Through the Eye of the Needle – Millennium


it was the year 2000: an anachronism;
the expectations dubbed on the millennium
the years of speculation and science fiction
—doomsayers predicting the end

and here it was upon us—
we waited with bated breath for the events of history
to come to their fullness; for the world to start afresh

and where was I while all this history
was taking place? on my way to work
just like all the other 6 billion people
on this hot little planet

no apocalypse
no war of man against god
not even a three billion year old rock
hurtling through space to annihilate us

peace was busting out all over
bagpipes were blasting in Scotland Yard
people were dancing; waving freedom’s flag

walls came crashing, war tanks trashed;
the sounds of wild parties competing
with the cries of the crowds shouting
in the euphoric ecstasy of the moment

freedom had become a commodity
accessible to all; like toilet paper—
easily looted from your neighborhood embassies

now all these wondrous turn of events were making me thirsty,
so I wandered to the tap and topped-off another glass of death
clear as crystal; disguised as fresh from the mainline pipes
of metro H2O fabrication plants; filtered
to an exquisite dilution of river sludge
ground water seepage, invisible
to the naked eye

…and drank myself to death

-The Professor

Through the Eye of the Needle – My Manic Mentor

My Manic Mentor

you are daydreaming!”
he often interrupted
my exercises this way

“Stay in tempo
one-two-three and four!”
he kept time with a determined stroke
of the baton

“Follow the music.
Not your temptation!
The sheet! The sheet… ah!
What’s the sense?”

he sat down
and rummaged
through his coat pocket
for his pipe

“Let me tell you a story
Mr. Stowe,” —what he would call me
when it became obvious
I was all too maverick
to ever learn
the discipline

I had begun to believe that the professor
took me on as a pupil despite my lack of talent
simply because I (and perhaps I alone)
was willing to listen to his monologues

ones he would set into with the same abandon
as the vagabonds who approach hapless passers-by
on a busy street, engaging them in a witless banter
for the misfortune of having
caught their eye

in fact
he confided in me
how he had discovered
by putting a drop of saliva
across the eye of a needle
he could see things
in minute detail

creating for himself an instrument
much like a magnifying glass
but with a finer focus

I could only chuckle at his eccentricities
but found myself entranced by
my manic mentor

—being of a lunatic fringe myself
I didn’t mind listening to his tirades
for somehow I saw a movement
a poetic voice

much like the wildly ecstatic madness
of a jazz trumpeter blowing notes
in sixteenths and thirty-secondth
on a wild ride to the other side
of the night

On the Road to Satori – Flagstaff





we drove north from Sedona
amazed at the crystal clear air of the night
Elizabeth explained that the crackle of bonfires
were actually in people’s back yards
not the National Park

we spent the night
with a family in the process
of converting their mobile home
into a mountain lodge; the framework
and plywood sheathing visible
as we sat to dinner

I marveled at the ingenuity
of people who engage in such endeavors
having lived my whole life in apartments
never knowing what it’s like
to own a house
you can convert
and add to
at will

Ralph and his family were ok
they all got along fine with Elizabeth’s two kids
and their dog; who later ate the scraps from our plates
(I think we probably ate venison)

we had breakfast the next morning
at a coffee shop on San Francisco Street
train tracks ran East-West through town
I walked along them for a half mile or so with Jack
a fellow we’d met in the café

Jack told me of his dreams of traveling
cross-country; riding the rails and bumming it
how he envied me his job and bills
reminding me that, yeah
I was pretty lucky
out here rambling
no worries—no dough

back at the diner
Elizabeth waited
to take me to the Interstate
where I would (hopefully)
make my next connection
to the Coast

she let me off at the crossroads
and I waited there for a ride
she stayed in the micro bus
guarding my journey
like the angel of
my mother’s prayers

a pretty girl
driving a flatbed truck
stopped to give me a ride

I ran jumped up into the cab thinking:

I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,
It’s such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me
. . . take it easy. . .*

