Calling All Cars Just to Say Hello, Part 1

(You’d Have to Let Me In)

The entrance hallway to Forte Prenestino

Look for the man who has nothing but is not worried about what he is going to drink or where he is going to eat. Invite that man to your house, for that man will bring wisdom there.

I told this to a man in a dream on a bus at a town square, Crete, 2002

Adventure travel—what conjures up images of a rather wet Thor Heyerdhal on the Kon-Tiki trying to prove the currents of fate, not the hands of mastery, drew things, or, at a highest height, on mountains that is, maybe an old, black and white, otherworldly photo of Tenzing Norgay atop Mt. Everest comes to mind, which, no doubt due to a faulty racial default in our thinking, most people used to think was of Sir Edmund Hillary, or on a more mundane level, a superfast montage runs through your imagination of ‘running through the jungle’ wildcats and polar bears (jungle: anywhere wild and woolly) hot on your heals—is not exactly what you think it is. It’s traveling the world penniless, or rather, only with what money people have given you along the way or you have earned along that same way, but either way the whole thing’s quite an adventure, because, dead broke or not, you are in the hands of the aforementioned fates and have to use what mastery you have in your hands to navigate those terrible, sweet and lonely winds towards one safe harbor after another, or not so safe, whatever the case may be, and, believe me, it can take your breath away.

I spent several years in this mode, starting with a hunger strike outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem in ’95 (you must pardon me, I was only 33), adrift on the waves of the world, traveling from country to country a vagabond, although I billed myself a spiritual pilgrim, setting my pilgrim feet on five continents, although in Africa it was only a step or two, to Mt. Sinai, Cairo and her Great Pyramid (this blog tells those Egyptian stories in a collection of stories called “A Journey of a Thousand Tongues,” which, I might add, hardly a single tongue has yet to wag about). All this was before the net became the dwelling place of our show and tell, and I carried neither a camera nor kept a waking life journal, after the Israel and Egypt poetry posting adventure that is, and parts of the journal I kept then, called “The Overthrow of I Am At the Equality of Soul”, are posted in that aforementioned collection, and so I basically have only an old passport to prove I went here and there, and these stories that came out of it that I’m writing now, over 20 years later. Let me say here and now that, over time, the whens of things and their names do cloud over a bit. You can never remember exactly what happened back then. Do I let the facts get in the way of the story? I try my best to stick to the facts, do not purposefully lie, exaggerate, or embellish for effect.

I do also have a now motley collection of dream and muse notebooks I began to keep after a nine month stay in Cuzco, Peru, when the muse first began to sprinkle down, muse being inner voice and vision, it becoming a flood in an little healing community off the grid in the state of Bahia, Brazil, called Kahlil Gibran. That ongoing inner journal, which I keep to this day, would not give much of a picture of my travels, like viewing them through the waters of consciousness, sideways and underwater at that, and so, other than perhaps getting illuminated here and there, you would have very little idea what’s going on with my adventure travel, which I can make a strong case that I continue to this day, although I’ve been in India and in basically the same place since ’04, because I’m still penniless and have no bank account or notable possessions, did not even have current ID until some weeks ago when I finally renewed my passport. If you don’t think you are a traveler on God’s green globe, stationary or not, you need to do some more figuring on life and its grand, same, same but different adventure. We’re on a planetary spaceship for God’s sakes, hurtling through cosmic space, etching deep furrows in the unknown, and if that’s not enough to make you dizzy thinking about your life’s journey, just ask yourself what in the world is behind, or bigger, than the cosmic space we’re shooting through at umpteen miles per hour. You have got to figure it just keeps getting bigger, adventure that is. You with me?

Incredible Ways
Italy

I got kicked out of one of the most notorious squats in the Western European squatters movement, or at least it was in 2002, the year this story begins—Forte Prenestino in Rome. It’s not easy to get into. You have to be recommended by someone living there to stay, and, if it’s not open for visitors, as it wasn’t the night I showed up, you can’t possibly get in. It’s heavily fortified, with a moat guarding its castle-like entrance. It is, after all, an old fort Mussolini had built, one of a handful around Rome, with a castle-high, thick concrete wall surrounding it, which guards a large, grassy open space that all the bunker-like buildings attached to the wall open towards. It has high ramparts surrounding it too, where the squatter community grew ganja, and for some reason having to do with politics, the communists that controlled the district allowed that, but it was an uneasy unlawful adventure nonetheless, and constantly hanging over its head back then was the threat of the other powers that be of Rome coming in and raiding the place and taking everyone to jail. Like in Northern California in the ‘good old days’ (I’m talking about the outlaw society hanging on such an interesting and creative cultural edge, not the presence of the law), helicopters often flew overhead, strafing the place. How many years it went on I don’t know, but with that threat always around their neck and all the squabbling among the members of the squat over the buying, selling, and smoking of the marijuana, the squat had almost ceased to function. Closed was its famous clown school, its restaurant, its avant-garde this and that, although it still did occasional raves.They’d started a tradition of once a year inviting a lot of press and throwing a big pot smoking party, and the one they’d thrown that past year before I showed up had really ruffled some authority feathers, had gotten the goat of the cops, I heard once I got in, and so they were really on edge.

at 41, Matala, Crete, 2002

Enter me. For reasons having to do with the purifying and grounding effect it would have on my consciousness and not out of some moral sense, and because I didn’t want to mess up my muse by clouding it with substance and desire, the whole time I was vagabonding in Europe, about a year and a half, I didn’t smoke grass or tobacco, do any kind of drug, drink alcohol, eat meat or eggs, or have any kind of sex, even that kind you do with yourself. That I looked the very opposite kind of character, more the kind of character I was in South and Central America (uh, moving right along), although I didn’t drink alcohol or eat meat in the Americas, sure made me suspicious around that squat and many others in the circle A crowd, that symbol of anarchy used then by squatters. “Just take a hit, one hit.” “No thank you. I’m not smoking pot right now.” Red flags all over the place: police spy! Interpol worm. Narc. That most such people get high seems to have escaped their notice. Don’t tell me they don’t inhale Mr. President.

