Thursday, September 18, 2008

From A Book of Poems

A Book of Poems

I opened up a book of poems
Reading just a couple lines
Then sat it down

Some of the strangest things are happening around here. It must be the full moon or something. First of all, during the ‘sweep and clear’, search and destroy operation this morning against seventy-three of the seventy-five flies in my place,* I witnessed something I’d never seen before – three flies ‘getting it on’, a threesome, on the edge of the blade of my ceiling fan, like a train.

You ever seen that? So, I guess humans aren’t the only ones. Wow. I killed them all with one backhand rim shot.

The other thing was while stretched out on my yoga mat, I looked over and saw a mouse just sitting there, shivering. I took a quick glance around to make sure nobody would hear me talking to a mouse, then asked it, “What the hell’s up with you?”

He just sat there on his haunches, saying nothing, just shivering, so I scooped him up in a cardboard box and freed him outside. Then later in the afternoon, there he was, still there, running around in circles.

I thought maybe he was delirious from setting off that trap, and how did the irresistible bait, peanut butter on a saltine, end up ten feet away? None of it made any sense at all.

Then, Jack Red Cloud and Juan Mesteth stopped by to cut firewood for sweat lodge, and Juan said, “It’s probably blind. Yeah, he’s blind,” he said assuredly.

“Yyyeah,” I said. “I’ve heard of blind mice before.”

“Look,” said Juan. “Even when you touch him…see? See how he reacts?”

He didn’t run when you put your finger close to him, and would flinch only when you touched him, like…like…like a blind person being threatened by something they couldn’t see.

Juan trapped the mouse in a large translucent orange 500mg prescription bottle and showed him to me. “See? One of his eyes is gone. And he can’t see out of the other one.”

I wondered if he’d lost his eye and sight from the encounter with the trap. And if so, then how did he escape? It’s still a mystery to me. One of those ‘life’s mysteries’…a blind mouse running around in circles.

Trip Wire

Immediately after
That brilliant beautiful
Blinding flash of light

A world suddenly black
Eyes of shrapnel
Face disfigured by the blast
Black pepper powder embedded
Flesh ripped red and revealed

The perfection of a prose
So eloquent and unrestrained
Please help me.

What strange weave of circumstance
Would turn him left
Instead of right

What lovely geometric symmetry
Intersecting fate and chance
Turning pages into chapters
Nothing written
Nothing blank

From a distance, the same event was described quite differently by the observer, skewing the data, omitting particulars, obscuring the realities, distorting the evidence. In fact, everyone who witnessed it, participated in it, saw it differently, each saying the other had missed the mark.

‘That’s not what happened. That’s not what I saw,’ they all said.

- end


* In the traditions of the people, I held one captive, adopting it as a member of the family, and allowed one to escape. ‘Tell the others what happened here,” I told it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What You Are Here

What You Are Here

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD – God, that guy’s always so serious. Jesus. I’ve never seen the guy laugh. Only seen him crack a smile a couple of times. He stayed overnight, slept on the couch, then headed out first thing in the morning after a second pot of coffee.

I wanted him to help me cut a truckload of firewood, but he said he had a ton of work to do, left over from yesterday, all he had was sandals, and people were starting to lean on him for his time.

After he left, I got to thinking about what he said yesterday, about the refugees, when he asked me, ‘Isn’t that what you are here?’ and I wasn’t sure if he meant, ‘you’ rhetorically, like, all the Indians trapped here on Pine Ridge, or ‘you’, like, me.

Wasn’t sure, and still am not, and never got a clarification.

Here I was, the one all depressed when I pulled in from Chadron, it turned out I was the one trying to pull HIM out of the doldrums. He was in a better mood after a night’s rest.

We’re pretty much like this (crossing my fingers). If you asked me if we had a personal relationship, like I’ve been asked by complete strangers, I’d say, ‘Sure!’ He’s a friend. He can pop up at any time. He helps out a lot of people up here, and a lot of people call on him all the time.

