Thursday, December 17, 2009

Like Dylan, What He Said

As I have said before, I am an old dope dealer, 69-71. How that ended, what I call hitting bottom for the second time, is directly related to this poem. The Dylan in the title is not Bob Dylan. It’s the other Dylan, Mr. Thomas, the Welshman (correction by YogaforCynics after checking) who wrote these lines

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Like Dylan, What He Said

And right here I want
to rebel against it all,
rebel against you
who created me,
you who will take me so soon
that even now I
feel the coming dark
in the pains of joints, dimming
sight, the loss of love,
leaking confidence.
I want to stand up straight, shake
my fist in your face.
I'll stand my ground, force
the fire to consume me right
in front of you here.

March 9, 2009 3:54 PM

I followed his advice. My second bottom involved betrayal of friendship, lying, a sting operation, a set trap that somehow didn’t spring, a girlfriend who couldn’t measure up, who I had to leave, the destruction, but carefully of my entire life, leaving town, going from California to Arizona for a couple weeks, coming back to town and after that living a completely different life.

How that worked, when I realized I was in deep shit, my body took over, moved my conscious mind aside, said in effect I had neither the experience nor the intelligence to do what had to be done next. It was a weird ride. I was not in charge, not at all, just sitting back and watching all of it unfold. The things that happened next were like a play, perfectly staged. First I completely evaded the trap, several hours of nighttime driving over roads I did not know, had never been on in order to get back home, totally freaked out, knowing I had to do this perfect at both the buy end and my arrival home. Over several days I cleaned up, demonstrated the uselessness of trying to leverage me for the crime that I actually did not commit (though they had me on others that I did commit, but it wasn’t me they were after), and then carefully leaving town, leaving false trails as I did. I found out that my will to live was only partially in my control. For lack of a better way to say it, my body took over, was determined to neither go to jail nor die without a goddamn good fight. What terrified me, I was not built right for the pressure the narcs could exert. I feared they would make me snitch and then I would simply have to kill myself. I am still convinced I would have killed myself in that condition.

That didn’t happen. I was never even picked up, never charged, nor was the guy I was protecting. The last I heard of him he had made his nut, bought a boat and retired to the South Seas, all from skills and philosophy he built fighting the NVA in Viet Nam. He was a decent man, just thoroughly counter culture and pissed off about the war. He was doing his subversive bit, ripping the system off directly and helping others to do the same. That's how we saw things in those days. He was one of the main suppliers of weed for Hot Tuna. Hot Tuna was a spin off band from the Jefferson Airplane. When they split, that's when the Airplane became the Starship. His smuggling partner had been my roommate in San Jose before my roommate moved to Oregon, bought property and built his house. I loved that man, my roommate, fiercely. I loved my life in those days too. When I had to tear down my life to save myself, it nearly killed me losing so much. My body made that happen, a completely different kind of consciousness. I could not have done it. There is no question I was raging against the dying of the light.

Instead I met my future wife, moved to Oregon with her in a year, and got a career three months after that. I found a continuing education course, signed up and was hooked up with a mentor and best friend who changed my life over the next six years to boot.


  1. Supplying weed to Hot Tuna is recommendation enough for me.

    Just wandered into your blog, and like your writing, though it sounds like Mr. Thomas the Irishman may have been ripping off Mr. Thomas the Welshman...

  2. OOPS. Does it count that the Irish and the Welsh are both Celtic?? My bad. Mr. Thomas the Welshman. Welcome to my blog. However, to be clear, I did not supply weed to Hot Tuna. I deny it. I would have been happy to, however. Kaukonen is one of my heroes. I have patterned my guitar playing after his a little, though I don't use enough fingers to do what he does. And I don't practice guitar at all since I got my keyboard. :(

    Michelle, ever my friend.

  3. And as I finished reading today's posting (love the poem - LOVE Dylan Thomas), I see the post below is titled Bless My Return. I think your body taking over at that point in your life was a perfect example of blessings that carried you through.

  4. :D


    (That might be too dense. The young Kwai Chang Caine was called Grasshopper by the Shaolin monk who trained him as a boy. It is a spiritual endearment. Later he travelled to the old west, the setting of the 1972-1975 TV series, Kung Fu. This character was played by the late David Carradine.)

    Karen, yes. Thank you for picking up a thread. I don't remember if it was accidental or purposeful writing, but it is not accidental to the fact that my beliefs have some coherence.

    These poems were certainly from the same thrust of creativity as it passed through me on March 9 at half past 3 in the afternoon.

    Notice the recorded times of completion of each poem. I finished and time stamped Bless My Return. 33 minutes later I had finished and time stamped Like Dylan, What He Said

    My body took over on March 9, 2009 too, the blessing, if you will. Now I notice how the poems flow together, a kind of call and response. It might be entirely correct to read the two poems in the posts as one longer poem about mortality. :)

  5. loved the poem very much... just because of the ending...

    "I'll stand my ground, force
    the fire to consume me right
    in front of you here."


    first i was going to lose all my self-confidence...

    feels good to fight... especially with god...

  6. uh oh...another loser :)

    No one ever wins the fight with God but God.

    We fight anyway. We fight because the world is the way it is, beyond all human understanding, feels wrong somehow. We fight because it is born in us to fight.

  7. but christopher, i never felt like a loser...
    do you know who i am? :

    my fight is trying to understand others and love them...

  8. HB, I know who you are. I meant nothing hurtful by it. I spend my time in a certain crowd of people, all of whom have been marked as "losers" and so this is not a power term in my life. I meant it merely as accurate. No one wrestles with God because he or she expects to win, at least no one sane does. Yet we will wrestle anyway, because something inside forces it. We are driven.

    Sometimes this ennobles us with others but often when we wrestle even the others who notice we do this will remark how foolish we are, yet still we do this.

    It is destiny that we do this. So saying another "loser", I could have said, uh oh, another who has the destiny of fighting, wrestlng with God. The key, you are not alone, nor am I, nor are we alone with only each other. You may not prefer the term, however the price you pay won't go away because the term does. To the extent you fight, to that extent happiness is more elusive, yet still we fight.

  9. 'I'll stand my ground, force
    the fire to consume me right
    in front of you here.'

    This bit right here.....snort!

    A little tanty and what does God do? Lets you burn....



  10. If we didn't fight, I think God would be pretty disappointed. Fight, challenge, resist, attempt, struggle, frustrate, and complicate. Amen.

    This is another one of your finest, I think... it sings and bleeds red. Also, I'll second the Dylan <3ing... he's probably not my favorite poet overall, probably, but he did write my Favorite Poem.

  11. {{{Michelle}}}

    I feel like you actually care :)

  12. Well, Joseph, it's good that I can write like this, but maybe not so good that I have the experience to write like this. But then again, I could have the experience and still not be able to write like this. One takes one's blessings where one can...;)

  13. There's a mother-child thing in that, too, you know. I'm too tired to make any sense about it though...

  14. Oh I am sure, Rachel. More than one thing, depending. I am too tired to put my "I know women" hat on though.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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