On the Beat Box: Zero Cult…
An excellent Film; it gives the foundation of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex. Interventions, the lies that got us in, the lies that keep us there.
Please see it. Share it with young people, they need to know the roots of what is around them….
on the menu….
To Love Abundantly: Sharon Salzberg’s Journey on the Path
Poetry: Allen Ginsberg
Hot weather here in Portland, 103 or so today… Praying for rain!
Have a decent weekend, stay cool!
By Trish Deitch Rohrer
How Sharon Salzberg found loving-kindness in the darkest of times.
In 1971, a few days before eighteen-year-old Sharon Salzberg was meant to
leave for India on an independent study project from State University at
Buffalo where she was a student, she heard Tibetan meditation master Chogyam
Trungpa Rinpoche was giving a talk in town, and she went to see him. After
his talk, Trungpa Rinpoche asked for written questions, and Salzberg, whod
never meditated before, had one. I wrote out, Im leaving for India in a
few days to study meditation, Salzberg remembers. Could you suggest
where I might go? Hers happened to be one of the questions that Trungpa
Rinpoche picked out of the large pile which had accumulated in front of him.
He read it out loud, she says, and he was silent for a moment. And then
he said, I think you had perhaps best follow the pretense of accident.
Salzberg laughs now, sitting on her couch on a bright fall morning in
Barre, Massachusetts. She lives just through the woods from the Insight
Meditation Societys retreat center, which she co-founded in 1976 with Jack
Kornfieldnow the founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Centerand Joseph
Goldstein, who lives next door to Salzberg on the property adjacent to IMS.
Salzberg continues, Trungpa Rinpoche gave me no map, no guidebook, no set
of directions, no Hey! My friend the lama is waiting to teach you on some
mountaintop! There was nothing. And so I went to India, just like that.
When asked if she knew what Chogyam Trungpa meant by follow the pretense
of accident, she says, No! It made no sense to me whatsoever! I thought,
What does that mean?! But of course its exactly what unfolded. One
thing led to another.
When Salzberg was four, her father left her mother. When she was nine,
her mother started hemorrhaging on the couch one night when only the two of
them were home, and, though the little girl managed to call an ambulance
before her mother bled to death, she died two weeks later. That night on the
couch was the last time Salzberg saw her. A couple of years after that,
Salzbergs fathernot the glamorous fellow shed always imagined himcame to
live with Salzberg and her grandmother, and six weeks later tried to kill
himself with an overdose of pills. Eleven-year-old Sharon stood outside on
the sidewalk as he was taken off in a stretcher to a psychiatric hospital.
He never returned.
No one talkedeverabout any of what was happening to Salzberg: about all
that profound loss and its attendant grief, shame, confusion and
self-hatred. Maybe they did in whispers, but they stopped when she came into
the room. So a consequence of the events of her childhood was that Salzberg
felt left out of the flow of life. Things were good for other people, she
says, but not for me.
About five years ago Salzberg, who had written two well- received books
about Buddhism and was a teacher and inspiration to thousands of people,
felt compelled to write a book about faith. Not many, however, were
interested in supporting the project. Faith?! What does faitha concept
associated with theismhave to do with Buddhism? Still, Salzberg proceeded
with her plan: she had a story to tell about faith in the context of her
thirty-year experience as a Buddhist, and there was no way she could stop
herself from doing it.
At sixteen Salzberg moved from Manhattan, where she lived with her
grandmother, to Buffalo, and at seventeen, in an Asian studies class there,
she heard the Buddhas teachings for the first time.
Here, finally, she says, was the Buddha saying what I longed for
somebody to acknowledge: that there is suffering that exists. Salzberg also
heard the Buddha saying that no one is left outnot even Sharon Salzbergof
the possibility for the cessation of suffering. Something, in that moment,
ignited in her.
The Buddhas vision of the possibility of what freedom could look like
was Salzberg looks out the window, and says, tremendous.
And so the sophomore in college, having it in her mind that Buddhist
meditation was the one thing that could free her from her suffering, put
together the independent study project to India, and following the pretense
of accident as best she could, she set off to find a teacher.
In Salzbergs kitchen at dinnertime, six friends are sitting around a
long country table yakking away about not much, laughing, eating two kinds
of ice cream and apple pie and expensive chocolates after a
large meal of leftovers liberated from the industrial-sized, stainless steel
refrigerators at IMS, where a handful of people are doing silent retreats.
