Ensorcelled by the September 1955 mystical vinyl codex ‘a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom’ at age eight, Andrew Darlington embarked on a lifetime quest to decipher the magical incantation’s profundity, traipsing in not entirely straight lines of zigzag wandering across decades of enchantment, yet is still no closer to the true enlightenment revelation must bring. As of now, the seeking continues across a proliferation of platforms, including EIGHT MILES HIGHER .
THE TIME HEELS/ INSANE NO MORE
the phases of the moon in 1907 the algorithms of butterflies, a dialogue with the dead, through an ambiance of bells and birdsong in immaculate taste, the faucet that drips and the clocks that won’t tick, where words are pictures in smoke, and to say there is no choice is a failure of the imagination, for the moon is howling in the copse and oblivion is calling my name
TO MOCK A KILLINGBIRD
it has presence the soul of timber, these trees contain aspiration to be forest to eclipse all other life beyond the human flicker untroubled by mind not so much indifferent as enduring in proliferation, if I stand here long enough they rise around and through me if I don’t move they entwine and suffocate me in leaves rooting me hard into soil ripping the grain of flesh, replacing bone and sinew to live a thousand years in the migration of spores in the slow soul of timber
it began on that first beach it will end on that final beach this continuity of frozen space where time whispers echo in every shiver and ripple of tide, the grit of sand is lost lands from imperceptible erosions counted by the slow shift of constellations, I stand beneath this storming sky bare toes sandy and wave washed and I feel it tremble into my soul, this is the nexus where eternity curves in upon itself, and stills into a single endless now
He has an MFA in creative writing from City College. He taught in New York Public schools for many years.His first volume of poetry- Damaged by Dames & Drinking was published in 2017 and another – Femme FatalesMovie Starlets & Rockers in 2018. A set of three e-bookstitledLies From The Autobiography vol 1-3 were published from2018 to 2020. His newest book, Imagined Indecencies, was published in February of 2022.
Michael Berton is a percussionist, tequila aficionado, traveler and all around bon vivant. Poems have recently appeared in The Sinking City, Pank, Caustic Frolic, Boats Against the Current, Soor Ploom, Ubu, Page & Spine, Peach Fuzz and Talking River Review. His forthcoming poetry collection, The Spinning Globe is scheduled for late 2023 from Recto y Verso. He was nominated in 2021 for the Touchstone Award. A native of El Paso,TX, he currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
Benito Vila lives in a remote fishing village on Mexico’s Pacific coast. He first had his poetry published in 2020 in Love Love, an underground magazine based in Paris. His other published work includes the editing Of Myth & Men, a narrative cut-up of poet Charles Plymell’s email correspondence (for Bottle of Smoke Press), and creating profiles of "counterculture” instigators for pleasekillme.com and legsville.com.
Who is Wavy Gravy and why does he keep following me around? I’ve only met him once but he keeps popping into my life from time to time, as a wise character in friends’ stories, as someone who knows what’s really important. When I discovered he’d said, “Kissing builds up your mouth”, I wrote it down on a page that had the beginnings of this poem. When the poem began to take shape, I found his line was the perfect lead, the perfect title. In dedicating this poem to Wavy Gravy, I imagine he’d agree that oppression, injustice and cruelty have no measure, no standards, no units and no sonnets and he’d have fun with the idea that bitterness is not a flavor in the Love Store.
The one time I met Wavy Gravy was in the late 1980s at the Lone Star Café in Manhattan, a bar and performance space with a big iguana on the roof, at the corner of 13th Street and Fifth Avenue. I didn’t know much about him then, other than his real name was Hugh Romney, Jr. and that he had been promoted by Lenny Bruce as a comedian in the early ‘60s before plugging into the Merry Prankster/Grateful Dead scene in the late ‘60s. He’d been wearing tie-dye ever since, often taking on the persona of a clown, rubber nose and all.
