had heard about the Eastern philosophy known as "Zen" at Ball State, and I started reading a lot about that philosophy. Zen helped me realize that men were not the problem, attitude was. I kept on writing, accumulating many poems, some of which I still admire. And I kept reading Zen, especially Alan Watts, but after a while the same ideas just kept reappearing with no real resolution, that is, even though the Zen philosophy did help me understand the world better, it was not really enough. I got the sense that only I could control my life, but just how to control it was still pretty much a mystery.

Autobiography of a Yogi

Then in late 1977 on one of our book shopping trips, I spied a book, Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, and I recommended it to my husband, because he liked biographies. I purchased poetry books, and we purchased the autobiography for him. He did not get around to reading it right away, but I did, and I was totally amazed at what I read. It all made sense to me; it was such a scholarly book, clear and compelling. There was not one claim made in the entire 500 plus pages that made me scratch me hand and say "what?" or even feel an uncertainty that this writer knew exactly whereof he spoke.

Paramahansa Yogananda was speaking directly to me, at my level, where I was in my life, and he was connecting with my mind in a way that no writer had ever done. For example, the book offers copious notes, references, and scientific evidence that academics will recognize as thorough research. This period of time was before I had written a PhD dissertation, but all of my years of schooling had taught me that making claims and backing them up with explanation, analysis, evidence, and authoritative sources were necessary for competent, persuasive, and legitimate exposition.

Paramahansa Yogananda's autobiography contained all that could appeal to an academic and much more because of the topic he was addressing. As the great spiritual leader recounted his own journey to self-realization, he was able to elucidate the meanings of ancient texts whose ideas have remained misunderstood for many decades and even centuries.

The book contained a postcard that invited the reader to send for lessons that teach the techniques for becoming self-realized. I sent for them, studied them, and I have been practicing them since 1978. They do, indeed, hold the answer to every human problem.

I know it is difficult for most educated people to believe that all human problems can be solved, but that’s because they get stuck in the thought that they cannot. If you believe that you can never really know something, then you can’t, because if you believe that you can never really know something, you won’t try to know it.

Yogananda gives a map with directions to reaching God, and realizing that one’s soul is united with God brings about the end of all sorrow and the beginning of all joy. Just knowing the precepts intellectually does not cause this realization, but it goes a long way toward eliminating much suffering. The faith that we can overcome all suffering is a great comfort, even if we are not there yet. I realize that God is knowable, but most important is that I know I am the only one who can connect my soul to God—and that is the spiritual journey I am on.

© 2018 Linda Sue Grimes


Submit a Comment

  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    8 months ago from U.S.A.

    Thank you, Lori! It is always satisfying to create a drama and fill it with colorful words, thoughts, and sentiments. Sometimes the cathartic ones continue to ring in the ears long after their completion.

    You mention you'd like to see more of my poems. I do have three published collections available on Amazon. And here is a list of titles of my poems with commentaries here at HubPages:

    Original Poem: "Red Holiday" with Commentary

    Original Poem: "The Barking Dog of Karma" with Commentary

    Original Poem: "Alex as Artist" with Commentary

    Original Poem: “Liberal Mud“ with Commentary

    Original Poem: "Song of Silence" with Commentary

    Original Poem: "Lovers in The Poet's Garden, Arles 1888"

    Original Poem: "A Book of Frost" with Commentary

    Original Poem: "The Terrible Fish" with Commentary

    Original Poem: "Power of Color" with Commentary

    Original Poem: "Funky Notions" with Commentary

    Original Poem: "Not Content to Languish" with Commentary

    Original Poem: “My Divine Beloved“ with Commentary

    Original Poem: "Autumn in Our Backyard" with Commentary

    If you'd like to read only the poem without commentary, I have placed many of those from the above list on Medium accessible at

    Again, thank you for the comment and kind words. Always love hearing from you.


    Linda Sue Grimes

    (Maya Shedd Temple)

  • lambservant profile image

    Lori Colbo 

    8 months ago from Pacific Northwest

    I loved your poem Sue, I would like to see more. Lovely. The message I could so relate to. Dredging up the past is a poor exercise of time, and angst. Blessings.


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