Wednesday, February 27, 2008

tea baggins

well well well in the Du got my house almost clear of cat shit. garbage is piling up but i have a plan. the toilet is plugged but today i will get a plunger. its getting warmer and the birds are chattering madly. another two months and the good tea is plentiful and flowers will be blooming everywhere.

sammy's ass is gone so now my house smells much nicer. work wise ... well i am writing so i guess thats all that matters. i am grumpy a lot though.

there is a picture of the Tibetan Panchen Lama being criticized by a screeching mob of red guards holding up little red books. i have put on this man's expression as a mask. in chinese there is a saying for this, not as pretty as some Taoist or Buddhist phrases for such a state of mind, but it goes:

Sheng Zai Cao Yin, Xin Zai Han

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Back in The Du

I have been wrestling with being called a racist by people who read my occasional column on -- i admit that i do have some racist-ass thoughts about China and Chinese. But at the same time i love these fuckers. what can ya do.

anyway i am back in the dirty du, my home of sorts. sammy and boogie are coming into town from the farmhouse i rented out six months ago. its supposed to be my getaway from all the bullshit, a place for me to write and be a poet and such. but my ass has spent all of 30 days in the spot. and usually i am running around cleaning the bastard, dealing with peasants in a monotone ... ("we need money for XXX" my reply is "Oh, Nothing." or a grunt. I am cool enough to ignore their confused countenance.)

and i hear my two cats stony and crackhead are still living. the thieving bitches. i love em for the chaos they cause in the neighborhood. crackhead whipped a big cat's ass while i was gone and stony has been caught in kitchens stealing fish AND .. this is awesome ... in the bed of the next door neighbor girl chillin like a villain. i love it. You think i made these names up to be funny?

what else. I had all sorts of deep thoughts (who remembers jack handy?) ready when i sat down but i realize i am just tired and half-ready to go about the hustle of the Du. i have a book deal to handle tomorrow. a couple of neo-hippies smoked half of my hash so i gotta get compensation from them. i got some furniture to sell on the DL cuz if my landlord sees it he'll go crazy and re-triple his efforts to drain me of the little cheddar i have. boogie owes rent. i have two stories to write. one about gong fu and the other about road trips with my family when i was a kid. gotta find other ways to get paid before may so i can return to the US with a pocket full of something. Lonely Planet has yet to tell me if i got the job or not. all sorts of hustles run through my mind. i was invigorated the other day when i learned that one of the hustl ... i mean book deals ... i pitched finally got bit upon by the local gov. so that means a couple Gz in my pocket. a little success and my hustle-mind starts spinning like mad.

anyway. love whomever reads this.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

its getting weird

Maybe I am bitter about China. Or just bitter about what I did and did not do and I blame it on China. Thats possible. I sway like wheat in the winds of perspective, words fly off like floating chaff. All seeds take plant and have as much right to live as any other. The first poem to affect me resolved: "I contradict myself? Very well then. I contradict myself."

And resignation is my greatest defense when my life is put into question. Kids broke into my house again and spray painted the walls. The landlord's wife wants more money. My roommate is looking for a way out where his wallet remains fat. When all i want is a cave with a fire, people ... those clingy, social creatures, cling and socialize and i find i need them. I feel ready to dissipate into dandelion fluff and float until i starve to death or land on a fertile patch of mud, or the back of a wandering dog. i sympathize with madness, shrink away from cowardly retreat into oneself. I want to wear sackcloth and wipe ashes on my head, i want to have flowers spring up where i walk.

Resignation is my cozy alcove when brainwaves collide in some gray wrinkle. I grabbed an Italian girl's arm and squeezed till she winced. She said, "its getting weird" and walked away, conspicuously ignoring me as i stood nearby. Another line that affect me, "Dream on, dreamer, life gets in your way."

I am alone in a sea of family. Contradictory dreams send us wavering past each other in unfulfilled quests, never-ending stories, frayed lines dangling.

I love this forum where i can type it all out anytime i want. I despise this forum: public nudity demanding polite praise.