Salzberg, though, is sitting in a chair just away from the table, in the
corner, watching. Or maybe not watchingmaybe shes just being
therelistening, kind of smiling, occasionally saying a few words and then
falling silent again.
If you were angry, you might think she was angry; if you were sad, you
might think she was sad; if you were lonely or bored or tired or scared or
feeling above it all or deeply, deeply depressed or very happy, you might
think she was that. Which means that Salzberg, doing nothing but quietly
being there, is doing her work well: shes being what Ram Dass says she is:
a kalyanamitra, a special friend, a mirror that shows youif you
care to take a look on a dark Saturday nightyour mind.
This is not a drama queen, says Michele Bohana, director of the
Institute of Asian Democracy in Washington, D.C. She has tremendous
compassion, shes extremely generous, she is a fabulous teacher, she has
total commitment to the dharma, shes extremely humble and theres nothing
fancy-schmancy about hershes very down to earth. Bohana laughs. Us
American women? she says, Were all very hyper. Were all very, Deadline,
deadline, cant talk now, call me back! Right? Well, shes, Gotta go
practice. Quite the difference.
Sunanda Markus, a consultant for Mirabai Bushs Center for Contemplative
Mind and Society, says, Shes one of those people whose love of the dharma
rings throughout every cell of her body. And she has an understanding that
the dharma is really what has import. And thats why shes here. And why she
went to India when she was eighteen. You might think Im completely nuts,
Markus says, but I actually believe that she has done many lifetimes of
practice and is an incredibly evolved person.
In Faith, Salzberg tells the story of arriving in Bodh-gaya in 71
and sitting next to a monk under the Bodhi tree where the Buddha was
enlightened. The monk turned out to be one of the Dalai Lamas teachers,
As I sat next to Khunu Rinpoche, she writes, I sensed deep within me
the possibility of rising above the circumstances of my childhood, of
defining myself by something other than my familys painful struggles and
its hardened tone of defeat. I recalled the resignation in my fathers eyes
at the constraints that governed his life. The boundary of his autonomy was
the decision about where to have lunch if someone took him out of the
hospital on a pass. With a surge of conviction, I thought, But I am here,
and I can learn to be truly free. I felt as if nothing and no one could
take away the joy of that prospect.
Salzberg traveled around India for a while in 1971, but couldnt find
anyone to teach her how to meditate. Finally, at a yoga conference shed
stumbled upon, she heard about a ten-day retreat in Bodh-gaya, led by a S.N.
Goenka of Burma, who had started doing Vipassana meditation to cure his
migraines. It was at this first retreat that Salzberg met a group of people
who would become her longtime colleagues and friends: Joseph Goldstein, Ram
Dass, Daniel Goleman, Mirabai Bush and Krishna Das.
I had a great sense of discovery, she says, and homecoming and
rightness at being there. As difficult as it was to doI couldnt
concentrate, I couldnt sit still, and a lot of uncomfortable feelings
started to surfaceI loved it. It was like falling in love. And, in a way,
Ive never veered from that. I do different practices or I approach the
dharma in a different way, but that feeling hasnt faded.
I was working against so much unhappiness, she says of her early
practice, trying to come out of it, that it was all me-me-me, all the way.
She laughs. Perhaps it would have been healing to be able to reach out to
help others, but I didnt have it in me, even though I tried practicing
generosity a lot.
Salzberg stayed in India for a year and a half that trip, remaining in
Bodh-gaya to do additional retreats with Goenka, and then moving on to meet
and study with Tibetan teachers Kalu Rinpoche and the 16th
Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje. But there was something in the simplicity of the
Theravadan tradition of mindfulness practice that Salzberg was drawn back
to. She was drawn back to Vipassana meditation, and a practice that Goenka
introduced only at the end of Salzbergs first retreat: mettaloving-kindness
One thing that makes Salzberg different from many other Western students
who sat at the feet of great Indian, Tibetan and Southeast Asian Buddhist
teachers in the early 1970s and brought what they taught back home, is that
Salzberg embodies a very particular piece of the dharma puzzle. She stresses
one thing: that in order to be free from sufferingand therefore to be able
to give abundantly to othersone must endeavor to love oneself abundantly.
