Month: November 2014

Training Of A Zen Buddhist Funk

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2013. Acrylic on paper, 17 X 26″

Here is a story I wrote years back at a time when I knew I was burdened with the “element X”, but had no practice expressing it yet. It’s in Cookbook For The Poor, the only purchase that should ever be made on Black Friday. Please excuse the introduction in poor taste.

Training Of A Zen Buddhist Funk

What reaction will occur when a man mixes the following: One slice of fresh bakery pumpkin bread, two delicious cups of steaming hot coffee, and anywhere from the first to the fifth drag of a non-menthol cigarette? If all conditions are met, that is, if it happens to be a cold snowy morning in the month of December, temperature ranging between fifteen and thirty-five degrees Fahrenheit, and if there are precisely no disturbances manifest in the test patient’s psyche, for example, a heavy domestic burden, or a stress level reading at or beyond the “instant death by heart failure” mark, then what will occur 99.87% of the time is a true, pure, five and a half pound bowel eruption.
Ah, good morning! I like it when the snow falls. I like me when the snow falls. Penniless, but still possessing an adequate pair of boots; I walk with a leather backpack which carries all of my material treasures. I walk them through town, to the bakery, to my friend Scott’s tomb, or to work. These are the places I travel to nowadays.
I also like reaching into my pack while listening to men converse about money. Respect for money. I am trying my damnedest to respect human beings, but it is so difficult.
This is what I am thinking about. A row of pine trees on a still December afternoon. The snow falls ever so lightly. The silence it creates is deafening. Presently I am here at the bakery listening to the pine trees grow in a woods that I visited as a little boy, and I am loving the emptiness of it!
Men don’t need to talk—not to each other anyway. A good silence is poetry. The right word spoken is magical. Human eyeballs are enough stuff for miracles to happen. A look—just a look,  then back to work. Nothing needs to be said about it. I say speak good English, but seldom speak. Fall in love with silence, the sound of pine trees growing, or something of the sort.
The snow is now blowing and falling fast. The temperature is steadily dropping. Serious men look hilarious with winter caps on their heads. In my mind’s eye, they are turned into children instantly. I know that deep down in the bottom of their hearts they would rather be sledding. The insurance racket can wait, or whatever racket they are in. Steep, fluffy hills, and hot cocoa waiting… Stuff a premium where the snow don’t fall.
Even though I could piss on the job, a cook’s life can be a free one. More snow fell. Just enough to give this morning a new look of white. As I was about to leave, I asked my girlfriend for a small bunch of cloves; whole cloves would be nice. She wrapped them up in plastic and tucked them safely in my thick green army coat. While crossing West Park, I fell into a deep satisfying muse. Kicking my dirty work boots through the snow, heading for the kitchen with the scent of cloves about me, and an intention to buy cheesecloth… Who felt freer than I?
If I am going to take the advice of the ancient masters, then I will have to keep strong under every circumstance. Stay to the path as the hurricane flies. Why are people who appear to be so close to me, so far out of reach? It is as if I have been rudely tossed into the rapids of a gushing river and I am grasping at the thin air for something to grab hold of, a log or a tree’s branch that will save me from drowning. There are people in my life whom I love so dearly, but I cannot come to them. I love them, but it is impossible for me to swim.

It is 9:00 a.m. I have been to V.’s for the keys, and in the short time it took for me to walk from the bakery to work, a thousand nonsense thoughts have already passed through my brain. Do you see why I have to accept myself? For no friend of mine, man or woman, would be allowed by me to waste such precious time. What happens? I think that one part of my brain takes over, and it has its fun, but then the other part is always at ready, impatiently waiting to attack. It’s ridiculous! The “high” thoughts versus the “low” thoughts in a duel. Neither will ever win. There is no point to their fighting. Still they fight, to the end I guess, or rather, to the “neverend.”
Why would I want to be alone with myself? I think that I am the most disagreeable person in the world. I sing the same stupid love song over and over, and then I have the nerve, right in the middle of “Oh my love…,” to think of a foolish Zen monk selling his precious pan and bowl. While on the bridge looking out over the gray water below, my thoughts pass over to my favorite football team. Will they win today? I hope so.
I am a schizophrenic. Or I am a miracle, depending on which way you look at it. I can hear the departed masters speak as they watch over me from the clouds. “We see you Ron. We think that you are wonderful. No man bound for greatness has ever been so tolerant of mediocrity. You are mediocre mister, and you can thank the good Lord for that!”
Last night I told Joe the dishwasher about how much I despise mediocrity. He never even heard of the word. I told him what I thought it meant. He asked me if I liked being conceited. Me?
Never! This is why… This is my life right now. This is my hour, the hour of man. It is man’s potential that is awesome—not his automobiles. This is the hour of man, but where does his energy flow? I’ll tell you where. To TV divorce courts, to new apartments or houses, to coffee and cigarettes, to spoiling and neglecting children, to new sneakers and shoes, to picking up garbage, to cleaning up counters, to pricing out curtains, to endless bickering, to enormous paychecks thought to be measly, to alarm clock snooze buttons… This is the hour of man, but all I see before me is mediocrity. Humanity at large has become dumb and I am rolling in the middle of it, holding my belly and laughing like a fool. Joe, I am not conceited. I am
mediocre.

“The main problem with the cook will then be to make the best possible use of the food material given to him for the maintenance of health among the members of the brotherhood.”
—From Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk

I would rather not think about the mess I got myself into. Or is it a mess? On the road of life it seems that I have come to a dead end. Must I accept this and come to a complete stop? Should I cover myself with a warm blanket and make preparations for the winter to come? Or do I attack at the roots of trees, quack grass, box elders, and plow myself a new road? What a contrast! My job and the monk’s silent course.
Strange, but in this seat I feel blessed. Why? Maybe because I can greet two opposing faces of life in the same manner. “Hello, how do you do?” But then there lies the constant fear that I am warming up to the one and ignoring the other. I know that I will continue to waste food as long as I believe my arms and legs to be as perishable as six-day old cod. And I must accept the fact that my brain is scattered. An onion is more stimulating than a movie entitled “Kick-boxer III,” but why? My problem is that I cannot give an honest answer. Women and children are being raped in mall parking lots. It’s Christmas time thank God! One must make a clean break from this world in order to come back to it. In this respect I am full of the Bodhisattva. However, I have also been known to stuff a flounder or two. Deep fry or set free? Or do both? Comprende?

Now for the soup… Oh yes, where was I? Price Chopper—supermarket extraordinaire. I grab the cheesecloth in aisle five and proceed to work right on schedule. I know that the prep list is light so I will have time to create the most wholesome soup ever. The cloves in my pocket will be the secret ingredient, the perfect spice, a little fairy dust to enhance my creation.
Through the kitchen door with a turn of the key. Thank God the alarm did not sound off. The police can sleep. Now begins my thirteen hour day. Click! On with the oven. Click, click! On with breaker numbers five and seven. Fill a pot of water for the potatoes. Soup on the brain… Stuffing too. I believe that utter silence will be the catch for the day. Poetry will be our special. I wonder if people think that I am crazy. I wonder if my own family thinks I am nuts. Especially when I talk about cars and their grave danger. I realize now that no one worries about himself and that frightens me silly. While washing navy pea beans I think about cars and the sinister technology that goes into their making. “Screw the macrocosm!” are the words that I hear calling from Detroit and beyond. I am worried about my home and family. I believe that I do everything I can to prevent our children from acquiring lead feet and trigger fingers. I worry about the fragile guts of my own child strewn across some foreign road.
I send the wife and kids out on a rainy day. I wave good-bye. There they go, to parts unknown, or to well known points some thirty miles away. (Only thirty minutes away in modern automobile time/distance measurement.) And in this manner they will soon get all of their work done properly. I say work, but it can just as well mean gossip or playtime; for the great risk may be taken to visit an aunt or pick up raisins at the store. The right store of course. The only expense is life, if that be the case, which is highly improbable. Or is it?
Car wrecks are modern day massacres. There is no other way to look at it. And we are the executors, the murderers. The sweet ease of the automobile is a quick ride to nowhere, dead or alive. Eventually they come home all hugs and smiles, and I’m not so quick to say, “Are you out of your mind?! What God has given you the eternal pass to zoom across the landscape like a storm?” Instead, I fall back into a pose of acceptance, denial, or ignorance, it doesn’t matter. How easy it then becomes to forget the history of walking. By golly, have we ever known one? We are the super fools born unto the super highway. We are so fortunate to have been granted the car as an extra appendage. Artificial yes, but it moves like the Dickens. Dangerous as hell, but we have important business to take care of, right?
Our culture is no culture. You see, Emerson believed the human life to be too long. And for God’s sake, he walked! “Nathaniel, we must get to Cambridge fast. Let’s make a day of it. We’re both wearing good shoes; each of us has a strong pair of legs… We’ll stop by the roadside and pick apples from the trees. What do you say? Life is unnecessarily too long.”
I have been on long walks in the past. For the most part they were walks for the sheer adventure of walking. A perambulation. I admit that driving may get you there in a tenth of the time, but walking will take you to heaven and back. It is a religious experience. One reason why America is void of any healthy culture, I believe, is because we are ignoring the fact that we have legs. We walk to and from the car, but seldom do we walk without it. How good it feels to arrive somewhere on your feet and not in the lap of a two ton metal monster. One feels warm, intelligent, vibrant, hollow, wonderfully empty when he finishes a walk. He has unknowingly self-administered a kind of spiritual enema. Lovely.
It is my opinion that walking is a miracle which nobody wants to believe in. All of the miracles are dead or dying. It doesn’t matter if one feels good or bad. The objective is to get there on time, or quicker.