I am disappeared, but in contact with whomever reads -- its a trip into semi-darkness with a safety line. But i know its deep sea silence that i seek. Cowardice ... saying the word with a hiss at the end is like casting a spell. Watch where you aim it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Ends Meet

This one is for my man Flesh if he ever reads this.

I have been in China for eight years. Eight, written as we write it, is formed of two circles, or a Moebius Continuum .. Infinity. As the Chinese write it .. it looks like nothing of the sort. But eight is auspicious.

When i first came to China, I was a blank space ... a whiteboard for this nation to scrawl upon. I lived in obscurity surrounded by a life i molded and melted into. i wrote. i learned. i grew. Then i escaped my life of obscurity and entered the fray. I watched river town convulse beneath itself, sprout concrete to cover up its wounds, drip slime and blackness into its hidden alleys. i sunk neck deep into the muck and committed the first of many sins. I spiraled until i had to leave. But i returned, more determined than ever.

Because now, thought i , I know the game. I can play. So i played and played, becoming a reflection of myself. Like Bastian in the Many-Colored Desert ... when he chased himself through the city of ghosts and betrayed his one true friend and the world he had helped save. At the apex of my self-denial, i met my blood father for the second time and resolved to never be like him. To crush all within that resembled him.

My best friend labeled me a snake. He commanded enough respect to convince half of our crew -- and even me. Cuz i knew my blood father to be a snake ... it stood to reason. I wilted and fell.

Then came the days of remembrance, leading slowly over time to redemption ... i was gathered up and taken on a cruise through jungles and mountains and islands and fell into a pool of rosewater, and given my name back. I remembered my life in obscurity, my obscured life remembered me. I shed my snake skin and flashed my brilliant scales. I accepted that balding Turkish bastard.

I was coming full circle, and i knew it. Being able to see it meet over the past two years has given me great pleasure and immeasurable confidence. I still suffer from cringe literature tendencies ... but yesterday i met three people i haven't seen since those years in obscurity. I have never forgotten them, they never forgot me. We spoke last night as if we had been neighbors not memories. I was myself, dazzling and in love.

And i knew, calm and pleased, that the ends are meeting. An eight has been formed and when they finally meet, they nod and twirl and carry on. I have another large circuitous route ahead of me. I face the north wind and raise my cup.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

its a high price to pay

It is now the second day of Chinese New Year here in Dali and the fireworks have subsided somewhat. On the sixth, we gathered at the bad monkey and blew stuff up all evening. There are some M80 types that we would throw into the small sewage-rivers that flow along the stone paths through Dali Old Town. They float a bit, then blow up -- sending water splashing innocent bystanders. we tied fireworks together, sent em hurtling into the air, then screamed as they all blew up at once. Here in Dali, cedar boughs were a hot commodity, they are placed in front of doors as blessed doormats. Eventually we ran out of fireworks and started hitting the bottle. Me and Tenz drank about three bottles of Jameson between us. Plus various other party favors. I began headbutting people and such. I guess i tried to start mock-fights with everyone, at least with my buddies. i puked all over the place. Sammy, for the first time in his life, held someone else up and cleaned the sickness off of me. He brought my ass home. That was two days ago. The price for all that fun, all the screaming and yelling and laughter and such, is two days of agony and suffering. For two days i groaned and moaned my way from one lie-down spot to another ... finally, today, i can move. my tummy has forgiven me.

The price is so high ... for the most part I try not to touch that much liquor and on this trip it has been me carrying sammy ... but sometimes a brother just has to let it all hang out. and lord ... it aint worth it in the end.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Mighty Yoni

Yesterday was a fine day. The sun, brutally neglecting the vast majority of China, chose our backs to shine on, again. Fickle orb. Sammy and I were going to bed the night before and heard the unmistakable ignorant cursing of fellow Americans. I turned to Stumpy-Swarthy and says:

'Well, Shit Otis, we got us some more crackers up in here" and Sam-otis-me says "Well Shitgoddamn!"