But I forgot to ask him about that guy on the radio who said I needed to accept him as my Lord and personal savior. That’s almost the same thing Father Paul, the sun dancing priest had asked me, except he said ‘believe’, rather than ‘accept’, and I said no, that he’s more like a brother, deducing, if he’s the son of God, and we’re all already children of God, then don’t that make Jesus my brother?

“Well, he’s much more than that,” Father Paul had attested.

“Says who?” I asked.

Paul appeared stunned for a moment, then said, “Well…scripture.”

We’d previously had the ‘Word of God’/ ‘Inspired by God’, scriptural discussion under the arbor at the sun dance, between rounds, so we already knew where we stood on that one. For Paul, it was absolute truth. For me, a relative perspective from the back of a camel.

“What are you doing?” Father Paul had asked with a laugh, “trying to shake my faith?”

“No,” I replied. “These are legitimate questions, and I want to know what you think.”

Six weeks later, Dave Frankel, who was fixing toast there in Loretta’s kitchen, had said something about ‘ascended master’, and as I recall, Father Paul remained silent, but I knew he was thinking relationship-wise, Jesus is more than just one of the bros.

Well, I already know that. Too many people would say otherwise, like Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now, fanatically defending Col. Kurtz as a poetic genius, when everyone else, including his legion of followers, thought the Col. was mad. What one individual may think collapses under the weight of popular belief, which in Paul’s or Galileo’s case, would be ‘The Church’, which you could say, is significant.

Tom Cook, who was sitting there eating Corn Flakes, said, ‘”Jesus said, ‘All men are created equal,” to which Father Paul looked up, as if befuddled, and said, “Jesus never said that,” and Tom responded, “Well…that’s what he would’ve said, had he said it.”

Jesus was already up and fixing coffee and oatmeal on the stove when I woke up. It seems there’s never enough time to sit and talk. Over coffee, we picked up the previous night’s conversation where we left off.

“Belief is the animating and determinant force behind reality,” He said. “That’s why when Indians die, they go to the Spirit World, and when Christians die, they go to Heaven or Hell. Belief and faith is what shapes outcomes. What did you tell those kids? ‘Create your universe, then go live in it.’?”

I wanted to get all that for my next conversation with Father Paul, but Jesus was talking too fast and I’m not sure I got it all straight, especially the part about theoretical philosophical constructs. Plus, most of it was cryptic and metaphorical. You couldn’t exactly call it straight talk. His rap is always cloaked with mystery.

“What about agnostics?” I asked. “Where do they go when they die?”

“Back into the mix,” he said.

We sat here a while just being quiet, listening to the Meadowlarks, and I was wondering how love fit into it all when a fly landed on the table, and then I remembered.

“Hey,” I said suddenly. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

“What’s that?” he said.

“You already know everything already, right?”

“Pretty much,” he replied.”

“Is it a sin to kill flies?” I asked, “and does a ’82 Mazda have a serpentine belt?”

He responded without hesitation. “Can’t say,” he said.

Sometimes his zen-like indefinitiveness drives me crazy. But that characteristic is balanced by his unfathomable compassion, and toleration for all those sacrilegious jokes we make about him.

Like any intimate relationship, you see both the public face and that other side that only those close to you can know. Apart from the serious discussions, we like to tease the hell out of him because of ‘his ways.’

“I gotta tell you something,” I said.

“What’s that?”

“Some people are saying you have an anger problem, that maybe you should seek treatment.”

“Who’s saying that?” he asked.

“Oh, a lot of people…some of those women down in Colorado and California. And that you’re jealous, too. Jealous of Buddha and Allah.”

“I don’t have an anger problem,” he said. “Maybe they were talking about Moses.”

“Yeah. And denial isn’t just a river in Africa. No. They specifically said you.”

“Well,” he said. “Boulder or San Francisco’s no measuring stick. That’s not what they say in Des Moines or Sheboygan.”

I could see he was getting his dander up, frowning down into his coffee cup, so I thought it best to humor him.