With the beans carefully washed, I let them begin their slow cook. Into a pot they go… A big pot! Place it on the burner and set the flame at medium. There… Now for a bouquet garni. For this I use the cheesecloth that I bought at the food asylum up on the hill. Place bay leaves, thyme, fennel seeds, and cloves onto a piece of cloth. Wrap the cloth into a ball and tie up any loose ends. Toss into the pot. Meanwhile, begin the tedious process of peeling about twenty or thirty garlic cloves. Toss into the pot. Cover and set simmering for about an hour. Salivate and then get back to work.

“Everyone calls her hole girl because she has a hole in one arm.”
“I’m trying to get her skirt up her legs.”
“Thank you sister for the beautiful skirt you gave me.”
“Look at my beautiful skirt!”

This is how my daughter spoke to her doll last night. Children are enlightened. They are of a higher spiritual class. Many grown-ups put on a great show, but without any spirit. However the children of this land unknowingly follow in the footsteps of the Buddha. They are packed full of spirit. They are alive with joy! Unlike their parents, they are not enslaved by the masters confusion, sorrow, and despair.
So I am grown up, and my brain is a cesspool. What can I do about it? I took my B-complex; I tried to relax and breathe deeply. Yet still, last night I was so wound up that I thought a blood vessel would pop in my brain. “The master knows how to divert his anger into a work of art.” This is all that a troubled mind can hope for. Are we going to be creative with our world? Or shall we be content with the destruction caused by tension, violence, boredom, hatred, anger…? The child climbs a tree, or sits down in a cardboard box and says, “Home in Africa.” The toasted layman like myself gets tense and cultivates a very dangerous ennui and disgust.
“If you need to go pee, that is all right,” says Rachelle to her deformed little dolly. While watching her these days I have begun to realize more fully the need, her need, for me to be a father. This is my life’s mission. To keep her in this natural, youthful world of color and fantasy. What can be so hard about that? Find the irrepressible urge to become aware. Feed her spirit with an open heart and a clear mind. Presently she is alive and living in a reality I’d much rather believe in. It is not her choice either. It is in her nature. It is corrupt natures that trample her spirit, or fight with the desire to.
I am alive, no less alive than she is. Maybe I am from a different planet, that is all. She is from earth, and I am from the planet X-4. We are first time explorers united in an unknown galaxy. The past is dead. The future has crumbled. Neither of us has surpassed the other in knowledge, wisdom, love, freedom…
Sauté onions and carrots in extra virgin olive oil. Toss in with beans. Chop up a few peeled potatoes and throw into the pot.
Simmer uncovered until beans are just right. Say hello to Brian, and fix lunch while you chat.
This season I feel my spirit electrified. It is aroused, uplifted, lighter than air, you know… jolly. I have this desire to write something spectacular, a masterpiece that will express my understanding of the stark presence of the day, but I am plagued with the thirty insecurities. I cannot “publicize,” or as my friend Larry would say, “prostitute” myself. And I don’t know why. For the way that I feel now, I am sure that my poetry will always remain personal. “I can see my breath,” or “The morning is sunny and cold, therefore I feel an emptiness such as never before.” How about this one..? “You can speak, but it will only make you appear more beautiful.”
Yes I am insecure, mentally. But physically I am dashing. No longer do I concern myself with such nonsense as worrying about which clothes to wear, or the purchase of a good shampoo. I am something though, have a look for yourself. Lopsided, pigeon-toed, balding, sometimes smelly, and struggling with the constant threat of halitosis.
Mentally I am strong compared with most men who are so apt to resign themselves to forces which are under their control, ex., money, house, spouse, job, boss, steak sandwich… But to God and myself I am a wreck, a confirmed neurotic. How is it then that I manage to stay afloat?
Laughter! Yes, the ability to laugh at such moments when those about me are biting their fingernails and weeping into their pillows. Laughter is the yacht which appears just in the nick of time to save me from drowning. This morning I was all cramped out, kicking and screaming, choking on seaweed. Now evening has come and I find myself seated comfortably in the smoking room of some luxurious sea cruiser. I am being served tea by a beautiful girl who is here for my pleasure, to aid in my recovery. Not bad. It’s real, believe me. The laughter is undeniably real.
I know in my heart that Jesus was not the serious bore that the history books make him out to be. If the holy spirit is to live in me, it must be known that on a moonlit night long ago, Jesus wrestled with Judas in the sand. They told jokes, played tricks, pissed the Romans off to no extent with their jeering, mocking, and straight forward shenanigans. Slapstick is an ancient art. I will have it no other way. If Jesus was so serious, then he must have been really funny. Hilarious even! For how could such miracles have been accomplished otherwise?
“I have the cables and the wire Ron. Joe’s bringing in the motor.”
“For the rocket?” I ask.
“Yea,” says Brian,“but we need an explosion. I’ll try to come up with something.”
“Right. Well, the soup is almost ready. Anyway, I turned it down. The ribs are timed, and I left the stuffed potatoes for you to do.
Adios amigo! Be back in an hour.”
The tree where I usually take my lunch is being winterized. All the leaves are dead. The snow has buried them. I’ll stay inside today. So I pick up my book, pour a cup of coffee with cream, and sit down to some delicious reading and an okay egg sandwich. The book is Hunger by Knut Hamsun. While reading through it I am remembering. There are a few matters here that must be dealt with.
My past and future are real. They are real ghosts. It is in the present moment where I find the flesh and blood me, and presently I am concerned with beauty. Particularly the beauty present in Hamsun’s book. It’s extraordinary! Mainly because it appears before my eyes as starvation, suffering, insanity, cowardice, confusion and death. These are the hues washed in his violent watercolor. Nothing at all rosy about this picture. Still, it is beautiful to me just the same.
“If a man only had a bite to eat! Bread—one of those marvelous loaves of rye bread that a man could chew on as he walked. I walked along, deciding on exactly the kind of rye bread that would be best now…”
I remember one day in particular, about two years ago last March. It was a freezing cold day. Like Hamsun’s hero, I was homeless too. The few possessions which I had left were kept in storage at a friend’s apartment. Unfortunately at the time, he was dealing with his own confusion to understand that I was in desperate need of a certain couple necessities of life. Food and shelter. What I did during those days depended upon the weather. My nights were never planned. To sleep became a luxury, and I swore that I would never abuse that luxury again, (if the time ever came when I would have the chance to abuse it). Sometimes if I was lucky, I would lay down in the basement of my old college dormitory. I would drop like a box of potatoes behind a bandstand in the corner of the room. A one man bandstand it must have been, for I couldn’t curl up enough to keep my feet from sticking out. I was in constant risk of arrest.
On this particular morning, however, I woke up on my knees under a pine tree by the lake. I could not feel my face—my hands and arms were frozen solid. To move them, I thought, would mean breaking my bones. The day was perfect. The sun was bright although the air was bitter cold. I waited for my blood to move and thaw me, and then I began another day of walking. I had just enough change in my pocket to buy a loaf of day old bread at the bakery. Of course it had to be rye bread, and of course I was starving. I remember buying the bread and protecting it under my arm like a football as I walked to the lake. I sat down on the dock and proceeded to feed myself as well as the many duck families who seemed to be in a worse state of affairs.
Scenes like this one are the stuff of poetry. They are the “ummphf!” which give meaning to life. A suffering man is the king of his race because his agony is true and honest. The picture he creates is timeless. He can fall into any century and feel quite at home because he has nothing to lose. Today, upon thinking of this one instance in my life’s epic, I am filled with a great peace, an impermeable joy. It is a picture that proves the immortality of man. It is a masterpiece. The sun, a man, and a loaf of bread. If I lose this picture, I lose my fortune.
“The rain had started again, and I could already feel water soaking through on my shoulder.” During this homeless period, I was fortunate enough to get a job here at the restaurant. Dishwasher. It was a minimum wage job, but I accepted it gladly. In fact, I thought that my ship had come in. I felt elated upon receiving my first paycheck, which was a trifle. I walked out into the rain to cash my check. The pouring rain. A decision had to be made.
I could use the money as an offering to Greg who would have gladly let me stay with him for a while. But then I thought about my shoes. It was hard for me not to think about them. They were destroyed, with holes in the bottoms, tops and sides. I had to wear plastic shopping bags over my socks to keep the water out. While walking in the pouring rain, I thought about the warmth of Greg’s house. It seemed so far away. These shoes were a disgrace, and my supply of plastic bags was running out. I was delirious. The cold water finally soaked through the bags on my way to the shoe store. My feet were snow white while I tried on my first pair of sneakers.
That night I made it back to the dormitory. It was still quite early so I was able to blend in with the college crowd, (the new shoes helped to ease my mind a bit.) I sank my bones back on the couch and put my feet up on the table. Suddenly, I felt a peace that was electrifying. My whole being was lit up with an uncommon joy. I sincerely believed that Ron Throop was the richest man on earth, and not only was he getting richer by the minute, but all of his wildest dreams were fulfilled, his loved ones were sheltered and secure for eternity, and he was in possession of a license from God which gave him the angelic right to live forever.
I never made it back to Greg’s. It would be another month or so before I had a bed to sleep in.