He waddles out in his longjohns with a smoke and peers over to investigate. Sure enough, two crackers poke their mangy heads out. Sammy, by way of testing their persuasions, tells them: I am more hungover than I have ever been before in my life.

They laugh. Comraderie established. Roberto is a Salvadoran-American hiker, birdcaller, permanent traveller, snowboarder, fisherman etc etc Joe aka Flesh is a moonchild of two well-to-do Macallister alumni, grew up in Hopkins. Minnesotans out there will feel me.

Anyway we chill and puff and sip tea. And trade tall tales. Oh Brother, get four American travellers together and the bullshit will pile up. I mean, the pile of truthisms is large as well. DUDE that sounds awesome, gotta get down there one of these days .. rings out along with .. hold up, hold up, thats crazy, but check THIS out.

As long as everybody gets a shot at the Pin(tilda)ate of Cool, well then the party can proceed. We all took a couple swats, some sort of temporary mutt-pack order was established. And now we can carry on.

First spot we hit was Shi Bao Shan. And brothers and sisters, don't let the Chinese Commies fool you. The whole homogeneous Han control over grateful minority bullshit is an insult to their own sublime heritage. Shaxi Valley here is quite amazing in that all faiths, all creeds, all genders are given their due amount of respect and honor. The Shi Bao Shan temples have bearded sages from Arabia carved into Tang Dynasty cliffs, right next to Burmese ladies of much renown and Indian yogis with lofty caps and upturned toes. There is one particular cave with the Eight Heavenly Gods, unique in all of China in that it combines the spiritual legacies of Indian, Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism into one beautiful, symmetrical carving. Those people are timeless. Posterity learns from them, forgets, then discovers and imagines itself unique.

And there is a natural rock formation further down that is the exact replica of a wonderfully inviting vagina. What a heartwarming sight. There is a source of water somewhere in the cliff that just happens to poke its way out right between those puckered stone lips. For hundreds of years, this stone pussy has been soakin, waitin, sighin.

We all paid reverent homage. Those geniuses 1000 years ago carved Buddhas and bhoddisatvas around The Mighty Yoni, worshipping the reproductive capabilities of the finer side of humanity and no doubt pleasing the local womenfolk. Women are to be worshipped. They demand it, sooner or later. Why not beat em to the punch?

We climbed down giggly and sweaty, got to town as nightfall blasted the fickle orb into countless points of light, ate proper, passed out.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Babysittin Sammy

Don't worry. He is in safe hands. I have brought his gibbering ass home a few times now. Last night was quite amazing. We are staying in the old market square of Shaxi Town for the time being and it is really very beautiful.

This morning I walked out of the caravan courtyard we are sleeping in to get some fresh air. I walked through the old wooden gate and passed the ageless well with a cup of hot love in my hand. The sun shone down upon the temple and the theater, both hundreds of years old and carefully restored. The cobblestones were solid and fresh in the sunlight and people were strolling up to the market, placing tofu out to dry, stretching and sipping tea. The tres were swaying and whispering and the eaves of these caravan houses bleared out at me and yawned. It was idyllic ya'll and i just stood and sipped and smiled.

There will be a tribal gathering in a few days at the Bad Monkey in Dali as the Spring Festival inches closer. We plan on setting off thousands of fireworks, downing dozens of bottles of whiskey and chasing all of the women into our specially made corral.

Till then, I leave you with a few pics of this place and words of comfort for those who miss and love and worry about Sammy:

I wont leave his sorry ass behind.

The Delicious Slide

You can feel it when it comes
Voices cry out in defiant anticipation
They rub their hands gleefully
The party is about to start
Places everyone

One said it was a slideshow
Another said it was
Stones skipping across a lake
You can sit back and watch with a smile
Raise your middle finger
Moon the sky

When the reel stops, ragged and bright
When the stones crash and sink
You turn on yourself
The revelers are nowhere to be found
Those bits you skipped last night
The ripples inbetween

You burrow into your gut
You call up your friends and apologize
Their forgiveness means so much
To the silent waiting voices in your head
Without it, you'll never have another chance
For a good old Delicious Slide