Winter was coming, and I wanted a place to sit safe and write, both poetry and prose, although my muse had yet to give me whole poems. At that time it was just scattered lines that when you put them together could form a poem, if it were intended to by the muse, such as “A Suicide Bomber’s Broken Arrow Is Broken”, which I put together in a private squat on Strasbourg in Paris, right before I left for Rome, what was submitted to and rejected by The Atlantic Monthly I might add. It has since been made into more of a whole poem, as I went to work on it here in India after I was getting whole poems. It’s on my spiritual blog “Harm’s End”, which I do with Douglas, my collaborator in life. From the time I’d started getting muse, I was filled with this sense of urgency to put it together and publish it, and when you put that together with the constant feeling I had that I had to sit and write, not for the sake of writing but to publish, what I was doing basically the whole time I was adventure traveling, trying to find a place I could write and not have to worry about what I ate or where I slept, you get a rather hurried, worried traveler.

It never seemed to dawn on me that, when I did get somewhere I was taken care of or had some gig where I could earn my keep, cooking or teaching English usually, or helping people learn to interpret their dreams and such, sometimes teaching meditation and yoga, what I did in Cuzco, on TV with Douglas at that (he’s my other half basically), I rarely wrote.

It’s part of the immaturity of a one day writer and poet to feel that they need to show it to the public before they are really ready to. I mean it’s normal, but it’s still not kosher if you know what I mean. God help you if people read you and call you a writer or poet before you’re really one. I could use a sexual reference people today may consider offensive, as if I’m hitting them with unwanted sexual images, and call to mind premature ejaculation, and, oops, I’m afraid I did. We might call almost all of net writing a premature spill, especially with its attention deficit disorder missing the point only wanting to get to the point, that point being, striped of all other clothes, to post and be read as quickly as possible by as many people as possible, that, I might add, gets forgotten quickly to boot. “It’s a lot of tongue wagging. Creative potential, but it doesn’t spin properly and make for itself a substantiality, an intellectuality” (my muse). The years of practice writing used to take before you got read seem to have vanished along with great writing, in my humble opinion. With any kind of writing worth its salt, but most especially with the inner listening skills required to hear the muse of poetry, and the skill to quickly change levels of consciousness so as to record it, you need many years to cultivate it, watch it grow.

Do we have anything for the hit parade?
Hello I’m his muse.
Walk softly stick;
carry a big heart—
adventure travel in the rain.
That’ll liven it up.

I turned around to look back at the big door, gate really, having just crossed the bridge. I was in travel mode and carrying my backpack. I’d been asked to leave. Memories of the three weeks swam by, my long, lonely, lovely walks in the neighborhood, sittings in the children’s park just next to the fort, the smiles of the mothers, the shouts of the children, the cool evenings that melted into night as I stood on a rampart overlooking the kingdoms of the little life, seeing inside myself the same but also a strong feeling to go beyond, the bus rides to this ancient ruin and that, which I did without paying (the fine for doing that was 51 euro, odd that number), and I never met the Man, except for the time I was on the way to the Coliseum, accompanied by a Catholic priest I’d met who wanted to give me a tour of it, and at about midway, at a stop, I had this undeniable urge to get off, and I did so, saying a sudden, awkward goodbye to the priest, and right as I got off the ‘bus police’ were getting on to check for tickets, believe it or not, that darn mosquito that taught me so much about how aware they are, how much they want to live, by attacking me in my bed and then flying nonchalantly away half the length of the long, narrow room, which began to fly frantically again as soon as it noticed I’d followed it, so to avoid being clapped in my hands and killed, the three young Middle Eastern men who lived in an identically long room next to mine, who took such care of the youngest one, who just wasn’t right, the other two always very close to him when they left their room, never letting him walk out of their care, they telling me he’d been tortured much worse than they, where I don’t remember, but I do remember, vividly, wondering over that torture and his inability to return to us from it, because it was as though he really wasn’t with us, wasn’t even with his two fellows in displacement, one of whom was his big brother, and I wanted to tell the boy to just forget about it and come back, not yet aware that there are things you don’t come back from so easily, because you’ve seen how hell can open up on earth and swallow whole lives, yours swallowed as though it were happening to the whole wide world itself, sort of like how a black hole is said to swallow things, stretching them out to infinity, and no matter how fair the world may appear, how full of laughter and love, you know that’s not the case, and that the beauty’s only a thin veil waiting to be rent at any moment. You’ve seen the truth behind it, the real, and you can’t for the life of you stop looking at it.

Or so the world seems to those whom it’s bitten so very badly. They can’t just forget, but they can heal, something no doctor or drug can really help them with, although those things can teach them to go deeper, if they’re worth their salt. Only their very own soul can heal them, because they have been bitten so deeply they have seen behind the veil, but in their pain they’re not seeing true; they’re seeing the enigma, the specter, which claims to be reality but is itself just another veil, though a fundamental one. The world is like an onion really, and when all layers are peeled you see the soul, and beyond that God, seemingly formless things like the center of an onion, but, when you see them, they are more substantial than form, or really, where form comes from, but you have to see so very deeply to see the truth of the world, and few can make that long journey. I was a person that had seen the truth of which I speak, but only on the inside and deepest of me and in my inside above, and now I was on an adventure to see it out here in the world. So far, though I’d seen a lot of beauty, I had only gotten deep enough to see behind the specter. Looking back at that entrance to the fort and my time there, I felt something, but only now can I put my finger on it.

