“I found this weird novel in the junk pile,” I piped up.

Hitchhiker said, “See you around.”

Isadora said it’s all a blur.

Narpa said we don’t have to justify anything, if done in the right light.

Wycliffe said the translation is everything.

Bosch said the Inquisition is coming. Along with the flying saucer. Again.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.


Fog after an ice storm

The murder wasn’t so dramatic. This was, after all, Kastoria.

“You were with somebody else. I wasn’t,” he had shouted outside her apartment window, unaware she wasn’t alone.

The victim, later identified as Dewey Chinook, address unknown, unexpectedly heard the ceaseless roar of a river, running, off somewhere, away from the drainage canals of the city.

“Go piss on Jefferson’s grave, wash the bones of freedom,” came the reply, drowned out by a passing freight train of 119 cars with twin cabooses.

As for the kidnapping, if you could do it all over again? Learn to dance? Senior lifesaving? Just how had we arrived here, anyhow?

We need more of a sense that each of us has come away with something very precious.

“Having turned his attention in our last issue to making a university profitable, our economic affairs expert, Jimmy Boswell, now turns his attention to State Government,” I read on open page beside the big tumbler drier.

Isadora had raw toes. Without her, I was so free. And lonely.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.

The open house sales pitch

We had ignited more than projected.

crack shiver breach unyoking disparting bust unlock bone smoke sun blot tube rosehead cock plug knot storming swinging jabbing filing raking rolling piercing kin knifing impaling stabbing pelting lancing spiking goring dagger harvesting

Massive waves of privacy and flirtation, free beauty, then suburban desolation of cracker-box house litter; roadside drive in-restaurants with fat deadhead counter girls in curly bleached hair and white uniforms; strip-mall banks and billboards; an airport, like a thousand other places I’ve been. Just a heavy serious flow now … I felt myself coming down heavy already from experience, suspected I’d have a thick head by mid morning. Rather than a high, our meditation this morning presented calm. We were wondering yesterday if one of our students came here as a yogi or just as a naturally high person. The latter, thought I. She comes, Narpa said, not knowing why but was merely pulled. OK, why not? Narpa on the telephone to a follower who was undergoing many difficult tests: “Enjoy them!” I now knew WHY I must return to the research: it’s the way I can be me, release my inner voice. One philosopher says one hates another when he sees the other finds joy in something he is displeased by. I hold that such a person can be overcome by love, by feeling the TOTALITY of joy in the other things the person finds joy in … (who was it who commented that martyrdom is much easier than LIVING a godly life???) How little art of joy! Bach, Mozart! The Romantic Era is full of introspection, brooding selfishness, and self-destruction stemming from the loss of God. (“You will be the new Tom Wolfe twenty years from now” and now I see, prof.) “Pull me”: devotion, not self. Hesitation. Does this mean “finger me” or “fuck me”? It’s been lonely here, truly. Classic lit is filled with violence; are there many exceptions?

I could wear outrageous hats. See specific types.

PR? Pollution is our most important product. Honor it. Defend it.

Outlaw dissent, make democracy count.

Pollution will save the environment.

Yours for honesty in government.

Peace through war.

Extremism in the pursuit of wealth is no vice, moderation in the defense of our resources no virture.

Something was for 5Ale. Antique padlocks. Something as indefinable as the lost names of an engraved fork bought at St. Vincent’s.

State after state, the same names repeat, new voices slowly joining in: Wyoming frontier valley in Pennsylvania or Rhode Island: Oregon, Lancaster, Jacksonian neighborhoods in Ohio and Missouri.

John Birch and Jim Beam Society of Americans.

THE DAILY DOUBLE (Virgil was presently employed by Ding Dong, who had taught him mechanics after the split, and his sister, Aria).

Hitchhiker told of going to see his girl, how he rented a car (had to be 25, he was only 21 at the time), lost a hubcap, had to steal one in his old neighborhood nobody knew he was home for the weekend but he ran into a friend at the gas station … the only car he saw with identical hubcaps was parked under a street lamp … he checked the price, no way! so he did it, clank! clank! pissed in freezing pants …

HOW TO SURVIVE: use your hands, learn to fish, mechanics are always needed; learn to weld / cameras / paint / poetry costs money / prune, thin, pick (orchard foremen have a place to live) – by stepping out of society he lost his chance of “being discovered” (NYC, money, fame, location) / he can be happy, express himself that is, not trendy / be closer to nature and thus the Art Goddess – further west, trap / sell fur / hunt elk and deer / here, it’s rabbit / pheasant / chukar / make commercial signs for stores / billboard lettering (THE WINDOW WASHING SECRETS!!!) / gain access to wholesale prices on tools and parts / live in groups / true community requires selflessness of some thereof.

“Someday, when God’s not doing other things, He’ll help mankind.”

Narpa had been expecting him.

