Jim Morrison, Before

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Before the fame, before the music, before the Doors,
before the blackouts, before the Miami shenanigans, and
the arrest and the banned venues and his untimely death
in a Paris bathtub, Jim Morrison, little Jimmy was a
long-haired film student, an anonymous drifter, a
son of a naval admiral, a punk, a dreamer, a trouble maker,
a voracious reader, a renegade, a genius, a demented
rambler fueled up on Kerouac and acid with his thumb to the skies,
hitching a ride west out of Florida with the poems of Rimbaud
in his back jean pocket.

Arriving and leaving, loitering on the fringes
of big cities, conversing with the outcasts, the hobos, the unwanted,
street lights gleaming on shards of beer-bottled glass sprinkled
in the alleys, a razor blade pulled to his throat one night
in New Orleans by the lover of an erotic lesbian
he tried to fuck in a dive bar.

Writing, reading, always writing, jotting down conscious
expanding thoughts in spiral notebooks, scraps of dialogue
overheard at rundown bars, passages laced with the
wisdom of Nietzsche & Joseph Campbell, poems too,
so many poems written as the whiskey sang in his veins.

One more pill, one more drink, hell yeah there it is, little Jimmy,
a drunken Dionysus in exile from the age of anxiety, man, a time
when the post war people were paralyzed by fear, their minds riddled
with a peculiar unease, everyone everywhere just blindly conforming
to the whims of their authority figures, shit man, they’ve become
walled-in, domesticated, tamed pets caged up in air-conditioned
paradises as widespread consumerism siphoned the souls
right out of their obedient little bodies. Not Jimmy though,
Jimmy wanted a great awakening. He wanted to break on through
to the other side, shatter the brittle walls that separated the infinite
from the finite, always straddling that fine line between life and death.

Poetry was the avenue Jim wanted to take, fuck everything else.
A poet is what he is, “the priest of the invisible”,
“the unacknowledged legislator of the world,”
to attain and reveal the unknown, to push the established limits,
to throw all the senses into a frenzy and help people see beyond
the imaginary horizons that confined them. Jimmy understood
that to become a poet you must live with a fierce intensity,
gulp down the chaos,  revel in the sadness and despair, and yes,
even flirt with death so as to capture life as naked
and whole as possible. Jimmy saw that the people, the great masses,
have been led astray from the cosmic jungle and nudged into
the profane wilderness of modernity where they’ve lost contact
with the center of who they are.

On the road, on the road again because the west is the best,
arriving in Juarez at the midnight hour, big fat rats scurrying
across the damp dingy streets, little Jimmy sitting there spitting
his broken Spanish to Mexican prostitutes in a boozy cantina,
journeying deeper, ever so deeper to the end of the night, this is life,
Jimmy yells, hell yes, fuck it we’re all mad, up to Cali the next day,
California love, barefoot Jimmy, ditching his graduation to smoke dope
in the warm sands of Venice Beach with nothing but dirty jeans
and a ragged shirt he’s worn for 7 days straight, visions of
Indian blood on dawn’s highways, Shamanistic dreams during moonlit
drives, ride the snake, ride the snake to the end of the night
where the doors of perception will open for those who knock.

Summer of 65’ on a hot August day, Jimmy encounters an old film
school buddy by the name of Ray Manzarek walking along Venice Beach.
“Yo, Jimmy,” Rays says “what’cha been doing, man?”
“I’ve been writing, even wrote a few songs,” Jimmy says.

“Well shit, let’s hear ‘em.”

Jimmy kneels in the sand, collects his thoughts, and slowly sings…

Let’s swim to the moon/uh huh
Let’s climb through the tide
Penetrate the evenin’ that the
City sleeps to hide…

“Those are the greatest fuckin’ song lyrics I’ve ever
heard,” Ray says, “shit, let’s start a rock ‘n’ roll band
and make a million dollars.”

“Exactly,” Jim says with an ornery smirk and a subtle nod,
“that’s what I had in mind all along.”

