Received an email the other day from an amigo I met in early 2001, when I lived on the street. He said he had attended last week’s open mic at Sippin’ Internet Cafe in Key West and it was really good. I frequently attended Sippin’s Open mic when I lived in Key West before moving back up here to the boondocks, so I tooled down to Key West yesterday evening, after a hard day hoeing weeds and chopping snakes.
I arrived a bit early, so I went over to Jack Flats to have dinner and deal with the startled looks from familiar faces who had never seen me without a beard. I’ve been telling people I’m on an undercover assignment and for them to please not tell anyone who I am, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. My cover keeps getting blown, I keep getting told I look thirty or twenty years younger without the beard, and I keep saying I don’t feel younger. I keep getting told women are going to like me better without the beard, and I keep saying where are these women?
After dinner and fun conversation with one of the bartenders I got to know pretty well over the years, I waddled back over the Sippin” and into the open mic now well underway. My old amigo from the living on the street days was there and we shook hands and hugged. I grabbed a chair beside him and listened to one performer after another sing or tell stories or recite poetry. My ears perked up some when one fellow got up and said he was into the New Age and was going to do a couple of songs about New Age healing. That led to my going over and writing my name on the sign-up sheet, to get in line to hold forth.
When my time came, I waddled over to the little band stand and took the mic off its metal holder and said the fellow who sang the New Age songs had inspired me to get up there.
I said back in 1999, I had hitchhiked from Birmingham, Alabama to Seattle, carrying only a small backpack and my writing notebook. Wherever I went, I told people I was taking notes for my next book: “Diary of a Redneck Mystic.” I was amazed to discover how many mystics there were in places like Montana, North Dakota and Indiana. They all wanted their stories to be in my book. But the publisher said it was too mystical to be a redneck book, and too redneck to be a mystical book. Some laughter from the audience at this point. Actually, I never wrote the book. Some more laughter.
I paused, looked over at the New Age fellow, said, I once passed through the New Age and went to many New Age healers and paid them lots of money to help me, but they all said whatever was going on with me was beyond their range. I said this was before some poetry I was going to share came to me, and I started with this poem, which came to me at the breakfast table in mid-April 1995:
Shaman . . .
You now are . . .
Angels walk beside you
and call you their brother . . .
Even as you curse the heavens
for making you one who wields the lightning . . .
Be kind to your brothers and sisters . . .
but take no prisoners . . .
Kill them all in my name . . .
as I have killed you . . .
So you, and they,
might live . . .
I said it was a few years before I understood who the voice was in that poem, and it was really embarassing to finally realize it was the Christ. I said I was put through all sorts of horrible shit, learning all about the Devil. The Devil in me. The Devil outside of me. And yet it all turned out to be easy, compared with what was done to me later. I said I wrote lots of poetry about the Devil in me back then, but I would not share any of that poetry just then.
I looked at the New Age fellow, said, back then I ran with some young Rainbows, because they were the only people I could talk with about what I was experiencing. I met up with them on Pearl Street Mall, in Boulder, Colorado, where I lived then. They talked about experiences they had on LSD, peyote, mushrooms. Some laughter from the audience. I talked about experiences I had on nothing. At first they insisted I was taking something to have those experiences, but I kept saying I was taking nothing, and finally they believed me and said, “Wow, far out, man.” Some laughter from the audience.
I said the next poem was sort of New Age:
The sacred prism
through which souls are refracted
into their elemental parts,
purified in hole fire,
and sent on their way
to not even God knows where,
simply because they are all
unique emanations of God,
Then, I said,
Who invented the rule that poetry must rhyme, have pentameter, be cast into verse, be politically correct, remain on the safe side of the fence? Yes, please tell me who invented that stupid, fucking rule? Shorley it warn’t de maka ob de furst ston – udderwiz der’d be no stons to brake all dem slavin’ ruls!
Some of the performers in the audience nodded agreement.
I paused, said when the next poem came to me, I knew I was fucked:
I happened upon a mockingbird
singing its fool head off.