Hansa / Radha / Jumuna / Jyoti / Padme / Tat / Sat / Amrit / Asato / Manu / Jobihari / Sarve / Mungalum / Bhavatu / Sukinah

You haven’t been looking.

Hitchhiker started out in philosophy and art, with some studio work, especially in graphics, but turned practical and dropped out. In the Johns Hopkins Union scene: “You meditate, don’t you?” Joined a commune: “You’ve got to be a robot, let us push your buttons.” The sensory deprivation freedom from reading newspapers and mags, listening to radio and music, watching TV or movies. Lit out again.

What delight Wycliffe had in Express Mail … knew our number by heart. Deliver by 747 Jumbo jet: statement note account notice dispatch issue edition communique letter bulletin comment declaration leaflet circular broadside broadsheet commentary review analysis study tractate treatise paper discourse etude discussion essay sketch profile bulletin (1 Police in America) – some preliminaries. Chorus???

A confrontation with the other boss over quality led Hitchhiker to the unexpected decision to change jobs, “It was a CONVERSION experience,” he told Narpa.

And Homer felt his teeth crunch under his bite like sugar cubes into a thousand fragments: endless thread bone pour fluttering stir temptation jerk betrayal medicine white-rising dream tacks sucking aching letter.

Isadora, composing HITH 7, needed better definition of the term, good or bad? Or going from A to B, as from hippies to killers and thieves, or failing to pay their freight and get messed up with the cops? Their subversive side (non- consumers: advertising cannot touch them): THEY’RE OUTLAWS. Even before bikers.

“Grandfathers have grandfathers too! May we grow old gracefully!” Hitchhiker, again.

source sperm source ancestor cause thread author agent old lusty fiddler parent head base basis sire stud mover generator creator fountainhead springhead well root egg germ nucleus bud breeder brooder incubator old one who set out on foot

Maybe I’d finish my ethnographic field work after all.

occupant sourdough longhorn shorthorn townfolk lodgers ledgers porch

From GREENING OF AMERICA to its BROWNING (the Lowell experiment failed, becoming instead the Industrial Menace so may we today also in the face of technology … trade unionism eroding, people having less control over their own lives … the only remaining way to go is INWARD … where Narpa comes in.

That is, in DHYANA!!! Narpa was sending BAD VIBES to visitors we didn’t want.


“I hate to admit it, but I’ve blown it … my life. The shortcuts didn’t work. Nor did the labor. Should have gone to grad school.” Hitchhiker said he was at the end of his road. Kept quoting Susan Sontag. “Even at one book a year, there’d be fourteen by now.” Of course, he’d go to work for Wycliffe. At last.

Isadora preferred the Zen aesthetic, with its upper-class intellectual appeal. Her love reached out like an overcast day.

“If I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t try and put you on, man.”

“Open the door. I have a surprise for you. I can’t tell you what it is.” (A kid to his little brother or sister, who was looking out the window).


We’re saving you money by not spending anything at all.

Hollis Holloway, complete dispersal sale. Shag Wilson and Son. John Donne, come home. Izaak Walton. Hot shit Christmas. A metaphysical date. Emporium Cantos. Add swim in September. Farmers’ almanac. Farts of July. Charles Ives.





To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.

Dilemma at midnight

We hadn’t imagined having to choose among a fat wad of money or wide circulation or critical praise. Any way, we would have arrived and lost.

Our movie starred a half-Zuni who spoke only single word sentences: “Video.” “Lasagna.”

His mother? Iceberg.

Everybody wanted to interview them. Both. They’d become stars. Or at least celebrities.

Our movie also starred Isadora with her dancers.

Everybody seemed to know them.

We made our Magic Show fully aware how Micemen Finish Last / Fragments / In May, Against Trees Blossoming Softly / Petroglyphs / Tipi Gita / Fertility Rites (condoms, diaphrams, etc) / Fertile Turtles / Car Nation Milk / Prose Like Fresh Tilled Earth / Onward, Elektrik Bleu! / Love Rest Stop (chalked on sidewalk, hop skip and jump) / Dancing Bear Is a Good-Time Man / Sun Signs / Moon Festival / Rosemary’s Mother / Dirty Little / King David / Ain’t No Bugs on Me / Ant Song / “He’s Mine.”

Homer was now Duke at the bank.

The airport, on Barley Sheaf Road, meant ROCKY RUNWAY TAKEOFF. Even for aliens.

GOURMET LOTTERY, as the sign says, at its landing.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.

Down to brass tacks

“Find a dusty old volume,” Wycliffe commanded.

Came up with The Trial of the Daffodil Three. Hitchhiker guessed right.

“Photography is easy,” Bosch echoed.

At last, we would movie ruthlessly.

Look at the Plastic Pigs with their Painted Faces! And these women? “I want a man to look like a man, and a woman to look like a woman,” said Castrator the Barbarian, the Theologian, as quoted by Bosch.

