The Countess

A few years back a friend introduced me to a yoga teacher. She was in her eighties but still going strong. A firecracker if I’ve ever seen one. A stern woman with an incredible will. She was a doctor and a practitioner of Iyengar yoga. She studied intensely with BKS Iyengar in India in the 1970s and traveled just about every year to visit him. They kept a hand written correspondence with one another until his death.

She held private classes from her home. I couldn’t afford her cost, but she took a liking to me at first, so didn’t charge me anything.

Every time I went over there, we sat in her kitchen and drank tea before the lesson and after the lesson sometimes too. She always had a cookie to give me. She was like a grandmother and a teacher. We played chess and talked about art. Especially Aubrey Beardsley. She loved Aubrey Beardsley. I took a liking to him as well.

She also sat on the board of a poetry magazine. So we talked about poetry and I gave her some of my writing to look over. One day we sat in her computer room. I was working on some love poetry. She wanted to hear it so I started reciting. Right off the bat, she went in with the critiques. Telling me line after line that my syntax was pathetic and my word choice was silly. I told her to let me read it through. Just give it a listen before we start with the critiques. Halfway through she lost her cool. “That’s it!” she yelled. “Forget it! Forget convention! Let’s hop into bed right now! Take off your clothes!” I looked at her queerly and smiled. I took it as a joke and kept reading the poetry. She calmed down slightly, but still impassioned stated, “Okay! That’s enough! Time for your lesson.”

I thought it rather abrupt, but went along with it.

One day she asked me to meet her at the place where she got her hair cut. It was this enormous row house on Walnut Street near Rittenhouse. She gave me a tour. It looked fit for nobility. Huge chandeliers. Fabulous winding staircases. A library right out of an antiquarian movie set. Apparently one of the oldest buildings in Philadelphia, all the wood still preserved. The moldings. The floors. It was unbelievably beautiful. Stunning, even. Grandiose. When we got to the front desk area, she told the receptionist that I was her boyfriend. I was so taken by surprise, I think I turned fifty shades of red. The woman looked at me in amusement. “Is that right?” I’m not terribly quick-witted, so I just shook my head no and shrugged my shoulders like, “I don’t know what the hell is going on in her head.”

We walked back to her place for a lesson. The lessons consisted of an hour or two holding three, maybe four simple poses for extended periods of time. She used lots of props and let me lie in corpse pose until I drifted off into sleep. It was enjoyable and meditative.

This one day in particular, before starting the yoga lesson, she wanted to teach me something else about life energy. And let me tell you, it fucking weirded me out. I don’t know why I didn’t quit right there on the spot. Perhaps I’m a freak myself.

She brought me over to a mirror that we both stood in front of. She positioned herself in front of me and asked me to put my hand on her back. “Do you feel that muscle when I move my arm like this?” She swung her arm up like a ballerina and I nodded. “Okay,” she said. “Hold your hand right there.” And she began breathing deeper, tossing her head back, and exclaiming, “Look at me! Am I getting younger? Look at my skin! Is it getting smoother?” And as I looked at her like what the fuck, her appearance did seem to change ever so slightly.

I was both revolted and seduced. Who is this woman? What am I doing here? Is she draining my youth from me? Have I met the reincarnation of the Countess Bathory?

Every interaction wasn’t like that, but the narrative was starting to coalesce in a certain direction.

One of the final lessons sealed the deal on our relationship. I sat down as instructed with my legs straight in front of me. I held there for ten minutes or so in silence. Then she began to click her tongue at me. She walked over and lowered herself onto my foot. Specifically her pussy on my big toe. She wore yoga pants so it wasn’t skin to skin. I remember thinking, “Is this really happening?” Then all of a sudden I started getting a tingle in my leg and felt myself getting a hard on. I started breathing deeper and heavier to try and control myself, but to no avail. She stared at me with the face of a gorgon, “Why are you breathing so heavily? Stop that. Get yourself under control.” I thought maybe she didn’t realize how she had placed herself, but then it became clear. “You think you know what sex is?” she laughed. “You don’t know the first thing about sex.” She got up and went into the other room.

On the outside I kept a stoic face, but on the inside I was cracking up with holy shit laughter. I can’t believe I get myself into these situations.

After that, she never called me again. I didn’t fuck her, so she dumped me.


