States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Tulpa’ by Kia Groom

from the Tibetan meaning 'to build' or 'to construct'


In 1992, Alice made a Tulpa.

Carry an amulet. Kiss its three sharp corners. Shine.

It began subjective, but with practice could be seen: imagined ghost that flickered in the physical world, a sort of self-
induced hallucination.

Recall the chalk clouds. Recall the scent of symbols scratched on motel walls. Remember rising damp, the face in the mildew who told you

             do not be

In time the vision grew – Alice talked to Tulpa, Tulpa started

                              talking back.



On the bedspread, summon your sixteenth birthday. Snuff candles, ask. Re-write time & split unopened jacket, tied with coils of braided hair.

Look at it – wish artifact. Wish perfect. Wish this skin, unbroken.

& suddenly, she'd see it summoned
against her will & bathed in fire
light, or else at foot of bed, this figure
staring, formless mouth
with words all of its own.

To make a Tulpa, carry books to bed. Lie on your mattress & dictate your woes to furniture. Lie & map imaginary houses.


Friends began to ask
                                           – who is the stranger in the house?
                                            – the man with amber eyes who slender slips into your room?

Map topography of bodies. Think: how will his paper limbs assemble into flesh? How will it feel with one half of the bed depressed?

The brittle shell of conscious conjuring had changed.

Hollow your head and light the neon Vacancy.

And with her will, Miss Alice made a monster.


Consider the shape of your hand as you teach yourself falling. Curl two fingers: beckon / closer.

A Tulpa is a phantom.
He is insubstantial.

Crown yourself with polished trauma. Balance amulet between your eyes & watch the dark soak through the floorboard cracks.

Students who succumb to fiction fail –

Kiss split plaster. Tongue holes in sacred symbols. Braid yourself, your ropes of follicles – restrain inside imagined houses.

they spend their lives in waking-dream, in half-hallucination.

Wait for tenants,
for an occupation.


Kia Groom


Kia Groom

Kia Groom

Kia Groom is founding editor of Quaint Magazine. The recipient of an Academy of American Poets award, the runner-up for the 2014 Judith Wright Poetry Prize, and a pushcart nominee, Kia's work has been published in The Mary Sue, Delirious Hem, and other blogs and magazines, as well as journals such as Cordite, Going Down Swinging, Westerly, Permafrost and Inky Needles. Her work is forthcoming in the Hunter Anthology of Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry and HYSTERIA: Writing the Female Body.

Social Profiles