Even for people whose lives have been less painful than Salzbergs, the
Buddhas teachings on loving-kindness work to connect a person to their own
heart and the hearts of all other beings without exception.
The day Salzberg sat under the Bodhi tree, she made a vow to herself: she
vowed to learn to love as the Buddha loved. Loving as the Buddha loved of
course meant being able to love oneself as well, she says in her living
room. Its not really a question of, May all sentient beings be free from
suffering, she laughs, except for me. It has to include oneself. The
question was how to do that.
Salzberg met two female teachers in India during that first trip who
became examples to her of people who had transformed their misfortune into
abundant generosity and love. The first teacher was Dipa Ma, a tiny Indian
housewife living with her daughter in the slums of Calcutta. Dipa Ma had
gotten so sick she nearly died of grief after losing her husband and two of
her three children. According to Salzberg, when someone told Dipa Ma that
meditation might save her life, she crawledbecause thats the best she
could doup the steps of the meditation center to receive instruction.
Salzberg related to this storyto the way Dipa Ma used her pain as
motivation to liberate herself, and then to liberate others who suffer. The
intensity of Dipa Mas motivation, Salzberg understood, was the key.
Dipa Ma modeled the ability to transform ones sufferingeven immense
sufferinginto loving compassion. Salzberg looks at you impishlyI always
knew I wanted to be that kind of person when I grew up.
Then Salzberg tells the story of meeting a friend of Dipa Masanother
female Indian teacher whose father-in-law had forbidden her to meditate. I
asked her, How did you accomplish what you needed to accomplish to be a
teacher? and she said, I was very mindful when I stirred the rice.
Salzberg looks at you with soft green eyes, raises her eyebrows and smiles.
She says, I think we have the ability to seize that possibility for
ourselves, and we dont do it.
Salzberg came back to the States in 1974, finished school, andbecause
Dipa Ma told her to, saying that Salzberg really understood sufferingshe
helped Joseph Goldstein teach a class in meditation at the Naropa Institute,
which had just opened its doors in Boulder, Colorado. Though Salzberg was
practicing, and now beginning to teachand even starting to lead
retreatsshe was still incredibly hard on herself, full of self-judgment,
straining, she says, all the time to change herself, be better, get
somewhere with her practice. Ram Dass says of Salzberg in those years, She
was quite lost.
Ram Dass agrees, however, with others who say that Salzberg must have
built up stores of merit in other lifetimes, because, though lost,
straining, self-critical and at first all for herself, she worked diligently
to stay on a difficult path that would eventually have a huge impact on a
lot of people. When she was only 23, she and Jack Kornfield and Joseph
Goldstein, joining with a group of friends, bought, with very little money,
an old building from the Catholic Diocese, and started the now
well-respected and very successful Insight Meditation Society.
It wasnt until 1984 that Salzberg and Goldstein met Sayadaw U Pandita,
the Theravadan teacher from Burma who would turn Salzbergs life around once
again. U Pandita had a reputation for being very, very difficult.
Oh, boyhe was a tough guy, says Ram Dass, who met U Pandita in Burma
during an early retreat with Salzberg and Goldstein. Ram Dass laughs. I was
happy to leave there. I felt like I escaped. Ram Dass says it was at this
time, 1985, that Salzberg started doing metta intensively. I watched
her change, he says. She went from being in her mind, to being very soft,
loving, sensual, actually. Because she was coming into herself.
Between 1985 and 1991, U Pandita worked with Salzberg on two practices:
mindfulness practice and loving-kindness practice. Though shed been
meditating for fourteen years, and had been at IMS for nine, it was a new
I was seeing him six days a week when on intensive retreat, Salzberg
says, and Id go in for an interview, and describe something, and hed say,
Well, in the beginning it can be like that, and Id think, Im not a
beginner! She laughs. And Id come in the next day and describe something
completely different and hed say, Oh, in the beginning it can be like
that. You know?! Salzberg says, and, feigning infuriation, looks at
you, Im not a beginner! And it went on that way for a very long time,
she says, until I got it: Its good to be a beginner. Its good not to have
all these ideasI shouldnt experience this, I should be doing more of
that. Its good to just see whats there, to say, Wow! Look at that!
