Have you ever held a Gem

Caleb Hendrix

I walked with the dead
I saw them low –they were broken at times carrying grief and sorrow mourning for the

earth and its fullness


Nietzsche sat on a wheel and spoke of the Greek’s
I was afraid to approach him fearing God, his lips they moved though
He was a person shy and constrained, as I approached he grew silent
I said “Nietzsche” is it you? Thinking he was now so different
He nodded. Pointed to the wheel and began to run
He was trying to leave me I thought
Pursuing him I ran faster and faster
Finally he stopped unaffected by the run glaring at me in wonder
The look was chilling and I grew nervous
What was it, why the look I thought
Realizing my confusion he began to run again faster and harder than before
Only this time I stayed in place watching in fascination as he never became distant
I understand! This I shouted at Nietzsche
And he immediately faded as a vision


I was relaxed and silent with a book in hand, face to the wall –my brother in his bed a few

feet away, turning I starred in his eyes and wondered if he could feel that same chill


I walked with the dead
I saw them high –they were real with emotions filled lively and feeling


I drove to a home bustling with friends
Every room in an uproar with drinks all around
Their veins were open eyes glossed red minds tuned in
I observed in peace and thought deep from within
If only death would sleep for awhile –succumb to our visions and rest in the grave
“Burroughs!” someone said from across the room
I looked up and there he was young and vigorous
He greeted my friends strutting in every direction
They enjoyed his company the stories he told and his wild eccentricities
Did they not know he was apparition I wondered
Or was it I who still held time by an imaginary hand?
“Come, come quickly!” my friend yelled at me
What is it I asked? In a startled nervously shaken manner
“Come, you must meet this man Jack” he said with enthusiasm and excitement dripping

from his jaw
As we approached the man I could only see his battered clothing and unkept appearance
Startled by this I doubted his person and almost escaped the situation
What was he starring at though I thought
“Jack!” my friend called out introducing us in noise and beauty
I grew cold as I shook his hand for what seemed like eternity
I was starring in the face of Kerouac himself
After a courteous introduction he quickly occupied himself with his former fascination
Only now I could see where his eyes rested melted and oozed in lust of joy
It was on our very own Dean Moriarty
A friend of exceeding talents and mad visions in pure ecstasy and unbounded energy
He had wrestled with life charged at death mocked existence
And for that he was not
Sweet visions don’t leave me –death would you rest all through the night I thought
After taking a seat by this kindred spirit
I whispered in his ear, do you see these ghosts, we are happening with the beats
This I told him knowing he alone understood
“Ah yes” he said, then leaning near me again he whispered “Ginsberg was around earlier

too –we talked greedily and I told him all of you and how we should know one another”
We were now so close

His arm around me my mind in his and his in mine


I was fastened to a couch surrounded only by a few friends who were reminiscing and

thinking of the what ifs’
I cursed death in my mind forced contentment
and enjoyed the blessed friends now before me


I walked with the dead
I saw them reason –they were fascinating filled with wonder full of thoughts, deep, diverse,

and intricate


Once I embarked on a mysterious path
I traveled around in the vast of my mind
There were areas of gloom and moribund decay
Areas deep steep and beyond my reach
There were places hidden and doors without handles


It just so happened that there was a curious path
A journey that led me to Northampton then to Stockbridge and finally to Princeton
All along the way I studied another man
His appearance, dress, manners, and way of life
There were imperfections marking his every move obvious moral failings
His person was unappealing and his style too reserved
Every first day he spoke wielding a sword and breathing a deadly fire
I wanted to dissect his mind examine it like the workings of a clock
For there have been great intellects yet very few freethinkers


As I continued in this pursuit I began to make a list
A mental jot of every worthy inquiry
The list required everything I determined
Only then could I approach and probe with any success
There were many questions of why upon the list:
Why have you chosen the puritans past when you stand on the enlightenment and reason at

Why would you assume the old models best when your intellect could have given them a

final rest?
Why should you labor to battle your own when the opposition to your faith was nearly full

There were also many questions of how, what, and when
The list was overflowing
And I could finally sit in his presence


There was a fire burning in the corner, two chairs upon which we sat and a serene

environment as the night drew late
I wanted to begin by questioning the man about his own faith warm his spirit and get him

comfortable to speak liberally on other topics
However my time was short, as I could feel my mental powers waning and the journey

quickly coming to an end
Afraid of losing the opportunity to understand this great mind
I began to unhesitatingly whirl out statement after statement speaking forth everything in an

instant foolishly not sequencing my questions letting my tongue become the master of the

moment pouring forth gibberish and random strains of disconnected thoughts
At last I had nearly suffocated
Realizing finally that the entire time the man had never said a word
He had merely soaked in the bombardment of my mental powers and now sat gazing into

my eyes with an intellectual force beyond description
I could tell by his calm demeanor that he had comprehended my mess of words and had

organized every thought for me
I fretted over how he would answer
Mostly hoping he would not balk with some Christian creed which only satisfies a sect
My mind was failing and I hadn’t much longer
I could feel the final grains of sand falling through the funnel
He must answer now I thought
Suddenly his mouth opened and only a single word was uttered –“why”
The last seconds were dwindling and I starred back at his lips in desperation


It was over, the journey in the past and the start of my rehabilitation to the realities of others
Why had he said why and only why I wondered to myself
Only to understand that there were no other words waiting to protrude from his mouth
His answer was wrapped up in a single sound
Edwards! Edwards! I cried
Is this all you will spare?


I walked with the dead

I saw them together –they taught of time the beauty of being and the final inquiry
There teachings were separate but not separated


I now held a gem
And I thanked them all

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790