This post is a sequel to my (arguably better) recent post “My Psychedelic Experiences“. This is a republish, although this time I decided to start with the journal entries and end with the “poetry”.
When reading my “poetry” – bear in mind that I was between the ages of 21-24, and was high for 18 hours a day on strong Alaskan Thunderfuck weed.
Some of my attempts at poetry approached something almost good, while others are comical. Ex. “circles dancing on the road to fear” – like – wtf? Haha. It is pretty clear that I was a big fan of Jim Morrison and The Doors. Like many young rock n’ roll women.
I often wish I had written more journal entries from this time period. Unfortunately, I was often just way too stoned for something as organized as journaling. Seeing Ani DiFranco in concert pushed me over the edge…. to the point where I was so damn inspired that I just couldn’t help but journal about the event soon after. And then, of course, something that destroyed my world happened later on – and I had no choice but to write about it.
Ani DiFranco performed Saturday night, downtown at the Atwood Concert Hall. Kat and I passed around the side of the building to the front entrance. As we turned the corner, it was Wyatt I first recognized – leaning against one of the pillars, guitar flashing as he strummed.
He was surrounded by a group of kids I soon recognized as my friends. I laughed, seeing them before they saw me. I approached, watching them immersed in their dream together and existing in the space of each other.
Jake was singing and playing. Wyatt accompanied him on rhythm with a sly smile. Nick stood, Eddie sat on a skateboard. Crystal sat cross legged on the cement.
Their faces broke into smiles as they heard my laughter and saw me.
I was laughing because on Friday night I had suggested that we go down to the street and play for change. Jake had said yes, we should play for the crowd outside Ani’s show. And here they were.
Wyatt wore his green robe with some kind of Egyptian looking design on the cuffs and edges. He looked like Dylan in Greenwich Village, which he would have thought a flattering observation if I had actually said anything.
Jake said his fingers were cold, but he kept playing anyway. A bum came over, stumbled over drunken words, and then pulled out a harmonica and played a solo for us. We stood watching awkwardly, glancing around at one another with smirks. After the bum finished playing, he wandered off and said we could find him a couple of streets over.
We went inside and they announced the show was beginning. When Ani began playing, the moment came alive beneath the stage lights. She poured manic acoustic soul-energy onto our heads as she sweated out images through poetry and rhythm.
After the show, we all went to Jake’s apartment for some drinking. Wyatt used his beer bottle as a guitar slide. After a while Jake suggested we walk over to Wyatt’s house to listen to a new recording of Crystal reading poetry over circuit-bending sound effects.
I noticed everything on the walk. A parade of sensation danced before me; the tall streetlights bathed the street orange. As usual, I made some remark about the beauty of the moment. As usual, Jake and Wyatt both called me a hippie.
Wyatt’s room is an incredible escape. For the past few years, Wyatt’s place has been the place to go for green, good company, and the constant flow of never-before-heard music.
In this room, we listened to Crystal read poetry, and also Wyatt and Jake’s band recordings, The Crooked Toys. Sitting on the bed, the bookshelf was five feet in front of me. It was full of vinyl records and subculture novels written by guys like Burroughs and Kerouac. The top used to be filled with empty Southern Comfort bottles. Each one stood like a memory in a cloud. An evening in which fun was poured out of the bottle like a hazy genie.
On this particular night, in post-concert excitement, the conversation played out as though we were in a documentary. Jake brought up an observation or a memory. He talked about summer 2001; the summer when I first met them. Back then they were loud, music-playing mohawked punkers living next to me – a never ending stream of rowdy energy. They were up all hours of the night partying. First they annoyed me, but soon I became intrigued by them.
Jake reminisced about the wildness of that summer. He would pause in a story-telling kind of way, and Wyatt would deliver a thought or memory in his quiet voice; measured, on the verge of something new. I never remember every single detail because we’re always stoned in Wyatt’s room. I stared down at our shoes as I listened. The carpet appeared to be 10 feet below.
I’ve wanted to dive into my memories for some time now and write about them. I wanted to tell the story of the crowd and write about the last few years. I never got around to it.
But I never wanted to write about this. I never could have anticipated this. Wyatt killed himself on the 5th of November. Nick called me Sunday and broke the news. To use Jake’s word, it was “surreal”.
Shock penetrated every fiber of my being, as it did for everyone. Nick’s voice broke into sobs as he told me. I had to call him back because my throat ached so much that I couldn’t talk. He called back later and I told him I was coming over.
Nate and Ida came over to Adam’s house to join us that night. Nobody directly talked about Wyatt, although it hung over the room unmistakably, a dark cloud. It was awkward at times; the undercurrent of shock and sadness was so thick. But on the surface, it wasn’t doom and gloom the entire time. There was subtle laughter over a pool game and Nick’s cats.
Ida made strong white Russians for everyone. Too strong. The night ended in a sick haze of throwing up outside where the frozen air felt relieving on my skin. I stood with my arm against the wall, glancing up at the moon, thinking about how Wyatt had stood where I was standing. I crashed on Adam’s couch and woke up in the cold sunlight.