One of the resident teachers at IMS, Amy Schmidt, is laughing about
Salzberg. Shes remembering the time U Pandita came to IMS and made Salzberg
slow down her mindfulness meditation to such a snails pace that sometimes
she had to leave the shrine room two hours before lunch, in order to make it
the fifty or so steps to the kitchen in time for the meal.
Salzberg rolls her eyes when she talks about this. And there was
Joseph, she says, walking around at his normal pace. I thought, Why isnt
anybody doing this correctly but me?
U Pandita, though, obviously had something in mind for Salzberg. Again,
he had her come in six days a week for interviews. The idea was that she
would write down something she noticed about one meditation period per day,
and one walking meditation.
Id go in there, Salzberg says, and before I could read my notes to
describe my sitting and my walking, hed say, What did you experience when
you washed your face? Which was nothing, because I hadnt paid the least
bit of attention to that. Salzberg shakes her head. And that was my
interview. So Id leave and Id sit and walk and wash my face as mindfully
as I couldId feel my hands in the water, and the water on my faceand Id
go in the next day and hed say, Tell me everything you noticed when you
drank your cup of tea. Which was nothing. Salzberg smiles, remembering.
Sometimes Salzberg would come into the room and bow to U Pandita and her
hair would fall in her face and shed brush it away with her hand and hed
say, Did you note that? And Id say, No, and I wouldnt get to read my
sitting and walking notes that day either. Salzberg called this experience
the torment of continuity, but after a while she understood something
more: where before shed thought that meditation was what took place inside
the shrine room, now she began to see that there was no difference between
meditation and non-meditation. We all have a tendency, she says, to think
the real stuff happens in the meditation hall, and that if youre drinking a
cup of tea in the dining room and you get lost in a fantasy, the thing to do
is throw the cup in the dishwasher and run back into the meditation hall to
regroup. Well, that tendency for me was gone.
The phrase that kept coming up in my mind during that retreat, she
says, was from Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, in which Suzuki Roshi says
something like, We practice not to attain buddhanature, but to express it.
Finally I could just say, O.K., Im just expressing this right now, and
right now, and right now.
You walk with Salzberg through the woods from her house to IMS, and she
just walks, hands in coat pockets, eyes on the ground. You take a stroll
with her on a country road nearby, past horses, trees and a pond, and she
just strolls. Shes not unfriendlyshe tells stories and answers questions
and smiles and laughs a lotbut shes not busy building herself up, or
entertaining you. The only thing you can do around her is let go of all
expectation that something has to happen, that you have to be someone, that
she has to respond as someone else.
In loving-kindness practice, a practitioner begins with him or herself,
wishing four things: may I be free from danger, may I be happy, may I be
healthy, may I live with ease. The practitioner then moves on to wish a
benefactorsomeone who has cared for themthe same four things. Then they
make those aspirations for a good friend, then a neutral persona person
they normally ignore, like the counter person at the dry cleanerthen a
difficult person, and then all beings without exception. If one were doing a
metta retreat, one would do this practice using the same people over
and over again.
We tend to associate love or loving-kindness with a feeling or emotion,
Salzberg says, but I dont think its that. I think its something
deeperits really about being able to connect rather than exclude.
Salzberg tells the story of the time when Joseph Goldstein went to see
the 16th Karmapa in Sikkim. He said that the Karmapa greeted his
arrival as though it was just about the most important thing that had ever
happened in his life. Which one guesses it was really not. And he did that
not through great pomp and circumstance, but through an absolute fullness
and completeness of attention. The presence Joseph felt was the feeling of
being completely loved.
Salzberg goes on: And when Joseph told me this story, I felt quite
regretful about all the encounters that I have where Im kind of half there
and half thinking about the next person I need to talk to, or the phone call
I need to make. So the first thing is that gathering of energywhen I feel
like my energy is somewhere else, I go here Salzberg looks at you gently,
but with full attention. Here we are, she says.
Salzberg does not seem like the mushy type. She is not, as she puts it,
sweet and feeble-minded, qualities people often think of when they hear
the word love. When she is there with you, she is simply there, with no
pretension, no elaboration, no show. When you e-mail her, she e-mails you
right back. When you call herand she gets dozens of calls a dayshe returns
Talking about loving-kindness practice, she says, I really like the
neutral person part of the practice a lot. Because heres this person that
you dont really know, you dont have a story about them, you dont know
about their sorrows or their joys. But you pay attention to them every day,
in effect, because youre using them as an object of meditation, and wishing
them well. And by virtue of the fact that youre paying attention to
somebody rather than overlooking them or ignoring themsuddenly theres this
A lot of the really charming stories of loving-kindness practice at IMS
come out of that phase. People will be sitting and sitting and sitting and
theyll have a neutral person whos also a meditator on retreat and theyll
say, I dont feel anything. Im not doing this right. Im not good at
this. And one day Ill get a note saying, My neutral person didnt show up
at breakfastcould you please go up and check on them? Salzberg laughs.