Party hairmen. The hoard of education … New Yori … Godberg … Golddell … Arthyr … Dianne Gunning … Everything kept losing its focus. The cat lady and her trashy house, down at the corner of personality disintegration. According to Laing, these drugs or schizophrenia are an “initiation ceremony through which one must be guided by people who have been there and back.”

Homer had it right.

“Dragonfire no hell,” answered martyrs unknowingly.

The goodbye death scene: Movieola out of business, as envisioned by Virgil.

Across galloping dawn rides day with its exploding nerve endings, skin aflame.


Wipeout. Shootout. TV news.

A bad spell under fire.

Out where there were only Lutherans, Catholics, or Volunteer Firemen, as Hitchhiker had found.


The Prague newspaper: Mlada Fronta, on Isadora’s desk.

Democratic aucus. Homer laughed.

HATE!!! These constraints, fears, invading TV pitchmen, roaring automobiles, chrome glaring friendliness! LET ME BE! QUIET ON THE SET! Open space, for prowling. No more police. Now back to business. OPEN these prison minds, let down these curlers, wash off the makeup no longer fearing what everybody else fears just once SCREAM and roll wild and even touch someone else, like …

Yes, like the Wolf Bitch clutching a baby she owns a slave-driver someday, just maybe, will LET GO, coming in the homestretch, as the 29th Cavalry’s wiped out. Preliminary wire reports say. Or would.

Not by the sounds of an era but its accomplishments is it judged. Someday, ever?, will good triumph, virtue flourish, and knowledge reign? Homer again, adding perspective. A photo-essay of the moon. Symmetry of Sugar Creek. Left, right, left. Gargoyles in Middletown. Oregonia after the Blitz. From the viewpoint of contemporary American heroes.

The packing plant, the foundry, elevator, mill, transmission plant, chemical plant, rail yards, and quarry out on strike. Bosch roamed the neighboring cities. Out on the rails.

Is it 6 M (or) W 9: written on the sidewalk? In front of storefront the Dharma Hall Om Bhao.

The swirl of politics, seen in rear view: LBJ / Gene McCarthy / Bobby Kennedy / Martin Luther King and Malcolm X / Spiro Agnew / Nixon, all ways, the war without declaration / no commitment / long hair / increasing frustration and anger / swelling toward Watergate, pisshole of the party. “I worked that convention like a whore.” More of the times in: Dow Chemical, pie in the face being the conservatives’ funny joke, until a radical does it: protests, Czechoslovakia, peaceniks & hippies, race, going militant. Business trips with calcified remains.

walking that lonesome valley / backwaters / embryos / self-criticism / pyrotechnica / shelters / intentions / rifts / melting spot / origins / sources / seeds / graphs / tracings / nonlinear problems / enzymes / biological order / programming language / hierarchial structures /burning your sources

Candidia / Rolpodia / Dormiendo / Helepida / Dorejment / Kisopida / Savery Row / Sinsomphie / Nilemphoria / Concrephrie / Zampandu / Lipsodement …

New Riegel’s celebration Mass, followed by the drunken band / Rising Sun’s fire department street fair / McCutcheonville’s Zebra Research Station

“What you are, I am, too,” she sang out. “Just for the grins.”

We filmed Sandy Mile Road Methodist BIGOTS vs Catholic SINNERS. The DeKalb ear & buckle. CORKSCREW MEMORIES.

Was he or wasn’t he the police chief? In the end, it wouldn’t matter.

“I just like to carry a gun.”

“And get in her pants.”

On the railroad to Indian No Place. This was, after all a documentary, with dancers.

GROWN UP CLOTHES, what we wear to work, how different they are from the other clothes we really wear, like at home and on weekends.

The late 20th century TRANSCULTURAL CONFUSION as Deep Compressions. The misguided spiritual elements of Dionysian life. Also, the “rich aspirants” syndrome of “my, aren’t we cool! My, aren’t we pretty!”

Doctors’ and lawyers’ kids. Considering villains.

“Pop Tibetan,” too.

Using rubber cement like the time X did it to all Y’s condoms.

As a TEA MASTER, Narpa was dizzy, sitting on the floor. Grinning inanely.

Hitchhiker: “If I don’t come back Monday, I’ll probably be back soon after that (during the week). Please tell her not to paint the room or move in till I gets me stuff out. OKAY? Dig you later. Your almost former apt. mate.”

IN THE MORGUE: Indianapolis Is Torpedoed; 833 Are Lost / U.S. Cruiser Sinks Off Leyte; 315 Men Saved After Torture. GAUM

Life is composed of shots and scenes, so that Eisenstein images and plots / circular rectangular ascent / excretion unfolding / concave blunt perforated percolator / edge interner / front side life … You understand the movie talk, don’t you? MOVIE TALK: interior / side / metabolic / marrow / regression / plunge / Montana / luminary / oracle / omen / arena / foot / inborn / moody / Mars / phase / maya / blank /

We were starting out behind once again. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Treading water, catch up on all the rest. All over again.