No, I hadn’t really been treated unfairly by being told to leave. I got into the fort by promising the member who let me in that I’d only stay three days and nights. I’d stayed three weeks and counting. After doing something stupid that reeked of self-importance, that member spoke up, and there was a group discussion. In my travels there were so many of those over me, and not only because of doing something stupid. It happened that we had a visitor, a young man that wanted to see the ‘plants’, and I gave him a small tour on the ramparts, accompanied by another member, a very young man who didn’t challenge me. It was actually he that had started the tour, and I just sort of naturally took over as we walked, my self-importance stepping in and ruining things for me, as it often did. I’m really sorry, for a lot of things, but one of the big ones is how big and important I’ve always thought I was. It’s not that I don’t think that now; I just know it’s not true in the way I’ve always thought it: I am great how are you? although my dogs believe I am. Aren’t dogs wonderful? My muse has said, “Organisms taste themselves bigger than they appear,” and that about sums it up other than to stress I’m not alone in this misperception. Can we dwell the world here?

I guess I scared that pot growing, squatting community some, looking like I’d just stepped out of some commune of the 60’s, a leader of one at that, and not smoking grass myself but showing such a keen interest in their pot crop, or so my action must’ve seemed to them. It really was just self-importance rearing its head. At any rate, I was out, how that group discussion turned out, with one dissenting voice, from a rather hip and intelligent man that spoke good English who lived in a sort of camp (was it a mini-trailer?) in the center of the fort’s field. I asked him to intercede on my behalf. I wanted to winter there and write poetry, and would they just please allow me to do that? I really made a bid to stay. I told them, through my friend, that I’d do any kind of work they wanted, and I could help reopen their restaurant, and I had some thoughts on that, which no doubt helped their decision: who does he think he is? Out, out, out.

This is a monster ole hell.
Yeah Donny,
you’ve picked out the asuras on their walls.
It’s place and I’m sorry.
And you know what they did?
They built bombs.
It was in the snow under their coat.
Didn’t use it.
That’s Forte Prenestino.

You can buy me some coffee.
These are public works.
A brand new diet,
hearing inner vision.
You wouldn’t call it what you get in a fact-based check-phone.
It’s lucid and free.
There open
to reality’s deeper sheathes,
and you give it your outer truth,
and you won’t get reality exactly as happened.

Inner truth
is so beautiful.
It’s got everybody in the same hand.
Daddy? Daddy?
The Who wants to
tell the kids are alright.
Anti-daddy,
I’m so sorry,
you’ll have to fight with ‘im
where it’s at:
that’s bad ain’t it?

Reading this sentence it was to gather the world.
It’s bigger than words.
It’s your enjoyment at this page,
and every set of feet was pilgrimly determined.
You know I’m talkin’ about love.
There’s your headwaters,
your comfortable sight,
your headquarters.
If you have nothing to do with it I can buy it,
all lock, stock, and barrel.

And this is Earth kind
reminding you of our holes in the sky
where love is not our bottom line.
We need more from such forts
than smoking politics,
and whatever protest movements.
Where we fail one another,
is that in our letter box?
Create Forte Prenestino
the fact that you put it there.

Here we are again, on the highway. I’m getting used to the pack again, and that was always an adjustment, no matter how many times I took it off and put it back on, and I’d gotten a rucksack attached to me in the Green Berets, 20 years earlier—I mean fitted to my back like it was a growth on it, if you know about SF and rucking. Although there was plenty of traffic, I found myself doing more of a rucksack march than hitching. Nobody was picking me up, at all. I’d taken the Old Roman Road, not the freeway, going south to catch the ferry to Greece. My plan had been to go to Athens for the winter if Rome failed, and it had. Damn them barbarians. I’d started my journey from Paris, and I mean this looking for a place to hold up for the winter leg of it, as Paris didn’t let me stay either.

You ever heard of a city being? They exist, but the city has to be near as old as the hills, or is or is going to be really a hub of things, to grow a proper one. I’m not talking about the soul things but of things we aren’t yet aware of. Being is larger than form, can take form in inanimate things, in a complex system such as a city for example, an exceptional and lonely mountain, or an old haunted island for that matter. I can go on, but that’s enough to try and wrap your head around the idea. Is a city being conscious? I really asked Paris to let me stay, put little notes in the crevices of some of its monuments asking that, walked its streets with that request in my heart and mind, told it to its residents I met in its parks, but only the ones that looked to have an ear for it. One kind and wise lady I spoke to in a park, and Paris is a place of parks, told me not to be disappointed if I couldn’t stay, said it like she knew I wouldn’t be able to, and I knew Paris was speaking but didn’t want to know that. You know how it is when you hear words of fate. “If this city wants me to leave…,” meaning city you jerk, and this was my muse at the time.

The big problem with Paris is I’m having to look at myself—
comida national.
Assembly, the unconsciously decided.
There is a Paris watching.
And if I ask,
I think maybe there was a seeing from the beginning.

(my muse back then)

If you know how to sit and look, or walk and do so, you can catch a city being being a city unto itself, its central movement that is, doing something vital in the city, but it’s being a city being all over the city, even in our homes and offices. I think it’s photography that can best capture a city’s central movements so people can see them, the stark way it shows an event, one, single frame of movement, what happens too quick for the naked eye, but when we see what we’ve captured, God dog, we’ve caught something alive, however deft it might be.

It’s a real being.
There’s thick there.
That means slow, retarded movement.
Leave a lot of space.
You mean a self?
And there it looks.
Ooh.