You know? Like, Yeah, rightyour neutral person wants me banging on
their door. Salzberg laughs again.
Salzberg did loving-kindness practice for four years with U Pandita, and
then he wanted her to stop. Metta is not the main practice, he said,
mindfulness is: metta will do many things, but it wont necessarily
enhance your understanding of emptiness. Its not, Salzberg says, a
On retreat with U Pandita in Australia in the late eighties, then,
Salzberg, who at this point thought she knew her mind, went back to
mindfulness practiceand fell into a hole: feelings about her mothers death
she thought shed worked through resurfaced. Miserable, she once again had
to reweave the threads of connection from a lonely, desolate place. As a
result, her compassion grew, first for herself, and then for everyone else.
Many of her friends can describe the change. Joseph Goldstein says, When
Sharon was just starting out, she was quite an unusual yogiit was clear
that there was wisdom there. But her teaching abilities werent clear at
that time. Now, though, she has the confidence, and is wonderfully
articulate, so the wisdom really shines through.
Salzberg was riding in an elevator in a New York City hotel a few years
ago, when she realized that she was carrying her very heavy suitcase in her
arms. I had the brilliant thought, she says, Why not put it down, and
let the elevator carry it? Thats what its like for Salzberg, finally:
every moment now theres another chance to let gonot to strain to be
something better, not to strive to get over anything, not to practice life
in any kind of harsh, judgmental, demanding or controlling waybut to just
let go, moment after moment after moment. And in that moment of letting go
Even if Im teaching people just to be with the breath, she says, my
emphasis is that the critical moment in the practice is the moment we
realize weve been distracted. We have a phenomenal ability to begin
againwhen weve gone off somewhere, we can begin again. And in that moment
of beginning again, we can be practicing loving-kindness and forgiveness and
patience and letting go. That was always taught to me, she says, but I
couldnt hear it. So maybe my evolution has been my ability to hear those
In 1985, Salzberg and Goldstein were in Nepal together, when someone
asked them if theyd like to go meet the great Tibetan teacher Dilgo
Khentsye Rinpoche. We were in Bodhnath, just hanging around, Salzberg
says, and so we said, Yeah, yeah, you know, and we kind of went in and
there he was in his state of half undress. He was eating lunch, or something
like that. It was just the two of us and a translator and him, and he said,
Do you have anything you want to ask me? And we said, No. Salzberg
rocks backwards on the couch and laughs hard. And he burst out laughing,
she says, like, You dont know what youre missing, you dunces!
Six years later we were studying with Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and would have
done anything to be in a room with Khentsye Rinpoche to ask him
Salzberg often tells these kind of self-deprecating stories, and you end
up feeling great affection for hershe seems to have made as many mistakes
as you, only shes learned to laugh about them, tossing them off as
teachings on how to give oneself a break.
Around 1991, twenty years after her first trip to Indiaand two years
after shed grappled, again, with the agony she felt at her mothers deathSalzberg,
still following the pretense of accident, conceived an interest in Dzogchenthe
Tibetan Vajrayana practice of the Nyingma school. Its hard to even
describe this, she says, but it was like a kind of craving, a yearning
that came up. Some friends came bystudents of Dilgo Khentsye Rinpochesand
I said, Can you teach me? and of course they couldnt. She laughs. Can
you tell me something about it? she remembers saying then, No. She
laughs again. And then Surya came.
Salzberg asked Western Buddhist teacher Surya Das to give her some
Dzogchen teachings, but he said itd be better if he introduced Salzberg to
his teachers. And thats when she went to Nepal to meet Tulku Urgyen,and
eventually to Paris where she met the late Nyoshul Khen, called Khenpo by
Salzberg fell in love with Khenpo. She felt devoted to him, but it was
a different kind of devotion than the one she felt for her earlier teachers.
