Living the Dream

I entered a fast food restaurant,

My brand, where they will serve

Breakfast 24/7 & where I’ve never

Been sick afterwards, &  this knowledge

Is very valuable much like entering

An area in remote Indonesia & figuring out the

Friendly tribes & how to avoid the cannibals,

I & my wife walk up to the counter, an affable Chicano dude

Takes my order, while giving others in the

Kitchen  orders & I ask him how he is doing?

“Living the dream,” he says,

“Living the dream,” he repeats,

“And you sir?” he asks.

“Wonderful!” I reply, “Wonderful!” I repeat.

I’ve been sitting in my back yard

Remembering this and taking in my

Flowering light lavender purple crepe myrtle, with finches eating

Thistle seed from the hanging socks, my wife has tied there,

in this twenty foot tree the finches are hanging

upside down on the sock like yellow monkeys &

Loud red and orange Canna Lilies in the corner of the yard and now bright

New Red Crepe myrtle, is coming in beside the compost box, at breast height

Flowering for the first time deep purple red, I’m making small talk with my wife &

We are on a back deck under an umbrella at 10 am drinking good coffee

& it will be 104 degrees today, but now it is so pleasant &

I’m remembering this breakfast two weeks ago &

Thinking about “living the dream,” this gentleman

Had lots of tattoos, and deep scars on his face

& forearms—clearly some of his dreams had been

Nightmares, & there was a tone of

Sarcasm in his reply, & so much of this life in

Stepping  into retirement has been this ever-rewarding notion that

I am living the dream, while the poems & stories come out &

Scream out sometimes or sometimes softly but I’m finally living the dream

& the small pension and social security are like the Guggenheim

I never applied for, nor even wanted to apply for, & this

Notion of the artists’ life having to have the day job, & wait,

I did both, I waited, did the bidding of others for a decades & a half

& now I get to fish when I want drive this word processor all day

Or fifteen minutes if I want & I’m taking all this in and paying

Attention dutifully to what my wife is saying, & then she leaves & more

Finches come, a beautiful small red & blue grosbeak comes to the

Bird feeder & peeks around the foliage, leaves, comes back leaves again

& comes back and feeds, I notice robins in the grape vines on the white picket

Fence & realize they are eating our grapes that have just ripened, I yell

At them, my wife has come to find out what is going on &

I tell her about the grapes & we both go to inspect, &

Well they have hammered all fifty or sixty bunches of table grapes

That we were waiting to pick tomorrow, my wife is really mad

& I’m out on the other side of the fence laughing at the birds & the picked

Clean clumps that were just yesterday pumping up their white green

Sugary goodness & are now skeletons beneath the yellowing leaves

I am living the dream; &  I’ve got scars to prove it, like the sweet gone grapes

It is very good this given life & its mortal expanse &

Last year the neighbors picked the grapes while we were on holiday.

 

Now, let-me-tell-you-this-story..

I was in Peter’s cabin in southern Oregon, in the summer of 1981,

Peter had finished Seminary in 1965, & having done a stint as a

Chaplain in the Navy, or maybe it was the Army, he declined  to be ordained,

& went to work selling books for New Directions,

In 1967, he’d been hitting up book stores for

James Laughlin, & he stopped in

San Francisco—took LSD, & tried briefly

To become King of the hippies & realizing there

Were too many pretenders to the throne, he

Then retreated to southern Oregon, where

He bought a very small cabin in the woods & went on forays

For Amanita mushrooms every fall and spring on the Oregon coast,

He’d dry hundreds of  them & step into an altered reality most every day, then

Run ten  miles &  in his mid-forties he looked like an athlete in his twenties,

Peter had an estranged wife in  northern California & a young daughter

& was dating a nurse from the Psych ward in  a Medford hospital,

When I met him, & the first time I was in his cabin, on a round oak

Dining table was a copy of Wasson’s, Soma: the Divine  Mushroom of Immortality;

