"at once the silken tassel of my purse
tear, and its treasure on the garden throw"
we weave our wilfull thread
through the petals of our days
moving on with growing dread
and all we've wished and wondered
still ends by being dead
so, somewhat disheartened, s. still picked himself up and carried on as if nothing happened. but after the tortuous interview with anderson and the horror of the boys trapped in a loveless house with murderous step brothers, all he really wanted to do was escape. and that for s. meant the scene in the village, parties and a long mariuana binge.
fritz was in new york and was a perfect partner for debauchery.
all that time s. never felt more distanced from himself or any aim.
no more drawing, no more painting, no more trying. he was truly a seed caught by a september gust of wind; once lifted high and then dashed to the ground.
one of s's friends, a poet, was on the cover of cosmopolitan magazine. and he thought that this contact fame in some way made him great. he and x gallivanted around town in dashing hats and antique suits with ascots and stick pins. they strode around like the honored guests of the world. they recited their crazy poems at the commons to the snapping fingers of tourists who had no idea what they were.
"i am not the shepherd
but the sheep and the wolf
and the dark dreams
listen to the sound of diamonds
they crash on marble vanity
in raucous cacophany
here we have non-prayer
or a prayer as dry as the forked tongued chameleons
it's not our job to lift the crusty wings
and eat ambrosia from dirty places
oblivion is the most inelegant desire
…dogs one when asleep
…no escape but death
what a waste.
i'd rather sup on feathers
so dry i choke
than die without changing.
sandalwood burns my nostrils
oh yes, still great shame
but i am oblivious
being lost is not so bad
there are hiding places
buffers against the truth
oh why can't i just kill the enemy within?
now free, s. was like a well spun top. he got rid of the $50 pink oldsmobile and spent it all on five ounces of 'grass'.
he partied in the village, chelsea and the lower east side
and crashed wherever he happened to be.
one day in the spring he ran into milo and got his old job back at the figaro, but out front making espresso. leaning lackadaisically like young 'rip van winkle' or the amoral 'peer gynt', in his prime, posing for teenage daughters from ohio or maybe tennessee. he would love to catch their eye. they would get all flustered and afraid to look again; but some were brave… and they did. some even came back later in the night, sans guardians, stolen hearts.
one lovely pearl, elise, lived at the foot of 5th avenue right by the arch of triumph in washington square. she was a student at n.y.u., about eighteen. her parents were away in europe. s. was on good terms with her doorman so when he dropped by there was never that irritating formality; that calling up and waiting like a supplicant in the lobby. he just breezed by with a doff of his hat. he liked that a lot.
elise was a pale nordic type with straw colored hair, wispy, and eyes as seductive as an arabian concubine.
her nipples tasted like butterscotch
her arms scented with cumin and coriander
but from her ruby lips a dew as sweet as
i am taunted by the nape of her neck
the cool blue
the pit of her throat attracts me
as honeysuckle draws a bee
as a child licks jam from his face
further than that i dare not go
in singing a song of she
i would gladly trade my seat in heaven
for another night of love with she
it seemed to s. that he should have known al bonk long before now. he owned the "si como no" a boutique of mexican artifacts, above the gaslight cafe'. but he didn't meet him until elise introduced them.
al had a little cottage on the edge of woodstock in the catskill mountains; a hop, skip and a jump from manhattan. the infamous 'greyrabbit' made daily trips back and forth from the city.
this woodstock was a small town with hippie stores, art galleries and bohemian coffee shops where the local youngsters abashedly strummed banjos and guitars into the night. woodstock had an unusual plethora of cool teenagers (because their parents were hip, i guess); demure belly buttoned bejeweled chics and longhaired boys with guitars slung over their shoulders. they all had a guitar… part of the 'school' uniform.
s. and elise stayed at al's place; even when he was away on a buying trip in mexico. s. was carving a pottery studio into the rock hillside.
something was gained by this besides al's everlasting friendship. it was an experience of a different sort. working for the sake of work.
or, you could say, 'paying for his existence'. hard work going through layers of shale with a pick; chipping bit by bit half an inch at a time over the whole floor… shoveling out the stone for gravel in the driveway. invigorating work all day. meat and potatoes and smoothe elise at night.
and at night he curled up in a big chair by the fire and devoured one after another of the "the ring trilogy"; starting with the "hobbit", by j.r.r. tolkein. the dank woods of the catskills was a perfect ambiance for these marvelous tales. he began to see elise as galadriel and al as the grey gandalf. al had owned one night when they were alone, "you lucky son-of-a-bitch. i wish i was you."
s. naturally scoffed. he looked at this weathered old wizard hunched by the fire in a primo mexican serape. he was all aglow by the firelight and s. would feel real love and even compassion for him. he was struck by the architecture of al's fantastic face. his skull seemed to be coming out of his saddle brown face. golden brush strokes traced his high cheekbones; the eagle-like bridge of his nose was a lovely stroke of pure genius…. gandalf the grey, the early years.
when it came to building the studio walls they, he and al, pulled large flat rocks with ropes down the hill. from the quarry nearby they blazed a trail and with a wheelbarrow full of small flat stones; a hundred trips over the weeks they worked. together they raised arches for the doors and walls with openings for windows. everything was just stone and mortar. s. got wood for the fire from up the hill. he would gather a brace of 'dead and down' trees, wrap them with a rope and drag them down the hill to saw and split down below.
elise had gone back to the city for a while; and then she called saying that her parents had summoned her to join them in majorka; or was it ibiza? al took s. to millbrook, the 'castalia foundation' or, 'center for psychedelic religion'. and sometimes they visited the ashram of dr. mishra.
s. was in a dandy stage again, only country style, playing the role of a young ruskin to the hilt. he had a finely carved cherry wood staff, a fine wide brimmed straw hat with a flashy band (cherry red, purple and a deep cobalt blue). he wore a red bandana around his neck. he found a well tailored french corduroy jacket that was just perfect with jeans and riding boots. he did cut a fine figure; flamboyant but manly with a full black handlebar mustache.
i guess since the powdered pigments he had splurged hundreds of dollars on were sitting in a box in al's house gathering dust, he had to 'play' the role of artist. he didn't think about it though. he was 'lost' and worse… he wanted to be lost.