White Rabbit Composite

“I got this voodoo. Yeah. You should see it. I went to the voodoo shop. Uh huh. And late last night, like 2 3 4 in the morning. Yeah. You should see their doors now.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, other than voodoo, or who he was talking to, but it piqued my interest. I only caught snippets of the conversation as he rode his bike by. I didn’t catch a face to gauge his expressions. I only guessed he was talking on the phone. It brought so many questions to mind. Like, what voodoo shop? What magic supplies did you buy? Who are you? Can you tell me about your goddesses and gods? To be honest, it sounded like he was proud of a hex. Can’t be sure though, like I said, I only caught part of his story.

Communication is like that sometimes. Like dreams. Like memories. We fill in the gaps with our own imaginations, delusions, and ramblings.

I stood on a ladder, painting the side of a row home. My thoughts generally caught in the wires, sometimes traveling with the clouds. It’s odd. These days, for extended periods throughout the day, I feel like I am a composite of people. Like, I’m in there somewhere, but others are in there too talking their talk and sharing their memories. It comes with living in the city I suppose. And probably the collectivity of the internet too. The rapidity of messaging. Memes. Pictures and captions. The viral ripple of snapshots and hot takes. I often wonder how we get anything across at all. It’s a deluge.

When I get a moment, I like to sit and see how long it takes to reach a place of silence, and then, of course, I start hearing neighbors talking through the walls.

I had a dream last night that I went to the psychiatric ward of a hospital. I went there of my own volition. I sat for a while, writing down conversations. No one bothered me or asked me why I was there. It felt inspiring, like I was exploring the collective unconscious. Taking important notes. Studying the undercurrents. My mind started blending with the minds of patients and doctors, which triggered a different dream sequence:

I was at the house I lived in for 4 years. In a large park. The sun was setting so I laid down in the tall grass and watched the stars come out. Very suddenly, snow blew over head. I thought it rather beautiful. The snow intermingling with the twinkling of the stars at dusk. It had this As Above, So Below quality of experience to it. I wanted a photo, and tried to capture it, but the moment lasted so briefly. I sat up, and when I did, I saw the house had burned down and the shed was on fire. I went into a panic thinking I had caused the property to go up in flames. “I’m not even supposed to be here. I don’t even live here anymore. They’re going to think I came by and set the place on fire out of revenge. What have I done?” I flashed back to the psychiatric ward where I was now talking with someone. “The house is still there,” they said. “You just had a schizophrenic episode. It’s okay. You’re okay.” I flashed back to the house. It hadn’t burned down after all. A wave of relief washed over me.

I wonder about memory. How true to life our memories are. How colored in they can be by all sorts of various outside and inside stimuli. By dreams. How people can influence one another. How propaganda affects the reconstruction of our memories into misleading myths about the way things are. How rapidly the internet slings thousands of stories and narratives. It often feels like the general consciousness is falling apart. It’s on overload and bursting at the seams. Like everything we once believed is collapsing and people are picking at phrases and empty rhetoric to keep themselves afloat. Like people take to social media to be reaffirmed that their construction of language, their semblance of memories, is real and valid. And it’s true, you exist. All of you in your wondrous unfolding. All of the thoughts and images that arise into your expansive consciousness. But deep down, there is still that panging truth. It’s a losing battle. The ego can’t survive as it once did. The foundations of our story-telling, the way we understand society and how we belong in the world, are being swept up and drastically shifted. This, we know.

And yet, there’s always absurdity; I still sit here and write longhand.

Before the word apocalypse came to mean judgment day, it described the uncovering of a vision. A hallucination, rich with meaning, brought to light. The fault lines cracking and the spirits of the earth arising within our minds bearing prophecies.

It’s not like that anymore. Apocalypse connotes catastrophe.

There’s this other phrase. Folie a deux. It literally means madness of two. More generally, it means a shared psychosis. I think about that a lot in our given culture.

“You think the paint will dry before the rain comes?” A woman hollered from across the street. I didn’t turn around but caught a glimpse of her from the corner of my eye. She pushed one of those fold-up laundry carts, the klinky metal ones.
“That’s the hope.” I responded.
“Supposed to be what, 6 7 8 when the rain comes?”
“I’ve got my eye on the sky.”
“It looks nice.”
“Thank you.”
“The clouds are coming,” she said.