“I saw a guy in Vang Viang, upper Laos, wearing one of the funniest T-Shirts I’ve ever seen,” I began. “It had your picture on it, very angry, pointing at the viewer, and underneath, it said, ‘Jesus HATES You!’ Whaddaya think of that?”

“I know where Vang Viang is,” he said. “I’ve seen the shirt, and I know who you’re talking about. What’s funny about it?”

I swallowed hard. “Well, don’t you see the humor in it?” I asked.

- end


Friday, September 12, 2008

Just Then It Got Quiet


Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD – Whereas some activities require solitude, there are some things you probably shouldn’t do alone. Take for instance, swimming, running a chain saw, or going through life.

Take Four

A chain saw
Through life

A running chain saw
Through life

That way, you can clear your way, and everybody will stand back.

Hector hacked Angel’s legs with a chain saw
Then cut his way through the wall.

With chain saws, there are known knowns, unknown knowns, and known unknowns, all full of allegory and metaphor. A person probably shouldn’t cut wood in flip flops. That would be a known. It’s not going to start on the first pull. That’s universal. Don’t stand directly over the saw. That’s pretty much a known.

Like the ‘buddy system’ in the water, take a friend. This person will help you by loading while you cut. They can also help you out if your saw gets bound up.* And, they can be there in case of emergency, or major arterial bleeding. All kindza shit can happen in the woods. That’s one of the unknown knowns.

So why all this chain saw business? You may have your own chain saw stories. I know two of you do. There’s probably more.

I went out today in flip flops, because the socks and bullshit ten-dollar Wally World moccasins I just got were ABSOLUTELY FULL of grass seed and little eeny teeny burrs from an earlier-in-the-day quest for ‘dead and down’ ash trees, and for the past five years, I’ve stubbornly refused to purchase a work boot or any other enclosed footwear, much to the chagrin of Tom, who’ll often say, ‘Nigga, you can’t do any work in flip flops.’


Like Milo laughs about Louie, saying, “Louie moved to Pine Ridge because he heard there wasn’t any work.”

If it’s not hot enough to wear sandals, then it’s time to go. But here it is September, the annual Running Strong Bus Tour came through just today, marking the end of hectivity here on the rez, and already, the overnight lows are scaring the tomatoes and making me feed the wood stove.

After presentations by Uncle Joe** and Milo, they had me do a reading for the tour. Three essays from Keeping Heart, then sitting around the fire eating Indian tacos with short one-on-one conversations with people I’ll probably never see again in my life.

In that brief interaction, what can you learn? What will you say? Listen. Listen and hear what people have to share of their lives. Paul’s little girl is in the second grade. Another lady was retired after twenty years in the air force. She was stationed in the Philippines when McCain arrived straight from the Hanoi Hilton. Judy asked who was the elephant team, and was involved in creating a tropical rain forest butterfly haven in Missouri.

Joe, concerned about American politics and the excitement of the coming election, presented a brief historical education, naming the presidents since Lincoln who had died in office when being elected on a year ending with 0. “Regan broke the mold,” he said.

There was more, but I guided him into the garden and directed him toward the cherry tomatoes. Thereafter, we became separated.

Just at sunset, it became still and quiet as the tour members meandered around the grounds at the base farm, taking digital photos, checking out the garden, the sweat lodge, the timber frame building, the greenhouse, the tractors, the beaded jewelry Loretta had collected from local artists, and the big 30 ft. tipi erected for the occasion.

The four dogs on the grounds settled down, waiting for after-dinner scraps. One of the ladies remarked, ‘It sure is peaceful out here.’


Sure Is Peaceful

At times it’s so quiet out here in Slim Buttes the only thing you can hear are the thoughts bouncing off the inside of your skull. Like right now, it’s dead silence.

For some strange reason, on the way home from Chadron, where I passed three cars pulled over with the occupants out fixing a flat, I was overcome by a wave of sadness, sweeping in from the distance like a prairie fire or huge shadow of a cloud passing before the sun. A sense of dread. Why? It was, in fact, a beautiful fall day.