We could just turn to brotherhood,
how it serves up its food.
It’s the biggest model in the house.
Can you see it?

I wasn’t an obstacle.
It didn’t step in and make sure I stayed.
It didn’t come around with a house.
Do I see a snob?

Um, Rascal?
I don’t think his notebooks make poems yet.
Off the grid.

Can you see Paris?
I’ve given you a world.
That’s the world being,
who I’m really sneaking up on.

How about the surveillance camera?
A bigger monster
than a ghoul.
You hear me sweetheart?
I’m listenin’ to these hoods in culture.
That’s about to happen somewhere.
Hunt me down and kill me
if I still told you.

Nobody works for his realization.
You look like a rascal.
They just put the glasses on me.
Can we curd this?
You have those messages now
tellin’ people you’re sorry.

You are the hour of the unmanifest.
You are a vehicle of the unmanifest.
Hear the world here.
It’s the unmanifest.

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye
Mr. Armstrong.
Details to get out of prison,
cramped experience.

I’d taken the Old Roman Road because it sounded romantic, and ancient, and I was into ancient. It was not, however, a very practical decision it turned out. While I’m sure I got at least one ride before I got to Lake Albano, 25 klicks south of Rome, I don’t remember any such significant cultural exchange up to that point, and, believe me, if you’re an American hitching in almost any other country with the possible exception of Canada, ehh, you have a little more umpth in your cultural exchange. You know the song: “America, fuck yeah!” Even if they don’t say much of anything, other than to ask where you’re from, the number one question both among travelers themselves meeting one another and when you’re a traveler meeting somebody regarding themselves as stationary beings, you feel both their ambiguity and awe over the good ole U.S. of A. It’s just the country, you know, love it or hate it. Who’s t-shirt does the world wear? I doubt the citizens of many other countries could vagabond quite like I was doing. I was in a similar position to ole apostle Paul, carrying a U.S. passport that allowed me to go most anywhere almost no questions asked. In the newly formed European Union (I’d landed in it almost to the day the Euro was issued), whatever the regulations might’ve said, an American at that moment could travel freely and stay in any country without even showing your passport. “I’m an American.” “Oh yeah? You may pass.”

The road ran up steeply on the side of the lake, it to my left, it a bit breathtaking with all the villas along its shoreline, which were nestled in old trees, and it much bigger than I’d imagined it would be on the road going towards it, but it was soon so far below it was no longer the main event. The road was. Shaded and steep, at that juncture, I got a sense of its old age, like it was grooved into the land, which seemed to have shaped itself around it. Then came the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo. I took a detour and went into the compound, also on my left. I walked in a ways and walked back out, the two very young guards eyeing my suspiciously. I eyed them too. They were dressed in ridiculous feather-capped and striped, billowing attire, silly to my New World American mind at least, holding Medieval-style weapon-staffs. The young men were guarding the entrance to the Apostolic Palace, but their purpose was more ceremonial than real, obviously. I could not get over how proud they looked, like they were the pick of the litter. I guess it depends on your perspective. I have no room to talk seeing how ridiculous I must’ve looked to them. It’s just that there were no mirrors in that parking lot, for either of us. Soon I was back out on the highway, hitching to no avail.

You know, I did see the pope, but not there. One day back at the fort in Rome I’d gotten this sudden, strong urge to go to the Vatican, and I did. I hadn’t visited it yet. Inside there was such a hustle and bustle, and I soon learned a cardinal had died, and there was going to be a high mass, and the Pope was about to arrive. “Zenith outing, now that’s a big outing to stay away from,” my muse then. I waited a few minutes, and low and beyond, there he was, Pope John Paul II, standing on a platform being carried by several men down a corridor that ran along one side of the huge hall, marked off by those thick, slack, red, velvet ropes. He was being carried very slowly, and he was looking like a king back and forth at the crowd that lined both sides of the corridor, behind those ropes, and then our eyes met. We stared into each other’s eyes for about ten seconds or so, I kid you not, long enough for people in the crowd to turn and look at me too.

I must explain why he must’ve looked at me. The photo of me above looking like a John Lennon, or some rascal to many eyes, was not how I usually appeared. I never wore sunglasses, because I didn’t want to cover the soul in my eyes, wanted people to be able to see in there, and the person taking the photo just put theirs on me and took the picture, and I just had this feeling that that picture would be viewed a lot in the future, and that’s not exactly the case but close. I’m having to use it in my social media to show what I looked like with my long hair and beard, which I wore for 10 years of my life, from 31 to 41. During that time I didn’t take my own picture (no cellphones back then like now), and I seldom asked my picture to be taken. So I have mostly only the pictures people took of me that they took the trouble to give me, and so I have very few. Although when you get right down to it it’s another feature of self-importance actually, I thought asking or wanting to have my picture taken was vanity. Boy have I regretted that. Anyway, I don’t have good pictures to show you of my real look with long hair, looking at you that is, only ones like below that’s either taken out of group photo or not too clear. Whether you can see it or not in the photo, I got told every time I turned around that I looked like the historical image of Jesus. In Italy, that really meant something, let me tell you.

Lima, Peru, 2000

One time, however, the only time I got my passport checked the whole year and half I was in the European Union, it meant I looked like a dangerous freak. Shortly after the eye to eye staring session with the pope, I high off my ability to be somewhere someone important was about to show up, a vanity high really, I passed by somewhere on the street in Rome and saw, on what I don’t remember, the number 661. I’m into numbers to guide me, and I have my own repertoire of numbers for that, doubles being one thing, like 33, which was and is a number of divine action for me, or 41, which is my number for purity and sexual abstinence and just general wholeness, but triples being, or meaning, so much more, like 441 meant that those qualities were really being represented in the circumstances I saw the number in, or that I should really work much harder to produce those qualities. 661 is a bit different in that it’s the month and year of my birth, June 1961, and when I saw 61, I knew that I was in a really ‘me’ place or should take the number as a yellow brick road towards that, but when I saw 661, I knew that I was in circumstances as me as they could get, or would be if I ‘followed’ the number, or so I thought until this incident.

