Twenty Thoughts About Destitution

 

Happy, and so singing on the way home in the car, that song
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Joan Baez –
Or The Band, or Dylan – or now me for that matter,

I read about it on Wikipedia on the ‘net when I get home
And a reviewer of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine in 1969 had
Written: “Nothing I have read ….has brought home

The overwhelming human sense of history that this song
Does” – and for sure, it’s the year ‘1865’ that the “winter
Of ’65’ refers to – and indeed it would have been cold:

It’s about enduring the last days of the American Civil War
And the suffering of the white Southerners – and I was
Really struck again by that third line at the beginning:

“Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train.
‘Till Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again.
In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive.”

And then the song lyric goes on: “By May the tenth, Richmond
Had fell, it’s a time I remember, oh so well!”….Chorus: “The
Night they drove old Dixie down, and all the bells were…”

So now I look for more references, and “the Danville – Richmond
Supply train was the lifeblood of the Confederate capital” – til
Cut off by the Union cavalry, led by a General ‘Stoneman’,

So when the town of Richmond “fell”, the Confederate capital
Had to be moved to Danville. So this song then is all about
Defeat. Being trampled into the dirt, just “barely alive.”

The “bells” were ringing out an emergency: “The night they
Drove old Dixie down” wasn’t only one night – that’s poetic
Licence. But if Yankees capture your capital, it’s all over.

And the thought struck me that a basic fear still today is that
Of finding oneself suddenly “destitute”. Of having nothing –
Or dropping far – say, not enough to keep a home or fed.

And that that basic fear is what seems to keep the whole ball
Of wax – the whole system – going. All measuring oneself
By ‘stuff’ – ‘having’ – how far we are away from that fear.

And another verse of the song goes “Like my father before me,
I will work the land – and like my brother before me, who took
A rebel stand / He was just eighteen, proud and brave

But a Yankee laid him in his grave.” – and I think there it is:
Who are they that promote this game, this terrible and
Terrorful distraction of acquisition and competition?

And we are now again the “rebels” and there is indeed a civil war
Happening in our time – and truly people are suffering and
Some are ransacking and reaping most of the rewards.

And the whole ‘system’ is being supported in this way to have
Some – and all – suffering the background fear of destitution
And others – and all – so entirely distracted by this game.

So now good men don’t provide good role models for younger
Men, because they see their elders just distracted by the
Same game, and they then become part of this too.

“Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood, and I don’t care if the money’s
No good – Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest
But they should never have taken the very best.”

So in the end Virgil doesn’t mind leading a rough, hard, even poor
Life; everyone takes what they need – but no one should take
More than that, and no one should ruin it all for everyone.

And so we’re “rebels” because we rebel against that presumption.
We object that some are fucking it up for everyone in ‘the game’
On this planet – but more than that: this Civil War and strife

Is one great tragic distraction from the ‘real game’ – that of
Attraction and offering, relating and sharing, growing and
Comparing and sharing and gifting/receiving and living.

9-5-2016

Good Men At Large

(in the spirit of Leonard Cohen)

 

You see them in conversation,
With open gestures and open hearts.
They’re generous with their attention.
The talking flows: it’s no fits and starts.

The defences are done,
It’s a heartfelt sound,
This dialogue has no camouflage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

They’re standing in their power,
Steady eyes and feet on the ground.
Their bodies are like a watchtower.
And their hearts they shine all around.

They’re sovereign kings
But they don’t need to bring
A bunch of followers or no entourage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

They’re speaking their truth in relationship,
Their voices gentle, kind and strong.
In their loving, it’s not a dictatorship.
They like to listen; they don’t speak too long.

They’re honest and open,
It’s what their women were hopin’
Was the truth – there’s no need for espionage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

These men are generous lovers.
They like to touch, be tender, and smile.
They’re sensitive when under the covers.
And they’re straight-up; there’s no need for guile.

But they’re not P.C.
When they see a sexy
Woman, they like to look at her decolletage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

These men are fierce, with clear boundaries.
They’re warriors and not a walk-over.
With a fiery spirit, they defend with ease/
With a spark, a flame, or supernova.

Like a spitfire plane,
They’re true with their aim.
There’s a tally of scores on the fuselage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

These pioneering men are changing the times.
You wouldn’t know it if you watched the T.V.
But if you’re out on the land, you would see the signs,
At the gathering: GOTC

Get Off The Concrete!
Don’t be a donkey!
If you’re thirsty, try it, it’s not a mirage. Watch out –

There’s good men at large.

Feb 2012

Past Life Memories With My Father

1.

We sat upon the temple steps
Overlooking the marketplace.
Casual, side by side, on the uppermost step,
So that neither would presume to sit higher.
And yet still the dark mystery behind,
The large doors, the smaller one inset like a jewel.
Only at times of great festivals
Would the larger doors be opened wide.
Then the crowds jubilant and wild
Would bridge the distinction made
By these soft low steps of stone.
In my hands, forearms resting on knees,
I finger a stalk of straw, blown by winds
That gust occasionally through the city gates
Lifting feathers and dust from the streets below.
I turn the stalk as I turn my mind,
Sifting the dry contents of fields forever turned to hay.
You too are unsure where to look.
But your hand gestures to stay my meandering
And point out something that occurs below.
Ah yes, this stalk is yet no cryptic key.
I stab the air in vain and flick it away with my wrist.
Whatever, we must stay present with this.

