The Zen Poet

Henry mucho hombre, awake while the sun was still shining—up early at 11AM, writing the afternoon away, the sacred Sanskrit text flowing through him and onto the empty white pages, it was nothing short of a fucking miracle. 

His last twenty-five stories could be summed up in outline form as follows—

A)  Going for a walk in New York City, seeing a movie.

B) Taking a bus trip out of New York State.

C) Going for a walk in New York City, smoking opium in Chinatown or eating a bowl of noodles.

D) Going to a poetry reading, listening to a poet read. 

***An exception***

Taking a trip to upstate New York.

Henry Miller put together an outline that he based all of stories and books on in one all night pot smoking session while staying in Big Sur in the forties. 

Henry is no Henry Miller, but he felt his last twenty-five stories were solid and his best work to date.  

Out the door of his Queens apartment at 8PM. 

It was fall on the East Coast, Henry had a taste for what they called, “Sugaring off” in Vermont. They would pour freshly harvested maple syrup into shallow two inch by two inch half spheres carved in rows into a block of ice. Then putting a popsicle stick into the cooling syrup and twisting the stick until the syrup hardened, making a soft maple syrup sucker— an out of the world taste. 

Maybe next year he thought. 

As usual Chaim's Deli, first stop. Thinking of “Sugaring off” he orders buckwheat pancakes with plenty of artificial maple syrup on top. He then washes the cakes down with coffee and Sabra liqueur mixed. It was Ruby his regular waitress’s day off. 

Leaving the deli at 830PM, walking face first into a cool pre-winter breeze, wrapping an Arab scarf around his head like he was in a sand storm, Beduin style.  

A poet, Gary Snyder, was reading at MaMO art museum in the Lower Eastside, near Soho. Henry had heard of him, he was Japhy Ryder in Kerouac’s “The Dharma Bums.” Snyder a holier than thou, pure as mountain snow Zen prophet and nature lover, less open, more disciplined and much more anal than the rest of the beats.  

Henry had to take a taxi to MaMO to make the reading on time, paying 25 bucks at the door—allot of money to hear a Zen monk read in that monks aren’t supposed to touch money. 

Sitting in the mid section of the auditorium, the smell of pachouli oil everywhere, Henry looking through a forest of dread locks and braided hair. 

Gary Snyder right on time, 9AM at center stage, standing  proud and tall, the great white buffalo staring the audience down as if he was Crazy Horse himself.    

As Snyder began reading, Henry realized that he hated everything about Gary Snyder’s sanctimonious and winsome poetry—

A small cricket
on the typescript page of
"Kyoto born in spring song"
grooms himself
in time with The Well-Tempered Clavier.
I quit typing and watch him through a glass.
How well articulated! How neat!

Henry getting up quickly at intermission and running for the exit, ending up stage left, at the wing of the stage. Per chance bumping into Gary Snyder, knocking him down. 

The poet gets up and looks at him saying, “ You should be aware of every step you take, walk softly and look yonder as though you where on top of five mountains.” 

Henry looks at the Zen poet and says, “ Get off of your fucking cloud Mr. Zen poet and take a yogic breath of the mind altering diesel fumes all around you when you walk in the city.”

Henry missed the  second half of Gary Snyder’s reading. Taking a taxi straight to the Bowery to party with the bums, getting wasted out of his gourd at “Suicide Hall,”  desperately needing to shake off the Zen poetry of Gary Snyder. 

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