Crossing the Bodhi Tree

Tom Herakovich


Breaking rules in a quiet way is to acquiess, call out from one’s knees, Pater Noster, Our Father, and seek “once upon a time.” Rips in the veil, loud and brash, coarse - coarse household, coarse work, other coarse men, men at work, coarse material, sweat cuss and ache and drive a pick-um-up truck – that’s two syllables trrr uk – pick um up trr uk spit wipe chew off chin with back of hand, look innocent. Gutter glory, poor ole papa, Hemingway didn’t know, tried to know, faked it, died. Faulkner. Now he knew!

Is it possible to write ones story and not write I or me my or mine? Seventeen? Maybe sixteen? Coalescing youthful male, not responsible enough to own frontal lobes and prone to user error(s). Sixteen years, and it was gone, everything that someone had ever written, drawn, penciled or penned—gone. gone. Someone, still unknown someone, put their hands in someone’s (my? memory opening?) trunk. Do you understand me? More than the wooden container that held (my) thin history, hands in (my) trunk, my chest, ripped my history, out, gone forever. “I” wasn’t there, “I” didn’t see it happen, saw no thief, and didn’t feel the absence at the time, didn’t feel much of anything it at the time. Does that mean “I” was the subject? Perhaps a gentle rip? Can unknown someones gently rip – off – out? A beautiful story? “I” must be the subject; but “I” didn’t start over, turned my back on the three horses galloping steadily on my heels, didn’t pick up the pen (or the pencil) or anything else. I just closed the chest, covered the absence, the hole, delimited hole empty thrunk-chest space. Just moved on, without known allys—no pen, pencils, paper—having decided instead to confront life without a written record for protection. Threw down God’s tablets hard-shattering to the ground and for ontological purposes the stripped-artless-adolescent claimed his manhood, tool belt and hammer and began life as a newly born carpenter. My version of a (story?). But who is the audience? Who wants to know my story, my sublime? Does “Our Father who art in heaven know my story?” Know I haven’t forgiven, who I haven’t forgiven? Know in the biblical sense? “Forgive my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.” And, yes, both thoughts bother me.

For the un-forgiven knowing alive-ness, a matter of confronting life, confronting conventions, any and all conventions, bucking like a dangerously pissed off Brahma bull just out of the chute, feeling the oppression even after the cowboy sucked lungs full of dust, kicking high, wanting to feel it, wanting to make fucking contact, hard, knowable fucking contact with something-someone. The reborn lived fast and hard and coarse and experienced that which the many choose not. But, wait, “I” hasn’t arrived yet; he languished for a time in the depredation of alcohol, drugs, sex, rock and roll (abuse?) looking for his art and then his drums, his music went missing; wallowed for a while in each new low, played at the edge, hanging ten over a to high precipice or two, rode the wave down spring turned summer, flirted at the dusty drunk’n token border, fed at the trough with others on invisible American urban slid rural bottomlands. Confrontive of the “ordinary” he spent time loosely, experienced the raw-boned beauty-power of fighting life at every turn and found new gods and wisdom, sought to embody ancient Old Testament prophets and wrestle directly with destiny, with god, striving with separation, with godlessness. Staring at a temple he said, “we must stand naked before god and confess our sins—I confess wrestling naked with god might be beautiful? But, I don’t want god to see me naked or even think about me naked.” Adding by way of clearing his public soul, “I don’t think about god naked, so god must wrestle using my rules, fully clothed, and on my off hours, and she/he must “’lead us not into temptation.’”


Nature pushed, he pushed back.


Overcome gravity,


Slam hard into mountain.


And get up again and again. Temporary bruised mantras turn back to first person. It was the writer’s experience I/he was after, the purposeful creation of a writer’s soul. And just before the giant bull impales the stunned cowboy crabbing backwards on elbows and heels in the dry dry dry dust, just before once in a lifetime contact, just the smallest of moments before the cowboy feels gore-horns dig blunt-tearing his trunk, he will make eye contact, see hear smell expect intense beauty of the animal he is about to merge with. A brief moment of sanity, forcing eyes wide open, just long enough, just, no matter what.

I’ve lost control of my tenses. Time – fifty-four and writing in the now, earlier seventeen, the I-we lives at once, both in the now, in the now…. And so must my tenses. At least alert the reader to your movements in time, I-we-you even teach this – is are, was were. Grammar brain needs a bone, so I am flattered and grammar check has been turned, off long ago; no more little nasty big brother red and green lines oppress my writing. I-we-you teach this as well – grammar is only beautiful on alternate Thursdays in months that begin with “P.” You must first learn the rules before you can break them, artisicly. Noun verb. Fragment.