2.

Maddened fireflies assail the lanternlight.
The envy of these motherfuckers might
Come to grief with little distinction
Other than their own extinction.

3.

Bearded we might
Scuttle down priory hallways,
One leading the other by the elbow
As though in flight.
Cloistered amid the booklined walls
We try to recall where we have read
What might beckon the other from the night.
Something seen when the moon was passing
The leadlight window framed above.
The hands turn thin sheaves of manuscript
As though we know there’s little time.
And who could say what was discovered,
How much the two friends dared to share,
The ages lost and yet in passing,
Who now knows what’s next in line?

4.

Sorry, the train began on time.
The words were planned that were to rhyme.
The sense is now what’s left behind
Once thoughts have been committed to line.
Some missed the junction, went astray,
Like you and I from day to day.
What use regret and guilt and shame,
The many thin grey shades of blame.
The most is what is left today,
To bring it forth else fade away.
  
28 – 11 – 96

 

The Holy Masculine

Bagpiper stands at the top of a hill,
And he’s calling to his clan:
I’ll find my art and perfect this craft,
Til I know the holy masculine.

And a poet prays til he falls silent,
And trusts his words again.
Then writes of things that touch his heart,
Til he knows the holy masculine.

And both alone they travel home,
To communities of other men.
To play their songs and share their words,
And embrace the holy masculine.

Balls

I remember the day,
Down at the site of the sweatlodge,
When squatting naked, I had the realization
That I don’t sit down in my balls.

It was after the fire was out.
Around the rim of the firepit, it was wet.
And going deep inside, I felt my cock relaxing,
But I still wasn’t down in my balls.

I was moved to spread my thighs wider open,
And really sit down on my haunches.
My knees pushed the muscles of my biceps wide
As I tried to feel down into my balls.

I felt like some long-limbed frog,
My feet feeling the suction of the mud,
As I leaned slightly back and nearly sat down,
And my balls touched the cold of the ground!

Electric eels could do no more!
But soon the cool mud pressed around,
And relaxing further, I discovered I was able,
Heels against the bones of my arse, to sit stable.

And the frog became an ancient toad.
I sat there for nearly an hour,
And pondered life on the edge of the pond,
Sitting down in my balls and my power.

 

Rage

We hated those men then,
With all we could muster,
Who bore down above us,
With blades bloody-lustred.
Who tore us from land,
And forced us here into danger,
Where the heart beats on fire
At the hands of a stranger.

In our rage we were hardened,
To confront the dark lords,
Those steel eyes of requirement
To submit to their swords.
Though our hearts lay wide open
To the rivers of blood,
In our anger-filled frames,
We were as large as the gods.

And our chests grew like furnaces
Roaring with logs,
And our cries were the ravings
Of wolves and wild dogs.
And our teeth showed their edges,
And our brows ran with sweat,
As we fixed on our foe,
And knew blood must be let.

In a wave of defiance,
We ran forward to fight.
And our fierce pride dared them
To question our might.
Arms and hearts reaching upwards,
We exploded in red,
Yet our anger declared
We’ll not be of the dead.

For our hearts harboured children,
And wives and kinfolk.
In our crazed cries of courage,
It was for them that we spoke.
So we called on the gods
Of rage, weapons and war,
To put fire in our chests,
And burn brave evermore.

21 – 02 – 05

A Very Rare Fear

A very rare fear
Make bear hide half a year,
Hibe burn nate ting in dark of his cave.

Scar rred by this fate
In lair bare but for hair,
Lies the bear head hear ring him bear rate.

Hear him bare his bear soul
Hate of self for the fear most,
Lost to whol worl dark goes in his mind.

Bury in side his bear hide
Feel here hole in his side,
Paws and sole of his feet same dull ache.

Have hurt seep ping at best
Home call him take king a rest,
Fear not I wont hunt you I am one of your kind.

16 Favourite Moments of the 1998 Summer Gathering

Leading three sweatlodges then being part of one by Danyo.
His spiritual name in English is White Mountain which I saw he is.
He’s a pipe carrier for his people. He’s been a sundancer for twelve years.
They pierce their chests with hooks and dance hung from the world tree.
He says it takes some of the suffering away from the women who give birth.
In the lodge he called the women the life-givers, men the protectors.

Rochelle doing Huna Bodywork Healing on me on her table in the tipi.
The grief and wounding that surfaced stimulated a visionary experience.
Releasing Catholicism, Jesus / martyrdom mythology, I was in the dream.
On a cross so lonely so realistically yet aware of her on the ‘outside’.
Sensing how I was trapped and moving warm energy against my skin.
Taking me by quiet storm til I was so warm and safe within.

Jason coming out in his wheelchair all the way in the mobility taxi.
Being carried by four people in his chair up to the chicken shed longdrop.
The longdrop was the highest point of the Gathering land.
Lots of joking and cheering about carrying the king to his throne.
Later in the big tipi with the drummers and dancers around the fire.
Jason’s request: Cody and I took turns holding him up so he could dance.