An ethno-mycological study—the cover a stark-white layout

With two   bright red  Amanita Muscaria  mushrooms w/white spots,

You will see this entheogenic mushroom in illustrations

Of Grimm’s fairy tales & even Disney’s Snow White, but Wasson’s contention

Is that this mushroom was instrumental in prehistoric world religion

& that is widely held now, as a naturalistic explanation of religion

& the summer after college I house-set my English professors apartment in Cambridge

& read this book, & Peter, impressed that I knew anything about it

Proceeded to let me sample, his stash of Ammanita Pantherina’s which were not red

but the color of gold leaf  & fruited out in the springtime & stronger than the Muscaria, &

two weeks after I’d had several small doses, I came over one morning for coffee,

&  Pete fed me six dried pancake-size mushrooms

I went up on his roof  & about an hour later he gave me five more with water,

I laid down and looked at the forest, took in the madrone trees and Douglas fir

over Pete’s house & though slightly nauseous I began to get really high,

I moved slowly off the roof from a ladder &

I came down & made my way around his house & out to a postage  stamp size

Lawn of about hundred square feet that was adjacent his house, & then

Down a path, beside his driveway & a small pond he’d made, with a pole

Bridge arcing over the top & transplanted river iris in the bank where a spring fed in

& I continued up the path where there were  a number of  Washington Lilies, whose

trumpet shaped white flowers on stems five to six feet tall, exuded a fragrance

that can waft 50 feet or more & these radiant lilies are named for Martha Washington

& walking by this air filled  florescence in white flowers nodding  facing outward

pale-lavender on the outside & tiny purple spots on inside, tips slightly curved back

I continued toward & into a stand of Ponderosa pine with black oak & Douglas fir mixed in

& now a  dry balsam smell  & now I was about a hundred yards from Peter’s cabin

& suddenly there was a man walking ahead of me I’d not seen before

He slowed, I got closer and I noticed the man was in a grey robe &

He turned around & I saw clearly this man was Jesus, & as

He turned I noticed a demeanor that was not one of annoyance, but

Yet it was as if he had been distracted by me,  from some other more pressing  intention, &

He had looked like this was going to be a necessary explanation for a too

Inquisitive child, & I had said nothing  & yes

there was seemingly white light  when I got close, much like the lilies

“I’m going to show you something,” He said,

“that most people don’t get to see until they die..” &  then

He touched me on my forehead with the flat part of a right forefinger bent slightly inward,

His hand making a half fist, & instantly inside me & every atom, every molecule of every plant,

& every rock,  & every tree & the water, the air & the bright blue summer sky—became

Love, as a base of experiential reality more real than anything I’d

Ever known, or have known since, & love was very apparently— the construct of  everything

& it was all pervasive & all around me,

& in me, & then breathing deeply, Jesus having since departed,

I staggered back to Pete’s house where there were now three people sitting on his lawn

&  I  loudly announced to everyone that,

“All there is, is love!” & they laughed as

I  announced this over & over—& I told no one about the Jesus

Part of this story—for about 35 years,

& I do not think I was supposed to..

I did assume this was a drug induced phenomenon, a vision none-the-less,

This phenomenon in the charismatic world is called an open vision,

Then after having  again, my own subjective yet, extra earthly always unexpected

Sober encounters with this same Jesus, though not as Christophany, as I’ve described, so

Eventually, I discounted naturalism as a notion & a base construction of reality

& just accepted that yes, of course it was Jesus,

& yes, I needed that, & I needed to know this was so, once & for all & always

You see, one week before this encounter  I was in Rock Creek Canyon & I—a stoned hippie,

Had scratched in large letters, on a rock, “God is Love,” & I knew this was true, only as philosophy &

Left it there for someone to find, & that this Jesus found me, & straightened this out &

He has been finding me in my own wondering ever since,

Now a reality & then a notion, but that notion now brings barrier, while this other is

As faith, eternal sustenance, sure goodness, & loving  kindness, &

Because it really is true that despite everything else, really,

Love is all there is.