 

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On the Brink

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before the 13 years of public education
before the many church sermons heard
before the 5 years of military service
before the untold voyages into night
before the myriad of heated fistfights
before the career and the money and the bills
before the endless rules and laws applied
before the thousands of books devoured
before the hundreds of hangovers endured
before the burden of being became heavy
i’m 5 years old on a summer afternoon
lying on my back in the great clover fields of
northern Ohio, with pure eyes gazing up
at the big blue sky as dark clouds gather
in the distance. there i am, lying there
in the fragmented light
no hopes, no dreams, no regrets,
a flawless flower
on the brink

Cross Creek: A Journey back to Old Florida

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“I do not understand how anyone can live
without some small place of enchantment to turn to.”
― Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings


Cross Creek is a tiny community in Florida lodged deep in the woods on the banks of a short stream that connects two beautiful lakes — Orange and Lochloosa.

A couple of weeks ago I made my way up to Cross Creek to visit the old home of Pulitzer-prize winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Rawlings was one of Florida’s most gifted writers, largely known for her 1938 book — “The Yearling.”   Continue reading

Run, Fight, Evade

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you traversed like an escaped captive
through the long cosmic night
only to be greeted by dawn’s dense
early fog, but you took it on,
wading wearily through the pale smog,
battle torn but alive, at last,
piercing through to the other side,
arriving on that lonely island of
self-awareness, smiling ever so gloriously
into the mirror of eternity as you start
to lead life on your own terms, leaning
ever so barefaced in the direction
of your own legacy.

you broke through.

but on the horizon you see something,
you see the belligerent herd approaching,
and they’re closing in fast, and they’re
coming for blood. Continue reading

Cut While Shaving

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5:03 am and it’s still dark outside.
I splash water on my face, lather it
up pretty good and then glide
the razor across.

who is this creature behind these green eyes I see?
who is this soul inside driving the vehicle of my body?
who is this heedless wayfarer in search of the unsearchable?
who is this demented wanderer looking back at me?

why am I conscious of it all, my past, my looming death? Continue reading

Violent Dawn

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fragments of a ravaged night
spiders across the sultry dread
as the lark harmonizes narcotic
hymns aloft the long time dead.

and there she is again
dancin’ barefoot in the
graveyard
with a bottle in hand,
gazing into the night
taking spontaneous pulls
to dilute the agony
of the dying light.

just look how stunningly mad she is.
look how she sways to the melody
of her own dark.

some say she made a pact with the devil
some say she has a fetish for the dead
some say she’s a witch, a whore,
a midnight tramp, a ‘crazy bitch’ adrift
inside her own shattered head.

maybe she’s all of them.
maybe she’s none.

but never could she lead
the kind of life like the rest –
masked, playing a part
untouched unscarred
cautiously intact
wretchedly dull
and oh so pathetically
predictable in their cutthroat
allegiance to the
white picket fence
monotony
of the so-called
American Dream.

there’s no thunder in their minds
no lightning in their veins
they love halfheartedly
they hate halfheartedly
they live halfheartedly
they lack the imagination
to question anything and
everything, particularly
the collective morality
that dictates their
brief little
inauthentic
lives.

unlike them
her soul throbs desperately
with the heart of the universe
oscillating
between rapture and rage
poetry and madness
life and death.

her internal living flame
glows like a lantern deep in the
caverns of a withering world
as the insipid moralizers
with apocalyptic eyes
look on from the threshold,
safe and sound, fearful of the sacred –
the kingdom within that only
the fearless come to know.

just a mere taste of her sensuality
ignites volcanoes of oxytocin –
sloshing splashing spraying
cascading into the bloodstream

and the great wars erupt
and the great empires crumble
and the great kings fall
and the world comes to an end.

with a ravenous hunger, she bites
forbidden fruit of serpent trees
in the luscious garden of unborn light.

in spite of her turmoil, in spite of her
desperate rage, she’s wildly alive,
unafraid, reborn daily into the night
out of a fierce suffering
as she dances in the divine dirt
trespassing in and out of time
under the swaying pines
above the forgotten bones
of a place beyond

forever nurturing her ardent dreams
never wasting the violent dawn.

Mad Love

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Her place, a world beyond ours,
was strange. I sat on the hospital bed
looking into those mystique eyes,
so mysterious, so wild. It was just
after one of her spells and the nurse
called me in.

I was told this one was intense.
She was disheveled looking,
with her legs tucked into her chest,
barefoot, rocking back and forth
with her cheek resting on her right knee.

She was staring out the window
at a world that did not want her,
a world she did not want in return. Continue reading