Out of nowhere, Isadora flashed into Homer’s house, blasted out, over the horizon, into Bloomingdark.

How times change! Once upon my life, I couldn’t read or write without music playing intense, dramatic, symphonic sounds. So Isadora said. “Perhaps that was some of my best thinking. Now total concentration is required and composition is difficult. Silence, how strange!”

We’d need list of rules for Hitchhiker. Along spiritual lines.

Outside the Pinky’s Big Bundle Launderama window, two Chicago subway cars passed by. Double doors, green stripe along the side. In destination window, one said EVANSTON. The other, LINDEN. On flatbed trucks.

Morrison Knudsen Co. On an index card.

Hitchhiker had changed. So had the subways. Fear and muggings. Nobody wanted to share anything anymore. No more granola. No more gorp. No more duty of companionship and conversation. Weird tales circulated. Knifings. Homosexual rapes. Free-riders so stoned they couldn’t speak, except to demand music money or a smoke. Had authentic thumbing gone underground once again? Had it vanished? Or merely changed form? Hitchhiker would uphold what he could, wherever he was.

If only the Amish would discover hitchhiking. Or subways.

Don’t confuse free-riders with vandals, he insisted. One is constructive and helpful or, at worst, passive. The other is always destructive.

“There’s a vision I want to proclaim,” Bosch admitted.

It takes great courage to movie a book in Kastoria. As everyone knows, there are no subways. Not even Chicago’s. No buildings taller than the grain elevators or foundry smokestack. And yet, finish and you’ll never again see New York quite the same. Or Boston, Philadelphia, the District of Columbia, San Francisco, London, Paris, Moscow, Pittsburgh, Baltimore …

Here’s a token. Take off. Far into the 21st century.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.

Endless prairie

Hitchhiker was back. “Still don’t know about hillbillies in a Yankee state,” was all he had to say.

Narpa spoke of his newest task in learning to be at home everywhere after fleeing the monastery. “The call of Karma. The horribly clear vision. The Karmic responsibility for doing despite it all whatever I might to instill the higher vision, the pulling together, in a land of seething tangles.”

Triangles, all interlocked, as Isadora now danced them across these table flatlands. We could see how plains range meadow grazing field pasture lawn sod legume spike clean slate blank nothing truant nobody under the sun in freezing rain who turn up missing slip away hollow bare arid lightning tornado clear white barren tenantless drained deserted godforsaken freeing emptying away quartering outlaw blackball blackbill exile spinster squirrel on the prairie lip.

“And the continuing emptying of the Samskaric load, through the lecturing and teaching, the clearing of my own head. Cutting, working, reworking: putting it all out before me where I can reduce it to bones, send it off, purified, for others as cues for their own inner needs, their own callings, for purposes that only hint themselves to me, the instrument I have my own reasons, everyone in the audience has his.”

In other words, the interlocking triangles fit a larger mandala.

I drafted statements of what had happened so far for whatever reason in Kastoria and the ways which we, with Narpa as poet/priest, could attempt its success or failure, yet none of that matters; only our own growth does, I concluded.

Then Hitchhiker told of the Stones concert a month prior: the psychedelic spotlights and anxious crowd filling the side of the Assembly Hall, making me ponder how intense a poetry reading could be in that modern scene, the direct, blinding style of the vacanas or a Milarepa of modern times, backed later by music or dance or chanting! Maybe Ginsberg has pointed the way, and many follow; but somehow one must leap ahead [Zen is, after all, nonlinear: let the bolts fly, without distraction! er, direction!]

Why do some voices come forth in such strange times, that the flowing interrupts other action, that social necessity demands: why must poets be madmen, or at least possess that mask from time to time? As for other artists? Or their commercial shadows?

This whole thing remains restless and compelling. The Wife must understand, Narpa insisted: this is her rival.” It has been my consort for a thousand lives, crying out now for the full expression (yet cannot satisfy my physical desires/expression) love of Wife, precious flesh / feeds my Dharma, reminds me of the Other a heavy task, these lovers calling.”

I glanced at Hitchhiker.

Then invited him to come up to my place, where I would show him what I’d researched to date as ENDLESS PRAIRIE, UNBROKEN AT LAST and THUNDER CLOUD, a series of histories and recollections, emphasizing human error more than the factual. I’d kept listening as a child to the grandfathers and uncles talk about the good old days and their friends on the farms they left behind:

Those conversations have been lost but remain a part of my heritage, my shaping I have renounced those things, but return with a sense of ambivalence, that something more is lost that there is no direction or depth in the changes.

The prairie was endless for the Amerindian, who lived securely within its radiance of circles, rippling harmonies, its ecologies man, four-legged brothers, winged cousins and spirits. Then the white man broke this, with straight lines: plows and axes. Like a bottle, the endless prairie was broken; its essence oozed away, like a bleeding wound.