It certainly didn’t help my appearance that I’d just picked up this ridiculously large plastic flower on a long stem off the ground, which must’ve looked in my hands like a sort of scepter, picking up and carrying some ways strange or beautiful things lying on the ground or somewhere at hand being another thing with me. It also got taken along with my passport, the man taking it wearing this ‘you fool’ face, you absolute fruitcake. It did happen that someone important was about to show up, the prime minister of Italy no less, and there was a small crowd gathered there waiting for him, but I was the only one detained and taken inside the building. I wasn’t handcuffed, just told to wait near a security booth by some mafia-looking security men while they checked my passport for warrants or whatnot. I am sorry, but they didn’t look like secret service, more rough than that. I knew they knew I wasn’t dangerous, and they knew I knew that, as I spent more than a glace looking into the eyes of one of the goons, who met my gaze with utter contempt. The whole thing, I gathered, was just to rain on my parade, and I had been walking on air up to that moment. They saw someone a bit too free, or weird, and they wanted to rein him in and had the power to do so. They gave me back my flower too when they gave me back my passport, with that same look they had they taken it with, and I was told I could go. Yep, 661 also meant, or more meant, beware, something against you being you is about to happen. That was not a fun lesson in sequent numbers, and I felt like a little kid who’s ice cream just fell off the cone and onto the ground, only I didn’t cry. Needless to say, I didn’t wait around for the prime minister.

You’d ask how conscious Rome is. “You can also write to Rome,” my muse said while I was still in Paris, which can also mean the word right too, something the muse does often, makes a double meaning by implying a word that sounds the same as the word spoken but means something different. So, I could go right to Rome, and I could write letters to Rome like I did Paris so to stay there. Implicit in that is a conscious Rome, and walking around the city you can feel its beingness, its greatness actually, as my muse said of it at the time: “A greatness lies willed in the State of Rome,” but you just can’t help but chew on all the cruelty of its culture and its rule in its heyday, and you wonder where all that went to. For me, it’s a sign of our moral progress that, except for some hell opening here and there on the globe, a hell spot usually open somewhere at any given time for a spell, for the most part we aren’t like that anymore, or at least our gladiators don’t kill one another, and we feed people to the crowd to entertain ourselves, not to lions. Rome has also gone through great change, obviously, and I’m talking about the being Rome, but Rome did not match me like Paris did, and here’s a poet talking. At any rate, I couldn’t stay in either city and had to move on from both. My muse also said: “Rome , a preliminary thought for civilization,” and it said that on Crete weeks after I’d left Rome, and putting a personal interpretation on it, as, whether you realize it or not, your muse is always talking about you in some representative fashion or another, Rome was for me not a place to plant the civilization of myself, my culture; it was a prelude to my poetry and to this present story.

There on that Old Roman Road, I wasn’t getting any lifts. I don’t remember if I’d slept a night out or not before the lake or after, but, in any event, I remember that first night, where I just went into the olive trees along the side of the road, near dusk, and found a spot to lay down for the night. I had a small tent, but I only used it occasionally. My time in Special Forces had gotten me accustomed to doing things in the dark and to sleeping on the ground anywhere, but even still, each time I had to begin doing that again in my camping or vagabonding, it’d take about three nights before I got used to it. After the army, while I was going to college, I kept my skills up by often going alone for the weekend to nearby Sam Houston National Forest, where there was a wilderness area, and just roaming around the hiking trails or tracking deer, not to shoot, to get close enough to slap on the butt, something I’d read about in Tom Brown Junior’s books, which I was really into as a teenager before going into the army, any book about wilderness survival.

One slightly magical weekend a couple of years out of the army, I’d been tracking a deer for hours, and I actually (for the first time on my own) not only saw the deer but got within a few feet of it. I was so ready to slap its ass, let me tell you, excited as all get out, which was my undoing. Now a deer can’t see too well, or it maybe can, but it doesn’t realize it’s seeing you until you move. I’d been learning to track them since late childhood, with my dad, but that’s another story. It was on a dirt road, the kind that doesn’t get used much that has grass growing in the center, grazing. I was upwind from it, and so it couldn’t smell me, the sense it relied on the most. I had to move ever so slowly and then stop, frozen in whatever pose I was in when the deer had looked up. I was able to enter the road and begin creeping up on it, it looking up every couple of minutes and sniffing the air, looking straight at me like it knew danger was there but not able to ‘see’ it. The slow pace was too much for my patience. It would have taken hours to move the several feet to slap it. As it was, I did get pretty close, close enough for government work they say, close enough to show you my almost there wilderness skills at any rate. In short, the deer saw me move and bounded away, and I could’ve sworn it was laughing at me as it hopped off: “Silly human, slap my ass will you?” The wilderness does play tricks with your imagination.

