Isolation Report #16 – Hurricane Justice

Isolation Report #16

Shit, Madrid, Kentucky.

(I have received my mission.)

Report : Sunday the 7th of June at 0800 hours. Watchman, swing shift. Mile Post 604, Louisville wharf. It will be my job to take care of two national monuments. One, the only Steamboat left in working condition from the old steamboat days of American River transportation era and the other The Andrew Broaddus. A Life Saving Station that is older than the U.S. Coast Guard. And no this is not fiction. This is really what I am doing right now.

When I first arrived on April 9th, the Covid- 19 was a new bestselling novel and my town was just starting to lock itself down for what was to come. Our corporate lawyer Governor was keeping the peace everyday at 5 pm. with his Andy Griffith style swagger in the form of a daily job briefing slash safety meeting of a sorts – every body find a place of safety, we will get through this, we will get through this together. I am actually glad, he is bringing a much needed calmer voice than the Tea Party dingbat we had before in Bevin, however, this Democrat we got now is privileged to the gills, comes from a lawyer career political family. He has his work cut out for him now. The streets in Louisville now?

Here is the news report:

Hurricane Justice.

Current location, stalled in Jefferson County, Kentucky

Eye Location – Jefferson Square, Downtown Louisville.

Sustained winds of tear gas.

Shops and homes boarded up.

People running for shelter.

Flying objects in the air.

Confusion Break Bones. (FELA)

and BTW, that song sounds like what is going on in my town, look it up. Confusion Break Bones.

This will be my last report from the isolation of this Rough River Location. I will be back staying at one of the busiest intersections in Louisville. Back to the Gonzo neighborhood of town, back to work and back to …. fuck, I don’t know. And that was the point of coming down here in the first place but back when I came, my whole town was not in the condition that it is now. I can’t wait to roll into town. This place Lothlórien, my family hermitage,is awfully lonesome, and that was the isolation I was looking for.

The plan was to come down here and answer some deep personal questions. Take the time to get up in my head and work on some poetry, music, do some emotional reorganization and get back to work when the Belle called. I did work on the poetry. I did collect and compile my songs. And I have as of this word, written 16,000 some odd words of a small book. It feels like I didn’t really get anything done. Except have a vision quest and a feeling of absolute resolve come over me. I got pretty depressed, smoked too many cigarettes, watched too many crazy movies, drove about 1000 miles of back roads, made friends of a few Mennonites and drank a fifth of Kentucky Tavern to boot.

I did stop mourning and now it’s time to Organize. I spoke to the mourning doves! Listened to the owls. Watched Blue Jays have territory wars. This place is a natural fact! I was inspired somewhat moved watching Mennonites work. Their family structure albeit is patriarchal and religious based is quite beautiful Take the good and leave the bad! I feel like I have gone crazy and my methods are unsound. And yes I do quote from Apocalypse Now a bunch, matter of fact I am listening to the Apocalypse Sessions right now that Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead recorded for the documentary, Hearts of Darkness. Once a deadhead, always a deadhead. What a long strange two months it has been.

I am, right now, typing like mad, getting this all out before I report for my mission. I feel like I could punch a mirror and collapse on the floor with a bleeding fist – with blood all over my face naked and broken. Naked. This is me, Y’all. I am worried! It’s time to come home! It takes a worried man to sing a worried song. I am worried now. Deeply worried, maybe even troubled by what I am seeing from the news reports and live Facebook vids.

I read somewheres once that people from Kentucky are always in a state of going home. Well, so be it. I talked with an organizer friend from the Bay Area today for a long time and he talked about Gary Snyder and hwis mountain walks. He gave me an account of what is going on out there in Oakland. We talked about our organizing years ago. We talked Railroad Workers United and Dirty Face and all the Hobo stuff and a possible trip out west.

Today, for some reason, I posted a link to a blog-post about the recording I made with my ex-wife, Tapestry. We did a piece that she was inspired to write from a Wendell Berry poem. And yes I talk about Wendell too much and yes he is privileged out the kwazoo and yes I rode in his truck and yes, yes, yes. And who gives a fuck. I do. Partly my insanity, my Balrog so to speak, that I have been fighting, is all that bitterness of not being able to seemingly get any attention for all the work I did when I decided to quit my job and become a river man. I am a river man. Sort of. I come from the Derby City, where women are fast and horses are pretty, can you hear that thunder, you better run you better take cover, because Hurricane Justice is in town. I digress all the goddamn time Y’all.

