Monday, August 29, 2016


There was a time, I guess
I admit, (though maybe not)
when I was a little lost. Age
18, on my own, completely
new place, nothing to go on.
Some weird school to start
at, with a biography I'd nearly
made up. One looks for the
wind then, to see what it's
blowing in perhaps. I was
never one to be swayed by much,
yet I watched everything,
just trying to learn. And
survive. Strange combination,
but that's how languages
get invented. Was I going
to live up to my own made-up
biography? Was that even
valid? Or feasible? What
had I done, and to what
was allegiance owed? It
seemed, I decided, that
sometimes, after all efforts
and work, you're sometimes
left with a pile of nothing
and it's the kind of nothing
which drives you forward,
impels, pushes  -  under
the dark, black night of
the sky wherein you can
no longer see anything yet
of which you dream myriad,
countless depth-of-field
stars as thick as paste and
feathery light in the sky;
and you wake up, or think
you do, remembering, the
vivid sensation of galaxy
and stars and planets and
constellations. And that's
all anything is.
You see, by getting into
the Studio School, as I did,
with basically a feigned
storyline of my 'deep' study
and interest of Art and its
theories, I now had to produce
all that. It wasn't that I had
'faked' it all  -  I had the
paintings and my own
self-taught modicum of
knowledge and technique,
and, yes, a worldiew and
that went with it (you'd not
find a better example of the
'wild crazy-man outlier artist
16-year old type' anywhere),
but it was all pretty much
to no effect. I was what I
was, and in many respects
just carried the unlearned
aspects of caring about
nothing at all. I suppose a
lot of kids do this anyway,
writing those crimped and
effusive college-essays
about themselves and 
their month in Ghana 
feeding water to the poor 
and shelving food, to 
show how it's made them 
a better person and one 
more willing to learn and all
their goodwill and glorious
ideas so they can get into
Brown or Cornell, and half
of it's always bullshit anyway.
All I ever took away was
'nothing matters.' How
deep could that be?
Only then do you wake up
and see the real situation:
over Manhattan you're lucky
to see ten stars, more or less.
A passing gift of Moon, maybe.
All the crazed Manhattan
extremists, of course, are
running around as if they are
the world's greatest Druids
or something. They'd do better
worshiping a lightbulb. There's
no conscious reason in such a
place to even have a sky, but
for the planes in it. Having
already sundered most of the
connections with the cosmos
and having long ago agreed
to put all that aside as if it
no longer existed, part of
the bargain is to ignore it,
not elevate it. There has
been erected instead, and
in its place, a physical
constellation of cold, hard
objects and specifics, in
which the people living are
worried more about parking
than darkening, worried more
about right than light. 'There
is no sense in the senselessness
of space,' I heard it told. One 
time, some late October night,
beneath a very full moon, I
well remember a crew of 
Manhattan witches, Druids,
Satanists, Nature-Worshipers,
whatever, at their temporary 
encampment, with a few trucks
and vans, over an entire weekend,
for their 'ceremonies' : bonfires, 
chanting, music, dancing, all 
beneath midnight darkness and
light, a strange and an enticing 
scene. I watched for hours.
They allowed anyone outside 
the circle. All I saw, just 
beyond them was the shiny
night-glare of the Hudson 
River, reflecting the light 
from above  - a strange, 
celestial shining I couldn't 
place. Their bonfire, quite 
large, threw its own bizarre 
orange and red and yellow
light everywhere, elongating 
shadows cast and bringing 
them to live as people
danced around the flames. 
It could have been another
world I was in and I was 
mesmerized and so far 
away in mind; transformative 
Nature indeed. Why, I had
to wonder, were the most 
bizarre and diverse groups 
of Nature-addicts here in 
one place where Nature 
had nearly been already 
obliterated. Once or twice
before I had seen things like
this, Tompkins Square Park, 
and another, with chicken 
heads or something, a 
bunch of Dominicans in
a rocky grove up by 
Morningside Heights or 
somewhere up there. 
A friend had taken me. It 
was hard to read all this 
primitive and nature-religion 
stuff, to sense where it was 
coming from, or bound to.
But then I began saying why
not? What else is any other
religion anyway  -  primitive
stone and War-God Iron-Age
worship, no matter what. The
only thing, now, that calms it
all down and keeps it steady is
the stuff we MISTAKE for
religion : the rules and 
bureaucracies and layers of
rubric and priesthoods and the
rest. It's all just the secular crap
that we react to, and no real
smidgen of any 'religion' or
its magic is left. So I drew 
strength from that which I 
could, and moved on. 
Sometimes I pissed in the 
streets. Good old gold H2O,
as the bums told me. One 
guy, I called Henry Swallow, 
(no, not that, I was way too
young and naive to have 
even thought of the double 
meaning) like the bird, he 
would just run on with 
stuff  in a singsong way  
-  weird lines of anarchy 
that almost made sense.
'Curvy ants try anything 
once, don't stay too long
at the soda fountain. Find
a bus to sit in for it's all
that simple. Battered ruined
broken bare ruined choirs
where the sweet birds sang.
Count the fires, catch the 
liars. Don't fish in waters
filled with acid, fish the
golden H2O.' (Yeah, that
again). 'Nothing in the 
world changes except 
the level in the gas tank.
Fill 'er up again, be on
your way. Where did he
leave the car? Didn't Lenny
Bruce discover cancer?
Ding dong the witch is 
dead, which wicked witch 
is the witch that's dead?'
There's more, but they get
boring. A few times, other
guys told him to shut up,
but I always somehow 
enjoyed it. I used to think
about what level of misery
makes a different reaction 
for different people  -  each 
of these street vagabonds, 
as much as they were alike, 
were often quite different 
too. To some of them the
sadness and sorrow was 
right to the core, while 
others, probably in much 
the same boat, were elfishly 
funny and chattering around, 
always darting this way and
that. What cold it have been. 
I wondered? 'Been to the zoo,
been to the zoo, the Studebaker 
flies at night and the chattering
monkeys are dangling
 from their poles.'
So, before this one closes out,
here's this weirdly checkmated
short tale I wrote one night drunk
in the Fishburne bar and only
jut recently found again: 'THE
STONE EATER - The man who
eats fire, the mighty mother
and her son, they who bring he
Smithfield Muses to the ears
of the kings OH STRANGERS
of all the ages and the quick dance
of colors and lights and the din,
what the voracious city devours
it must eventually disgorge. Isn't
that why chemistry passes by us, 
rubbish and excrement or why'd
God give us rivers? No more, my
young man, no more  -  we are
far too many and things are 
made filthy and clogged,
but what can we do about
it anyway except to think
back to not too long ago 
when the wooden bridge
over Canal Street drew 
hundreds an hour drawing 
water for the community 
pumps there, and the men 
and the hoses would water
and stop to slumber and 
drink and snooze and 
nary an errant Injun ever
stopped who didn't recall 
those wonderful 
days of old.

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