In breaking the tall grassed prairie, the white man created a new one a desert of desolate spaces he could not understand, replenish, or be replenished by. He was depleting that which he came to find, forever. The history we consider is blazed by changes turmoil, revolts, new kingdoms overriding the old; the Israeli history of ancient tentacles it is not a history of land and people eternal, but rather a history of decay, of individual men or, at best, their generations as the whole thing changes in directions no one can foresee the concept of PROGRESS with its central OGRE . . . the hidden desires to somehow make static or permanent the very creations of the destruction, which must obviously fail.

(In the ultimate Marxist state, will there be progress? Will the police and military be eliminated? Of course not! So much for that revolution!)

In this new prairie the automobile was created and perfected a means for fleeing, for destroying the COMMON UNITY of persons living through necessity in some kind of harmonic chord with the land (even the pioneers who broke the prairie and its Indian harmonies, had at least the peasants’ sense of the value of earth to man they knew the traces of tribe in themselves and could still rever Mother Earth) but with AUTO the prairie could be leveled even more consider the vertical element that had been eliminated when BUFFALO were exterminated!

Enclaves of community become vulnerable, to escape as well as invasion with the auto came radio and finally TV, the ultimate brain disease vestiges of mind, of eclecticism were finally flattened crafts, abandoned. Relief from long nights? The question now: is there a Midwestern heritage to build on? A literature to unearth? Or is it too late? Is there something to build lives upon?

(This writ before A Prairie Home Companion became a national phenomenon.)

There is nothing to look UP to, save the clouds. We must move on, to the mountains.

The Endless Prairie we have now can be broken. Pilgrimage made. The mind freed. We have our options, to fly away, or to enter inner circles. Either way, to become Indians (of America or Asia both have ways). To focus, not upon the flatness, but on the hidden paths appearing in the Small Things.

Hari Om Prasad!

And my mother is a schmiel.

Meanwhile, Isadora reconsidered parts of a set written in the same period, the material, craftsmanship, and voice in the same vein of later pieces being shifted from one work to the other. The work- in-progress, her IconOsphere, a realm too sacred to touch.

Clutter as a field ripe for exploitation.

“Read the Lower Podunk Gazette,” Wycliffe advised. “The poetry mags sound like vocabulary tests.”

Or support apathy, being “friendly” here as a civic responsibility.

New ribbons looked lovely in her hair, reminding Hitchhiker of the Union Creek Trail. Waterfalls! A spider web and cross-cut logs.

Narpa’s assignment: UNBURDEN! & MAKE NEW.

Taped to the window of the café:


Coming soon!!!

Down the street: The TURKEY CLUB (3 decks) (a modern glass-and-chrome extravaganza).

Also coming soon.

“Well, that’s that!”

I returned to my apartment. Found a set of Isadora’s notes left open on the table (the one set upon a box of Unbreakable Caster Cups):

mind shaking / coming up against the current / sky energy waters / earth mind field dance / sky flights water music / waters from the mountains / opening the cage of the wide eternal sky / circle of blood, bones, clouds / charms & feathers / histories in spheres / clear flowing one / even bird tracks, like a power song, weave / imitate wind / wave strokes / breathing the incense / Here is your emblem / Black robe / circles & squares / running gold / flying grass / stars in the water / my skin is thinking / discovering is letting fall / night spels / spring fire / spiral galaxy / I spin, gazing outward / everything agrees with me / flutter reflection / red and yellow pigments in the sky / Indians in cowboy hats drive pickups /

The dance in Hemingway’s head weaves its hunger through flamenco talons. In the sea, you feel their coming. These dancers thought they were somewhere else, half my life ago.

Ambrose, the source’s husband, died in ‘49.

I looked at a recipe for BREAST OF CHICKEN EUGENE.

Wondered if it would be on the new deli’s menu.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.

With the crows more pronounced

We settled in.

Except for Isadora, who was off for a brief tour.

And Narpa, who was off lecturing.

“I didn’t know you could take the train.”

“They’re special.”


Wycliffe examined his notes: “The worm-tongued liar pursues his trade / And the toil of Time doth he neglect / While the weight of his words be disconnect / The ruin of his speech is ne’ertheless made.”

Had no idea if it was original or just copied.

Coitus of the mouth?

Truth, on the other hand? He hoped that was what was occupying their time.

Bosch was learning about cameras. Cinema cameras. As well as sets and costumes.

Homer and Virgil tried arranging financing. Such classic wheelers and dealers.

“George’s problem is he’s too affectionate, he expresses himself,” we overheard in the café.

Just down the street, a sign on a lawn: “Let dogs beware: rat poison planted in this library.”

It was a fine collection for such a small city. Who knows about the rats? Kastoria seemed to have a fine collection there, too.