I saw the mailperson down below. I didn’t see his face, but it looked like he was smiling.

It was a pleasant day. The calm before the storm.

As we sat down for lunch, an old guy drove by with his window down. Leaning out the truck, he hollered, “It’s not going to finish itself!” He cracked a boyish smile that reminded me of my grandfather. He laughed at his own joke.

The radio kicked in every once in awhile, interspersing the sound waves. “When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead. And the white knight is talking backwards and the red queen’s off with her head. Remember! What the dormouse saidddd! Feeeed your headdd! Feed your hhheadddd!”

Three of Hearts

I am a relatively reserved person. I keep my expressions calm. Yet I feel often lustful. Moments exist when I’m scared of my own heart. Not that it will stop ticking, but the wilds she speaks.

We spent a couple hours talking at the coffee shop. Mostly about relationships and illusions. The way people feed into one another and create groupthink. All these little cliques of belief. The masses. The contingents. Securing a particular language. A secret code only for the initiates. If you don’t speak it, or attempt to learn, you are as good as gone.

I kept looking at her lips. Kissing them. My eyes betraying desire. I try not to stare, or ogle, but I do enjoy welcoming beauty into the dark wells of my sight. To see souls. To see into, more fully, the life of a person. She has a little goddess etching of birthmark on the underside of her chin near her neck. I remembered kissing it and gently nibbling. Running fingers through her hair, scratching lightly the back of her head. Pressing forehead against forehead. Seeing her eyes. “What do you want? It’s okay. What do you need?” I fell headlong. I kept seeing her teeth, scrunched up like a groundhog close to the earth. The fragrance of soil on her lips.

“You love being a poet, don’t you? Everyone must want to know who you are writing about.”

Lightning sparks from foreheads. Thoughts kiss. Like the rapidity of electric currents. Third eye linguistics, enmeshed. Timelessly conspiring, the telepathy of ancients. Entangled in breaths.

Veronica went on an interview at a sewing & design school. She unofficially received a job as a professor within minutes of the directors seeing her work. She spent hours making a bra. This is magic! She kept yelling. Until it wasn’t magic anymore. And then she let out a string of expletives. Honestly. She’s probably one of the best stitchers in the city. I’m proud of her for that. And humbled by her craft. It’s not terribly difficult to spot someone who holds mastery of an art upon seeing their work. There’s not a certificate in the world that can do that for you. It’s a gift.

I get so frustrated when I read the news, especially international politics, the continued destabilization of countries for the sake of oil. Power. Money. Control. The willful blind eye, American as apple pie. I ask myself why? Why do I keep reading. It’s maddening. Yet I have this urgency to stay informed. To shout into the abyss. A drop in the bucket of worldwide corruption.

I’m all for lowbrow art. But the esteem for being a dolt, it breaks my heart. There’s so much at stake. How easily will people be swept off their feet?

How do we speak a common language without losing the cut of a subversive tongue?

She grabbed my hand and put my fingers in her mouth. Tasting them in the early morning. Wetting them again. We pressed into one another. Gently at first, then more roughly, I wrapped a hand around her neck.

The largesse of an artist. The utter frustration of the writer whose pen keeps running out of ink. How are we supposed to communicate with one another profoundly if we haven’t dug out & filled in our own trenches?

She stepped out of the car, and I could smell the lingering of blood.

Every night she stayed over, the next morning I dreamt of animals. Horses. A large goat. They nuzzled me. We looked into each others eyes. They, always much stronger than I.

sobering heartache

subconscious bandits, marketing perverts,
advertisement imperialists, exploiting deep listening
to rob us the ability to think below the surface
to see the emergence of wildness
blow thru the omnipotent bits of news
the fabricated apocalypse so tightly constructed
a chokehold on third eye esophagus

how many people are suffocating in unknown depression?
downward spiraling, shallow breaths
hearts bursting uncontrollable
the frantic tick of moments
unable to make sense of the passage of time
the lightning speed of language
the thoughts rolling in disaster after murder after police acquittal
the state playing joker, executioner
the political players swimming in blood money
unfeeling, unrepenting the call of nature
stuck accumulating greed
needing to consume and devour the poor

