Saturday, April 2, 2011

Elliot

Dragging a box cutter through plastic,
placing boxes of crackers on a shelf,

a guy I know named Elliot, lumbering, toothless,
wearing a sweaty old hat, watches a minute, then tells me,

"I don't know how you do it. This chopping wood, carrying water
stuff would drive me crazy. I just can't sit still for it," he said,

He grinned and we exchanged stories and news of the world.
"...and I can't stand these bureaucrats and people who fuck with me."

Elliot is the voice I hear coming out of the ground,
and I bear witness to his sad and tender heart.

There are earthquakes in Japan, tsunamis,
atomic meltdowns, Pluto squaring Uranus.

As revolution sweeps over Africa Elliot tells me
he's converting his school bus to a "Road Warrior machine."

When he shops for groceries or climbs into that bus,
everything on him moves larger than whatever's around,

the grin, the hat, that ratty old sheepherder's jacket,
belongs to an outlaw, Buddhist, soldier, American Cowboy.

I told him once how I  loved to sit zazen. His eyes arched upwards.
"You're one of those 'just sitting' dudes," he said. "I couldn't do it,

I've got to keep moving so the motherfuckers don't catch up.
I'll be one step ahead of them  when the shit hits the fan!"

He once met the Dalai Lama on the road,
The Dalai Lama first called him "Cowboy."

Once I told him I thought I was "born for these times."
I meant that I never felt so alive as in the middle of a storm.

Elliot thought I was talking about some planetary destiny,
some cosmic scenario involving prophetic interventions.

He said to me, "Don't hand me that new age crap,"
and I was insulted, and the next time we met I told him so,

I've paid dues to get through that maze of mother ships and movie stars
and guilt ridden Christian metaphors disguised as science fiction,

those angels and devils coming with the 12th Planet to doom us
or else save us, all of those saviors coming to lift us away,

or else the conspiracies that lie in wait to pull us under
should we be standing on the wrong end of the shifting tide.

There's only being awake or asleep, I said,
and Elliot just showed me once again that toothless grin,

"I'll bet you've been thinking about that since
the last time you saw me." He chuckled,

"I got under your skin, didn't I? Hard to do with you Zen guys."
Of course he was right, and my self-importance had to give,

as he mounted his rusty yellow bus,
and gave me once more his cowboy grin, and drove away.

Elliot is the voice I hear coming out of the ground,
and bear witness to his sad and tender heart.
 

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