‘All those visits to the shrink were in the fall,’ I thought, with the only alternative they could offer to twice weekly sweat lodge was VA prescription antidepressant medications and the horrifying physical reminder over at the VA of how messed up America’s veterans are. You mean, a PILL can fix it?

Best at times like that to think of the suffering of others. Who out there isn’t in pain? Everyone pretty much suffers their pain alone, it seems. There are those who’ve just recently lost loved ones. Those who’ve lost health or homes. There are many caught in the grip of alcohol, slobbery drunk before ten in the morning. Saw it today. Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?

Diving down into the lake bottom of my heart, I drove mechanically, absorbed in the idea of human suffering, when all of a sudden in the middle of a curve atop a hill, here came someone the other way, a carload of Indians, heading into ‘Chad’ in a beat up rez ‘low rider.’

Being preoccupied, my sixth sense wasn’t working right then, in the Here and Now 3-D World, and I was on the inside of the curve, same as them. I should’ve felt ‘em coming.

I whipped the wheel to the right, fishtailed back into my proper lane, straightened her out, and had time to flip a two-fingered wave*** off the steering wheel as we passed, like everything was cool.

He had a surprised look, that other driver. His mouth was open when he went by. He didn’t wave.

Jesus was sitting here on the steps when I got back. He had shaved, and had his hair pulled back in a pony tail. I’d never seen him like that before, and did a long stare. He looked more like a guy from Seattle.

“Man, am I glad to see you,” I said. “Can you help me with this stuff?”

He helped me unload the groceries I’d gotten from town, carrying it to the trailer.

“You could’ve gone on in, y’know,” I said. “The place is open. Have you seen ‘Puff, Puff, Pass’? I got it from the video store. Pretty funny.”

He shook his head ‘no’, and we went on inside. “You hungry?” I asked him. “I’ve got Chinese ‘to go’. They always give you enough for two meals.”

“What is it?” he asked.

“Mongolian beef.”

Something was bothering him. He seemed unusually quiet as I heated water for coffee and he picked at the Chinese food.

“You still on foot, or did somebody drop you off?” I asked.

“Still hoofin’ it,” he said. “But I’ve been thinking about a little motorbike.”

“You okay?” I asked. “You seem…I don’t know…down.”

“Awww,” he replied, pushing the Mongolian beef aside like it didn’t taste good, “sometimes this reservation is…”

He just shook his head and looked at the floor.


“Yeah,” he said. “It’s almost as bad as Darfur or the West Bank, or Somalia.”

“Shantytown in Nairobi sucks pretty bad, doesn’t it? Mexico City? We’re not as bad as Mexico City.”

“Nah,” he said. “Not that bad. But here, you see so many signs of hopelessness.”

“All those places you mentioned…those are all full of refugees.”

Looking up at me directly, he asked, “Isn’t that what you are here?”


*One time I had to leave my saw bound up in a tree, stuck fast like Excaliber, protruding out from three fourths of the way through the trunk, the entire weight of the tree resting on the saw. To free it, you need a pry bar, or worst-case scenario, another saw.

It’s embarrassing. If you know what you’re doing, it shouldn’t happen.

**Uncle Joe will often don full regalia for official or semi-official presentations. That’s beaded moccasins, fringed deerskin shirt, and eagle feather headdress with ermine and the whole nine yards. You’d say, ‘He’s sure enough a chief.’

At a recent meeting here in Slim Buttes with some Onondaga Chiefs, Uncle Joe came in late, all dressed out like that, apologized for being late and sat down, explaining he’d been at another meeting.

De-facto and self-proclaimed tribal spokesman Chief Oliver Red Cloud, dressed in blue jeans like everybody else, sat over there, checking him out. I tried to pick up on his thoughts, but it was in Lakota, and I couldn’t tell, but the look in his eye said something, I’m not sure what…something of a mixture of a little bit of envy, a little bit of outrage, and some of ‘what the hell is this?’