ignoring the righteous path
to share material visions
the caress of eros
lovemaking in forests
the moon shifting in slivers, tugging at bodies
the post-scarcity abundance, the socialist project
feeding the hungry
taking care of the elderly
housing, health,
no more war

the sky isn’t the sky anymore
it’s held up by wires and telephone poles
invisible currents, thought bubble webworks
the earth rocked over by concrete and brick
hidden like a fantasy

empathic insight obscured

puppets confounded, blind to the sacred
it’s not goddess, it’s science
strip away the mystery, no fucks given
we’re not human, we’re disposable cogs meaningless as stardust
tools to increase profits
fools that peel away the flesh
replaced by xenolinguistics, computer ballistics
the touch screens, you know what button to push
to touch, to rile up the people, to divide common sense
to subdue passion, wily, untamed,
angry, seething, desiring openly the destruction of systems
invisible yet clear as day
downpressing majority minorities

attempting to pray oneself out of misery

coming together to eat, to hug
to remind, to remember, to reconnect
to organize as anarchy, the unruly love
ripping out hair, lungs bursting screams
we deserve primal touch
the basics, necessities
time to be, space to create
to grow wilderness, health, gardens
to fuck in the middle of the day
to celebrate and mourn at leisure
no more toil, i want meaningful work & play

to fully express the entangled wondrous breath that gives life
that speaks truth in shadow when we are most vulnerable
like the thump in the chest, the pulse, boundaries unrolling
ripples that once deceived make sense
the silken threads of webs that glisten in rays after rain
the grin on a baby’s face

how much does it take to know the shit

have a drink, a good night’s rest
free from the sleepless phantasms
when the struggle feels weightless
when gratitude infuses
when it’s easy to awake for the sunrise
the colors, a hallucinogenic palette
absorbing, growing, breathing water
less of the ephemeral rhetoric

flash bang thirteen


a collective dream with porous edges fading into the surrounding city.
when we see it snuggled within the multifaceted dimensions of reality,
there is so much more at stake
simply down the street.


especially on new years. what a random day. what’s it connected to? well intentioned partying. people need that. rhythmical celebration. resolution. it can take on the form of community when it is not all dressed up and soaked through. it seems empty, but it’s not quite like that. not quite vapid. it won’t entirely disappear. i believe it has a lot to offer people and society. but its transformational ability seems quite like the ouroboros. the snake biting its own tail. round and round it goes, reinventing itself yet still maintaining the same form.

the snake who peels through layers is still a snake.


“where’s the after party?”
“which one? there’s so many!”
“the party is in the elevator. right now!”
*small chatter*
*sensuous hugs*
“it’s 4am.”
“i want to go home & feed my cat first.”
*sensuous hugs*
“the sun will be up in 3 hours.”
“honey, i love you.”


she appeared at the beginning of the party.
no one saw her. but they felt her presence.
she swept through the crowd
a hard, shadowed edge
bright as the sun. & warm like ambrosia.

it wasn’t the sun’s glow that lit her up.
she was not the moon.

she appeared dripping with what the witches call profanity:
full of sustenance, ravenous, & yet
she possessed a particular stillness that draws out the depths of sound.
like a mountain,
outside the temple,
the whisper of leaves,
the cackle of coyotes,
the wind upon precipices,
visible & meaningful, fresh.

she spoke in a weird tongue. but not weird in the strange sense.
weird in the way her language licked movement into the future.

although some chanced to see her, many never had such fortune.


everyone danced, grooved, strutted, sexed up the atmosphere. wheeled around. costumes and fancy dress to the nines. glitter. tights. lights. the bass hit deep, knees bent animate, hips punched quick, the rhythm, the night, a swirl of psychedelic symposium. an upheaval of platitudinal seduction, gushing, not so much from a deep-seated wildness, but rather an urge to love the world into fantastic nonexistence.

it’s a fun scene, but it’s an exhausted scene. the burning healing aesthetic-expression-of-spirituality scene. it’s a necessary stepping stone for some, a home for others, i’m sure it has saved many lives. and yes, it’s true- it’s abundant with people who want to explore further, who want to know deeper, who want to love freely without abandon or shame. it’s a scene that is a vehicle for nonconventional ways of relating & being. it’s true, it’s a global phenomenon and has surely impacted millions, and it’s clear people will continue to cultivate it as one might see to family. but despite the penchant for flow arts, it is a scene that lacks movement. its pitfall is hedonism. it gets lost there, and it floats, almost too comfortably, in a paradisiacal bliss, a cuddle puddle dripping tenderness into the enchanted hours of the dark night.


mama matrix most mysterious,
the lust for idealism is potently choking.
ancestors honored & blessed.