The man I met was no fool. Wavy somehow ended up seated next to me, and I watched him sort through the goofiness of the high and happy who came up to him. He matched their love and respect, or deflected their wit, as was appropriate. He sized up people fast, and always kept his part of the conversation kind. After watching him for a bit, I shook his hand and said I was glad to meet him. I let him be. There were way too many people who wanted his attention, and there was no way I was going to do anything to impress him the way he’d impressed me.
Later on, I discovered Wavy had set up the non-profit Seva Foundation with Ram Dass, helping people get eyecare around the world, and that he’d created Camp Winnarainbow, a circus and performing arts camp in Northern California. I also found out he’d run for a “Nobody for President” campaign in the early ‘80s and was keeping a hippie commune, known as “the Hog Farm, alive and thriving. The Hog Farm is still going strong in 2022, even if its most legendary act is feeding and caring for the 400,000-plus who attended the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969.
Last year, when Wavy, at 85, ended up needing some hospital care, he started coming up on my news feeds, the whole world it seemed saying nice things about him. That set me into looking into his life a little more and me liking what I found. Last month, I was in Portland, Oregon visiting Prankster George Walker when George told me the tale of how Neal Cassady’s ashes made it from San Miguel de Allende, outside of Mexico City, to San Francisco, to the home of Neal’s ex-wife and their kids, by way of Wavy and the Hog Farm. The Hog Farm was then outside of Los Angeles and it was the first U.S. destination for the ashes, which were being delivered by Cassady’s girlfriend, J.B., Janice Brown. J.B., with Cassady’s remains, arrived at the Hog Farm by hippie bus at the same time that Charles Manson’s black bus was exiting that compound’s property, which was right next door to the Hog Farm. It’s all weird coincidence but somehow relevant now that our world has gotten so strange.
Maybe that’s the point here, that compassion lives on much longer than crazy. Or, better yet, as Wavy Gravy put it in his haiku elegy for his friend Ken Kesey: “They say Kesey’s dead––but never trust a Prankster, even under ground.”
Kissing Builds Up Your Mouth
For Wavy Gravy
Kissing builds up your mouth. The people most opposed to escapism are jailers. A poem is more than a series of words strung together to sound nice or make someone feel good. The nine billion names of god float, adrift in a conscious soup, under the influence of an outmoded way of perceiving the world.
Take root, feel the dark of the new moon. Plant trees if for no other reason than to be kind to those who come next. Plug in, feel the flow of knowing right now. Make art if for no other reason than to be a window for light to reflect off. Tune in, slow the beat until the hum heals. Write if for no other reason than to have your passion go where it needs to go.
Jump rope rhymes. A cake in the rain. One for the baby who sucks his thumb. One for the bubble that’s sure to come.
My cat looks at me like there’s a bird singing inside of me. Speak what makes you wow. Why are you here? One two three: to have fun. One two three four: to tell the truth. One two three four five: to sweep away the nastiness. One two three four five six: to learn, to teach and move. One two three four five six seven: to play, play, play and keep playing.
Every monkey is different and any monkey can lend a hand. Tyranny releases its hold only to come back again. Oppression, injustice and cruelty have no measure, no standards, no units and no sonnets. We have no idea the influence we have on each other but like planets and moons and stars, we bend space. We each have gravity.
A glass tumbles, resists definition. There’s no crash, no applause. I trust my compass: the closer to home, the easier the way.
I bow greet salute the person I am becoming. I bow greet salute the person I have been. Shabaz, shabaz, shahbaz, the open wing. I am I am. Relying on a measure of time is overwhelming, unless I learn to slow down the crush, the moment, the intensity, the show, the need, the emotion without resisting any of it. Being clever is nothing. Being wet is.
I ripple, I spiral, I wear my incomplete knowledge of the true nature of time and space with absolutely no sense of which thoughts, which actions, make or don’t make a difference. The poem is the word, bouncing off the page into the ear, across the heart and into the feet, your favorite dance, waiting for the sound.
Bitterness is not a flavor in the Love Store. It’s not even a topping. Forgiveness is available in sprinkles, swirls, cones and even comes in throwaway cups.