Yesterday, walking home along the wet pavement twinkling under the sunshine, I spied a flock of no fewer than twenty-four wild turkeys parading down the street, mostly chicks.
I don’t see them today, as the rain has returned, and all is gray. I live on a hill where I can look out the window to watch water running in rivulets down past the lawn towards our town’s main drag. It rains lightly but continuously, so light that I can’t see it falling in the sky, but heavy enough to create ripples in the pooled pavement water. It is only mid-afternoon but the sky is a dull, perfectly solid gray, the light diffused and dimming. The neighbors’ windows are lit with lamps.
Our town is quiet, with no roar of traffic, but a steady whistling of wind off of San Pablo Bay. To settle into writing mode, I have lit some incense, turned up the heat to be cozy, and moved from our common living/dining room area (where I often sit at my computer next to my partner, Argyle C. Klopnik, sharing our rage at the news of the day) to my desk in our bedroom where the walls are almost entirely lined with books. Mine: lots of stuff on art, religion, contemplation, shamanism, poetry, writing advice, and (I admit it) a fair smattering of self-help tomes, even Tony Robbins’s Awake the Giant Within. ACK’s collection tends to the more recondite and eccentric, including Spanish, Japanese, and Latin grammars, Carlyle, the collected works of John Muir, The Origin of Species, Orlando Furioso, and The Decameron (the last three for relaxation), as well as a “special” shelf prominently featuring Raymond Buckland’s classic, Practical Candle Burning Rituals.
ACK also has a smattering of books on the Tarot: not that he’s a believer, but he has started a new project—The Bunny Boy Tarot— featuring the titular superhero of his graphic-novel-in-process, The Adventures of Bunny Boy. He assures me that this work of redeeming social importance will never be published, but don’t give up hope. Since Bunny Boy is hare today, he might not be gone tomorrow.
Our little town across the Bay from San Francisco, a bit north of Berkeley, is tiny, but not truly isolated. You can reach it off the freeway or along the Bay’s bike path, and several times a day the Amtrak train goes barreling past the beach at Lone Tree Point.
Despite the wild turkeys, the ever-increasing population of feral kitties, and the occasional adventurous artist (generally not feral) fleeing gentrification, our town is neither rural nor isolated.
Humorous drawings, twinkling pavement, gray skies, and wild turkey (the literal kind that parade down Lake Avenue, not the booze: I’m still sober) are the grace notes of a life that is all too impacted by the putrid purposes of SCROTUS (So Called Ruler of the United States). Today, for example, Scott Pruitt was confirmed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency—a man who has sued the EPA multiple times as Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma. This matters here in the East Bay, where environmental activists have worked for years to regulate the oil refineries and keep the population safe. Just weeks ago, the release of toxic gasses from the Chevron Refinery in nearby Richmond stank up the Marina in San Francisco. It is not too big a stretch to imagine that under the EPA leadership of Pruitt the Putrid, the lovely turkeys will mutate into something quite frightening.
Tomorrow night will be devoted to escapism, when I, and a group of intrepid writers, will visit San Francisco’s Speakeasy—an immersive theatre experience set in a secret speakeasy location in the year 1927, the very night that President Harding died of a heart attack in a San Francisco hotel. Am I wrong to fantasize?
I write this on February 17, a day on which activists have called for a general strike. Did you stay home today? I did. The good workers of San Francisco had to commute to their offices today without the benefit of my LYFT. It felt good to shut down for a few hours, and spend a day listening to the rain and reflecting quietly on the times.
How do we maintain our outrage? I was a teenager in the years of the anti-Vietnam War movement. I can recall the madness of daily activism that was fueled not only by righteous rage and informed dissent, but also parties and LSD, music and madness, art and agitation, insight and insanity in equal parts. Let us not lose our balance—Trump and his fascists are not the only enemy; our own loss of balance could lead us to a 21st Century Jonestown, make no mistake. Fear folly.
Next week, I will attend two plays and one literary reading where I will purchase a new novel by Joyce Carol Oates, from which she will read at one of my favorite places in the universe: Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Bookstore in North Beach. My true North. Where will you go this week to find yours?
Now as I close out this column (my life doled out in deadlines and poetry), the sun will set and I will pray my version of Vespers: a bit of meditation, a walk in the rain, a random chant or two, a call out to Mystery, a few deep breaths, and a promise to persevere.
Screw SCROTUS and his basket of deplorables. They will not win. Not on our watch.
Rumpus original logo and artwork by James Lorenzato, aka Argyle C. Klopnick (ACK!).
“The Storming Bohemian Punks the Muse” was originally developed as a column under the editorship of Evan Karp at Litseen. An earlier incarnation of this work can be found there, along with many other interesting things.