Do I want this job to carry me to the end of my life? Where does my energy flow? Is it being wasted? If I am a born writer, then why am I so limited in my ability? I believe this to be true: If Oswego is my fate, then I must make it my Mecca. If there is an epic poem to create, then I must find my muse alive on West Fourth Street. Here is where I am. If I cannot believe in myself, then what good will Paris, Boulder, or Mexico City have in store for me? Still, why do I feel so claustrophobic?
A taste of Henry Miller writing about India’s “helpless” millions: “Through their eyes I saw the desolation wreaked upon a great people. But I saw also that there are qualities which survive the greatest desolation. In their faces, as they related their experiences, I saw reflected the gentleness, the humility, the reverence, the devotion, the faith, the truthfulness and the integrity of those millions whose destiny baffles and disturbs us.”
In India I will find the key. In Harlem too, and Wales, Normandy, The Ivory Coast, Istanbul, Baghdad, Iwo Jima, Guadalupe, Syracuse—humanity thriving. There are men and women out there, somewhere, who make their living out of life. There are many more visible who punch life out, cut it up, and leave it in some stinking dump to rot away with rusty cans and used tampon applicators. Most men I know walk all over life; very seldom do they stop to pick it up. “What a nuisance! Not worth the time,” I hear them say.
If there was a general acceptance of life in this culture, fulfillment would seem to be an inborn trait. Accepting the lowest life forms should be an easy task for the higher ones. Understanding and practicing this truth would benefit whole populations. No such luck beyond my backyard, where wisdom, truth, and understanding rate low to bottom. We are void of any culture. We are plastic, artificial, and dirty. Our homes are stuffed with garbage. Our food is garbage too. The riches we accumulate will never be enough. If a wise man should follow the typical consumer home, he may discover a somnolent wife, lost children and a stupid dog. He will observe to his amazement how they instinctively switch on the dead colors, forms and images of the plastic box propped up like a Grecian urn in the middle of the room. It was created for their amusement; the colors come directly from the colorless brains of dead executives and corpse creators of Manhattan and Los Angeles. The families’ last supper is a can of cold worms seasoned with just a touch of BHT and hydrochloric acid. The children are fed cow vomit for dessert as their parents rush to hell and back while doing the dishes. The dog barks. Father swears. Mother goes into the shower to shave her armpits as the night comes falling…
O Ancient India, how far away you are! Sita, Rama, Ravana! Tom, Joyce, Harry, and Grit are the new heroes and heroines. But the jewels… Where are the god damned jewels?
And now back to the soup… For what it’s worth, I never take an hour on the bosses’ time. I like to think that I am honest, but really, I am neither more nor less crooked than a president or a priest. So I punch the clock in and out on time, if perhaps only to give the gesture, no matter how false it is, that I am honest. To each his own, I guess. Who’s keeping track anyway?
I walk over to the soup and stare into the pot. I have created a masterpiece. Half of it must be pureed in order to give it a mushy consistency which is the coup de grâce of all bean soups, as Brian would say. Then salt and pepper to taste and a handful of fresh chopped parsley. Voila! My work being done, I should be rewarded with praise and then sent home to start up the muse where I left off. But there is pain and suffering yet to come. The reward will be chaos, as any line cook knows and strangely appreciates. However, here it is different than most other places. We have been granted free reign of our domain. This is our kingdom. It is four o’clock on a winter’s day. Greg and Joe have entered the kitchen. Joe remembered his rocket motor. Blast off! The fools begin their wage dance.
I realize plainly that I put on a great show. No one can catch me in the act of acting. Even myself, which is so many different things, cannot be identified. There is no way around it. I am freer than I ever thought.
Imagine every living and non-living entity and non-entity that make up a day, all the flora and fauna on land and water, imagine the depths of the deepest ocean, the wave of human faces moving up and down an electrified street—imagine fire ants, banana peels, croquet balls, and toilet paper… This, my camerado, is yourself, as plain as the day and what goes into it.
No one is a lone character. The show must go on, yet every day, hour, minute, second, you may be called up to the changing room for a make over. It could be a drastic one; it could even mean dressing the part of a man who thinks he is so and so, made of this and that, but is not that man, nor another, or some other one.
Ron Throop, what are you? You want to have fun at this game, no? At least you have that going for you. You’re not sunk yet! Today your part to play falls under the category called “Romantic Cadaver.” You will be passionate, exciting, and poetic. You will croon for the ladies, dance, shout, laugh, and seduce them. All of this you will do with your eyes, your eyes! If a waitress happens to be surprised at your energy you are to exclaim, “I am mad about you, about life, about cooking, crapping, and taking out the garbage. I am the real man, the lover, the fool. What do you think?” But no woman will tell you what it is you need to hear because in her mind you are dead. You are a corpse handing her a plate of rice, a potato, a honey mustard chicken. To her your eyes are cold and dry. Eyes of the living dead. Today she must suffer through the standstill of your wake. She passes through the kitchen paying her respects. You jump about gesticulating like a freak, a real freak in love. However, your show is not her show. Your blood is boiling, but she’s sending out her condolences. Kill the dupe and wait for another girl to pass by—only next time a lá mode.

The TV has been “lifted” from the kitchen. So for entertainment we must rely on our own wits. We think of Sunday as our day of rest. While the good folks feed their fires on the holiday, we make many brave attempts to minimize our labor, just enough work load to create the illusion of work for our boss who is already half in the bag. We don’t pretend to have our noses to the grindstone. We are bad cooks and proud of it.
Presently Brian has his hands on an empty paper towel tube. He is trying to fit three plastic triangles cut from a cottage cheese bucket into one end of it. It’s worth the trouble to cover the line for him. He is much better than I at constructing rocket ships. I will cook and swear and exchange stories with Joe and Greg. The scientist should be left alone to his genius. Each of us will get the chance to sign our names to the finished product. Never worry. The egos here are practically obliterated.
There is something about our creating that excites me to a point of insanity. It is in this realm where my senses tend to rely on a poetic principle. I become uncommon. I voice a plea to my fellow man. Wake up! It is ridiculous of you to come here and eat. The cooks are building rocket ships and spilling your precious dollars on the floor. I think of your filthy sobriety and get the strong desire to throw up. I cannot be that bad, still, I know what I am capable of. Do you? You, the common man in America, senseless, avoiding the senses at all costs. Stone-cold sober, your workaday world confuses me to no end. Sober, even when drunk. You can shout, swear, make other kinds of meaningless warble, but with every effort to speak, you still are unable to prove to me that you are alive. You drink, you eat, you dance to the same old song. Your colors are all grays, some light, some dark. You possess no poetry to make you human. You speak and are stupid. You will die rather than smell, taste, or caress a woman. It is your plan to bark, drop down on all fours and hump her like a dog.
You, the common woman… You are even worse. Your senses are more alive, therefore you are almost numb. Your cheeks have some color revealing the fight left in you. A fight against the man’s comatose. You and your rosy cheeks. The battle is always lost. You must succumb. You lick yourself. You wait for him like a she-dog licking herself.
All day long I flirted with the idea of writing a poem to my woman, but I am empty. The only poems left are Zen poems and they are telling me that the poem is our life, do with it what we can. Zen poems from beginning to end. But they cannot be appreciated by speed or money. Hallmark will not print them. Men seeking love are not the right stuff for the front page news. And the TV won’t interview a man with a staff unless he is poking around for a dead body.
Maybe I am sick of cooking chicken marsalas. I think the vomit is the sauce and vice-versa. Brian spit in the Caesar Salad. A big wet gob of spit for the mayor’s wife. Alive Brian! Good for you, for us! The poem that I was going to write is a stillbirth. It is dead. I thought about it day and night for months, years, eternities, but it died before I could nurture it. Or better yet, I could not nurture it, therefore it died. There are no feelings to caress. There is no light which I can give to her. What I may feel inside of me I am unable to give away. I am not able to write or even paint to express myself. I can smile, but there is no meaning to that anymore.
I remember three years back when I had the wild desire to walk from New York City to Red Creek, some two-hundred and fifty miles. I wanted to live the poem written by an Indian woman that I once read to myself in a dream. The woman, a native of the land, was clearing out the harvest in the early autumn’s evening. Her love had been away the whole of spring and summer. She wondered if he would ever return. That evening she was to bring in the last of the crop that was drying in the sun. There was a light breeze and the sun was golden as it sunk beneath the mountain. She picked her head up to listen to the swallow’s song, and heard familiar footsteps in the grass. Her face lit up with joy as she dropped the bundle from her arms, turned, and closed her eyes for him…
I wasn’t so lucky. In fact, I was deceiving myself day after day. I was lost and pathetic. I walked fifty miles before giving up in Poughkeepsie. The rain fell from the clouds like lead pellets. No one was waiting for me. “You must walk!” I kept repeating to myself. “Walk you stupid fool! Sweat it out. If your legs become a burden, then cut them off!”
I remember walking over the bridge that crossed the Hudson. Under one of the high beams there was a big red phone and a sign with words that gave some desperate advice to the suicidal. “Don’t jump!” or something like that. I remember how the phone appeared so deeply red in the rainstorm. “Call us. Please call. Together we can avoid the trouble of fishing your body from the river. Jesus, don’t jump. Hang yourself instead. Shoot a bullet through your brain. Swallow poison. Anything but this. We hate to bring that big yellow crane down along the river. It gives the city such a morbid look.”
Love. Whisper the word so that only you can hear. It is obscene. Let the others gulp down their stale food. Tonight they will fatten up and make like dogs. Brian will spit in your salad and in that way, get his tongue into your intestine.
Eat! But eat well. Spend lavishly. Steal, lie—just don’t murder. Be an idiot peasant, a cockroach, a bad cook. Be all! Just don’t be a common man.
One more thing before I go. Whether you are in the act of creating soups or rocket ships, remember this: One can never use too much fresh parsley. If you need to pack a motor, pack in a full supply. Otherwise, if the engine is loose, your rocket will sway off course. And there is a very good chance that the six-hundred and thirty match heads and Sterno lighter fluid which were put inside the whipped creme capsule, will ignite over your friends instead of in the outer limits of the stratosphere. Still, the creation is your success. Even a flop can be a success.

