is being here alive and continuing on. For years there was a recurrent dream/nightmare of me, as an adult being nailed inside of a coffin. Always waking up in a sweat. The last time I was with C at my place. C and I had smoked some pot and were asleep. I woke up again in a sweat, after a nightmare, but this time, it was different. This time I was a baby in a dresser drawer, pushing up with my feet against the bottom of the drawer above. It was very dark. When the drawer opened, there was light. I wanted more of it, and my diaper was messy. Many years later a close relative told me my mother had a difficult time being a mother to me. My baby mess and loud noises may have been too much at times. Never had that dream or the coffin nightmare again.
Growing up with one sister and several step siblings. My sister and guardians knew my real mom. My step siblings didn’t and maybe still have no idea. I had never known there was another mom living nearby. First met her when I was 14, writing in Mrs. Turner’s English class. Mrs. Turner responded to a knock on the classroom door. She returned to the classroom and asked me to step outside to talk with someone. There was a short white woman there, holding the hand of a young brown child. The woman said, ‘Frederic, please don’t run away. I am your mother.’ I ran home as fast as possible. ‘Dad, ma, a white lady came to school and said she was my mother.’ Dad said, ‘Oh, she is just a crazy old lady running around, saying she is everyone’s mom. Don’t worry about her’. This crazy old lady was now banging and shouting through our apartment door. ‘I wan’t to see my son. Let me in.’, over and over.
Let’s get back to that. Magic is playing with my little green soldiers and colorful cowboys and Indians, on and off their horses. They fight over cotton hills, through woolen grass, to wrinkled rivers rushing past. Brutal life and death, over and over, in plastic. Some of my warriors went missing. Just up and disappeared. Now that I think about it, there were no females. Just men. Females are an other story, for another time, and place.
When that little white woman was screaming and banging, my mom started to shout back.’Get out of here. I will call the cops.
I trembled, wide-eyed in a back bedroom.
Eventually the woman went away. Nothing else was ever said about that incident by anyone, ever.
Australia, by way of Ubud, Bali. I had a German traveling companion in India. Before we separated she told me she painted and lived in Bali. Bali? I had never heard of it and had no idea where it was. Generally, we Americans cannot identify the countries of nationalities that are non-white. Why is that do you think? I did say generally!
World leaders. How many U.S. leaders speak another language on the world stage.
Do you know? I don’t.
When I landed in Denpasar International Airport, I took a crowded bus into Ubud, Bali. That was where my traveling companion lived. I got off the bus and was startled by all the colorful garments and smiling faces. Most locals that passed me lifted their eyebrows into a smile. That first day I checked my fly, to see if it was down. I took off and looked over my backpack. I had stayed many months in Nepal and India, Hindu countries. The Balinese are also Hindu, but are different from Hindus I met in South Asia. They appear to be happier and their Gamelan music is played everywhere.
I slipped and fell while on a motorcycle in the middle of the jungle. My first day ever riding a motorcycle. A young fellow showed me how to ride and asked if I’d drive him home. ‘Just a few minutes away’, he said. An hour or more later, me sitting behind him, we arrived at his home in the middle of the jungle. No people along the way. Just the narrow dirt trail, trees and trailside drop-offs. The boy’s mother prepared a meal for us. While heading back, the bike slipped out from under me. I was stuck on the ground, with my hand on the accelerator, the wheel spinning madly, next to a drop-off. I was in panic mode. Let the bike drop into the gulley? What will it cost me? Will I wind up in jail?
The wheel spinning madly, the bike spitting out smoke and fumes. I am holding on for dear life.
Right there, in the middle of the jungle, I heard the music getting louder, coming closer. There were six or seven men, connected by a dragon costume walking up the trail, playing their instruments. They stopped. An old fellow approached and turned the ignition off. He bent down and said, ‘Apakah kamu tidak apa-apa’. A younger man asked in English if I was OK. They helped me up and wished me well.
After only a few days of walking around, I became very impressed with the detailed wood carvings and sculptures. I asked around and was directed to a wood carver master in Mas. I sat with him alongside many other very younger students learning the art. I wanted to skip the details and carve abstracts. The teacher no longer helped me, and I went back to my Rama Sita family in Ubud, feeling rejected and dejected.
Just looked at Google Rama Sita. It is currently a big ritzy, many rooms losmen. There were only 3 guest rooms, when I lived there. There was Koper, Karmi, and their three young daughters. I had business cards made for them and handed them out to travelers getting off the bus. Koper’s father carved large, beautiful picture frames, behind the living quarters. Koper had a job in construction.
Magic, appears again. There I was, sitting in my room feeling dejected. Karmi appeared and told me to carve some wood. She pointed out a half-buried stump lying nearby. I purchased iron chisels (about 50 cents each, and started working on the piece. I rough sketched what I was doing and an American batik designer chalked out what I wanted as I progressed. I broke many chisels carving this piece. I found out later, no one carves on coconut wood. It is much harder than the soft woods the Balinese work with. I threw it into the yard. Karmi retrieved it and said she’d sell it as is, at the market. I worked on it until it was finished. I still have this one. It’s named The Embrace’. Am looking at it right over there. I haven’t taken care of it and am watching it slowly disintegrate. ‘As all matter will’, a liddle voice just quietly noted. The second carving I sold to an Ubud Art Gallery, for $300 dollars, to get me to Perth, Australia, with less than $50 dollar in my pocket. I gave another one to a friend. One cracked in half during shipment and I tossed it. I possess the last one I created also. It’s named ‘Celebration’.
Wood carving was behind me, once I left Indonesia.
