“Who do I think I am to decide that she’s wrong?”
–Townes Van Zandt
“Tell me a story; maybe I’ll believe it.”
Once one morning in Virginia on the Appalachian Trail,
we stepped out from the dark forest
onto a ledge of rock jutting into the air,
the view across the Shenandoah Valley stunning
enough to almost make one believe in God.
A few feet from the escarpment’s edge,
like a sacrificial gift upon an alter,
a pile of human excrement lay covered
by a few scraps of paper as if with a bow.
Some after partaking in drugs, relate
an experience, a vision if you will, most profound,
transformative even, like a pocket
pulled inside out – – – often comparing
their evening’s chemical experience
to the weeks-long vision quests of some
native American tribes – – after all, this is
the age of convenience – – the quick fix,
even in spiritual matters. So listen close:
Back in my distant youth, almost a man,
during my sophomore year of college,
I often took hallucinogens. One night,
I sensed I had to use the restroom; so I sat,
and wandered through the bowels of my thoughts.
Among the many lost profundities, I thought
about Elvis who had recently died, and heard
like a voice from heaven, my Aunt Hazel
bending over me fussing about wasting time.
Then I was home somewhere between two
and three years old, screaming for help,
my pants dangling at my feet, screaming
for my mother to save me, to help me
clean up my mess. Aunt Hazel stepped
in, cigarette dangling, grabbed some paper
and roughly got to the bottom of the problem:
You’ve got to take care of yourself,
no one wants to clean up your shit.
(June 29 , 2016)