White Bean and Garlic Soup

Serves enough

1 lb. dried great northern beans
½ gallon vegetable, chicken or beef stock (homemade)
4 head of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions
2 carrots
2-3 ribs celery
5 head of garlic
10 whole cloves
Bunch of fresh thyme
Bunch of fresh parsley
2-3 fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
10-15 black peppercorns
½ cup cream
Salt
Pepper

In large pot, soak the beans for at least 2 hours.
Add a bouquet garni of cloves, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and
peppercorns.
(This can be made by tying up ingredients in a clean, white cotton cloth, if cheesecloth is not handy).
Add ½ of stock and enough cold water to keep beans in liquid.
Simmer beans with herbs and spice until almost done (about an hour).
Halfway through cooking beans add peeled garlic cloves whole (about 20).
Add hot water to pot when necessary to keep beans at liquid
simmer.
Meanwhile, sauté neatly chopped onions, carrots and celery in
olive oil. Add stock and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
Add vegetables with liquid to beans.
Remove bouquet garni. Discard.
Borrow a hand blender or food processor, or suffer with own
ineffective implement to mash ½ of the bean mixture. Add this back to original.
Add cream.
Add chopped fresh parsley.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
You are now greater than your neighbor.

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First The Sun And Then The Moon Waxes Poetic The Radium-266 Superfly

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I learn something new each time I research the side effects of hydrofracking.

Radium-266 is bad for humans, but inspiring beyond words to its namesake mutant species “superfly”. All day and night the superfly sings lustily of days to come and gone by—the willow that stretched to the stars and cracked with the first big wind, the last rodentia to pack soil over a nut, pick its head up to the sun, and cough up a blood clot, the dreams of a mate to fly with over the lake counting the floating fish in the moonlight… The superfly is a poet and a visionary. He sleeps subterranean for seven years subsisting in a bath of charged radium ions. Then at pre-dawn on midsummer night he rises with the sun to sing the song of the world and find a sugar to cuddle up with for the long radioactive sleep.

It wasn’t enough to have a hundred toxic chemicals bubbling in a murky frack pool, so we opted for mining some well-known carcinogenics too.

With a three-year lease, Landowner Ted can now afford an F350 run on natural gas, a tiller with its own choke, and cash payments for his grandson’s chemotherapy.

And for the next 16,000 years Landowner Ted’s descendants cannot step outside without a mosquito netting cage. The superflies’ bite is instant death, and no pesticide can kill it.

Ralph Emerson Meets Eminem

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Trumbull Cemetery, Lebanon, CT

A week before Black Friday and the million man/woman march to watch Rome burn. You can Nero the end by turning away with a mediocre book read by firelight. The second edition of On Rainy Days the Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself is a fine tuned reminder of the sameness of civilization 12 years on. Meanwhile, an excerpt where Ralph Emerson meets the end of man (rated “R” for rat poison):