I looked up Balrog on wikipedia, I donate to wikipedia BTW, double plus good, and I spelled Balrog correctly. Ok, friends, fellow workers, here is the skinny. Before I came down here, I was making these crazy off the cuff videos and in those vids, sometimes R2D2 would make an appearance. I would ask him questions and my roommate Geoff Gage thought that was funny as hell. When I left the ol’ homeplace to come down here, I said out loud, as I turned the key in my art car, my black stallion – “Set the controls for the Degoba system. Time to go visit Yoda.”

My walking stick that I made from a Sassafras tree was in the back seat. I took that walking stick when I first visited Payne Hollow, Harlan Hubbard’s place, and came on down to the lake to find some conclusions – while my town was dealing with the Corona Virus. I needed to break anyway and conditions were favorable. I did fight the Balrog. I am now John Paul the White. Do y’all get it? All this myth and why? I am hoping this writing presents many questions. I hope young people who understand half of what I am saying will inquire within. This is coming to a conclusion. I am coming home. The war for Middle Earth is upon us. I am leaving Lothlorien, a new man. Really. WTF.

I have to be very honest. One of the other reason I came down here was to find my Anna. That would be Harlan’s wife. Anna Hubbard. I didn’t find her. I tried some Facebook dating, and seriously? I had a fun time making Facebook find all the women who list themselves as “Spirtitual” and whoa was that funny. I got a download that mercury was in retrograde and decided to to some thumb yoga and deleted that APP. Whoa. I did have a visitor. Actually, I had a couple friends come down and that is the point … friends. But, the other night, around a star soaked fire, a friend of mine, I met down river, visited the lake and we had a wonderful night. We talked. And that was all.

Of all the women I have flirted with, she is the one who I do get that fuzzy spark feeling about. She is long and tall and half my age and we are getting to be very close friends. Friends. I am going to have to turn off my feelings for her. I guess that was the lesson I got from that Elder/Student experience. Don’t Stand So Close To Me. Oh, God, here comes word association. The Police, fuck the police, they have been running a little hot. I can barely see the road from the heat coming off of it. Now would be a good time to roll a cigarette, adjust my saddle, reach down between my legs and ease the seat back. God I am so Gen-X … I can only hope Hot For Teacher is next.

So, writing in circles and blowing smoke rings.

This Isolation Report is most likely redundant in some places. It is, what it is. And I must mention again that the woman who crashed her X-wing fighter in my Walden Pond so to say, when she visited ,gave some of the best advice about that worry I was having about talking about Wendell Berry too much. She said, “own it.” She said that down river months ago and it has resonated over and over in my head ever since. And I do own it, in a folkways kinda storyteller way. Now I have lots of work to do because of the inspiration taken from those meetings. I feel like those meetings were me, the warrior, meeting with Wendell, the wise elder, and me, trying not to have a Black Elk Speaks Moment. While she was down here, the woman who visited, that young woman who is questioning her religion and at a juncture in her life, while she was here, our meeting by the river was something to take me away from this life journey that I have been on, it was a nice exit so to say from this highway. We talked about dating and she gave me some real talk. Told me to have patience. We did at least come to a small conclusion, or maybe I did .. we are going to have to stop meeting like this.

So in conclusion.

I’ll be home soon. I have a new found resolve to get back involved in some way in the activism department. I was feeling terribly guilty for being down here, 80 miles away from one of the biggest battles of my lifetime in the streets of my hometown. But … and that is a big but. As a seasoned activist, I am not healthy enuf for front line battles. I am an new elder. However, and that is a transition that make me sound educated. Yo Yo Yo! Steal This Book! Share this story. It’s nuts and going around and around – it is full of name dropping, grammatical mistakes and all that shit. It’s kinda country, kinda city. I am in someways a Southern man, and in someways a hippie. I feel as if I have figured some things out and will be returning to my city, to be in. That’s it … we need a be in. Let’s all BE IN. OK, settle down. Just go home John. OK, I am talking to myself. I think I have gone crazy, maybe a little Gonzo.

So in the tradition of 1980’s rap. I am a bad ass MC. I have a million watts of power coming outta my mouth, making all the young ladies want to scream and shout. With a different beat for everyday of the week, so.

In further conclusion. I am a Fat Boy. Gen-X. Covid19 / LOL — WTF – this is NEWSPEAK 1984. Double plus Good –> Madrid, KY —> GDTRFB —> 8 more miles to looieville —> Slipknot —> Drums —> Wendell Berry —> Uncle John’s Band —> Catfish John —> Ginseng Sullivan —> U.S Blues

enc. Sing Me Back Home.

This has been one hell of journey into the self. I do feel I have left a certain Slipknot. I can’t wait to pack up and come home to whatever the hell this is.

