Darkly Devotions

Lyric prose meditations that play with elements from evangelical Christianity, Buddhism, yoga, reiki, Tarot and “weird voodoo shit.”

~by Cindy Clem



Opening Exercise:

Salvage or buy a spare computer keyboard. This will be your means of communicating with one of the following (your choice):

your future self or lives
your past self or lives
yourself in an alternate universe

Every day, type something into the keyboard and press “enter.” You could ask a question (“Why does art make me anxious?” or “Where was I 2000 years ago?” or “Where am I now, really?”). You could type a prediction (“Today I will find a quarter” or “I will meet someone from my future yesterday.”). You could type a command (“Remember!”) or even an affirmation (“I am and have always been a confident woman who stops eating when she is full.”). Type whatever you would like to say to yourself in any of your lifetimes or universes, even if you don’t believe in other lifetimes or universes. Watch and wait.

Today’s Passages:

“That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after.” ~Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

“It all had to do with time. ‘Time can be overcome,’ Mircea Eliade wrote. […] It has to do with the loss of amnesia; when forgetfulness if lost, true memory spreads out backward and forward, into the past and into the future, and also, oddly, into alternate universes; it is orthogonal as well as linear.” ~Philip K. Dick

A Memory Story:

It feels like only yesterday when someone told me I was a nun. I have no memory of being a nun, but as teenager I watched Agnes of God and a movie about cruel nuns who shaved a novice’s head so hard it bled. I read Mists of Avalon. I wished I could train with the Aes Sedai in the White Tower. I wanted a monk friend. I wanted a boyfriend, too, but didn’t get one, and several times over the years I thought to myself, “I might as well be a nun.”

It has to do with that which has been, being. I am told I beat myself. I am told I ran from God, and I remember, listening, an image of myself sprinting away from the hand in the sky moving toward me. I lie in bed at night and see that I have done these things: beat, run. I have made myself bleed, picking at the skin around my fingers.

Time can be overcome, wrote Mircea Eliade, a man I cannot remember meeting. I will go to the nun. I will remove her wimple and stroke her hair. I will tell her she is not new. I will tell her to let herself be caught. Remember, I say, you who will come after.

Exercises to Spark Anamnesis[1]:

  1. Hold your eyelids open all night.
  2. Watch Battlestar Galactica.
  3. Watch Lost.
  4. Get hypnotized by a past life regression therapist.
  5. Read Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis. Pretend that you wrote it.


[1] Anamnesis: recovery of lost knowledge from past incarnations; “In Dick’s more Gnostic understanding, it also implies the recollection of the soul’s origins beyond the fallen or occluded world.” (Glossary of PKD’s The Exegesis, eds: Pamela Jackson & Jonathan Lethem). In other words, all of your lives become present tense. It may be felt as revelation or insanity.



Cindy Clem received her MFA in poetry in 2005 and has been writing non-fiction ever since. Her poems and essays have appeared (magically!) in Mid-American Review, The Normal School, Prairie Schooner, Memoir (and), Superstition Review, The Interrobang, Spittoon, and Michigan Quarterly Review (forthcoming).