What is wise? Are wise men extinct? Emerson thought he was wise. He had a national following. And for good reason. His hundred and fifty year old wisdom still holds true. But it will never be enough until taped on the end of a stick, and sent running amok in a world gone wrong. Here, read it:
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle. There are as many pillows of illusion as flakes in a snow-storm. We wake from one dream into another dream. The toys, to be sure, are various, and are graduated in refinement to the quality of the dupe. The intellectual man requires a fine bait; the sots are easily amused. But everybody is drugged with his own frenzy, and the pageant marches at all hours, with music and banner and badge.”
Sorry Ralph, but now our world has become night and day. That lazy bean-sowing friend of yours, Thoreau?  He was right. But only part right, because he couldn’t keep himself away from men. And worse yet, he wrote about why he stayed, or couldn’t stay away from them. What business was it of theirs? Still, I wish that in your life you were half the man Thoreau was. Writing a whole lottocrap about self-reliance and letting them applaud you on and off their crude, manure-stink stages. Ah, go to the Devil Ralph Emerson! We need to be like Thoreau in his extreme. A man today must come to that end, or he’s simply no longer a “man” beyond the biology. No difference of heart or mind can separate him from our meanest citizen alive, unless he flee to the woods and remain out of sight of everyone. Retire in obscurity to befriend the raccoon, or revolution in the streets. I tell you it’s got to be one of these two things. Shake imaginary hands with the river rat or war with any population of men who cannot value the life of you or the river rat.
Lies, lies, lies! Emerson was right. I just changed Janie’s diaper, and understood the world of men to be a crying helpless baby wet and shitty with saffron colored digested mother’s milk. I tell Marie that the baby is lucky that this is a world without Doctor Spock. Otherwise, she’d be singin’ freedom songs from her playpen cell. And then I start to dance around the room with Janie singing, “Rocka my soul in the bosom of Abraham..,” I change the words a bit to make the situation more humorous. “O rocka my soul in the bosom of mommy…” And then, “Spit up my soul on the bosom of mommy…” Falling back into an even deeper, more plush pillow, I tell Marie about my fifth grade music class, when I imagined a slave baby being rocked by Abraham Lincoln, not the Abraham of Issac. I didn’t know the Jewish story. I had Alpha Bits for breakfast and waited for the yellow bus to take me to school. Then I played jump up and down with my little friends while the bus driver listened to the latest reek of news to blow in from the Middle East.
The situation is much more precarious than that. What does this ‘banner and badge’ crap even mean? The sots are easily amused… In 1847 the sots went to Fourth of July picnics. They were amused by a parade and the noisy bangs of Chinese exploding paper.
Folks, you must juxtapose. I like that word because using it properly, might drive us insane enough to make a difference.
So let’s juxtapose.
In the year 2002, how are the sots amused? You tell me. It must be understood that two to two billion people do not matter much if just one man or woman over fifteen years of age, has heard, and understood an utterance by a civilized human being.
Living in society means pajamas after thirty, slippers after forty, mother’s milk in infinite varieties of processed foods, local taxes, far away taxes, shoveling the driveway, watering the lawn, “the right way,” “the wrong way,” anybody’s way but your own way. Even the most expressive person cannot create without some major help from society. The painter must purchase the paint and flush the toilet. The writer writes at a desk and turns out the light. The dancer twirls on a stage, and rents a movie for later tonight. The musician bought a folding chair. He goes over the score while smoking a pipe and cleaning between his toes. It’s a piece by Beethoven because people in the twenty-first century have no idea how to play their own music on a log. God forbid that there is a fool somewhere who would take up the violin solely for enjoyment! No, for that he must succumb to a life of Beethoven and sweeping floors in a dentist’s office. Nobody gives a hoot about him or his violin, until he comes to the concert hall, dressed in his pajamas and slippers, reading a symphony that Beethoven wrote in his head while peeing on a wet log.
What good is a Beethoven? Any sot today can buy a CD at the world’s biggest mall. That is not beautiful. How can that be beautiful? Whistling “Erotica” from beginning to end while searching for toothpaste above the tampons, next to your favorite hair shampoo, is a destruction potentially wrecking more devastation than a nuclear bomb. The reason there are nuclear bombs is because of Beethoven. It’s all his fault. Not the man’s necessarily, but his music. How shall I prove this to you? Who do you think Beethoven wrote for? Us? Do you really believe he cleaned his stinky toes and washed behind his ears in anticipation of our appreciation for him? The notes go up and down to the rhythm of his boots avoiding piles on a street walk from piano to pie maker. He wrote for Claus and Heidi, his father and mother, Napoleon, any German lake, fish in the water and birds in the sky. Now the same man buying—(Listen, it’s always buying from now on. Nobody makes beauty. Sometimes we might put it together, but we must buy it first, already assembled or in pieces.) Now across from the man buying a Beethoven box set, stands another man in his pajamas holding an Eminem CD. For those of you reading in the year 2030, Eminem was a shrewd criminal brain who gained fame at the age of twenty for sipping his mother’s milk from a slipper, while rapping, “When the cops weren’t looking, I raped a pickup truck. And when I got through with that bitch, I rammed it up a duck….” Beethoven and Eminem. Finally! We are beginning to juxtapose.
2002. 1803. Emerson had his high thoughts about illusion. He would be the first to say that Beethoven was drugged with his own pleasure of music. And he’d be right of course, in 1845. Ludwig would be the intellectual type who required a fine bait. Besides the fiddler at the dance, the sots knew themselves to be the gifted music-makers. Music was made by the sots themselves. If they felt the urge coming on to sing, they sang. They laughed and cried in song, thought in song, stirred cornbread batter in song. They sang their songs. They alone were the living creators. Which of them was strong and lucky enough to climb over the Alps and get an okay to come inside out of the rain to hear Beethoven and his friends go “da-da-ta-da” with a score of washed musicians playing with their polished and finely tuned instruments? Maybe a thousand people in the world heard Beethoven while Beethoven was alive. And I promise you that the ears listening were the richest most uncreative morons of the early nineteenth century.
Don’t you see? Beethoven, like Emerson, existed in a higher state of sotdom. He wrote for music students and professors of music who had an “in” with the right paying society, the princes and princesses.
Now juxtapose Emerson today calling on Eminem and his mommy at their city house on a street. “What!” he will wonder inside himself while walking through the ugly of a Detroit or Cleveland, “Society has come to allow this thing and its mother Beethoven’s freedom?! Oh my God I am so sorry I did not see this coming. New York was bad. London was worse, but they all got theirs with a dish of the smallpox. I was so wrong to pursue my own illusion down such a straight and narrow path. What kind of philosopher was I?
Henry was right. I was wrong. Did that boy just say, ‘Yo fukamudder, washyoumakin’bigshit’boutRalphie?’ Did he just say that? My God, what is it?”
“Ma’am,” Emerson asks, “Did you make it?”
“What?”
“Did you make this thing?”
“You mean my son, mister?”
“Yes if you are not so ashamed to call it that.”
“Well, I gave birth to it, and it was such a sorry-lookin’ thing when I done it. But it was tough raisin’ him. His Daddy worked overtime most the time at the plant, and little Em here started calling me fudderfupper at a real young age. I dunno, two, three. We partied a lot those years. We thought that was something’ though, so we bought him a ‘Sing along with Beethoven Mini-studio’ at Montgomery Wards, and he just looked so smart singing ‘slap da bitch,’ and ‘bust ya face,’ that we thought genius like that should bypass maturity and concentrate solely on being stupid and ugly. This is a free country, ain’t it Mr. Emerson? You see, I know where you’re getting at, coming back from the dead and all just to interview our boy. You want to know how nuclear proliferation, and sick, twisted anomalies like my son here can happen in such a short time after hard tack and gathering fuel for the fire. What amazes you the most, and it’s no small thing I’m sure mister, is that some simple-minded daddy of two, and husband of one, can know about little Em from so far away in the February of a cold winter, upstairs in an old house that was built during your lifetime and only two hundred years after man had to dress up in a deer suit to get dinner. I agree mister, that is amazing.
“Yes madam. But tell me, where does a quiet, unobtrusive philosopher catch wind of such foul stinks like your son here? No offense.”
“Mister, the only offense I take is what little Em dishes out. He probably heard about him at his job—he has to have a job, mister, if he wants to live in society—And anybody who works today knows about Eminem. My boy has made quite a stir! Or, he might have heard them talkin’ about Em on the radio. National Public Radio most likely. Especially if your quiet man wears an old-fashioned Irish cap and has day and night dreams about money.”
“Dreams about money? We had a lot of that in my day too Madam.”
“No mister, not quite like us. It’s not the same thing.”
“How so?”
“Because I think if you was poor back then, you darned socks and sweaters and starved a bunch. Sometimes you might have thought it’d be nice to have money to stay alive, but you also dreamed about Africa’s wild elephants or sailing on a green sea in search of anything besides socks with holes in ‘em. Now money ain’t like that anymore. Even having a bunch of that can’t help us.”
“Why, is the cholera still a killer.”
“No mister. But my son is. Would you like to buy his CD? He makes ten thousand dollars every time he says ‘fuckdabitch,’ on live television.”
“No thank you madam. I think I’ll go start a fire in heaven. Maybe ravage that little Alcott beauty, stick a vein, or piss on the world. I thank you dear woman for creating that useless piece of horse crap of a son of yours. Good bye.”
“Bye mister. Watch your step on the stairs. Little Em leaves his Matchbox cars there all the time. I tell him not to, but he just laughs at me until I start to cry.”
What is the truth about Beethoven? Was he civilized? As civilized as today’s average monkey? He had to dress up in a heavy wool coat and walk to the concert hall if he was to hear one of his peers conduct a concert. That was his illusion. Snowflakes falling, an intricately carved cane donated by an admirer, and a musical walk down a busy street. The movement of many people. A pig in a box. A horse sneezing snot while trotting by. Firelight. Beethoven was every other man and woman, but different with the gift of concentrated illusion. He had a purpose and was praised for it. He had everything everyone had, plus one big thing: The desire to express thought, dream, history, happiness, madness, peace, beauty, and the galloping animal world of the black forest, through music. Beautiful music! Intoxicating music. Music to sooth the beast in us—not the beast to make the music—which is what happened not long after the death of men.
When did men die?
You tell me mubbafucka.

Stocking Stuffers for the Moral-nihilist

The Art Crazy Old man 36 x 48"

The Art Crazy Old Man Knows I Am A Phony But Tells Me To Keep Painting Anyway 2014. Acrylic on canvas 36 x 48″

If you purchase one or two of these literary masterpieces for loved ones this holiday season, all will be right with the world, my world, which is the only one that has ever mattered to a lightly gifted egoist. I will donate a percentage of profit to breakfast granola and a bag of country wine corks.