Landed in Perth, Australia with the only dirty, much used backpack on the airport conveyor belt. Airport security went through everything, except for my pockets. I had my fingers crossed that they wouldn’t. They would find me almost moneyless and put me back on the plane, in the same condition. They didn’t. Australia is an entirely other story. There was more racism in Western Australia than in any other country I had been to. Niggers were everywhere. Well, at least the words Abo, nigger and coloured were everywhere.
Landed and was in Western Australia for a year because the folks I worked for, refused to pay me after my 6-month visa was up. The penalty was not being allowed back into the country/continent for 3 years, I believe. No worries, as I didn’t intend to go back ever again.
Australia: While there, met the woman I’d marry, divorce and this many years later, wish her and her family the best life has to offer.
How is what I am writing any magic. Well magic is staying alive when external circumstances wish you dead. Magic is using whatever means you have to remain intact through plague, not really plague, but through close calls. Almost drowning. Auto collisions, Mental death tones. a Head Shot. What folks call insanity.
I smile a lot. Didn’t used to. I was never smiling in photos. Why? Because I broke one front tooth trying to catch my brother in the snow. I was it. I wanted to close the distance between us. I squeezed my eyes shut, reached out and ran smack dab into a tree, full force. The second front broken tooth. The first one was when I was on skates and DJ breezed past in her summer skirt. Instead of watching where I was going, her butt held my attention. BAM!!! Into the bench, face first.
The first front broken tooth.
So what transpired after i smacked that tree? I will tell you. We, the other kids and me looked around for that bit of front tooth, found it and concocted a believable story.
We got on the elevator. In those days the elevator didn’t have metal bars on the elevator window, to keep the glass intact. I was about 5 when we first moved into 930 East 4th Walk. One of the Lillian Wald houses. The projects were kind of empty then. The Hasidic Jews owned Avenue C. When I say they had horses and wagons to cart their stuff around, folks look at me like I have loose screws. I remember Hershey bars were 3 for 11 cents. Salted stick pretzels were 1 cent each. Back then wrangler didn’t mean a nice butt. It meant quality goods. So we are riding the elevator up to the 13th floor, where we lived. Didn’t learn until many years later, 13 is a bad luck number. After living up there for about 13 years, I’d say you make your own luck. Own it.
So we got off the elevator, knocked on the door. It was always locked. We waited for the chain and locks to be undone and entered. I ran to the hallway adjacent to the 3 bedrooms and made a huge racket from falling down. I got up and carried that bit of tooth into the kitchen. All us kids gasped. Well, they all gasped. I don’t remember what I was doing while the room was agasp, Maybe deciding the next move.
was reading books.
The Don Flows Home to the Sea, Quiet Flows the Don and other Russian novels. The Reds and the Whites interested me greatly. I’d sit on the floor in Strands and read many different books. I remember some were psychiatry books and that other p word, that is not a degreed doctor. I always have to look that one up. If you believe something long enough , it becomes one of your building blocks. What is your major component? Love, Hate, or Crap? Please remember, you can always drain the system and fill ‘er up anew.
Tooth. Dad was probably out drinking somewhere. Ma likely said, something like ‘You are so clumbsy’. I just made fun of ma, in a sly kind of way. Some will think . . .He can’t spell and feel all puffed up. Some will say nothing and just laugh. Others will scratch their heads, squint and say ‘Huh?’ Is one reaction better than another? No! Sad is not better than Joy. Joy is not better than sad. We run from one emotion to another and get medical support in doing so.
Getting back to Strand’s, sitting on the floor, seeing all the legs pass by, I loved that store. I have a book from there named Tongues of Fire by Grace Turnbull, 1924. Grace may be male or female, but imagine, a great gift to me from a dusty shelf. It is the only text I really treasure. Just turned around. Looked at all the books on the shelves. I keep saying ‘ Get rid of them. Start brand new’. They, the books are still piling up and I am still holding on to them, for some unannounced reasons. Tongues of Fire has passages by all the orators through cultures and centuries. My fingers usually open to the Buddha parable pages. Many of the other difficult sounding names on the browning pages, remain unheard. One of the Buddha parables named ‘Patisena’ was instrumental in forgiving myself and dad, a few days before his death. Didn’t know he was going to die, but we don’t always know when a loved one , or any one will be dying. Especially these days, when we value guns more than human life. Just look around.
Me and my girlfriend D were rehearsing at The New School for Social Research for the director BS(a real, not bot name). We were tired from the rehearsal and decided to visit dad the next day. He died that night.
You never know. Speak your amens now, ’cause now is really all we got.
David Ignotow, a poet. We were at odds. I took his class at the New School for Social Research. It was on 5th Ave in the Village, at the time. Don’t know why I took it. Seems I was writing, even back then in the eighties. There were about ten students in the class. We would critique someone’s poem. I generally responded first and assessed the work correctly. David would dismiss what I said, move on, then make the same assessment later on.
I discussed this with other students and they agreed with me that this was occurring. I have his signed anthology in a box somewhere. I liked his anthology covering youth through his grey years. Reading an anthology may reveal the autobiography of a writer. Don’t look at me. Examine your own words. I never took another writing class, until just this year.
So now you know why I didn’t smile in photos for many years.
is on the inside looking out. Touch, from the outside in, is an entirely other story for another time. My, well she is certainly not mine, but the masseuse that touches me, is truly divine.
Touch is an interesting topic as touch designates an other. What does it really mean to touch your self. Is there no other in that case. That is like saying 1 + 1 = one. Some will say, ‘Wrong’. One plus one equals 2. Some will say, ‘stupid guy’. Some will skip over a thought that rearranges their makeup. Some will repeat to themselves ,”One plus one equals three’ and smile. Smile? Yes, smile. Change is inevitable. Two distinct energies melding produce another living creation. None of this one drop of blood means you are black nonsense.
OK. Time to go, ’til next write.