The spot I found to spend the night was just off the road, and there were no buildings in sight, and so I felt no need to seek out the owner of the property and ask permission to sleep there. It was a side of the road thing, but some meters into the olive grove, far enough the road was no longer the major event. You cannot call an olive grove a forest, as it’s too kept for that, really orchard-like, except the trees are in uneven rows most of the time, but when the trees are very old, like these were, you don’t feel the keptness of an orchard; you feel the magic of the olive, a feeling of olden times that has some weird, gnarled, wellness in it. I cooked something vegetarian, cooked it on possibly the best piece of equipment I’ve ever had, a very small one burner stove that burned rubbing alcohol, the kind you could get at any medical shop. No prepping or pumping, just lighting the alcohol. It’d boil water within minutes, something of course subject to your distance from sea level, not super fast like a fancy backpacker stove, but who needed fast? I only needed to eat. I usually ate whatever vegetables I’d managed to buy or get given to me boiled with some noodle or rice, usually with some kind of bread, not much variety, but there again, the army had accustomed me to eat what I had and be glad I had it. I lay down in my army down sleeping bag, and I expected ghosts that night. After all, this was the old southern road to and from Rome, where all roads used to lead, and not for goodness’ sakes. But nothing came to visit me that night, and I was disappointed. Little did I know that a couple of nights from then, sleeping in the woods of the railroad tracks in the ferry town of Brindisi…

Do you remember what you thought on so and so day 20 years ago? You might if thinking were as big to you as doing. It started with me quite early, when I’d get up before the family did on Sundays before church and sit on the sofa in the living room and think to myself, starting when I was about four, not long after a horrible metaphysical experience I relate in other writings, which no doubt led to my preponderance for thought. Sorry to leave you hanging in the Void, but we got to get to those ghosts in Brindisi. Anyway, I’m a thinker, and on that day humping my butt off because I wasn’t getting any rides I picked up something I chewed on a lot: the representative nature of the world. That sounds so unlike it really is. What it is I can’t really say because we can only use known words to describe the unknown, can’t describe it as it is to itself; it is unknown after all. It’s not something you only think about; you can feel it too, and as my feet hit the pavement they were sounding the depth of that symbol we are, the world is, not too terribly deep, but deep enough I could almost see it in the sense-world of where my body was at that moment there on that old Roman Road.

My thoughts were on the larger, what the world’s a symbol of, and what it might be ‘thinking’ about the me there hitching. I did and do a yoga that aims to carry such thinking, on the part of us I’s, to a realization of the thought, something that comes in degrees, all the way to being that larger being, but here I’d been chewing on it only for about seven years or so, since I’d started the yoga after my first trip to India. It was getting riper, but it was still a long ways from a threshold moment like Neo has when he ‘realizes’ the matrix. Where am I at now? I can now see it, not as green computer scrip that Neo sees, but as a hue upon the world, not enough of one, though, to be anything more than a victim of the world’s meanness, what we all are.

Not everyone, though, is or has been such a victim, at least not in those moments that matter most. I spent a couple of days in Rome roaming around the Forum, the famous ruins of the government of ancient Rome. Due to my rather ‘different’ appearance and the rather free-spirited manner in which I walked and viewed things, crossing lines, sitting on things, not because the girls were flirting with me, or so it seemed to me then and does now, two young women I met there, who gave tours of the ruins in English, gave me the works for free. Two things I most remember from their tour, other than the smiles they gave me, like they really liked what I must’ve represented to them, someone off the grid, was, one, the story of the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, and, two, the punishment of the Vestal Virgins if they got caught having sex.

My thoughts on the road turned to ole Lawrence, how he was being cooked alive on a gridiron, and after sometime he says, or so history reports it anyway, “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!”

Martyrdom of San Lorenzo by Palma il giovane, Public domain, via Wikimedia Common

If the story’s true, and whether it is or not doesn’t detract from my thesis regarding it, you might imagine that St. Lawrence had come to something of the realization I’ve somewhat described, where the ‘larger world’ is bigger than the one his senses are in, this present world before our eyes, to such an extent he can crack a joke like that on being burned alive. That he most likely didn’t see it as a larger reality that encompasses this one and is its origin, but as a heaven within the world of our universe, didn’t stop him from the experience of the larger being more real to him, since here it seems, and in other like-wise places we encounter in history, the strength of the thought has more bearing than its depth.

Now the Vestal Virgins who’d had sex, on the other hand, I thought about them too, how terrifying it must’ve been to be given only a bottle of wine and some bread and be entombed alive, although Wikipedia says it differently: that they were given enough food and water to last a few days. The two tour guides juiced the story up some it appears, and we can forgive them for that. Either way how horrible that must’ve been. I imagined the Vestal was the very opposite of the saint, and she only saw the world in front of her face, or more to the point, could not see past the tomb she was in, it being her whole world come crashing down on her, it being her whole world period, a lethal mouth of horror that swallowed her slowly, until the agony was too much, and she lost her mind to tooth and claw trying to get out. The things you think about hitching, and you’re really out there, with no world of friends or family you’re either going towards or leaving. I tell you. Sometimes it’s just too much.

I don’t how long I was on that old road, two days maybe, one night. Finally somebody stopped and picked me up. He said that no one would pick me up on that road, and I needed to go to the freeway, and he kindly took me there and dropped me off, saying to be careful because it was illegal to hitchhike. Imagine that, illegal. I put my thumb out and began making my way south, no problem at all. The freeway was the kind that was only that, like some gated community for cars and trucks only, had no mom and pop businesses on the side, or any shops or gas stations, except every few kilometers or so there was a very artificial corral of such you had no choice but to pull over and use if you needed some kind of fill up, which featured a shop, gas station, and restaurant. Once I got going on that manmade and only made for man river of cars, although birds did fly over, and animals did get run over, hapless me-people now an occasional pile of goo that had dared to venture across tomorrow, I understood, a little, why hitchhikers weren’t allowed; we stood out like a sore thumb.