Just Another Stuckist in Oswego

Round Trip Stuckism

Capillary Reaction: Hydrofracking & Irrevocable Loss

December

Cookbook For The Poor

Moonlight In Groundspruce Woods

Leopold Courting Rose

On Rainy Days the Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself

Last Communion

From On Rainy Days

Two thousand-thirty-five years ago Christ was born in the land without snow. He was a dark baby who didn’t wear diapers. Christ was a baby and all babies live peace. Besides hitting his mother when he wanted her to play with him, he was very peaceful. Kings brought the divine child presents, not one of them a small plastic toy phone. A variety of presents, but not one that a child would want to play with. Frankincense and Mir? Don’t ask. Just receive and smile, smile and receive, and make sure the gifts are big enough not to get lodged in your new savior’s throat.
This Christmas more than one person will drive forty miles to purchase a popular candle holder. When my oldest daughter was very young, she was taught to give nothing besides love and attention, and occasional crayon drawings of devotion. Slowly, gradually, over the past couple years, Santa Claus has left her heart. It is only a matter of time before Christmas makes her deeply and hopelessly frazzled like the rest of us.
This Christmas I am depressed. I am out of the kind of work that writes you a check for the holidays. Joy has left my body. I have no way of knowing if I will ever be able to help support this family financially. And because of the money problem, I start to wonder if I am husband or father, or anything good at all. Money is the sickness of our hearts. It is the sole cause of any depression that exists where no tragedy has occurred. Because of money I did something yesterday that I thought I would never do. I went out peddling my books all over three counties. I took a day to do it. I had to ask my wife to take off from work. I had to borrow a car. It had an American flag attached to the back window, and anyone who knows me at all, knows it would take a miracle to get me to drive about town waving that red, white and blue blasphemy.
I drove it. To every bookstore and library in Central New York. By the end of the day I sold to three stores and involuntarily donated one set to a library. I walked up to the head librarian embracing my precious books. He received me quite cordially. Of course, then I expected him to escort me over to the money box and pay me for my efforts. Patiently I waited while he talked about the lack of arts and culture in the Mohawk Valley. “One bookstore,” he complained, “in a county of 250,000. Can you believe it?” Yes I thought, but here, let me put my hand out again, palm up, and hope that you get the hint. Nothing. Instead he stepped into his office and came out grasping the local swap sheet, suggesting that I advertise my books with the used cars. Then he offered me a book signing, but recanted, saying that in the past those only worked well with children’s book authors. Then I imagined that he would prefer to ram the heel of his boot against my skull rather than pay me the paltry sum necessary to justify my existence as a writer. Culture or no culture. I should have killed him on the spot and fished through the petty cash box myself.
Now the thought of peddling my own books was and is a personal nightmare. Total desperation made me do it. Man will succumb to anything when the money is tight enough to almost starve. Except work at a dollar store. No. I won’t do that. So what if an offer has already been made…? No. I will very calmly open up an artery before dehumanizing my existence at a dollar store.
After a day driving in and around Syracuse New York, I discovered the worst hole in all of the world to raise a sane family. You drive around for a full morning in it, penniless, in a borrowed car and see for yourself what an incurably sick and twisted, groaning hell of a city it is. Two of the bookstores on my list of ten were abandoned. Two more sold only pornography. Two were consignment, and the second one of these wouldn’t take my books unless he could get the whole set for fifteen cents.
Yesterday I lived the life of a traveling salesman in America. Except I was selling a product which I made myself. Of course one couldn’t eat my product—strike one. Nor was it something quite like holly leaf wrapping paper sold at a huge profit for charity. Strike two. Encyclopedias might have brought better luck, if I went door-to-door with the volumes I researched,  wrote and published myself. Strike three and out. Actually lying prone in a basement beside a gassed Willy Loman.
A few years ago my chef left the restaurant business to peddle oyster crackers for an upstart company. Up before dawn, he drove his car over two hundred miles every day except Sunday. Boxes of light, airy oyster crackers stacked to the ceiling in the back seat. He peddled throughout a business world that he convinced himself was in sufficient need of better oyster crackers. The best oyster crackers. In fact, over time, he couldn’t understand how restaurants stayed in business without his delicious oyster crackers in stock.
Once he got me to chew them, while he stood at my side waiting for affirmation. Holy God, the ironic, blind arrogance of despair! Every time he said “oyster cracker” I envisioned spiraling rounds of slow-motion bullets bursting out the back of my skull. His behavior was beyond delusional. It was insane, maniacal—an oyster cracker…Jesus Christ! Yet I played along, chewing for his benefit, although at the time I felt like striking him down and stuffing his mouth full of oyster crackers. He wanted to sell them to everyone. He was preaching the Word about oyster crackers. Each book that I wrote and got published, no matter what value its content, was written with the dreams that appear while walking alone at night in fear of death. I collaborated and created with the body which houses my soul. It was all that I had then, and all I have now. For $12.95 I will share its story with you. That’s all the Word I know.
You say sure? As long as it’s told over a bowl of steaming hot seafood chowder? Fine. Just try to ignore the steady stream of bullets drilling holes into my head. Promise me you’ll crush those crackers quickly and take the soup onto your lap. I’m spilling blood.
Why this staunch, masochistic refusal to become equally excited over my own creations? How can man live a whole life never to stand up and lustily sing his own praises? Even if he foolishly sings to some greater power beyond him… It has got to be more stimulating than worshiping oyster crackers, right? I mean, how could my old boss become the apostle of a dry cracker company without having committed suicide yet? Has he not already gone way beyond the point of just considering it? Unless the crackers are laced with enough extra preservatives to fool the rest of us into thinking that he lives, I tell you that he must be dead already. A soul must die each moment an oyster cracker gets believed in.
To tell the truth, I hate my books. I despise them. I hate the product that I wanted to sell yesterday, during a weak moment when I thought my children needed toys for Christmas.
I intend to sing my praises while the rest of mankind watches me bleed. But I won’t be singing for your money. I will sing, but know that I know it’s not what I write into books that makes me praise-worthy. I am 100% man. I am a man. My blood heats up my wonder and desire. I can be squeezed until warm blood spurts out of my pours. But I will continue to sing while bleeding. I believe that every man’s blood is my own blood. And every man should sing the song of watching it flow. I am singing for me and for you, even if I know that you, if given the choice, would choose a low-sodium oyster cracker over the intactness of my blood and its systems. Translated into easy, easy easy…
You suck
my blood.
But would rather have an oyster cracker.

Flower Given To Our Mothers Before Our Fathers Had Their Nipples Twisted By Those Who Always Appear To Have More

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2014. Acrylic on canvas, 18 X 24″

From my upcoming book, December:

Shame As A Future Necessity For Society

The newspapers have published the value of Lou Reed’s estate, two-thirds of which was amassed post mortem, because financially, a poet is worth more dead than alive, period. At the time of death it totaled 10 million, but now is up to 30 million and rising in value every day.

In my opinion 10 million dollars was no huge sum for one of the greatest poet-musicians to ever have struggled on planet earth. One whose work was also distributed world-wide, and potentially revered by anyone who has ever loved.

That is saying a lot. And it is true. He worked. He gave. He lived and left a modest estate compared to others of equal stature on the world stage who strutted publicly in order to make a living.

My grandfather was a state engineer who, by thrift and more thrift, left an estate equivalent to what 10 million would buy today. Enough to put five grandchildren through private colleges and universities, and provide a life without financial worry for my grandmother. So Lou left what amounted to a frugal engineer’s legacy, when he could have sold out like any corporation puppy dog—the Bob Dylan in every one of us creative feelers, who jones for the opportunity to make a killing if ever the chance arrives.

Lou wrote and gave melody to this:

“She said ‘Some where there’s a far away place

Where all is ordered and all is grace

No one there is ever disgraced

And everybody there is wise

And everyone has taste’”

Lou wrote hope and conscience poetry. In his will he left a percentage to his wife and sister, the latter to use the money to take care of their ailing mother.

This is all very good news to me. Creative careers matter; disproportionally low, financially compared to more traditional ones, but on a potential money level, equal to what the upper middle class would be able to amass carefully over time. Successful accountants, lawyers, even speculating land men could leave an estate equal to Lou’s if careful with investments over the years. A couple I know by association, the Millers, who I use often in my writing to juxtapose the crap shoot of capitalism in America, have already reached Lou’s legacy and beyond at just middle age. I compare their surface life story to Lou’s to make a point about the turning point in evolution of our species.

I had a puppy crush on the wife Barbara Miller when she was a young girl. Beyond that, I know nothing more than what her mother has shared with my mother who tells the Miller’s stories to me from time to time. She enjoys their shock-entertainment value. I use them as anecdotal evidence of why I believe society needs to reinvigorate shame as an effective deterrent to our decent into chaos and a new living hell that awaits.

Barbara works light. She is the president of a local bakery corporation her husband purchased to spare her from a life of boredom. Larry Miller is a trained lawyer who buys property very low and uses his influence to receive local and state government help, whether it be to build a new road via eminent domain through a farmer’s working hundred year old apple orchard, or twenty years of tax breaks offered to the strip mall franchises leasing Larry’s properties. He brought his town the best Walmarts and Gander Mountains money can buy, and in a dwindling economy, helped turn his struggling neighbors into a subsistent army of minimum wage soldiers. Financial success has come to the Millers. Already world travelers and proud owners of three homes, one in Florida where their gardeners trim Rose bushes next door to Jon BonJovi’s hired men. Neither Barbara nor Larry cook or clean, and their children are going to good colleges.

Their assets, I surmise, were about equal to Lou Reed’s at the poet’s time of death.

That is where their comparison ends—at the means to an end. And here is where I hand out rotten fruit to my countrymen still capable of discriminating between a life living the confusion of love and one that worships wealth.

What type of personality truly loves a strip mall? Who drives down a car-congested boulevard overflowing with personal well-being on his way to pick up soap and camping gear? All of us partake in the present economy. Rich or poor. Even Barbara finds fantastic deals at Kohl’s or Target from time to time. Her husband provides the community with easy shopping, often leading to or exacerbating bad taste, normalizing consumerism, and ever widening the gap between adulthood and fulfillment. He enriches himself via a routine that is of the lowest level. He is winning the culture war because each of us (including both Larry and Barbara) are also mentally deranged to a similar degree.

Well distributed poets such as Lou Reed, heal from time to time, when hearts are open and aloneness is welcome. Clear Channel knows this. That is why poetry is not sung over the airwaves. It is anti-business. Getting drunk and screwed is okay, just don’t be prepared to think with a conscience. So Lou’s lyrics and melodies sneak through because during a weak moment as a young man, he wrote and recorded “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” and Candy was giving head, so all the young people begging for content began to think their local DJ was rad, when it was really an established media choice made by the top dogs at headquarters to include Lou on their drinking and screwing party play list. So Lou got “cool” overnight and abandoned to obscurity even quicker because he chose to pursue his inner genius rather than promote meaninglessness for a lifetime. He made more than enough money preaching poetry backed by melody. And he did it without licking boots, a near miracle in this time of celebrity worship.

Our family made a trip yesterday to Barnes and Noble, another Larry Miller strip mall creation. A necessary evil to book browse for our daughter’s Fall reading suggestions. As always, I made a bee-line to educational materials, Rose to graphic design, and our daughter straight to the shelves stocking the latest manga. Opposite my aisle was a table stacked with books. The sign on it read, Books that make you think. On it were works having nothing in common besides the fact that reading them might exercise our brains, and also seek the counsel of our consciences. Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five beside Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. One anti-war, the other anti-segregation. Both displaying the very ugly side of humanity. Books with a moral philosophy to uphold, harboring meaningful content, piled high on a reserved table. Some corporate upstart with a fresh idea. “Books to make ‘em think, Charlie, or at least pretend to think while nursin’ a chocolate coffee in our Internet café.”