See you on the boat!

John Paul Wright

Dead Set on departure.

Madrid, Kentucky

06/02/2020

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Exclusive Interview with Rumi

John Paul – So, finally, Rumi. Some folks know you as a poet. Some know you as the guy who created the whirling dervishes. Some know you from little quotes on the Internet. Some know you as one of the top selling poets in the USA … Who are you?

Rumi – Well, I guess I am all of those things. I am a Sufi, from the 13th century. I was the dean, I guess, of a religious school.

JP – Dean?

Rumi – Well, I was the leader of an Islamic school, I had assistants, scribes and followers, fans and critics.

JP – Sufi?

Rumi – I am the head of an order of mystics known as the Mevlevi Order. The word Sufi is complicated. Idries Shah tried to clear that up, but in some ways he muddied the water even more and for us Sufi, that is great work!

JP – The Whirling Dervishes? How did that dance come about?

Rumi – Well, man that is a big question! We were a group of people caught in a time and place when lots of religions were competing for followers. Jesus and his people were still around and since we were in Persia, we had big celebrations and ceremony. The dance came about I guess over time to replicate the new found science of the stars. That is why we turn counter clockwise. To replicate the cosmos spinning. The dance is outlawed in my home town. I guess we we were pretty radical.

JP – People still do it? The dance?

Rumi – Yes. There is a person even in Louisville, Kentucky, Kabir Helminski. He is of my order of Sufi and they dance. There are Sufi all over the world. Not all are Mevlevi.

JP – Coleman Barks, can you speak about him?

Rumi – What can I say? Aww Man, He is just like Shams. Ha! Southern Man, wild ass nut case! He is the reason my poetry is so popular in the United States. See, Shams got my ass in trouble, so, this guy came along, he was just a regular old tradesman, redneck kinda, he challenged me in-front of all my students, called me onto the carpet. Sort of “called the question” so to say. Well, after our first meeting we became good friends, I could not believe he had the nerve to challenge me! But we became such good friends that my followers, students, my work at the school, it all suffered. Even my own son got pissed off at me, I was spending all my time with Shams. Staying up late, talking and arguing, being wild. Shams showed me a different way of life. He got my ass in trouble is what he did.

JP – What about Mr. Barks?

Rumi – Well, us mystics work in strange ways. I needed a voice for my work and his was the best I could find.

JP – Mr. Barks tells a story about a Sufi coming to him in a dream and then later meeting him sort of by chance. The dream sounds like a pretty mystical sort of guru thing, kinda like an acid trip. Did you have anything to do with that?

Rumi – No. But I did have something to do with Robert Bly.

JP– Robert Bly? The Iron John, men’s group poet?

Rumi – Yes, him, but there is way more to him than that, Vietnam protester, activist, I guess he was to become Coleman’s Shams, hell I don’t know, I, in a roundabout way, suggested to Robert to introduce Coleman to an idea. To give him a spark of inspiration. That Sufi coming to Coleman in a dream, that was all Coleman. Like I said, We Sufi work in mysterious ways, things get put into action, you have a saying, “Perfect Storm?”

JP – What was the spark of inspiration?

Rumi – To “breathe some life” into some literal translations of my work.

JP – Did he do that?

Rumi – Well, I am one of the top selling poets in the United States! I guess he did. (laughing hysterically)

JP – So, what about the whole Sufi coming to Coleman in a dream? Do you believe that part of Coleman’s story?

Rumi – Yes, but like I said, I didn’t have anything to do with that. That was all Bawa Muhaiyaddeen‘s work there.

JP – Bawa?

Rumi – Well, he is the founder of a Sufi Fellowship in Philadelphia. He is a different order of Sufi than me. He was the one who came to Coleman in a dream. I think Coleman manifested that experience out of a fear of making money and success from my work.

JP – Were you upset about his profiting from your poetry?

Rumi – No, not at all, us Sufi, or at least some of us, we give it all away anyway and get screwed more than not for what we do anyway. I was happy to see my work get the “New Breath of Life!” I think Coleman needed to find out from somebody, who was a Sufi, if what he was doing with my work was “authentic.” And I guess be respectful about his inspired work. Bawa is a very good example of what a Sufi community could be and about the best Coleman could have conjured. The Bawa fellowship is quite different than my school, we danced, they don’t do the whirling dervish thing. Bawa came for other work to the USA.

JP – What was that work?