Midday, the street lights were on. I kept trying to write while my savings ran out. Pinky’s Big Bundle Launderama was barely paying for itself. At least until the loan was paid off.

“Apartment rents here will skyrocket next year, when the subway line opens.”

“What subway?”

“Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself. The personalized small-scale mass-transit rail.”

“To where? The nearest state college?”

There were plans. And plans for plans.

Devices! The cat lady and their house. The point is, that nothing is happening. Nothing at all.

“We could consider Subway Riding in the Andes.”

And then my research was put on hold for the duration. If all went well, we would film after the wheat harvest, which came before the corn and soybeans. Then there would be the editing and distribution.

Isadora made a host of new contacts before returning. She was a triumph and radiant.

Narpa made a host of new contacts before returning. He was enterprising and angelic.

I learned that Wycliffe was running a Bible factory. “How do you make money printing Bibles?” I asked. “Isn’t there a lot of competition?” Then he showed me Bosch’s illustrations, which seemed to be influenced by Narpa. “These are fabulous. They don’t resemble anything I remember from Sunday school.”

And they didn’t.

For us, Thanksgiving would be a pumpkin opening into Advent.

The flying saucer squash, as an offering for Narpa.

Kastoria was a boom town now gone bust. Back in the oil days. The black gold drained off. The remainder, too sulfurous for exploitation.

“The American heartland is a lost place,” I wrote. “Human potential dimmed by television and a repressive religion. So much for experience and free inquiry.”

The television sets in Pinky’s Big Bundle Launderama were no exception.

“Whoopie!” Isadora roared. “Another letter from Kim the Kat!”

“Where have you been?”

“To the zoo. It’s all a zoo out there!”

“Here, too. Of pigs and cattle.”

“And rats.”

All while Narpa envisioned a yak, auodad, and tahr going to the opera in the open aihr.

Discipline? Discipline! The unread magazine pile. Poetry? Bosch’s studio was a mess. Another nervous week. Crazy, from A to . . . the long green meteorite. Opera! Intertwine one!

Narpa checked his machine. Had a message at 12.03: “You are weird. You are really weird.”

Another at 12.27: “You must be gay.”

He thought about coming down from the mountains, just to discharge: prairie and sky (no forests, no deer) and then to discover deer in the cornfields, well fed, finished flesh. Deer tracks in our gardens, now frozen.

Sunday night a drunken driver yelled at Narpa: “Hey, chief! Get a job!” Angered by his headband, the driver chopped his way to significance by condemning appearances.

“I have a job, at 5 a.m., doing a college man’s work!”

So did Narpa. Meditating. “Mani padme.” And then “Peace!”

“Take a bath!” the dunken driver yelled back.

Fresh from swimming at the Y and a shower, Narpa walked on. “I’d never asked him to invade my person,” Narpa explained to his audience. “His dead spirit and dirty soul were an affront to my shell. He, American Legionnaire, was upset that I resembled an Indian – not the colorful circus chief, but a man of the plains and forests. What strange guilt moves him? Most of his forefathers wore beards, no doubt.”

Well, maybe not as straggly as Narpa’s, but there was a point all the same.

The holiday season, even here, was General Confusion. Could use a bank robbery or something seamy. Remained a major lapse of ongoing time.

At least there was the haven of our meals at the café. A stranger at the next table told us, “Nobody knows I’m here.” We neglected to ask his name. Or where he came from.

“Christmas stamps reinforce people’s sentimental stereotypes,” Wycliffe muttered. “And the Fundamentalists who scream about keeping Christ in Christmas are complaining about this year’s Nativity stamp, it’s too Catholic. Maybe we need another King Solomon, to slice the child in half.”

“You mean there are two prostitute mothers?”

Was she really a virgin?

Wycliffe shrugged. “The Greek means ‘corruption’ so ‘maiden’ is not ‘virgin’ (source lost). More likely meant she was ‘pure.’ Add to that modern science. Haploid or diploid, Jesus would have been female.”

“To negate the negative.”

And then CHRISTMAS EVE: Here’s your hat. What’s your rush? And the café closed early.

It was an Imbroglio for Mary. And for us.

Isadora, meanwhile, underwent another round of her “uglies.” Nothing was going right. Hated everything. Everyone.

Wycliffe spoke of the necessity of a “magnetic center” like fine arts or sports, the discipline and desire to build on. And Bosch’s cat, despite his allergies.

Artists in Paradise would thrive on Divine Praise.

Isadora was in no mood to listen. Copied notes from the loneliness a new collage.

I worried this was turning into a Tibetan winter. Opened NOTES FOR A REVOLUTION, written in Tibetan script.

Tibet = Bod or even Bhot in Tbt.

Lhasa, capital = “the hermit people”

Cry err, dry and and cold. With sunny days that would fluctuate widely in temperature.

Sudden blizzards and snowstorms are common.

Swept by violent winds.

Mongolian race?