What kind of author ever penned a novel or the like with the intention not to make people think? Initially, even Stephen King and John Grisham set out, I’m sure, to receive thoughtful response from their readers. Of course they failed, and in that failure found fame and fortune. No irony with a Time to Kill spotted in the back seat of a Prius parked at an Outback. None at all. It is exactly what should be expected from a John or Jane Doe who allow a Larry and Barbara Miller to build upon wealth and status initially realized by failure of conscience. They believe it awaits them too, as long as John and Jane continue to seek purchasing solace along the strip mall of Anytown, America. Slaughterhouse Five spotted in the car at an Outback, however, is not only ironic, but very dangerous to the future comfort of a Larry and Barbara Miller. Two cars a conspiracy, and needing only three aiding and abetting Vonnegut at the same Outback to make a declaration of revolution, a strip mall stripped of all Chinese do-dads, and the Millers shamed out loud at all future public appearances.

 

To my logic, consumerism cannot be a healthy mutation for our species. From the standpoint of evolution, it might suggest an imminent leveling off, a massive culling to a point of near extinction. High greed and low greed are still greed, which in itself is anti-growth. My obvious reverence for the artist Lou Reed does not elevate him morally to a position much higher than the Millers. He just made a wiser career choice because he left something good of himself that was so much more than charity wrought from guilt, which is the only good the Miller’s will ever be able to pass on. Lou Reed created thought through poetry and shared it with music. Sure there was the rough stuff—broken backs and used vials washed up on the beach. But his work is also pregnant with love, justice and morality. He left the like of strip mall parking lots full of used cars each stuffed to the torned-fabric ceiling with shaming ammunition. It’s worth 10 million dollars for him, but it is humanity’s mission to use it.

Larry and Barbara Miller need to be shamed. Not in my lifetime, I’m afraid. Americans are so polite. I quote the entirety of “Tripitena’s Speech” from Lou’s 2003 release The Raven to get the ball rolling for tomorrow’s morality revolution. It will either come dressed peculiarly American or ugly like Mao. Best to begin training our minds now for the changes to come. Synapse pathways need to realign.

“Tripitena’s Speech” by Lou Reed

My love
The king by any other name a pissoir
You, my love tower over them all
They are but vermin beneath your heels
They are monkeys
Suit them, frame them to your own vision
But do not let one false word
Of mockery seep through to your vast heart
I have seen you from close and afar and your worth
Far exceeds your height, your width
The depth of your sorrow
Oh willful outcast doth thou not see the light of our love
Our linked fortunes
Our hearts melded together
Into one fine golden braided finery

They listen to the music of idiots and amuse themselves
With the sordid Miseries of their businesses
They are not the things of angels
Nor of any higher outpost that humanity might aspire to
Your loathsome vomitous
Businessman king is of the lowest order
His advisors
Crumbling mockeries of education driven by avarice
My love
Dress them in the suits of mockery
And in their advanced state of stupidity
And senility
Burn and destroy them so their ashes might join the compost
Which they so much deserve
If justice on this earth be fleeting
Let us for once hear the weeping
And the braying of the businessman king
Let them be the the orangutans they are
And set them blazing from the chandelier for all to see
Hanging from the ceiling by their ridiculous chains
And petticoats which you will have them wear
Under the guise of costumic buffoonery
He who underestimates
In time is bound to find the truth sublime
And hollow lie upon the grates of systemic disorder
Businessmen
You’re not worth shitting on

 

The Slow Worm Hopes A Garden Soaked In Formaldehyde Will Bring Longevity

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From a series of French fauna voicing their opinions on hydrofracking.

Below, a story from a book having nothing to do with the painting above. I would sell Cookbook For The Poor if someone would buy it. I think there is some Puritan witches’ hex put on any creative output from a Throop until the end of time and space.

Truth=Poverty

Stated in terms of practical, everyday life, wabi is to be satisfied with a little hut, a room of two or three tatami mats, like the log cabin of Thoreau, and with a dish of vegetables picked in the neighboring fields, and perhaps to be listening to the pattering of a gentle spring rainfall. It is in truth the worshiping of poverty.
—D.T. Suzuki