With Goenka, Dipa Ma and U Pandita, Salzberg felt a kind of dependencyafter
all, they were teaching very fundamental things, baby steps to being fully
human. But Nyoshul Khen, up until his death in 2000, kept turning Salzbergs
attention to something she was overlookingnot his buddhanature, but hers.
I had a different experience with him, Salzberg says, because I was a
much more mature being at that point. Id always been very devoted to my
teachers. But with them the ground of my own self-respect was not that
In the last few months of Nyoshul Khens life, Salzberg kept looking to
him as the person with the answers, with the strength, with the great love
and wisdom. And he kept pointing her to herself for those things. It turns
out, she says, we look at the Buddha to see ourselves. And we look at
ourselves, not to see ourselves as separate and more wonderful than anybody
else. She laughs. But we look at ourselves and basically see everybody.
Finally, after over thirty years of intense practice, of traveling all
over the world and studying with what she calls an ever-changing pantheon
of teachers, Salzberg allowed her teacher to show her what shed vowed to
learn under the Bodhi tree: faith in herself, and in her ability to love.
From the point of view of the Buddhist teaching, she says, we all have
that capacity to love. No experience of suffering, of loneliness or of
unlovability we may have gone through or may yet go through can ever destroy
that capacity. And that faith is the bedrock of loving-kindness. Its faith
in ones buddhanature, in ones awareness and the potential to love. Its
faith in an interconnected universe.
Salzberg, at fifty, doesnt think, at all, that this is the end of her
I have definitely remade my life, she says. Ive re-parented myself
with my teachers, and Ive found a home in the dharma, and have an amazing
community of friends. I have practiced. But like any person, Im not
completely free. I do have faith, though, that any of us can be.
To Love Abundantly:Sharon Salzberg’s Journey on the Path, Trish Deitch Rohrer, Shambhala Sun, January 2003.
A Supermarket in California
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for
I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache
self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went
into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families
shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the
avocados, babies in the tomatoes!–and you, Garcia Lorca, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber,
poking among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the
pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans
following you, and followed in my imagination by the store
We strode down the open corridors together in our
solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen
delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in
an hour. Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The
trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses, we’ll both be
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love
past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher,
what America did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and
you got out on a smoking bank and stood watching the boat
disappear on the black waters of Lethe?
CIA Dope Calypso
In nineteen hundred forty-nine
China was won by Mao Tse-tung
Chiang Kai Shek’s army ran away
They were waiting there in Thailand yesterday
Supported by the CIA
Pushing junk down Thailand way
First they stole from the Meo Tribes
Up in the hills they started taking bribes
Then they sent their soldiers up to Shan
Collecting opium to send to The Man
Pushing junk in Bangkok yesterday
Supported by the CIA
Brought their jam on mule trains down
To Chiang Mai that’s a railroad town
Sold it next to the police chief’s brain
He took it to town on the choochoo train
Trafficking dope to Bangkok all day
Supported by the CIA
The policeman’s name was Mr. Phao
He peddled dope grand scale and how
Chief of border customs paid
By Central Intelligence’s U.S. aid
The whole operation, Newspapers say
Supported by the CIA
He got so sloppy and peddled so loose
He busted himself and cooked his own goose
Took the reward for the opium load
Seizing his own haul which same he resold
Big time pusher for a decade turned grey
Working for the CIA
Touby Lyfong he worked for the French
A big fat man liked to dine & wench
Prince of the Meos he grew black mud
Till opium flowed through the land like a flood
Communists came and chased the French away
So Touby took a job with the CIA
The whole operation fell in to chaos
Till U.S. intelligence came in to Laos
Mary Azarian/Matt Wuerker
I’ll tell you no lie I’m a true American
Our big pusher there was Phoumi Nosavan
All them Princes in a power play
But Phoumi was the man for the CIA
And his best friend General Vang Pao
Ran the Meo army like a sacred cow
Helicopter smugglers filled Long Cheng’s bars
In Xieng Quang province on the Plain of Jars
It started in secret they were fighting yesterday
Clandestine secret army of the CIA
All through the Sixties the dope flew free
Thru Tan Son Nhut Saigon to Marshall Ky
Air America followed through
Transporting comfiture for President Thieu
All these Dealers were decades and yesterday
The Indochinese mob of the U.S. CIA
Operation Haylift Offisir Wm Colby
Saw Marshall Ky fly opium Mr. Mustard told me
Indochina desk he was Chief of Dirty Tricks
“Hitch-hiking” with dope pushers was how he got his fix
Subsidizing the traffickers to drive the Reds away
Till Colby was the head of the CIA
Kaddish, Part I
For Naomi Ginsberg, 1894-1956
Strange now to think of you, gone without corsets & eyes, while I walk on
the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village.
downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon, and I’ve been up all night, talking,
talking, reading the Kaddish aloud, listening to Ray Charles blues
shout blind on the phonograph
the rhythm the rhythm–and your memory in my head three years after–
And read Adonais’ last triumphant stanzas aloud–wept, realizing
how we suffer–
And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of, sing, remember,
prophesy as in the Hebrew Anthem, or the Buddhist Book of An-
swers–and my own imagination of a withered leaf–at dawn–
Dreaming back thru life, Your time–and mine accelerating toward Apoca-
the final moment–the flower burning in the Day–and what comes after,
looking back on the mind itself that saw an American city
a flash away, and the great dream of Me or China, or you and a phantom
Russia, or a crumpled bed that never existed–
like a poem in the dark–escaped back to Oblivion–
No more to say, and nothing to weep for but the Beings in the Dream,
trapped in its disappearance,
sighing, screaming with it, buying and selling pieces of phantom, worship-
ping each other,
worshipping the God included in it all–longing or inevitability?–while it
lasts, a Vision–anything more?
It leaps about me, as I go out and walk the street, look back over my shoulder,
Seventh Avenue, the battlements of window office buildings shoul-
dering each other high, under a cloud, tall as the sky an instant–and
the sky above–an old blue place.
or down the Avenue to the south, to–as I walk toward the Lower East Side
–where you walked 50 years ago, little girl–from Russia, eating the
first poisonous tomatoes of America frightened on the dock
then struggling in the crowds of Orchard Street toward what?–toward
toward candy store, first home-made sodas of the century, hand-churned ice
cream in backroom on musty brownfloor boards–
Toward education marriage nervous breakdown, operation, teaching school,
and learning to be mad, in a dream–what is this life?
Toward the Key in the window–and the great Key lays its head of light
on top of Manhattan, and over the floor, and lays down on the
sidewalk–in a single vast beam, moving, as I walk down First toward
the Yiddish Theater–and the place of poverty
you knew, and I know, but without caring now–Strange to have moved
thru Paterson, and the West, and Europe and here again,
with the cries of Spaniards now in the doorstops doors and dark boys on
the street, firs escapes old as you
–Tho you’re not old now, that’s left here with me–
Myself, anyhow, maybe as old as the universe–and I guess that dies with
us–enough to cancel all that comes–What came is gone forever
That’s good! That leaves it open for no regret–no fear radiators, lacklove,
torture even toothache in the end–
Though while it comes it is a lion that eats the soul–and the lamb, the soul,
in us, alas, offering itself in sacrifice to change’s fierce hunger–hair
and teeth–and the roar of bonepain, skull bare, break rib, rot-skin,
Ai! ai! we do worse! We are in a fix! And you’re out, Death let you out,
Death had the Mercy, you’re done with your century, done with
God, done with the path thru it–Done with yourself at last–Pure
–Back to the Babe dark before your Father, before us all–before the
There, rest. No more suffering for you. I know where you’ve gone, it’s good.
No more flowers in the summer fields of New York, no joy now, no more
fear of Louis,
and no more of his sweetness and glasses, his high school decades, debts,
loves, frightened telephone calls, conception beds, relatives, hands–
No more of sister Elanor,–she gone before you–we kept it secret you
killed her–or she killed herself to bear with you–an arthritic heart
–But Death’s killed you both–No matter–
Nor your memory of your mother, 1915 tears in silent movies weeks and
weeks–forgetting, agrieve watching Marie Dressler address human-
ity, Chaplin dance in youth,
or Boris Godunov, Chaliapin’s at the Met, halling his voice of a weeping Czar
–by standing room with Elanor & Max–watching also the Capital
ists take seats in Orchestra, white furs, diamonds,
with the YPSL’s hitch-hiking thru Pennsylvania, in black baggy gym skirts
pants, photograph of 4 girls holding each other round the waste, and
laughing eye, too coy, virginal solitude of 1920
all girls grown old, or dead now, and that long hair in the grave–lucky to
have husbands later–
You made it–I came too–Eugene my brother before (still grieving now and
will gream on to his last stiff hand, as he goes thru his cancer–or kill
–later perhaps–soon he will think–)
And it’s the last moment I remember, which I see them all, thru myself, now
–tho not you
I didn’t foresee what you felt–what more hideous gape of bad mouth came
first–to you–and were you prepared?