I only had enough money for the ferry to Greece, but someone that had given me a ride had also given me five euro, and so I ate something at one of those generic restaurants. I should say here I seldom begged, but did a couple of times in a pinch, like once to get back to Safed, Israel from Jerusalem. I did ask for damaged or otherwise unsellable vegetables at markets and such, but that was different. People often gave me money and food without asking, usually only small change, sometimes more, but never big money, and they did so to support my lifestyle, or maybe they were just throwing money at the problem, their problem being they wanted to live such a lifestyle, and were too whatever to do it. I’d usually hear something like, “I’d glad to know people are still around doing what you’re doing.” I looked like a sore thumb from the 60’s, and 20 years ago the memory of those very different times from today were more alive in the collective psyche. You have been lied to people. The 60’s were not naïve; they were another planet.

I also had something else going for me, and there in Italy, it was like a ticket to ride. It wasn’t only the Pope that thought I looked like Jesus, all sore thumbs aside. Italy is a Catholic country, or at least I experienced it that way. At some point I don’t remember, probably near Brindisi, I either got off the freeway or it became more a highway, and I got on a bus, as someone had given me some change. I got on and told the bus driver I wanted to get to the ferry to Greece, and he didn’t say a word, probably because he couldn’t speak English, but he’d understood what I wanted it appears. He got up out of his driver’s seat and motioned me to come with him, left his bus full of people and led me down the street and around the corner onto another street and down it to a waiting bus, which he put me on, paying my fare. He waved goodbye and left back to his bus. It doesn’t take a genius to know why he did that. In his devotional heart, he was doing that for Jesus. I was just his representative image, and he was “letting a form come to see what the real eye images,” to quote my muse around then, which is about praying or singing to statues of Gods in temples, how that isn’t the worship of idols in other words, and not about my likeness to Jesus, about which it said, not on the same page however, “I doubt if the person I am really looks like Jesus right now.”

I got to Brindisi too late to take the ferry, and so I had to find a place to sleep. Out in the country it’s easy; you just sleep somewhere off the side of the road, but in a city that you didn’t know, you had to be careful. Walking back from the ferry landing, and I don’t remember how far that was, I saw a raised portion of land with a lot of trees on it. It was the railroad. I went up there and camped a few meters from the tracks, assured no one would be walking up on me in the night. Boy was I wrong, but it weren’t the living that showed up. I don’t know what time it was, 3ish maybe, but I woke up to a horror show. Every creature for miles around that’d been killed by the train since it’d been running, I imagine, came to see me, all lined up zombie-like to pass in review. One by one they came, some without heads, many crushed, missing limbs, all horribly disfigured. Now local features like this just aren’t in The Lonely Planet. What is a body to do? I just looked at them, gave them the attention they seemed to want. They meant me no harm, and I knew that. I wasn’t afraid, and why I wasn’t was because I was really out there, like I’ve said, and it wasn’t only friends and family I wasn’t hooked into; I didn’t do media either, except for books I carried by Sri Aurobindo, my spiritual teacher, read his epic poem Savitri daily—no movies, TV, newspapers, magazines, net suffering, just the occasional check of email. Nothing in this world, however, is only this and not also something of that. If I found a book along the way, or someone gave me one, for example, I’d read it, as I found it was usually just what I needed to read, the same with the occasional magazine I’d find in an office or somewhere, and I’d read the headlines of newspapers I saw in the vending machines. I was wide open to the other, or the things we drown out by a continual barrage of social signals and hang-ups. And the other came to call.

While I’m not the purest I was then, I still spend most of my time in the sights and sounds of the reality in front of my face, not hooked into media for very long at any given time, except for watching a movie I’ve been on the watch for and the typing of stories and poetry I’m doing now, and the net time that takes, but I am into friends and family, dogs and a cat a big part of that, as they’re the people of my world, and I love my world and its people. The time I do spend on the net when I’m not writing, however, is a very concentrated hour or so to try and ride the reading wave of current world thought, an elusive wave that goes in every which direction and turns you every which way but loose, because you just can’t get over how, as much as it seems to be going nowhere, is actually, maddeningly, getting there after all. Where is there? Can I show you?

Now were those dead creatures ghosts? They were probably just the life-body, the vital we call it in our yoga, of the humans and animals that had gotten killed by the train, not the souls of those people, which were probably long departed. Such parts of dead people often hang around the place they got killed, especially if it were a violent and sudden death, and they usually only do a certain routine, like the lady in black I saw walk up the stairs in a squat in Jaffa, Israel, the building hundreds of years old, the stairs crumbling, and she floated over the sections that were missing. That was her routine I gathered, going up and down those stairs. Since there is an ego in the vital, or was when the vital was part of a living body, the seeming ghosts do have some sort of will, rather mechanical though, as the dead creatures I saw at the railroad tracks did, wanting me to view them. I have seen actual ghosts however, the two most striking instances happening in Northern California in the early ‘90’s.

It was broad daylight, and I was sitting in the cemetery of Laytonville, California, having just spent some weeks up on nearby Spyrock Mountain with the pot growers. That’s a sad cemetery by the way, as there’s some graves of children who all died the same time, about a hundred years ago, and you can feel the loss reading the sentiments on their gravestones. Completely alone, or so I thought, I sat down near there and smoked a joint, and as the high settled in, pot being an aid for the seeing of hidden things, I looked out over the cemetery and saw a tall, thin, beam of light over a grave. I went over and looked at it more closely. It was about human height, but with no features at all, just a beam of light a few inches wide. It also had color to it, and the colors I saw were auric in quality, which meant they had hues to them that contained emotions, or the feelings of feelings, and here they were fear and sadness. I looked at the grave the light was ‘standing’ over, and it was a fresh grave, of an old woman who had just been buried the day before. I’m not making any of this up folks. I sat down and talked to her, so to perhaps make her feel better, less afraid. After a little while the beam vanished, slowly, like a wilting sun.