Every once in a great while, after I get exhausted from the speaking and writing rubbish, I start to dream about the truth. Of course, not everyone’s truth—that would prove our universal similarity, and we’ll have none of that here! What I am supposed to have is an opinion, because America is a land of individuals and for individuals, opinions rate high. The truth is a low place, and not for everyone, (sometimes I wonder if it’s for anyone). Each man is his own sun. Each man to himself. Every man and woman alone, frightened, small, and making sense of their existence with a thousand bogus opinions. Once in a while I get sick to my stomach thinking of the impermanence of things. Some mornings I wake up almost hating myself for spending so much time forgoing feeling for fact, love for time, truth for opinion. Eventually I have to laugh, or else succumb to a rapidly growing self-resentment. I have to laugh, or form another opinion to keep from hating enough to kill. It’s funny to have an opinion of how a man should stand, walk, and behave with a dog in the park—especially when the man’s face is covered in snot, and the reason he is outside in the cold morning is to make sure the feces gets put into the bag. That’s funny, right? I mean after that, some opinions will have to vacate your brain. Humbling oneself is a glimpse at truth. But when the man jerks the dog’s neck, to get him to go his way, then all the old opinions return—to occupy more space in the brain—and he walks back to the house without a revelation.
Vicious circles. We do not allow ourselves enough time to see the truth. Our opinions are stronger. They are what we live on. They are how we get up in the morning, feed ourselves, and act the rest of the day and night. They don’t get along with truth. They have ousted truth from our minds.
An opinion got us our jobs, our homes, and in most instances, our spouses and children. The truth is a very simple place, and to see the simple today takes a very exhaustive battle with opinion. The truth is very simple. It doesn’t give us anything more than itself. It is, and we live in it. Once, long ago, the truth was man’s sole opinion. Not today. Today a snot-faced bore is going to tell the truth. It’s a scary world to be in—alone. That is why he must tell it to you, because he needs neighbors. He needs friends. He needs to show the universal truth that will give us the right to be human again. Human like a dog is a dog, a cat is a cat, and a tree is a tree. It is not a going back in time he desires—it’s a going towards something new. We cannot go back. Back to what? A traditional society? Can your wife spin wool and make soap? Can your husband spend a night alone in the forest without something plastic beside him? Can any man or woman just sit still for five minutes?
There are no traditional societies. The Indian Nation is meeting with lawyers in Fort Meyers, Florida today to discuss a land claim dispute. No longer traditional. The tribal chief is an opinionated old sun-baked American. Ft. Meyers, Florida! An opinion is keeping him alive. He flies to the sandy beach in an opinion, holding an opinion, protecting an opinion. He eats opinionated food, and throws the wrapper in a garbage can. An opinion takes his garbage to the dump that grows higher and higher until clumping his claim up in refuse and waste. Got to have an opinion to kick those evil white old ladies out of their homes. Got to have an opinion to settle the score with a two hundred year old contract and two billion dollar profit. Opinions are useful to the American Indian chief. However, the truth wants to split open his skull with a sharp stone. That’s why he stays far away from the truth.
No, we have got to go forward. Yesterday the Indian chief was a man. Today he is an opinion. It took a hundred years to start playing the white man’s game—wait…
Dammit, there are no white men! This is a perfect example of opinion—of words being more real to men than reality. Stop using words. Stop trying to articulate your measly little, incredibly small and insignificant thoughts. The truth is there has never been a white man. It does not exist. It would scare the hell out me to see it. Too scary even for the circus. There is no black man. He does not exist. The truth is you are not able to articulate the color of your own face without sorting through a box of Crayola Crayons—and you won’t find it there most times, either. There is no red man. No yellow man. We are not primary colors. Nor white or black. Not good and evil. Turn off the words, and wake up! You’re an opinionated idiot a million miles from the truth, even when you’re standing in a thick, gooey pile of it.
Words do not exist. History is a lie. A spiteful lie. Every word you utter is arbitrary. Arbitrary is a word you made up. Erase it! Do you know how much confusion increases with the use of words? Feel! Stop walking past the door just to open your mouth. Feel! The next time you see a human being, name his color. You cannot. That’s it! You just don’t know, so you string sentences together and call that truth. Articulate. Speak clearly. Prove a point. Stop using words to explain. Stop explaining. Just do.
You want your land back, you burnt sienna, poor excuse for a representation of an ancient culture that had the right idea and practiced it? You want your trees, your woodchucks, your boundaries? Then shut up and do what you used to do. Take a band of your silent, colorful brothers and set the village on fire. You wouldn’t think of it. Oh the horror! Give up your toothbrush, bifocals, digital camera, department store shotgun, your pipe and tobacco bought at the mall, your outrageously silly Jeep Cherokee? Not on your life!
No, you’ll have your fat-faced lawyer, with skin the color of cedar shavings solve your land claim problem with words and money.
So much for the past. The truth says there is no history. I focus on the chief because not long ago he was the closest thing to the truth that this land and people ever knew. Close to the kind of truth a flying insect knows. Now he talks like the rest of us. He writes. He talks. He speaks the language of the pale face. He doesn’t know what a tree is anymore. How can anyone who steps into an airplane care about a tree? This includes you my little environmentalist hypocrites. More word-users. Hypocrisy is opinion. Truth is truth. Do you want to save a whale? Then shoot a whaler. Murder. Kill anything as long as it isn’t human. Pile your dictionary-worshiping colleagues into a blow-up rubber raft, pack some sandwiches in plastic wrap, prop an outboard over the side, and zoom out to the tuna boats. You know they are killing dolphins. You know that you’re killing everything with your touch. Midas with the touch of death. More words. Write them down on a piece of paper. It’s arbor day! Kill a tree, plant a tree. It doesn’t matter. Place the aluminum can in a clear plastic bag and be proud of yourself for recycling. Get dressed in cotton clothing that was a forest torn down, stumps pulled, and land cleared to make room for the seeds of more cotton clothing. You wake up and kill. Form any opinion you want to, but the truth is, you’re one of earth’s serial killers.
It’ll make your head dizzy, the truth. It’ll whip you around in madness, unless you can cover it up in opinions. Just listen, understand and act. The truth will prevail. Don’t speak. Stop talking in your head! Turn it off and feel. I want to write down the truth now. This is what our new world must come to be. You have to start here to get to the truth. If you are not interested in knowing without speaking, then stop reading.  Go back to another story which gives details, hard facts and cold opinions on the white and black of the world. It’s full of nasty little no-nothing opinions, self trivia, and more diabolical words like diabolical. The rest of this essay might contradict your opinions or put a temporary block on your miserable path of death in life, but it won’t be the truth—so you’ll most certainly be able to understand me.
First of all, truth is poetry. Remember that. Keep that in mind. Words are not poetry, but they can pretend to be. Poetry is our chief walking into the Fort Meyer’s meeting room, pissing on the floor, and scalping his dirty word-picking lawyer.
Second, truth is anything not human, or more precisely, what human has come to be over time. We are human. So truth is anything we are not.
Hmm. Pretty glum thing, this truth. Not necessarily. We need to live. I mean, I’m sure we still want to live, correct? Are you still reading this, you opinionated grumpy old fart? Get out! The following is for anyone seeking the truth.
Take. But take only for your loved ones. Don’t kill. Just take. Cars are being made? There are roads? Take a car. If that’s what you want, take it. But leave a poem. Write it to the woman you touch at night. Write it to your daughter whom you love more than any opinion (or truth even). Or write nothing at all, take a sledge hammer, and smash up the car you just took.
Take, but give poetry. Live poetry. When a woman or a man can speak, write, or act poetry, the so many things begin to wash away. Opinions dissolve. Truth is revealed more often. When a certain amount of truth is seen, you begin to crave more. When you leave truth, a tremendous loss is felt, the like that has never been felt before, even when you were an opinionated lonely cuss with nothing to show for life besides words and confusion. That loss brings you back, but separates you further since you are following the path of abandoning human things. Other humans don’t like that. They form a poor opinion of you. Then you get lonely, very lonely, and want to give back all that you took. Poetry again. Give them poetry. Take, but give poetry.
Keep radio and TV—take them, but give back poetry. When you hear on the news that a gunman open-fired on a children’s playroom in McDonald’s, turn off the radio and think up a poem for dinner. When your TV anchor-woman reports that a thousand people drowned in a Mozambique flood, and shows a picture of a flood victim giving birth in a tree, pick your nose and smear it on the screen. It is words and opinions that caused the flooding in Mozambique. It’s words that are statistics and opinions that are certain death.
Poetry and un-human things are what you need to live with the truth.
I am going to make it simple. The answer is a constant cabin-in-the-woods thought in your mind. Pack what you think you need. Bring the Internet, if you must. The truth for tomorrow can include a lot of new things. A few strenuous trips to the water hole and the Internet becomes as useful as a hole in your head. That’s what it will start to feel like with a cabin-in-the-woods thought in your mind. Bring the television. But it will take two years to build the hydroelectric power plant in your stream, so television and electricity are no longer practical. Good thing, because the truth doesn’t allow them anyway. Who’s the President? Who the hell cares? We’re living poetry now, remember? It takes a full day to think about dinner, and even then you have to leave the cabin-in-the-woods thought and embarrass yourself searching for a machine slaughtered, semi-hairless supermarket chicken, tightly wrapped and stacked in the cooler case for the timid scan-and-gab hunter to pounce upon.
A wooden chair and one window is all that you need for the truth of things. Who cares about humanity after you run out of gas and made a wood shed out of the car? What kind of opinion can you articulate while searching for a big enough leaf to wipe your ass with? In the-cabin-in-the-woods you look silly having anything to do with something not from here. That’s a maple tree. That’s it. Take it. But leave poetry. That means build a chair and you’ve killed four birds with one stone. You got a chair. You left a poem. You murdered one more opinion about nothing that matters anyway. And, you took the human away and found truth.
Time to make it even more simple. Time to be direct. You must live in poverty. You must choose poverty. You need the cabin-in-the-woods mentality even if you aren’t rich enough yet to make it a reality. Poverty reduced to its lowest terms is nakedness. That’s the truth. Naked is yourself taken to the lowest terms. A humbling of our monstrous arrogance is what each of us needs to get back to truth—so easy to do after voluntary poverty. What opinions do you have when you want for nothing besides life? What opinion matters except survival? I am sure you’re still reading this, you opinionated grump—so tell me, what are your opinions worth if they do not contribute to survival? What does it matter what you think? It’s just words again. In poverty you’re isolated. Wonderful! No more words! No more logical thinking! No more proving a god damn thing! No more opening of the ear canal to allow opinion’s long history of prejudice, suspicion, illusion, and despair free passage. You are poor now and must spend your energy searching for dinner. Race relations? Abortion? Oil prices? Tensions in the Middle East? Telephone Bill? Gun control? Gasket leak? Asthma? Snow removal? Computer upgrade? What the hell are you talking about? All of this is a complete waste of time! In fact, all this talk is giving me the creeps. Stay away from me. Stay far away from me you opinionated monster. I got to go find dinner.
Choose poverty and isolation opens up a myriad of opportunities. Truth is not a stagnant pond. It rushes forth with powerful force, and splits off in every direction. It is the earth of everything un-human. That’s quite a lot of stuff! Earth and truth have a hundred uses for the acorn, but only one for the automobile. Reality is truth is earth is poverty. Everything alive is as close to nakedness as un-humanly possible. Everything on land and water—every living and dead thing is naked except for human beings. That has got to remind even the most helpless opinionated tool that we are all wrong.
But it does not. Some how it goads most of us to a continuation of misery, which is opinion—which is everything human. Clear thinking, logical monsters… Do you want truth or opinion? I could care less which one you pick. I have made my decision, and to stick around here waiting to hear what you have to say about it would be truth suicide.

Steamed Corn

100 square feet of soil
Spade shovel
1 cup corn seed
Frequent water
Butter
Salt
Pepper

According to local planting schedule (ask an old person) plant seeds one inch deep, evenly spaced one foot in five rows, two feet apart.
Water twice a week or let rain fall an inch per week in lucky
summer.
Harvest when cobs look edible.
Shuck husk.
Steam in pot with enough water not to evaporate, but not too much to boil. Cook until you think kernels are ready.
Cut butter into big clean bowl. Add hot corn. Toss with salt and pepper until butter is melted.

Because We Love We Suspend In His Uterine Jelly

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“Don’t Name The Red Flower By The Side Of The Road” 2013. Acrylic on paper, 18 X 27″

 

I got a job this week to pay for paints. I worked one day and have already put myself into debt buying Golden Acrylics®. I’ll pay for them with my first check. Now the dilemma.

No time to paint. And the muse turns out the light and rolls over from exhaustion.

A poem from when I was younger doing the same “stand on your feet all day” work:

Because We Love We Suspend In His Uterine Jelly

Reflections on these days with you
How could I demand anything from them
when I got the bliss of the real womb
earth and universe now?

Everyman should want something pink to follow him
but no man is in demand
so there’s a fat chance of that happening
Pinkie

Let me put it this way:
To my right are clouds the color
Indian gray
and two pine tops
which beneath
nothing but wavering flowers
And to my left
the road
where you my love have gone
wanting October’s blue-gray coolness.
My love, I call you always
to see how every life circles around us

So ahead of my body
a fullness of green healthy leaves
and behind me a thought of their bright yellow turning
a thousand little school buses
into slow autumn pageants of splendid wetness
They carry you, the only living child, off to school.

My love we live in a womb a million times greater
than your doubled
My love we live in a shattering delirium of joyousness
There is someone or some thing larger than us
but not greater
spending love effortlessly like a good mother
I think it is the power of our easiness
and frank and unwavering passion for each other
that gives God the desire to paint
perfect skies for tall walls

I believe that we hold the world together perfectly
In fact, what else can they think worthwhile
than to revolve around us?