Driving the streets of Anchorage, all I could think this whole week is he’s not here. It goes around in my head like a mantra.
Everything is colorless, white noise vibrations like the feeling of being at work on a Monday morning when you are sleep deprived. Almost every night I’ve woken at 5:00 in the morning, thinking of him, having memories of all the interactions we’ve ever had. Remembering things, he said to me, said to others.
Work was awful. I made the mistake of showing up Monday. I had known Wyatt before I knew any of these people. There was a time a couple years ago when all I had in my day-to-day life was them… the kids, the artists, the lovers of visual art, of poetry, of reading, and above all music.
Wyatt was a uniquely important part of this scene, a huge part of that flow and now I see more than ever how he brought his influence to everyone.
Last night Wanda mentioned a few bands she would never have appreciated, if it wasn’t for him. Bob Dylan, Modest Mouse, Radiohead, to name a few.
Kat has a hand-drum sitting in her room. She sought it after Wyatt brought back a similar drum from India. A couple weeks ago I was thinking of getting a harmonica. Wyatt and his harmonica. Last spring, I wrote that I wished I could invade his book stash.
“Incredible” – that was Wyatt’s word, a word he used to describe things he loved. Wyatt was beautiful. Apparently, he was extremely unhappy sometimes. Despairing as all of us were and are sometimes.
He was always mellow, and now I realize his mellow nature was a deeper sadness. It goes without saying that all of us wish he would have seen things through that night so he could have had the opportunity to feel inspired again in this up and down roller coaster maze that is existence.
Euphoria madness, gates to openness
Rising falling reeling in time
Sneaky shadows cross the sunrise
Sadness darkens the path to your mind
Circles dancing on the road to fear
Leaving judgement to the blind
Triangular moods fade in the distant sky
And then appear next to you
Sometime in 2003
Everything is interesting on this drug. Memories are interesting. Music is beautiful, but then it always is. There are few things like the feeling of chills that you normally get when you love a specific song, combined with LSD. My Bloody Valentine, Jefferson Airplane, Radiohead. Where did this come from, and why does it make so much sense!? Matter and chemical. We are nothing.
Throw back the door
We lie in wait here
Marveling at the bottom of infinite possibility
Glancing upward toward a feast of language unwritten
Locked in the cell of our cells
And the guardsman say to Stay Put
The one standing at the entrance
Throws imagination at them
Like stones piercing through the night sky to the target
Of those who would block the glorious exit
Deliver the allies into enchanted places
Seen and unseen
New strange sweet open
Exerted expounded existing
If I could have illustrated it, I would have drawn the music in physical form, drifting from his instrument into my body. And the lighting would be an extension of the sound and emotion. Several times I felt my eyes becoming moist. If the true audience are those listening, I was the only audience. Only a few other people sat in the old coffee house, they were scattered and involved in their conversations.
(I am so glad I wrote about this – it was a solo guitarist doing a lot of Cat Stevens covers in a little coffeehouse in Wasilla, Alaska. Due to my choice to write, I can remember this incredible musician like it was yesterday. I was about 20 years of age at this time. I sat facing this acoustic guitarist and behind him were the most intricate and beautiful stained glass hangings against the huge windows, the best stained glass art that you can possibly imagine. This is a lesson about how you MUST write about experiences in order to remember them.)
Outside the window, staring at the ground, I hear it. A shimmering echo of ascending and descending busyness. It travels in a solitary way outside the limits of human understanding. Before hearing this well-crafted magnificence, I wanted to wander to the edge of my world and jump off into the black. Then suddenly I heard it. Combined with caffeine, it enchanted the colors right back and it deepened the hues, and it opened up the drive to create.
The moment lies trapped
Inside the cruel
Unrelenting fist of time
You must peel the moment from time’s grip
Cast all doubt aside
For time is a universal illusion
Only distance is real
And distance doesn’t end
We put candles out to mask the other side
They wouldn’t know couldn’t know
Don’t step through the shields
And so, the scent flows
Vanilla, rose and the candles burn
Thru the haze that crows the space and reluctantly
Reaches toward the window
Eager to stay
And dance around the flames
Absorbing a new consciousness into fractured minds
Suffocated by too many dealings
In a world of thousands of universes
From their lost sea of ideal visions
But the sea roars on
And cannot be held back by futile barriers
Or hopes of retreat
It waits to break and roll back
Leaving beneath it a smooth new surface
Upon which minds bask, dance and receive
Masked activities are windows to the sea
And the candles burn on
Unharnessed illusion of a heightened perception circus
The ringmaster grins
He watches the walls and stairs breathing alive
His eyeballs have been turned around in his head
So that they look upon his brain
And the strobe light flickering
Trance of neurons going haywire
Fields of red and blue explode randomly
Is the door raining drops of paint?
Of course not
The ringmaster reasons
If he can see it rain
And watch it do nothing
In what he thought was reality
What is it really doing between the two opposites?