Down at the stream at dusk, some people standing ankle deep in the water.
My torch joins theirs as we hold them like cups upright shining from below.
In watery shadows slides an eel lazily tracing a line sideways.
Embarrassed at my ignorance of such matters, I turn caution into bravery.
With an ‘O’ of finger and thumb, I let the eel slide forwards like a condom.
Sometimes I held it forward of halfway, and we both backed up in fright.

Lying in a field of enjoyment under the duvet in my tent, gladly exhausted.
In such a high state of consciousness I ‘dreamed myself’ into visions.
Impossible four-dimensional landscapes like continuous fruiting on trees.
And at the bamboo kitchen, some favourite women are singing so juicy.
Impossible to visualize, rolling raunchy with the ‘Funky Chicken’.
The desire of wanting to witness what I am already intimately influencing.

Andy’s in Auckland to do a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat.
The centre is in Kaukapakapa not far from where the Gathering is held.
Being at the same time, I’m naturally disappointed he’s not here instead.
But my other two brothers bring him out on the Sunday before his starts.
I’m swimming at the time so I’m not tempted to play tourist guide.
Instead we four of us jump off the bank and feel like kids again.

The sweatlodge still wasn’t built after the first week of the Gathering.
The previous year, the site had been left in disrepair; the coverings rotted.
Musing again at its fate, I saw firewood stacked in the old rock pit.
Everyone had agreed the children could have a campfire here, Doug said.
The sacred site was cleansed by kid’s laughter and toasted marshmellows.
The next day a large lodge was built: in darkest night the people entered.

Older men aren’t blessing younger men much anymore, Bly had said.
Elsewhere I’d heard that younger men weren’t apprenticing themselves.
Max asked a circle of ‘good men’ to join he and his son Willow in the tipi.
We honoured Willow for the journey into manhood he was making.
Sharing what it meant to be a man, we spoke of what we recognised late:
The support of men, and how we wished we’d had Willow’s fate.

Finding the power place for the closing ceremony on Saturday.
On the other side of the stream, a clearing between the three largest trees.
Coming together again as a smaller circle: where were all the men?
Each person standing before the group framed by the two big trees.
Being told of their qualities, the growth some had noticed over this time.
The image was of taking the gathering inside to pour ‘out there’ again.

The wonderfully contentious process around drugs and alcohol.
Buttons getting pushed, flare-ups and walk-outs, my meditations on Yin and Yang.
Gerd’s offer at the morning circle after three days of drama and dramas.
He puts a beer bottle on the altar where everyone’s offerings were arranged.
More laughter when Simon opens it to pass round for the alcohol-lovers.
Half-way around Gerd in his turn pours it out on the ground “for the others”.

Getting a sweatlodge together a little belatedly, Skins and Ben agree to help.
They take on Firekeeping with lots of wood to gather, chop, and split.
Later Skins says he has to clear with me about something a few days ago.
We reach an impass so he says he and Ben are no longer available.
I make the fire, crossing a poster of five bikers that’s been placed there.
In the circle next day Skins says he appreciates how I “got it together”.

I do a half-day in silence, an note taped on my tee-shirt.
Later I’m wandering naked as such a joyful innocent, so safe.
Where ‘Steve’s Cafe’ opens out from the Totara grove there’s a tent.
In a dome cubicle of soft bedding sits Corinna who I haven’t met.
All smiles and elfin eyes she lets me come close like a silent pet softly.
She shows me photo albums of her bus parked in different places.

Finding myself an older man among teenagers doing a sweatlodge.
Often in their company I act the suave runaway from responsibility.
Here I tell them of tradition and honouring, people and process.
In the third round the young men are still braving it with their philosophy.
Warm sound and silence resounds when I invite the women to speak.
“We’re a swimming pool”. And another:”a soft penis in a warm vagina”.

The talking stick suffered a variety of applications in the circle.
Gerd and I raced for it once, no, twice I confess, once in the tipi.
In the marquee I handed it to him before he could finish explaining.
In the tipi I held both the male and female, and offered him the male.
He witnessed my love, but took the female, and we jolly-sailored like boys.
Moustache-twirlers, like the counterplay of complements/compliments.

“If I can’t hug you here, I couldn’t hug you anywhere”, I told Henry.
He was sitting at Gerd’s cafe, and I just knew that I must ju-jitsu him.
Sure enough, he was only at the Gathering for five minutes.
I pushed past to his chair while Agnes gave me a wry smile.
Henry and I haven’t had much to say to each other for a while.
Now he thanks me for minding Zowie but tells me to use tongs for the food.

Corrina’s eyes are every colour, but her nose stud’s turquoise-green.
It picks up the eye-green like fishes in two ponds of colourful lilies.
Going gaga enough to tell her something like this I mention iridology.
“An iridologist’s dream, your eyes”, and the bit about the guy down in Golden Bay.
He took close-ups of his eyes and put them on sticks in the garden.
Like seed-packet posts showing what he was growing and guarding.