After his presentation with the tour group and everyone had gone to the kitchen, Uncle Joe, now in a ribbon shirt, was folding up his ceremonial clothes inside the big 30 ft. tipi when I popped in, looking for folding chairs.

“Eeeeeeee,” I said, nodding at his headdress. “Where can I get one of those?”

Joe chuckled, then said, “Prairie Edge.”

(They just don’t give away war bonnets. You’ve really got to be somebody to get one, like they gave Clinton one when he came out. Joe is the only person I’ve seen wear one, besides a medicine man on tree day at sun dance once.

‘Prairie Edge’ is a big Indian Arts store in Rapid City, SD where you can buy a replica of any ‘real deal’ Indian artifact).

***Raising two fingers off the steering wheel, sideways, not like a peace sign, but more like ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors.’ A flash.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Talking About Signs

Talking About Signs

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD - Indians are always talking about dreams, visions and signs. Tonight, I got a clear sign.

Shortly after returning home with Betsy, my truck, for whom I just spent a whole gob of money, a half a plane ticket, for new brakes, drums, shims, harmonic something or other, and a whole bunch of other minor stuff the mechanic discovered while working on the major stuff that he was sure I’d want done if he was me.

What’d they call that thing?...a ‘harmonic balancer.’ That was one of the unexpected minor things that could’ve become major, where a bolt had sheared off of the crankshaft pulley and needed to be drilled and tapped.

Yeah, no shit. As I explained to Footsie and Jack Red Cloud, sitting in the back of Tom’s truck on the way to Ft. Robinson with a load of tipi poles for the Crazy Horse memorial peyote meeting tomorrow, “ ‘Cattywampus’ is indeed a word, spelled with two ‘T’s and not ‘D’s,” and I spelled it for them.

And that’s what’ll happen with your fan belt and your…and I love to say this…your serpentine belt*…going to all those gizmos running off your engine…if your harmonic balancer is out of balance…cattywampus…haywire…akilter.

I held up my hand like a tomahawk chop and showed them, shaking it like a pulley running out of balance. They both nodded like they understood. Tom, behind the wheel, already knew cattywampus was a word, and didn’t challenge me on it, although he looked over at me when I spelled it.

So, okay, I got all that stuff fixed and stood there holding my breath, wincing like a man who’d just received a slap across the face, as Mike figured up my bill down at Hill’s Tire in Chadron, the guys who know Betsy inside out and do all the work on her. Earl, this time.

Paid the dude, tipped Earl for the heads up work, and brought her home, talking to her all the way, sa-weet talk all the way home. Unloaded the groceries, sat here awhile listening to John McCain say what he’s not gonna do, had a smoke, then thought maybe it would be a good idea to road test Betsy under less than desirable conditions, since it’s been raining for the past eight hours.

It would be impossible to climb the hill outside my trailer since the incline, difficult in optimal conditions, had turned to gumbo slop. The only way to make it out of here would be across the lake** and up the embankment to the road.

Uh huh. Sure.

Sometimes you need a friend around to bounce an idea off of, or a woman to tell you, “That’s stupid. Don’t do it.”

Wasn’t nobody here to advise or stop me. Fuck it. Give it a try, right?

So what the hell, that’s what I did. Went fish-tailing across the lake, spinning out two huge plumes of water, which I could hear, but couldn’t see, since it was pitch black and raining. Got across to the other side, couldn’t see, hit the embankment, went up at an angle, skidding sideways, engine racing, Betsy’s tires gnawing and clawing, trying their best to grab ahold of anything, felt like we were tipping over, ran over the only tree out there, a huge ash tree log, like it was a magnet, and ended up precariously perched atop it, high-centered, stuck, about ready to roll.

It’ll take a tow truck, or a crane, to get me out of there.

Cool, huh?