To go where? In that Dark–that–in that God? a radiance? A Lord in the
Void? Like an eye in the black cloud in a dream? Adonoi at last, with
Beyond my remembrance! Incapable to guess! Not merely the yellow skull
in the grave, or a box of worm dust, and a stained ribbon–Deaths-
head with Halo? can you believe it?
Is it only the sun that shines once for the mind, only the flash of existence,
than none ever was?
Nothing beyond what we have–what you had–that so pitiful–yet Tri-
to have been here, and changed, like a tree, broken, or flower–fed to the
ground–but made, with its petals, colored, thinking Great Universe,
shaken, cut in the head, leaf stript, hid in an egg crate hospital, cloth
wrapped, sore–freaked in the moon brain, Naughtless.
No flower like that flower, which knew itself in the garden, and fought the
Cut down by an idiot Snowman’s icy–even in the Spring–strange ghost
thought some–Death–Sharp icicle in his hand–crowned with old
roses–a dog for his eyes–cock of a sweatshop–heart of electric
All the accumulations of life, that wear us out–clocks, bodies, consciousness,
shoes, breasts–begotten sons–your Communism–’Paranoia’ into
You once kicked Elanor in the leg, she died of heart failure later. You of
stroke. Asleep? within a year, the two of you, sisters in death. Is
Max grieves alive in an office on Lower Broadway, lone large mustache over
midnight Accountings, not sure. His life passes–as he sees–and
what does he doubt now? Still dream of making money, or that might
have made money, hired nurse, had children, found even your Im-
I’ll see him soon. Now I’ve got to cut through to talk to you as I didn’t
when you had a mouth.
Forever. And we’re bound for that, Forever like Emily Dickinson’s horses
–headed to the End.
They know the way–These Steeds–run faster than we think–it’s our own
life they cross–and take with them.
Magnificent, mourned no more, marred of heart, mind behind, mar-
ried dreamed, mortal changed–Ass and face done with murder.
In the world, given, flower maddened, made no Utopia, shut under
pine, almed in Earth, blamed in Lone, Jehovah, accept.
Nameless, One Faced, Forever beyond me, beginningless, endless,
Father in death. Tho I am not there for this Prophecy, I am unmarried, I’m
hymnless, I’m Heavenless, headless in blisshood I would still adore
Thee, Heaven, after Death, only One blessed in Nothingness, not
light or darkness, Dayless Eternity–
Take this, this Psalm, from me, burst from my hand in a day, some
of my Time, now given to Nothing–to praise Thee–But Death
This is the end, the redemption from Wilderness, way for the Won-
derer, House sought for All, black handkerchief washed clean by weeping
–page beyond Psalm–Last change of mine and Naomi–to God’s perfect
Darkness–Death, stay thy phantoms!
Over and over–refrain–of the Hospitals–still haven’t written your
history–leave it abstract–a few images
run thru the mind–like the saxophone chorus of houses and years–
remembrance of electrical shocks.
By long nites as a child in Paterson apartment, watching over your
nervousness–you were fat–your next move–
By that afternoon I stayed home from school to take care of you–
once and for all–when I vowed forever that once man disagreed with my
opinion of the cosmos, I was lost–
By my later burden–vow to illuminate mankind–this is release of
particulars–(mad as you)–(sanity a trick of agreement)–
But you stared out the window on the Broadway Church corner, and
spied a mystical assassin from Newark,
So phoned the Doctor–’OK go way for a rest’–so I put on my coat
and walked you downstreet–On the way a grammarschool boy screamed,
unaccountably–’Where you goin Lady to Death’? I shuddered–
and you covered your nose with motheaten fur collar, gas mask
against poison sneaked into downtown atmosphere, sprayed by Grandma–
And was the driver of the cheesebox Public Service bus a member of
the gang? You shuddered at his face, I could hardly get you on–to New
York, very Times Square, to grab another Greyhound–