Rumi – Well, Bawa came to the USA back when the whole Hippie Guru thing had gone out of control. The Beatles and the Merry Pranksters and that whole culture had “gone off the rails.” Bawa appealed to that crowd. And his message of love, understanding and community resonated. No drugs, no alcohol, and Islam. Bawa’s fellowship, was a perfect living example to get a look into what an Islamic Sufi School would look like. In some ways, that is why I choose Robert Bly to get the ball rolling. Bawa told the hippies, you don’t need LSD and drugs to find enlightenment. Robert was from that generation. I recently found out that there were “whirling dervish,” spinners at Grateful Dead concerts.

JP – Why do you think Coleman Barks was the voice for you work?

Rumi – He is a Southern Man. Southern people think and live in stories. They tell stories, they take a long time to trust, take a long time with saying hello and goodbye. Southern traditions are slower than some other folks in the United States. Sufi’s teach in stories. We are I guess “Long Winded.” His deep southern charm was what made my poetry come to life.

JP – Some folks say that all he did was take the ISLAM out of it.

Rumi – Well, that is what they said I did, in my time. Not to mention, the fundamentalists always say that. Even the Christians, Buddhists, all religions have their traditionalists. What Coleman did was inspired work and he tells people that from, what he would say, “git go.” I did mention that my “Whirling Dervish Dance” is outlawed in my country? See, Sufi work is inspired. People looking for the literal translation of the Bible and the Quran, well any traditionalists for that matter are stuck in time and place. If Coleman was reporting to be ISLAMIC in nature, then there would be critical problems and a reason to be very upset that he was trying to report to be something his work is not.

JP – Why do you think the USA is the place your work saw a new life?

Rumi. Hippies. Well, seriously, the United States is supposed to be a melting pot. My work is a melting pot of words, work, songs, traditions. It just was that perfect storm, I guess. Things put in place. Robert Bly’s generation of Beat Poets and Coleman’s Hippies needed it. I hear even Steven Gaskin’s folks down in Tennessee have a Sufi Circle.

JP – Well, let’s change gears. What American Music do you enjoy?

Rumi – Ha! The Blues and Jazz. Sun Ra, whoa, I really like his work. I really like Bluegrass Music. Appalachia Rising, that group is onto something. John Hartford.

JP – Bluegrass Music?

Rumi – Yes, because it comes from small working communities. Hard working farm small town people. That is what my Sufi school was. We were a small town of people who worked hard, played hard and danced in a sacred way, Ever seen a square dance? We danced in circles, that old time dancing is far from being in a square, people are whirling all over the place.

JP – thank you for your time.

Rumi – You bet!

JP – take care.

Rumi – See ya on the boat!

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?

Is what gets me in trouble!
Because sometimes I am bitter –
& mean. Hypocrisy
fights me into dark corners.
So, that is what is partly on my mind.
As I walk a lonesome brick street
of this neighborhood where once
I went crazy. Dropped acid and lived
to talk about it. & now under this
waning early summer moon, yes
I am feeling sorry for myself,
because this is all about me.
We are all only human …
This darkness that sometimes
we all slip into?
Some know to bite
their tongues and just deal with it.
Some can’t speak softly when peace
is at risk. Some die from trying
to tread softly on middle ground.
What is really on my mind is a truth that
is hard to swallow. My own medicine would
kill any preacher, caught in his own empty
church.
I & You and me and them
and this machine, playing on our vanity.
Mentioning our fears, showing us images
that we have no control over. Images stolen
from broken dreams, war and death, violence.
Our memories thrown in our faces, first thing
in the morning when we are not even ready
for what we may not know was in the past
haunting.
What is on my mind?
Is what I was told long ago.
This world is not fair.
You have to work hard for what you love.
Speak your mind, except be careful with truth,
sometimes it hurts and can be
used against you like poison.

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Two Coffee Houses And An Off Day

In the tavern i was reading, drinking coffee enjoying some free time. I walked the streets looking for you! You were not anywhere to be found! Everywhere beautiful women seemingly looking like I was, for a free time adventure. Looking for a friend or the silence of a lazy afternoon on the town.

          Now I am back at my hermitage shrine to solemn resolve. Thomas Merton and Dalai Lama quotes on the wall, experience rolling inside a mind weary of worldly desire – lost religions and blissful music, a rose above the door to invite soulful deep conversation. Questions roll from tongue like incense to the gods – swirls of past story like endless star galaxies revolve – callused hands and worn, creaking bones tell the tale of a rebellious past that finds me now even more in control of personal passage! In a far off contemplative stare – I am day dreaming of the bright, innocent youthful faces that caught my attention today – their mass consumption of a Pandora’s box of shiny little objects in nice little packages – their fancy clothing, their cultural statements of time and place. Older folks, holding desperately onto whatever the hell was important – hoping what was found long ago will not decay or fail!