“it’s a derivative of a derivative.”
“what about the offshoots?”
“what if everyone ate ecstasy and the doors were locked for six hours
and we had to get real with one another!”
“a social experiment?”
“and afterwards, everyone hopped on a bus and went to feed the homeless.”
“a socialist burn?”


she appears like a vision at the end of the evening. when everyone else is blasted and spilling a smashy smash of semblance, she is refined and elegant. she is kept together. she isn’t at the same party as everyone else. maybe she is staying at the hotel, sipping a hard drink at the bar before heading off to her room. or maybe she waltzed in with an irresistible charm, spontaneously called from afar. her chariot, the deep cold of the night, collectively arriving, carried lovely from the sea by a murder of ravens guided by moon and stars.


they woke up sweaty. a boutique hotel the dead of winter. they fell back asleep. adjusting. cuddling. two husbands and a wife. she in the middle, turning one side to the other with the frequency of a full moon. sleepless, dreaming. the three lavishing the sunrise. each one, the other, a lover. resting.

a man like a hobbit asleep on the floor. he snores like a chimney.


have you ever gone to bed and awoken in another dream?


a woman sits at a diner’s table staring into the distances.

her eyes blank, gazing, she cries lonely without a tear. a thought flits across her face, seen in the catch of her eyes, her cheek muscles pulsing faintly. she is not alone. she snaps into her body and looks at her husband. she beckons with her lips, perched, cooing, purring moist like a cliff overrun with waterfall. enticing him with her eyelashes, batting at a distance, dancing gently in the air, wings light as feathers. love, love me. love you.

he’s engrossed in his phone.
he mumbles something to her without looking up.
she laughs without a sound.

she coolly recoils into her own blank stare, looking at the space ahead, nowhere, a fantasy too far away, it flickers & wisps like a cloudy dream, a morning fog, she almost grasps it, a reality so intricately webbed, so convincingly cradled, so fragilely lost.

the waitress sets a cup of coffee under her nose.
she smiles thank you. isn’t this happy, a tiny excitement.
she sips like a bird, the steam wafting hot.

a thought again flits across her face and she smiles, looks to her husband and beckons, lips pursed, so unforgivably supple, he feels a light pout, the fragrance of a kiss, and he moves closer, unconsciously, still glued to his phone.

she purrs, and snaps her neck quickly, any more sharply and it may have hurt. her eyes zip focus. another thought, her husband moves an inch closer.

they know this game well.
she stalks him like a wild animal.
why? she doesn’t need him.
she wants him.
her desire isn’t licentious.
it’s an indefatigable aspect of being human.

and the heat of her look touches him, but only nibbles the periphery of his being. as she massages with patience, he begins slowly to put down the device. he looks at her and she smiles, slowly drawing him closer like a mama spider wrapping up a bit of nourishment & death.


sometimes it’s fireworks. sometimes it’s guns.

City Intimacy

Wandering downtown, on the lookout for the moon, but she is nowhere to be found. The buildings obscure the rise up. Instead, I find so many people, and emotions, the blur of city busy-ness sweeping up the wild instinct, cajoling the primal pulse of heart and erotic nakedness of thought.

You ever walk by a person and get a whiff of their life, little glimpses at where they awoke in the morning, what books their noses are stuck in… ?

It happens here and there, the stories. But more so, it’s a quick emotional sense, a drive-by connection, fleeting

Like a pedestrian passing, rushing with tinged anxiety, maybe late for dinner, trying headlong to be on time.

Another person, eyes wide in an attempt to repress fear, perhaps unused to the city, unsure what lurks in the saturated unknown. He’s probably watching too much cable news.

There’s youthful excitement emanating from those going out for the night, dressed to impress, feeling good, reeking of desperation and cheap cologne, unaware of their surroundings, loud as can be, ready to drop bills and gulp shots.

Homeless folks bundled up, broken down, begging, or just sitting, talking to no one in particular. One man slouched against the cold concrete of a building, he’s crumpled like his cardboard sign, fast asleep as people bustle by. I can’t imagine how tired he must be.