I asked it why and how it sang,
but all it did was look ahead,
all it did was sing.
I paused, said there were lots of mockingbirds in Birmingham, and there are lots of mocking birds in Key West. Then, I finished the poem.
It never turned to see if I was watching,
or listended for money jingling in my pockets,
or asked if I liked its music,
or expected a recording contract.
It was too busy singing
to pay any attention to me.
Some of the performers in the audience nodded agreement.
There is no somewhere over the rainbow,
Nor is there a pot of gold at the end -
There is only the rainbow.
Black is white,
White is black,
When they fuse,
I said, I had to learn about the Devil in me, to learn about God. I had to learn about the darkness in me, to learn about the light. I had to learn about the female in me, to learn about the male.
I said it was horrible, but it got a lot worse. I looked around the audience, said, when they sit in their medicine wheels, when they go to church and pray, when they do sweat lodges, all of those things I had done, to be very careful what they ask for, because they sure didn’t want to experience what I had experienced.
I put the mic back in its holder and started to step down from the band stand and got my right foot caught in the mic cord. I laughed, said it must be a synchronistic event. I must be supposed to keep talking. Some laughter. I said, no, I was through. But if they wanted to see what all the angels put me through, they could check out goodmorningkeywest.com each day.
I dreamt last night of telling you about all of that today, so that’s how come I told you about it.
One other thing that maybe I should share today, because it seems on topic and I dreamt about it also last night, is something I found on the Coconut Telegraph of bigpinekey.com yesterday and answered yesterday afternoon between its paragraphs.
~[Sloan was wondering what God thinks about the corruption in KW] God to Sloan: Enjoying the KW criminal drama but only watch and investigate for now. I’m waiting and hoping to see what human solutions will arise to solve all the political corruption and crime problems through out the Keys. Meanwhile my top guy, Michael, is on the ground investigating everything as we speak.
Don’t hold your breath. No human solutions will arise to solve all the political corruption and crime problems throughout the Keys – or any of those problems. Surely by now, you have woken up to being able to see it is human nature, like breathing, eating, drinking water, and peeing and crapping, to engage in political corruption and commit crimes. Michael indeed is on the ground, we palaver daily, or nightly, making a list of who’s been naughty or nice, which will be presented when the roll is called up yonder. Some of the folks with the longest lists are going to be really surprised when that day comes. I sure was surprised when my roll was called by Michael.
In the old days I could solve my children’s problems quick and easy with a couple of lighting bolts, a big flood, even a nasty plague or such, but given that you elected a president with new targeted tolerance policies my hands are tied for now. I was hoping by now all my children would be able to solve any problems they created, but I guess my expectations were just a tad to high. Also could you please show a little respect and turn the light off at night when you grab … I was sure you’d out grow that nasty habit, but I was wrong again.
Read the previous paragraph about human nature. The present President is one of the offenders, so how could he possibly bring about change and hope? None of this is news to you, but we play this little game, don’t we? Used to be, when I turned out the light, I grabbed parts of Eve that interested me, and vice versa. Since she left, there’s only one thing left to grab after I turn out the light. Miss Kitty doesnt’ like it, and when she complains too much, I grab the other only thing left to grab.
Good luck, live long and prosper my son, later!
Later always seems to be God’s plan for me. Meanwhile, I hope each day will be my last.
PS. I hope any skeletons that may have been hiding in your closet have been dismantled. Those silly sword carrying Archangels, especially Michael, get real touchy when they think they’ve been conned.
As far as I know, all the skeletons in my closet have been dragged into the light of day and shaken hard, but whether or not they have been dismantled, I cannot say. Michael led the charge in that enterprise. Perhaps after seeing how it all went for me, God decided it wasn’t worth the effort to try that with anyone else and called Michael off the skeleton patrol. By the way, there is no way a human being can con an Archangel, because Archangels have X-ray vision and hearing and nothing escapes them that people do or even think.