71. STAY HERE
(PIETIES AND PLEIADES)
It was like a million miles of
departure and no getting there.
That sounds awkward enough
but it pretty much sums it up.
I'd go to sleep at night, dreaming
about something, and then wake
up to realize I was IN that dream
here too. There wasn't much of
anything to do about any of it,
but just go. 'Keep on keepin' on'
or whatever that rock and roll
claptrap was. I couldn't very
well bay at the moon.
There were stars, by the way,
galore. Infinite cosmos, dark
black jewel, stars spread like
wild-fire throughout. All those
junky cliches rang true here. I
could see why any ancient man
would have lived an entirely
different life, and willingly. It
made you feel, right off the
bat, a part of something really
vast. There was one time, my
cousin Chris and her husband
Danny, came up to stay with us
for a number of days. It was
whatever period of the summer
it is when the Pleaides, or some
named-group of shooting stars
pass through our night sky. We
threw a blanket down on the
midnight ground and just all
stayed in place, watching the
Heavens above us in silence,
ripping along its steady and
very numerous passage of
brilliant shooting stars way
above out heads. It wasn't
even 'above' by the terms
we know. It just was, and
we were there, as humans,
just a part of it. It spoke to
us, and took us part of the
way with it - those Pleaides -
on that weird, long cosmic
journey through the space
of no space. Anyway, it put
me smack dab in the middle
of my own new information
highway. Being. Place.
Non-Being. No Place.
No one else around there
seemed to really give a shit
about anything at all. I have
to be honest here. Anything
at all except cow manure,
farm work, and all the usual
niceties of living that keep
things safe. Not a word ever
out of line. The usual gibberish
of pieties and good wishes. It
takes a strong man to be weak,
I guess. Or a weak man to act
strong. I don't know how that
went, but there was one time it
was a missionary-message. The
local Ladies Aid Society, and
that Reverend McKnight guy
again, their idea of a restful.
educational, afternoon was to
have some African missionary
guy in, with slides and pictures -
always a smarmy, white, preacher
sort of do-gooder with massive
helpings of zeal - to give a talk
about his missionary work in the
old African bush. Yeah, that one.
Save the natives, Lift them up
from ignorance and poverty.
Give them sneakers and clothing
and probably television and Burt
Reynolds too (his road or racecar
movies were big at this time,
whatever they were titled). This
guy would talk on, show pictures,
talk some more. The ladies would
ask questions. I only went to two,
and I was bored stiff in ten minutes.
First off, I could always swear
these guys were gay (back then it
was all different and secretive, but
I swore to it). They had different
and rusticated reasons for doing
what they did, and I was sure
they weren't really leveling with
anyone, Jesus-bound or not, and
all these ladies were so naive as
to let that part of this entire skein
of crap pass right by them.
Then he'd preach. And then, to
ice the cake, they'd always
start handing something out,
expecting a buck or two back,
of course. One time it was a
supposed little piece of some
gemstone that was local to
wherever the guy's mission
was in Ghana, or somewhere.
That didn't set too well with
me, for a number of reasons.
First, for this preacher guy to
be placing a value on a 'gemstone'
which was probably toiled
over and mined by some poor
sucker getting a penny a day,
or some slave-labor deal, just
so this preacher guy could
exploit and taunt his preaching
to the enslaved and ignorant
masses, while someone else was
making big bucks off the labor
and he was telling them they
were so miserable because they
hadn't yet been converted to
his version of psychic reality.
To me, that was Colonialism by
another name. It wasn't so much
'taking care of' people, or dispensing
needed medicines or help, digging
wells or whatever. It was a whole
other thing entire. It was already
organized enough so that money
was to be spent flying this guy
and getting him to various locations
to preach up the 'cause'. Which,
frankly, was ridiculous and was,
right then helping no one. Sorry
on my part, but I saw it as
duplicitous prattle. You have
to remember, that my seminary
years, before this, had been
initiated with somewhat the
same premise in mind. African
missionary work. So, it was all
probably as much anger and guilt
as it was intellectual objection.
But, as I said, no one talked about
anything vital out there, so I kept
it all to myself. I did go home
after the second one of these
and pen a scathing essay about
what I'd witnessed (the gem one),
but I never sent it anywhere. It
was pretty horrible anyway
('They proferred us with gems,
and tinkling-sounding phrases.'
That's a quote from it. Ugh!).
There was a place over in East
Smithfield, along the way out to
the Milan turnoff, actually, called
'Kennedy's Country Store.' It was
a cool place, a mishmash, a jumble.
They had everything all stuffed
in there. It went from Mad Magazine
to Pennsylvania Farmer, to 'Ram'
the then latest album by Paul
McCartney, to Eastertime chicks
and ducklings for sale. Kerosene.
Gasoline. Coats and hats. Wire
and nails. Candy and snacks.
That's from where we got
started with our ducks and
geese and yard-fowl. Yes, an
Easter-time get'em started thing
for the little boy to check out.
Once things arrived, they grew,
and nothing really ever left. Dogs.
Cats. Raccoons. In that house and
at that location, most everything
stood an equal chance of being a
pet. Hotel Gar. Animal Spa on
the way to Nowhere.