The question I-we-you is avoiding – “was/am I really consciously creating a writer’s toy box, chest? Hedge. ”Yes and no. No, I was too busy trying to avoid god’s heel, cloaked on autopilot. Yes, the world reported back, used the measure mirror of the USA, to beat me bloody and made me know that mine was not an ordinary time on terra. Characters in books are that way, and being conscious of my lines living dejevus of dejevus, of being a character in a book, and I/me/we have entertained the possibility that it was my book – I was my life’s author – and I/me/we don’t want that responsibility. Autobiographies first person and no I me/we looks to agency other and shows the USA red white and blue bruises, our stripes, reports back from the edge, from over the edge, from the fissures and ruptures, from inside mount St. Helen, report on the c-o-n-s-e-q-u-e-n-c-e-s of living. My [F]fathers tried to teach me/I (we aged, and now a moment of silence for once upon a time and for we as they pass into ideology) about consequences; but I could not understand his language, his Navy Nimrod Babel hurt my ears screamed inside my body my sensibilities my me my my, and my anger was beautiful, fatal, beautiful. His anger was terrifying, fatal—My [F]fathers who art in Heaven Who murdered our we (a question mark, a period, two different stories—one ends the story—the other turns Forster in his grave, leaves me wanting to know what happens next):

Mother lives on, spoke-speaks another tongue, knows she is saved knows I am damned-doomed, whispers behind my back, behind my fronts, tells my children – “do not follow your father; he walks the path to hell; forsake him.” Mother plans to look upon her god, upon His supreme beauty for all eternity, gaze at the golden throne of Christ, at the perfected Lamb/Shepherd for all eternity; for the same eternity her loving god of love god will torture her son. My/his mother will nail him/me to her god’s cross (next to my father), eternal stigmata – Sisyphus got off easy. Does god do his own torture? Who is god’s executioner? Archangel Michael? Satan? Just one of the problems with a personal god—not only the Mystery (of who will mortify the sinners), but, shouldn’t the damned also take this personally? A personal god should do their own dirty work, look a sinner in the eye as he casts them into the pit. God is going to slay Satan, rise up the elect few, rise up my mother, allow the favorites, the privileged-pleasure of gazing at Him (self?) for all eternity. My anger is beautiful, fatal mortal dangerous.


The toy box over-flowed. And, I wrote. Again and again and… if I didn’t write I would explode or some unknown very bad something would happen. And I was forty something, closer to the impersonal judgement. Is/was forty something a lucky number? I was afraid of something in my trunk-chest exploding. And mother’s God was closing in on the chameleon – bike shop owner, carpenter, vacuum salesman, carpenter, drug counselor, electrician, plumber, heating contractor, sales manager, shop teacher, boat seller, car seller, carpenter, massage therapist/teacher, book seller, student/teacher. Words are beautiful, arranged just right, rhythm just right, the unknown quality that flows from the writer to the page, the quality, art is dead cults do not understand, nothing matters, aesthetics doesn’t exist, mood texture sublime—art is not dead—Derrida is dead. Is god’s anger beautiful? His witing on the wall was hot! Is gods anger-fire beautiful on the wall? In hell?


The masks were effacing and I was afraid of something, my own birth, exploding. Dying to be saved. Buddha, can you save me? Refuge vows. I will take refuge in Buddha. I will take refuge in the sangha. I will take refuge in the law, the dogma, the teachings. What? Sit quietly? God will find me if I am still. It’s harder to hit a moving target. Dying to be saved, resurrected. Sweet Mary Mother of God, intercede for me I sin I sin I sin I am sinning and I am afraid of birth. Dying to be saved, resurrected, rebithed. I am afraid of my own exploding birth – birth exploding – I am afraid of eternity and a meaningless life, a meaningless eternity, to gaze only, to gaze. Sit quietly. To gaze. Life, death, the entire universe, perfect beauty, exists in that little moment at the end of the out-breath, the little moment between the out-breath and the in-breath. Janus beauty, four years with Master Fu, time in the choirs of St. Leo’s Abbey contemplating the cloister walk, the possibility…. A fool on the hill, stands tall and beats his chest, threatens his own over-man, later declares him (self?) dead. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.



If you see Buddha on the road,

kill him.


I understand,

Om mani padme hum,



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