Some weeks later I was working washing dishes at a restaurant in Garberville, California, a town in the redwoods not far from Laytonville, and I got off work around midnight. I was sleeping in the town cemetery, as they are quiet places to sleep where people don’t usually go at night, and so no one will bother you. There’s a road that rounds the place, and I was winding down from work walking on it smoking some good grass. As I came to a place where there was an old tree with a large hole in it near the ground, one that went plum through, I saw what looked like a large silver sheet waving not far from it, waving like it was angry. It was several feet across and several feet high. Saying it was a sheet is the only way I can describe it, and you get the picture of what it looked like. It wasn’t, obviously, a sheet. Not realizing what the ghost was trying to tell me, which was, “Get out of my cemetery!”, I just went to where I slept, in a shallow, partly dug grave some distance from the tree I’ve mentioned, on the other side of the road, not in cemetery center, and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and went into town and heard about the vandals that’d knocked down a gravestone in the night, throwing it a few feet, not far from where I saw the ghost.

Now, I tell you: there were no vandals in that cemetery that night, only an angry ghost. It’s interesting, though, it had the power to move something very physical and very heavy several feet, and it must’ve been an old ghost to be able to do that, but it didn’t have the power to harm me, and it was me it was mad at, why it threw the gravestone to begin with. I think that should tell you a lot about ghosts. I do imagine that they can harm us, even kill us, but only in very exceptional and extraordinary circumstances. For the most part we are protected, by the laws of metaphysics, from ghosts.

Back in Brindisi, I just went back to sleep after the last dead creature had passed and reviewed before me, woke up the next morning and got on the ferry, to Igoumenitsa, Greece. The feeling of freedom was exhilarating, and I did a Titanic stance and stood at the front of the ferry facing the wind and water, or as close to the front as passengers could get, not the king of the world, nor even its minister, but a penniless nobody the world had taken by the hand, to the open road, to the paths of my destiny. Now to Greece, to Greece.

This has been
an enormous supply chain
of the ideas we find ourselves in.
It goes further than this.
Can we see about tomorrow?

I can’t see about tomorrow in my hands.
It’s not narrative yet.
It’s not written down in the book,
but we’ve walked every inch of that trail
in the timeworn fonts
of the story yet to be told.

Hear me people,
listen.
The world is at your feet.
Go get it.

The shock of silverware,
that’s bad business,
the hidden wellsprings of our founts of evil.
It’s horribly noticeable
in mirrors and things.
I looked into a glass,
behind my reflection a fiend.[1]
Here it’s on the ground
something wicked this way comes,
a ghost gone mad in demon likes.
We round about it sepulcher.
The world of the ghoul,
do you understand?

You’re too small people to face reality
The Atlantic Monthly is that you?
What an Eye you have on your page;
I’ve submitted to you an epic poem.
Did you turn me in to the Man,
or are you just ignoring me for keep’s sakes?
You are the forefront of reality?
Let me show you my titties.
Do you hear me world?

The care
that’s what does it with animals.
We give them company,
more than just a little,
a whole day’s worth,
what I done
writing down all this for you.
A little puppy
I took good care of.

Science would make reason kneel in surprises,
in all its wares.
Can we call this a surprise?
The Church did the same thing.
Stupefied,
it took reality in pictures
reality didn’t make.
We laugh at its process.
A story of make believe
conformed reality to its picture.

Now cities giant in surprise,
the Earth springs forth beneath us,
and science can only say one word:
material process,
as if we did not dream in our beds at night
of worlds we make inside our heads.
Where is that engine room?
As if consciousness were not a thing in a plant
as it speeds towards recovery.
Can we say it smiles?
As if the world were not larger than we see
springing forth from founts infinitesimal
to ever larger pictures of reality make.
Like reality stops here.

Science where is the spirit world?
Why do you populate dimensions with other universes?
Your choice that.
It’s not graven in reality,
as if what the mystics have taught since time immemorial
were the babblings of idiots.
Can we gauge science?
It’s too small for the reality we experience,
yet it’s been made the default view
of the control center of human progress
without our knowledge or consent.
Oh science study thee well.
Reality’s comin’ for yah.

Surprise,
I give you a calculator.
I will give the opportunity
to see if science works in magic.
I’ll show you magic.
Science will secure its field;
you’re an agent of destruction;
continue.

Open out on the unknown,
the best writing opens out on the unknown,
open road.
Not present with me yet.
That’s comin’.

I’m relating my own personal experience,
what?
The hood comes up.
I’ve got my hood.
We’re mountain together.
A puppy dog belly
in our put
just to keep it warm.

This has been transportation of the net.
Alright, alright.
On the roof
with a hummingbird’s song.
Let me get out of your microphone.
Are you gonna build the theater?
You do understand
these are Fort Sumter play rights.

I’m almost done.
How much is with you?
Can you make a difference?
Enter bigger
reality of consciousness.
You know what’s all black and blue.
Every science hole in the world.

Daddy, the dream showing the truth:
our fear of reality.
Just leave us alone.
I gotta go find my station in life.
Found a new friend.
It’ll be an honor to change the reality construct.

What I’m tryin’ to say:
let’s grasp reality by the horns, will yah?
let’s consciously see, will yah?
I’ve given you a lot of examples
to show consciousness to your room.
Don’t stop there.
Go all the way to God.
Alright people,
the bird comes to those who could fly.

To be continued

_________________________________________________________________________

[1] Breaking Silence Careful to Stay an Apparition

note: this half of the story was written for and posted on the blog THEHEDRAL. There it will appear in four parts. Here is the link to the first part, the second part, the third part, and the last part is forthcoming.

© 2021 (although I’d probably give permission for you to use the material on your site if you just ask, but please ask)

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