Much of the country has never been explored. 1,300,000 population? Seemed to be a lot like some Midwestern states.

The yak gives its black hair to be woven into yarn. Sour milk and small bits of cheese are staples in the diet. Ditto, rancid butter. Brick tea. Roasted barley.

A fifth of the populace were lamas (Buddhist monks).

Several men may marry the same wife: this gives women much power. [At the table, they all looked at me.]

Strangely, Narpa’s teaching came to mean so much to me that I could not write of it. Too sacred, too simple, too overwhelming.

The stranger returned. His name was Hitchhiker. Told me of his growth from linear, logical modes to intuitive, unlimited comprehension from high culture to backcountry. From empirical to mystical. From the practical to the possible. And new righteousness. With all his subtitled texts, I realized his story could be set as a newspaper having multiple chapters on each page, working down to conclusions. Wondered about selling it broadsheet fashion.

“We should begin in Lhasa, but it’s hard to talk about a place you’ve never been and people you’ve never met,” he said. “Unlike Narpa, who is already …”

Yes, we could see.

“A saga of late adolescence, birth and rebirth, innocence and loss, as revealed by Sanjaya, the blind seer and ancient sage. Who happens to be one and the same as my Aunt Berthanna. Something deep within the cells beckons us to push on. Beyond. Disturbs our peace, infects our wealth until, with some cosmic grace, we come to peace with ourselves, you know … the elements of Scripture and Blake become harmonic chords. Weather vanes in the circus of flames. See how Shiva dances! Krsna supports all this on a single breath!”

I wanted to ask, “So, just where have you been?”

On a pack trip through the Catskills. Not much room.

Or ANGER, as the meaning of life. Or even:

Fashion = Money.

“Also, see how much any involvement with a mate who desires the material world would enslave you. Traps? Better to bear the pain of separation than lose the birthright of freedom. Possessions crush.”


Still, in the aftermath of love, I felt intensely lonely, no longer in touch with anything. Thought life shouldn’t be like this.

Professional (as in JOB) = a prop, identity, PURPOSE.

At the edge of the city, the apartment complex was an island.

According to Isadora, whatever our field, we were expected to be “idiomatically correct.” That is, idiom was the measure of acceptability our “professionalism” as an artist.

“The current idiom is jerky, instant, and above all, violent. We excuse ourselves, This is a violent world, after all. This is a sick world. Our job is simply to mirror society.”

“As Believers, how do we cope with this?” Wycliffe challenged.


Narpa had a point.

Two women at the next table talked heatedly about an announcement at work: “You are invited to participate in the Office Gift Fund,” it said. “Its purpose is to have ready monies for flowers, presents, etc., in case of sickness, weddings, and such things as farewell parties. It eliminates the nuisance of having someone take up a collection from time to time and removes the inequities in giving resulting from such collections. …”

It sounded less interesting than your headache type. That is. Keeping your headache diary. Or headache dry.

With Jupiter in Aquarius, the doing of what I could, from within, and then with Jupiter gone, the polishing of these with Saturn in my house of communication, and the LEARNING ordeal reworking (the forecast of yet further revisions in the light of time) now going six years in Scorpio, after the tentativeness of Libra (of which there is so much in my chart), the culmination of the Zodiac. Well, Narpa pointed to the power of career and pulling it together, the deep urge to be moving, working, the sense that something is indeed happening, that the voice is emerging, that the imagination can be tapped at last, that possibly the Hitchhiker may take me deeper (and that I may perhaps open that silent voice in him, the one that he cannot often reveal in our modern confusion.)

Wherever Hitchhiker had gone.

MANI means “jewel” and “phallus” as well!


Into the center! Om! Into the Void!

The first monastery in Tibet founded by Samyas 749 C.E. or by Indian Monk Santa Rakshita following on the work of Jnana Garbha and others.

Isadora no longer needed the big conception, long since thrown out for smaller, tighter pieces.

Bosch said the hardest part was naming the pieces for exhibition.

Or performance, in my case, Isadora corrected.

Or matting and mounting them. Depends, Bosch said.

Processing and printing are dull work, Wycliffe added.

But you can always find someone else for the matting, Bosch continued.

Then there was a requiem for Big Bad Ed and Brother Frank, who had owned the café. It wasn’t at the church on the corner, either.

All before the new liturgy of crocus in the morning sun.

And narcissus out of nowhere.

Drugs & dreams.

Turkish carpets. Persian blue, too.

Various disguises.


Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. And then fragile spring bloom fluffing trees of yellow green lint, final demise of winter.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.

Holy writ

Wycliffe had been through this before. Not the Asian invasion, as such, but the world distilling–and-expanding part. He’d been in the medieval university and the castle.

Homer and Virgil knew the necessity of flight. The refuge of deep night. Neighbors who kept to themselves.

I added a big sign to the front of Pinky’s Big Bundle Launderama: “Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness.” I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

It didn’t, as long as I kept the ashtrays clean.

