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The night the poem died

I wrote a poem once, I can't even remember when.  It was more of a story than a poem really; or even a prophesy; but a mythical prophesy, not a literal prophesy.  I do think it's going to happen, but not like that.  When it happens it will be wonderful.  The poem was called Armageddon and I didn't know why I wrote it.  I thought it was nothing and yet like everything I write I stored it safely on my computer where I rediscovered it two years later to my great delight.  I had no memory of writing it and had no idea what inspired or provoked it.  I simply uncovered this ancient artifact buried deep within the memory of my five-year-old laptop.  I read it out loud to myself and I liked it.  I made a few small changes and I liked it a lot.  It had an alarmingly effective rhythm that got me every time and yet I did not understand what it was saying to me.  I knew precisely because I was so challenged and fascinated with this piece myself I couldn't possibly read it to an unsuspecting audience.  At least not until I finally found an audience who I knew could not only handle it but appreciate it; an audience in front of which I would feel comfortable to let myself go somewhere of which I was uncertain.

There was one night late around the fire when I got a specific request to read something from my manuscript that I carried around with me everywhere, in case of the likely possibility that someone would ask me to read or perform.  With such a diverse manuscript in my hands I am able to choose something specifically for the situation.  The energy around the fire that night was an intense calm, an unusual but beautiful combination.  Many people were smoking marijuana, expanding or shriveling their minds, and so I decided to read the piece that I dared not read before.  I sat cross-legged a meter away from the fire, facing my audience of less than ten people.  An audience that quickly expanded to everyone standing in the vicinity and everyone sitting around the fire.  I didn't mind that there were certain parts of the poem that were particularly confrontational or unexplainable because I would simply start reading and once I started I was inevitably reading the entire thing.  In fact once I start I cease to exist for the duration of the poem and the poem itself indeed takes over my body.  Even as I read I was passed a joint of bush buds and I took drags as I read about the impending eschaton.  Sometimes I am present for the performance of my writing, sometimes I am absent and this time as my body sat cross-legged on the grass reading Armageddon I listened along with everyone else and for the first time, after reading it so many times I had almost memorised it, I finally understood certain aspects of it that I could not possibly explain now because they were caught up in the context of the poem and the context of the moment.  It all made perfect profound sense for one alarmingly intense sacred moment.  Of course it's not just sacred poetry that creates these situations, it also takes sacred people willing to create a sacred moment in a sacred environment and in this case we combined all four briefly.

I realised when I returned to my body following the coda of the poem that this poem was written especially for this moment; the creation of this moment is the reason I wrote, edited and carried around this shamefully brilliant poem for so many years.  As we all sat in the heavy wake of this performance, something without an English word thick in the air, I experienced a strange mix of shame and pride and curiosity about the response of the others.  They all stared at me with awe and love as if I am from another planet.  (Am I from another planet?)  The intensity I felt throughout my body was almost unbearable.  I felt something moving through me and I became immeasurably cold.  I climbed to my knees and held out my arms and asked to be held.  I was in the right place and two beautiful humans held me.  The long hug was intense as the three of us shared this unexplainable surging energy.  The woman closed her eyes and took a far journey through dream into another dimension and in only a few seconds of clock time she returned exhilarated and exhausted.  Maybe she projected onto me the amazement she felt that the world is a much bigger place than we have been taught.  Maybe she understands now that our experience is as big or small as we want it to be.  We can live an entire lifetime in one closed-eyed marijuana-stoned post-Apocalyptic hug moment.

I am told that Armageddon is a place in Israel, but I write about an Armageddon that is deeply embedded in our collective unconscious and in the form of myth is increasingly frequently manifesting into consciousness.  What do I do with this poem I love and fear to perform now that the moment it was born for has passed and I am certain anybody with a career would never publish it?  We all know the end is coming soon and we constantly create myths to manifest our understandings and share them, to express the little deaths that are happening every day and anticipate the big death that will so soon annihilate all our illusions.  And so this precious powerful moment we created that night is not gone but still remains in our flesh through the sound vibrations created with its recital.  Everybody who experienced this sound vibration, and anybody who comes into contact with its diminishing aftereffects will possess within the memory of their flesh a powerful myth for the end of the world as we know it.  Perhaps we will all be a little more prepared and a little less scared when the time comes for us to accept the reality of death and live in a world where we have no choice but to love and honour each other and every form of life we share our environment with in all the dimensions we call home.

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