Sundi Drive

A quick Sundi drive up to the Tobacco store.

And how many bourbons could there actually be?

Straight down the buffalo trail:

Preston and east on Eastern Parkway to Hunter Thompson’s

(he ran from here like a bat outta hell) neighborhood and

Mark Anthony Mulligan’s streets. Where is he I wonder?

(a homeless angel)

The ol’ Highlands :

And I am talking Louisville, Kentucky blues shit RN.

Behind an ol haunt, in the parking lot of St. Brigid

a homeless man washes his feet from the church hose.

I say, “that’s one way to get Jesus to wash your feet brother!”

Offer a bottled water, he smiles and says, “bless you.”

I always have water in my painted pony art car for this.

Back out to the streets of this lonesome southern wanna-be town.

If you stay here you gonna get stuck here sense of place.

The long way home, through Germantown :

A line around the local little ice cream joint!

And isn’t this a fine day to dream?

I scream you scream :

The radio is playing some sentimental

open road song on the local bluegrass radio show.

A double stop twines memories from the fiddle and

these streets I have ran, explored, they know me.

I know them lamenting like the E minor chord to A minor chord.

This song is a cookie-cutter twenty-somethings bluegrass

new grass mindless recreation of the working man’s blues.

These streets are just like worn out metaphors.

Nobody goes down the dark mines around here anymore.

Mark Anthony Sings, Jefferson County

I Am Not An Influencer . . .

I am not an Influencer . . .
only here on the take.
I am not here to play a gig –
because –
we are the frogs in that e-conomy.
Share,
because that is what
we were taught as children.
Like,
because good work deserves
attention and praise.
Subscribe,
because it is
an open invitation.
As desperate as it may seem –
to live a quiet life goes against
inner workings instilled.
This is my orchard.
I offer these words like
apples, pears and wild flowers.
This music – my peaches.
These images collected were born
of many a harvest.
You are the bee to this creative
fire . . . I grow from your consumption.
Enjoy . . .
like our
lives depend
on it.
You are the thread in
the quilt that holds together
The Folk Tradition.

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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