          For this time is confusing! The papers are talking of war, again, the drums of destruction are beating relentlessly of a blood soaked – oil drenched unreasonable global position. This day weighs heavy on heart and soul. In all of this, in all of today, and tomorrow’s tomorrow – if your searching for a partner, a muse, someone to say it’s going to be alright? This mind has seen a big ominous picture that tells of days soon come that may not be alright. Things may not just be OK and nobody is going to care if you are triggered, offended, you may get lost!

          However, is just a connective way to suggest a duality of the reality that I enjoy, the blissful alter-destiny of paradox -another way of looking at all that surrounds today – the troubled minds of working stiffs, the suffering of the street beggar, the homeless people on the corner. I was out today, looking for that soul that is scared – for that mind that is open – for that heart that feels deeply all the sorrow, joy and the suffering, yet eats of it like a queen bee fed royal jelly.

          Maybe you were that young girl, reading Sylvia Plath – mad at her father, mad at the hypocrisy of her upbringing? Maybe you were that lonely woman, feverishly working on some term paper – for some side hustle degree – so her career can provide more mobility? Maybe all your childhood dreams of pretty horses and handsome princes have come to haunt you like some sort of painting hanging on the wall, here, in this coffee house, where lovers and lonesome souls mingle – workers toil – maybe you’re dreaming while awake? Lost in worldly demise. The gloom and doom of generational drift pulling your spirit into the cracks?

          Be that it may that I was looking for you – here, there and anywhere god’s children play. And all this beating about the burning bushes is folly for students of poetry, prose, I am settling differences, making plans for a long difficult journey, know what to take, what not to carry and what not to pick up along the way! I have been there before. Where darkness surrounds mindful dreaming like a skipping record, like a repeating message of known useless information. Caught like a prisoner, used like a metaphor, over and over – this life is not fair. Be that is may that you have gone missing.

          Your Saviour is crucified and satisfied with the narrative so long overturned that he is traveling to a new free trade, silk road escape. I can’t help your spiteful queen and vane princesses – who in selfish revolt, have ruthlessly killed their king. Overpowered and drunk in creation spirits, their mother nature gods have failed them. Now they are cold – now they are as powerless as power relentlessly turned inward. I warned you – I told you so! I knew your fruitless praying to symbols and light was dangerous! Playful occult muses were playing tricks with vanity! In this age of digital lost connection, this age of difficult reality and reason, you should have long put away your little girl teapots and childish games and came home when you were called!

          Eventually, I may find you. I’ll keep looking. And if you are hiding behind some corner and saw me searching? If you make your presence known? Leave your disgust of patriarchy to the fires of creation. A spark of light from a hearts kinship is all it takes to rekindle that conversation. Many a love sick girl runs to her father when it’s time to rebel against their mother. The corruption of human love is a lack of care-taking! A win -win situation? That scheme is not for the soulful. To win, you must lose it all and show up to the game naked as a jay bird singing.

To My Brothers in the Brotherhood

To My Brothers in the Brotherhood

(When I left work – exhausted and hot.
Our secretary was hanging directions
to our meeting on the union board.)

Peace be with you.
And also with you.

It is my direct action to love!
Go home directly, hug my boy –
kiss the wife and hit the sack.

Peace be with you.
And also with you.

Let us pray.

Brothers, one day you will take
this union as sacrament.
This power we seek is to unite human
heart with sacred vision.
To be forward thinking – with resolve.
Our kinship, our favor.
Our love for one another,
will be our saving grace.
It is radical to speak without kind intention.
It is what it is, is the mantra of the broken.
Reality dictates that our strength comes in numbers.
It is ignorance that expects people
to come, who have not been invited.
It is morality that guides us to be all inviting.
Conscience that tells of our failure.

Peace be with you.
And also with you.

Let us pray.

Let us not fall to fear of what might
happen if we raise our voices on high.
They will say, “they won’t stick together!”
They will say, “they don’t care!”
They will say, “they have fallen to
greed and don’t understand!”
Let us be like the tree,
planted by the water.

For I was happy but now I’m not.
I was lost but now, I’m found.
Was blind … but now I see.
I am employed by your favor!
Let’s not get lost in arguments.
Peace be with you.
And also with you.

Let us now greet each other &
feel open hands meet &
raise our voices on high!
Sing:

There is power in a band of working folks
when they stand hand in hand.

Amen.
In solidarity!

P.S
I make motion to change
the name of our union to also
include the word.
Sisterhood.
Can I get a witness?

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