But there’s a lot of that in general: People tired, ready for a couch, a bed, ready for a vacation, a holiday, anything. And frustration. There’s so much frustration in the city. Furrowed brows, confusion, impatience, existential crises deeply expressed in far-off looks, wordless stares into the void of everywhere.

I stop to listen to a man on a loudspeaker. He stands with a small group out front the municipal building downtown. He speaks about dealing drugs, using drugs, finding God, encouraging the youth – and, I catch a wave of sadness. It echoes off the city walls, the faceless windows. The street lights absorb the words in fluorescent indifference.

I thought God might come through with unbridled lifeforce. Ecstatic dance, joy, unrecognizable movements even. Not every time, I suppose. In the fractalized everyday overwhelmingness of kaleidoscopic urban reality, sadness figures in prominently.

When I was younger, and still to this day, a curiosity of mine finds a home in mythos- gods and goddesses presiding over parts of life representing human behavior, personalities, archetypes, feelings.

I learned about Weeping Buddha when I was given a wooden statue by my mom. His story stuck with me.

He was a “great” warrior full of hubris. He fought everyone and anyone to prove his mighty strength. All his challengers fell before him, dead. Until one day, a masked man challenged him. They fought tooth and nail, evenly matched the whole way.

Blow for blow. Viciously.

And finally, the masked man got caught off guard, and they both tumbled to the ground. But not before a near death blow was made. The masked challenger fell limp.

To ensure victory, the great warrior slit the challenger’s throat. Blood stained the sword. With sweat dripping in maniacal laughter, he reached down and pulled off the man’s mask. To his great dismay, it was his son.

The great warrior began to weep. And he didn’t stop weeping. How could he be so caught up and kill his own son?

Right then and there, he gave up the life of war.

He continues to cry and cry, day and night, to this very day. People who find a terrible sadness visit him, and shed tears alongside him, and so, he is known as the Weeping Buddha. Sharing the world’s suffering.

I take a pause as I’m writing. Feeling as though I’m wrapped in a memory, getting off track, wondering how I’m going to return the writing to the city landscape.

At this point, I’m in a bar scratching up the blankness of paper with pen mark after pen mark. People leave me be, but through experience, it’s only a matter of time before someone barges in.

The bartender comes over and asks if I’m writing a book. We smile and flirt.

How many times have writers sat and stirred a particular feeling? Swiping pen to paper like a wand across a canvas, the ink trails a fleeting mark of romance. “By chance, dear writer, what are you writing? I don’t really want to know, though. You’re just piquing my interest. Tantalizing my creative sparks. I want a piece. A fleeting glimpse.”

And I let it happen. Why not? Part of writing is living the story. Giving over to mystery.

A trio of folks plop down next to me and the one guy almost immediately reaches out and says, “Hey, hey. My friend here is from Toronto and she’s loving the vibe and didn’t want to interrupt you writing, but she wants to know if she can trace her hand on your paper?”

I say “Of course, sure thing, why not.”

And just like that, we’re intermingling, chatting. Within a few moments, I realize I know the guy who first said what’s up. We share experiences. He’s showing both the woman and her husband around town, giving them a taste of Philly. We get to talking about mutual friends, free spirits, disappointments, and the complexities of relationships.

All this, in passing.

The woman who traced her hand chimes in a bit more, and we break off into our own little conversation. She says, “I saw you writing. I saw spirit. You know, I’m a believer, but not like that, nothing crazy, but I just saw SPIRIT, and oh my god it’s making me cry. I just saw you spilling your soul into that paper,” and she tears up and wipes her tears, sniffles.

I tell her what a happenstance. Look at what I’m writing.

It all makes so much sense. Weeping Buddha, the despondency of urbanity.

Before long, they take off, and we a hug a long hug. What warmth in a chance encounter.

Two people
in a big city
longing for connection,
something loving
and human
from a stranger.


In Flesh In Lak’ech

I’m having all these plant experiences that I’m finding trouble articulating.

I think it’s because I feel flooded with them. Like every time I step into some place of nature, there are all these wild beings tugging at my heart, calling to my feet, entrancing my eyes.

