I wrote this poem after what I will always remember to be one of the best nights of my life, and it was all because of Raj…
(A kick-boxing Johnny Rotten
slipped it into my pocket during a warm
It didn’t stay there long.)
On a Saturday night,
green country hills,
seven hours away,
are swallowed by the rear-view mirror,
becoming distant towers of
a surreal monastary
which soon disappears like a
screen-saver, biding its time,
then vanishing at a keystroke.
In its place, vitality, virility, the essence of now
shimmers under smokey intellibeams
in a west-side warehouse club.
Anywhere else, the bass drum
is ominous, physically perceptible, in fact.
But mathematical beats are only a subtext
inside the V.I.P. lounge. Their gutteral punch is
absorbed by the silver-clad bodies draping the private entrance.
Inside, where the bridge-and-tunnel people
are often turned away,
a chosen congregation awaits its spirtual
cleansing of hedonism. In this ritual, the drums conjure
common movements, pulses,
and the beautiful many-headed monster
stirs and finally dances.
My brother, his friends and I huddle in a booth,
waiting for our shamens
to make the slow crawl
from kidneys to conciousness.
We pass the time with introductions:
I realized I was not my self, but my brother’s brother.
I am welcomed as a travel-worn stranger,
unaware of the delights of civilization.
My brother and the others leave and I remain with a japanese girl.
We enjoy our names and faces,
never struggling with vocabularies built to
include mundane things–times, places.
Then, suddenly, painlessly,
we feel all the temperatures at once:
warm sweaters on december nights,
crisp a.c. from the vents of a sun-stroked car,
clean spring, silent autumn.
Our blood vessels open
like hi-hats, keeping time
for the sultry voice crackling from
its record. We become instantly aware
of our own clinging clothes,
Our hands touch.
A moment later we realize how we’ve never really
touched skin before. Or its never felt quite as soft.
And there’s so much more.
I look around and realize
we’re all fellow travellers,
passing the same run-down
Chevron, paying the same
poor soul in the toll booth.
I tell her this, and she enjoys
the warmth of my western inflections.
Our eyes, faces meet innocently,
amidst the knowing, quivering crowd,
and we’re just kissing hello,
but wait, the beats keep coming,
time must be moving but we haven’t, I–
I inhale her,
twice breathed smoke,
and I understand at once
how the universe was constructed
just this way, perfectly,
25 September 1996