Isadora used sheets two feet by four for her handwritten drafts. They resembled Geological Survey Maps.

Kastoria and its environs had little topographical variation to record. Instead, Isadora’s multicolor markings traced buried energies – resentments, jealousy, passion, toxic industry, betrayal – countered by the sun and wind. Brutal winter, brutal summer. Melted cheese around the edges. And bits of lettuce or cabbage.

Our gardens overflowed. Virgil taught me the secrets of home canning. Row after row of jars. I viewed the full shelves as my own banners of devotion. We had produce to give away. Wycliffe put a big freezer in the warehouse. We filled it for winter.

Isadora could have scored the seasons as a musical seismograph.

Wycliffe slipped off on what he called a sales trip. On his return, pulled out a thin slip. “Little knowest thee thine own insignificance in this great world.”

Hawthorne? he asked. As quoted from a restroom wall.

Turned to Bosch with a sketch and notation of his own: SUBWAY SYMMETRY requires a straightaway.

Suggested we begin manufacturing SHARE A DREAM ANSWERING MACHINES.

“He’s ready to begin considering my movie,” Isadora said. “The one I’ve been writing.”

Narpa had been hoping to construct a stupa in our gardens, a holy mushroom that could be seen a dozen miles in all directions. Now he saw:

Enlarging Squares.

Divine Bodies.

Rotten Meat.


Isadora remembered seeing DuChamp spend hours looking at urinals.

Something that now reminded her of Kastoria.


WINDOWS / SCREENS / MIRRORS (reflections).

Bosch smiled. “Should I insert an ‘urban images’ sequence?”

“What about the problem of having two sets of characters, unrelated by time or place?” Homer inquired.

“So shouldn’t this be set by an art critic, rather than an ethnographer?” Virgil asked, turning to me.

“It’s a documentary,” Isabella insisted.

I could see our compressing worlds were about to collide.

It would be an intense winter.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.

Playing with Tanka boy

God arrived in the shape of a Buddhist. Or the God talk did. Or maybe Narpa was just a yogi.

There was no way he would be confused with the local Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, or Roman Catholics. Not in those robes.

Though he had come to work for Wycliffe, he took only half of the advice, “You learn to keep your eyes open and your mouth shut.” His storefront Dharma Hall, Om Bhao, opened just down the street from my Pinky’s Big Bundle Launderama. He put the word out. Gossip spread, and once the Baptists and Assembly of God plus Deacon Big Bad Ed decried the newest manifestation of Satan in the city, Narpa’s meditation and chanting sessions attracted the curious. Maybe it beat a funeral. Soon he was lecturing to attentive audiences. “Overthrow of the Irreligious,” “The Yoga of the Despondency of Daidalus,” “The Ear-Whispered Tantra,” “Hold High the Banner of Devotion (Sadhanna).”

“I think we should go,” Isadora announced. “See what he’s up to.”

The room was filled with incense and a buzz.

Bosch painted quietly in one corner. The Amen Corner loudly filled another.

“I’m ecumenical,” Narpa explained. “Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Zen, Tibetan, a little Sufi.” He even had books by Gurdjieff and Steiner. Come one, come all.

Still, he was not pleased when people asked if he taught karate or tai-kwan-do. “Not that ecumenical,” he said. “I really do stress ahimsa.” Non-violence.

He spoke of the vital cord that links the higher nature and the animal – and, if severed, there’s no way to master the animal. He unrolled a psychedelic illustration filled with a host of saints and angels offering their guidance and protection. He spoke of learning to see in a new way, through the Third Eye. “From Brahma to a blade of grass, all things are my guru,” he said.

Rinpoche, he added, means “Precious” (like the Sanskrit “Shree” / or “Geshe” = learned lama, alike Hindu “pandit.” Or the Japanese Roshi).

The world was shrinking. The world was multiplying.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.

Field notes

Isadora settled into my loft on Main Street. It was cheap.

She kept scribbling. A Novel in D minor. Views & Reviews. Evaporated Apples, twenty-three pages. Constitution, Consensus, & Consciousness.

So far, she’d taken a thousand paper wad shots at the wastebasket.

“Stop while you’re still ahead,” I said.

“No, I’m going for one more,” she smiled.


She was waiting, recharging, choreographing her next move.

“I’m building anticipation,” she leered.

I could see she stepped in the spaces between musical notes.

She heard Wycliffe’s press at work as a dozen bullfrogs accompanied by a bass drum. The leaves stacked up.

He and Bosch were loading another boxcar at the warehouse dock.

The destination was a fortress where murky music steamed from the fourth floor. Cadillacs circled the tower of accountants. No one – drivers, passengers, or bookkeepers – perceived the sun overhead.

“Go on, speak of God,” Isadora hissed, twirling.


To open the complete (free) novella, With a passing freight train of 119 cars and twin cabooses, click here.