Perhaps there’s even more happening
Sweet haunting love
Chasing invisible muse, never catching
Elusive and beautiful
Eternal and mysterious
Where do the voices come from?
A thought asked
But was met with only silence
And the dark that soon gives way to dawn
Until we meet the light
The candle of her voice
Will refresh our souls and bodies
It’s been too long since this invisible ghost has unleashed the tidal wave of uninhibited thoughts freely. Still, something is lost between innermost articulation and the stage that is paper. Wandering, wandering, wandering. Wandering through the black. There is no tomorrow and hardly any yesterday in times like this. Only the forward momentum of now. A stared into space filled with shapes, but a transcendent stare that moves steadily beyond it all. Craving a deep breath of release.
Stepping forward on a slippery stone and claiming a new voice unheard to vacant ears. Spinning, spinning, spinning. Fireworks streak down and fade in her mind. Unknown places that she might never go, but in solitude and half in the ground beneath the stars and trees, she builds a bridge of images. They call subtly from the distance when she’s buried in the squares and circles, far away, wound up all the way and clicking fast like a wind-up toy operated at the hands of another.
Traffic jerking, splashing puddles, city buildings grey and humming. The bridge calls out from the distance, layered with a translucent silvery charm, stretched comfortably across her mind like skin across a hand-made drum. Where does it go?
To oaks and willows swaying gently. To a sidewalk at dusk a child sees the blinking lights of what he calls a spaceship. He needs nothing more than his imagination and physical surroundings to lift him into the realm lying between.
The bridge travels on to a concert where the vulnerable empowered sway together. A few thousand or more separate universes unified, even with their divisions of countless complications, united into a common sound that somehow uncorks every individual. The bridge fades away, silhouette falling away with the disappearance of light. Back to the squares and circles.
At home again, looking up at the power lines. The sounds carry up to the cables and sing to ring forever from there.
Water and bread never got them thru
They carried a flag
For otherworldly consciousness
While the hermits of materialism stashed their goods and held fast
For something they didn’t know
“It’s all about reactions,” she said, “and how groups of earthly beings
In reality react to the nothingness they want to be somethingness”
Welcome to the haze
Come inside the maze
Brush strokes and patterns
Of words and intervals
It’s all language
There’s no way out because
It shifts in cycles
You hit a wall
When you believe you’ve hit the exit
Or the entrance to a new place in space
Where you want to be
So you linger on the path
Content to make the travel
Because you think you see
The closure just up ahead
Around the corner and beside the
Neon glowing scene
Of your dream
And then it shifts and you scream
Was a lie and you cry
But here comes the next optimistic bend
And you’re at it all again
Lie cry die
Keep it all inside
Fight lost try
Losing losing losing
Work struggle lie
To gather a dime
You’re on the wrong side of life
(Grace Slick Girl-Boner prose)
Blue green eyes, the color of ice and azure
pierce into you
She grips the microphone in her hand
She wears a dark towel with a belt wrapped around her waist
She sings so loudly, so passionately that the veins in her neck rise
As the muscles strain
Her hair is dark and long
Her voice is deep and low
A long time ago, jake sat in his living room leaning over the cd book, flipping through it and trying to decide what to listen to. Someone suggested The Velvet Underground. He said he didn’t like the because they didn’t give him “that rush”. I remember being intrigued and amused. Because I knew exactly what he was talking about. We all did.
In a long slow dream, you thought you had immeasurable time and distance. It was illusion. It was the bending mirrors of a wishing pond. It was your swan gently gliding on golden conscious. It was images sketched in silvery hope and intertwined with a tunnel made of iron sound and whispered resolve. Cynicism descended like a poisoned waterfall drowning the universe. The curtains fell slowly and the darkness is still blinding. Now is the time again to reignite the fires, burn passion with the light long into the eve. Energy creates energy. Acceptance of their reality is the conspiracy of lost flight. Leave the hollow gutless growths in their lifeless forests. Rise instead to the shimmering echoes of the moment where genius awaits.
Spring 06, Fridge Magnet Poetry
Spring full wander
Evening black wild
Early morning breath
Yellow dandelion dream
Stream, harvest grass
In my blue winter thought
Summer dawn road
Must be here
Garden life thru roof
While I leave
Rain Child Field
Watch this cold shore
Laugh Shiver Cry
Drop Fall Stand Cry
*thanks for reading
Thanks for reading.
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4 responses to “Smoke Rings of Time”
I’m loving this post! I like the way you added pictures of what you hand wrote. Interesting. It looks like my journals, shreds of paper, other random things I’ve written on in the past, just add a bunch of arrows and circles, voilà! Your stuff is good, there was so much that stood out to me! I’ll spare you the Tolstoy novel of a list.
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Thank you for reading, Eleanor. 🙂 That was a very special time of my life. I was more creative, probably because I was stoned all the time and taking LSD 😅😆. I must now get my night walk on. Thanks again and I hope you sleep well.
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You are such a brilliant writer.
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Thank you 💜