For instance, thistle. It is hella prickly. It’s poky. It’s sticky not like glue but sticky like it’ll stick you like a thorn. But when I get stuck by thistle, the feeling isn’t localized to the place it sticks me, it’s more of this tingling flush that runs across the entirety of my whole skin. A flashing bash of goosebumps. Like shiver me timbers! Shake me down. Wake me up! And then it’s gone.

It’s in the name. Thistle. It just momentarily, so sweetly, stings.

Kind of like stinging nettle. With nettle, though, the sting is incredibly localized to the area the plant rubs the skin. There’s this constant feel like a bee unleashing a small fury. Unlike thistle again, the stinging nettle sticks around. The acute pain of it dissipates after a few minutes, but a few hours later, if it stang you on the fingertips, and you grab a cool glass of ice, there’s that biting reminder of picking up nettle by the stem or leaf contacting skin stinging stanging stung.

The first time I experienced nettle, I went all in. We were bagging it up for half an hour. Granted, it had been in a refrigerator for awhile, so the sting wasn’t as fresh as picked right off the ground. At first, I liked it. It woke my hands up with a harsh bristle. And we continued to grab a bunch and bag it, grab a bunch and bag it, grab a bunch and bag it. One after the other. Monotonous, lively stinging, and the workday continued on, we accomplished other tasks, and I forgot about it. The sting flew off. But to my great chagrin, at the end of the day, I pulled out my phone, and as I’m checking messages and perusing social media, my hands start burning a hellfire blaze. I tried to ignore it, but it just welled up and took me over. I put on chamomile and lavender oils. I breathed deep breaths, deep deep breaths. I muttered and cursed. I walked around mad as hell like an inflamed jack ass spewing steam from my ears bursting at the fxcking seams. What in the grand scheme of hell was I thinking? But then it occurred to me, What if I bathed in it? What if it lit up my whole body? It must be some temporary supernatural superpower. Like selling your soul to the devil. To embody the flesh so deeply you feel the pain of plants. But how would I channel it if ever I decided to do it? Where would it go? I imagined the shamans who eat mushrooms, who dance to drumming, who sing their icaros, who dispense powerful prayerful medicines to the sick and ailing, I imagined the ones who eat hot peppers so hot it triggers them into an altered state of consciousness, and there must be someone throughout the history of time who dug so foolishly deep they wound up with a body invigorated lit up driven mad stinging stanging sting stang stung stooged wielding as a ceremonial tool the oft avoided thrashing fire skin of flaming nettle.

I’m reminded of the monk who poured gasoline on his body and meditated into a fiery death in protest of the Vietnam War.

Side not: Where are all the disciplined radicals willing to risk life and limb?

They must be buried deeply within our own skin, perhaps too suppressed, paralyzed, zombified, fascistically dead, too diluted by the drugs of modern society to find expression, the fear of leaving status quodom keeping a strangled chokehold.

Who knows?

We’re not terribly wild anymore. But still, the wild urge is locked away like the ancestors waiting to be honored. Like the plants screaming out to be respected and stewarded.

You ever get wrapped up in Japanese hops? The vines cling to the skin like cleavers cling to the clothing. They leave marks like an animal clawing at your arm. The cuts don’t run all too deep, but they sure make an impression on the body’s memory.

I’m thankful, for one, I’ve never experienced the poison kiss of ivy. A few close people in my life have been susceptible, especially recently, and as of now I can only experience the second-hand ferocity of painful itching the uncontrolled desire to scratch and rip away the skin to come crawling out shedding layers like a snake growing wings a feathered serpent flying from the burden & the beauty of being human.

It seems we are victims of our own material weight. We are trapped in matter. The slightest plant wreaking havoc on our fragile dermas. We are so unweathered in modern society.

To think, our protective layer is so thin.
To think, we construct judgments based on color.
To think, are we really all so shallow?

On the flip side, isn’t it a wonder we are blessed with the temple body in the first place? Is there not pleasure in being touched by a loved one? The way it flutters our insides and arouses heat across the skin. To embrace, push, and press. To want to know the body of another through the experience of our own embodiment.

Clearly, I feel that way about plants too.

My friend was telling me about magic mushrooms, how we ingest them for many reasons but especially because we long for a sense of blissed out interconnectivity, a pure flooding of awe and understanding, and how, really, it’s reciprocal, because the mushrooms want to experience the carnality of being human too.