I waved at Elizabeth and the kids
—I was on my way

*Take It Easy—Eagles, 1972

On the Road to Satori – Westfalia

On the Way Back to Wolfsburg by DocSonian





she was a congressman’s ex-wife
rambling in a Volkswagen Westfalia with her two kids
she offered to take me further down the road
said she sensed I had a greater motive
for all of this journeying “Seattle\Northwest
you’re bound” she told me nodding with certainty
over a cook fire on the road north to Flagstaff

at the ruins of Montezuma’s Castle
stripping off my jeans and
red flannel road-shirt
I lay in a narrow canal
letting the cool water course my skin
cleaning me up spit shine and polished
hair smoothed back and grinning like a lark

I whistled as I returned to the campsite
and told her about the refreshing spot just up the trail
she gasped as I described my naked exposure
the solitude of the wild Sedona autumn
I was just young enough to not
make the connection; she
was at least sixty
I thought
back then
now realize
as I’m older
she was probably not

she later speculated she must
remind me of my Mom not
at all,
I replied
—I still didn’t get it

On the Road to Satori – Tempe





Tempe was not the haven I expected
a roadside rest park just off the bridge from Mesa
substituted for the hobo jungle of my hitchhiking dreams

campers and tents strewn around
smoke rising from campfires and alcohol stoves
people waking up early every morning
after staying up all night drinking
spinning yarns

Buckhorn Bob taught me
how to make cowboy coffee:
“You sprinkle some grounds in the pot
bring the water to boil let the grounds
settle and pour it off the top—ya got your
cowboy coffee” he instructed me

I hungrily accepted his kind offer of a cup
as by now I was pretty much broke
hungry; no direction

Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – Disequilibrium

desert rain by ninheve




the rain
…comes down
in ripping sheets
splashing into gullies and culverts

an old jeep
inches at a snail’s pace
down the black
desert highway

smears the windshield
agonized wipers
in labored rhythm
mechanical torture

the driver
barely seeing
the road ahead
maneuvers the jeep
through a slalom
of mud
and rushing

wash from the canyons
and escarpments
of the Mojave
in a frenzied
flash flood
of disequilibrium

versus road
versus nature

Settled into my evening duties, I reflect on the life I’ve found working at the steam plant. I write in the journal and amuse myself through the doldrums of the night. –Ned Bean


Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – Faces and a Twisted Horn – space face


Faces and a Twisted Horn


floating in a galaxy of bright stars
Ortíz spins slowly
his eyes open

huge faces loom before him
he reaches through the celestial fabric to touch them
they fade away

like faces molded in wax
in mirrored hallways
I stand

I reach out
to touch them
I reach out
to hold them
only to see
new ones
in their place

up or down
sideways or backwards
I feel like
I’m floating
in space

and another
I grab hold
and feel
the tears
on each face

floods through me
I kiss it sweetly
only to see it

Ortíz wakes in a sweat
the warmth of the desert floor on his back

y ¿Que de esas caras? What were those faces?
what meaning could they hold? what riddle was he trying to solve?
he questions the dream
as if solving it could answer questions
that have troubled him all his life

in the distance
hoof-beats pound
¿A caballo? Ortíz awakes once more
this time with a crisp snap of clarity

aaarrrmmmh aarrrmmmh aarrrmmmh
the sound fills him, drumming from the valley below
he runs across the ridge to where he can get a better view

gone are the irrigated fields
replaced by a verdant slough
carpeted in lush salt cedar and wild grasses
that stretches to the river

a cavalry of soldiers on horseback, swords and rifles raised
descend on a band of desperately fearful Mohave
it is a massacre!
the savagery of the horsemen
is like nothing he has ever imagined; real to the point of delusion

women clutch at their children
warriors, their arrows like soda straws flung into the wind
are downed by gunfire

sickened by the sight
Ortíz collapses to the ground unconscious

a twisted horn floats
through the emptiness of space

a lonely sentinel, it wanders aimlessly

a body hangs by its neck from the mouthpiece
blood oozing from the base of its skull in large red tear drops
the face contorted; the hair mottled
it dangles lifeless in the weightlessness
of improbability

his breath a prolonged rattle
Ortíz sleeps a restless sleep

night creeps quietly
the nocturnal creatures of the desert scurry about
life continues on just as it always has; just as it always will
the moon rises and falls; the sun comes up

daylight—and all the little critters of the dusk dive into their digs for the day



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