*Serpentine belt. I don’t have one. All I’ve got is a simple fan belt and an alternator in there. It’s a ’60 Chevy, right? You’ve probably got one already, but if you don’t, you can ask your mechanic where you can get one.

**It’s not really a lake. Only when it rains.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Sin To Kill Flies

Sin To Kill Flies

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD - Much like basketball, to perfect the art form of Fly-Swatting, one must develop accuracy, technique and repertoire. Think, Kobe Bryant.

Back-hand, left-hand, underhand, ceiling shots, rim shots, back-door, screen shots, no-look, head-and-shoulder fake, double-clutch, slam dunk, sidearm slap, two-in-one, off-the-glass, ‘The Ole One-Two’, the Pizza Hut Box Slap Shot, the Bo D. ‘DFS’ (‘Dead For Sure’) Shot, the rolled up newspaper shot, the Misty Sioux Davis ‘No Bounce’ shot, and one of my all-time short-list favorites…the clean air grab.

Irrespective of man’s relationship with flies since the beginning of time, historic bacterial diseases, bouts of plague and pestilence; malaria, tse-tse, dengue fever, black fly, biting fly, horse flies, darned flies, hang-around-your-barbeque flies, cholera…huh? Well, yeah, malaria comes from mosquitos, doesn’t it? Dengue too?

Ok. But the case can still be made that flies bring some nasty shit. Holy Smokes, they eat shit. They make maggots, and leave snot on your computer screen. They’re cannibalistic, and necrophiliacs, as well. Like Dracula, they can rise from the dead to suck your blood.

“Necrophiliac?” asked Tom. “What’s that?”

“They fuck their dead relatives,” I replied. “How bad is that? Ask Louie, he’ll know. He studied the mortuary sciences.”

Sure enough. Louie knew.

He swung by here on his way to sweat lodge, and pulled up a seat at the table, immediately immersing himself in the unfinished L.A. Times crossword puzzle.

“Hey Louie, tell Tom what a necrophiliac is.”

“They fuck dead people,” he muttered without looking up.

Grabbing the opportunity to use one of Lupe’s lines, I said to Tom in a Mexican accent, “The reee-son we’re telling you this now, is so next time…you’ll know.”

Tom looked off into space with a big ‘why?’ look on his face, and I think it was Milo sitting there who, picking the question out of the air, said something comical and rude, like, ‘they can’t get away’, or something to that effect, degenerative as I recall, to which everyone laughed.

So cannibalism and necrophilia are part of a fly’s nature, the Ted Bundy’s of the insect world, along with the praying mantis. You might say there’s a place for everything in the universe, but you tell me, what purpose do they serve? Population control? Torment? Glimpse of the periphery of hell?

So I had two questions for Jesus the next time he came through. One, which I kept forgetting, is, Is it okay to kill flies? Two, Is God just in our heads? And three, does it bother him to keep wearing those pointy cowboy boots when his feet are so spread out and accustomed to sandals?

Father Paul Steinmetz unexpectedly stopped by Tom and Loretta’s the other morning, looking for Loretta, who wasn’t there, before he headed back to Minneapolis ‘for a more contemplative life’, he said. He’d been here on Pine Ridge throughout the summer, over at Holy Rosary, filing paper records onto disc and doing mass, he said.

We’d been meaning to have a theological discussion earlier at the sun dance, but the conversation never actualized, including an opportunity in the truck on Tree Day night, heading down from the arbor to main camp for our last meal for four days.

Instead, we ended up talking about the truck, my ’60 Chevy, careening without brakes down the hill.

“I can turn off the motor and coast all the way to main camp,” I told Paul, who in wide-eyed fear, grabbed the door handle and dashboard, as if to prepare for a crash or maybe a desperate last minute leap from the passenger’s seat.

“Saves gas,” I said, turning off the ignition.

I needed to reassure him. He appeared to possess no confidence in my truck or my ability to stop us, and seemed really frightened, so I thought, ‘Christ, maybe I’d better not scare the old man too much. He looks on the verge of cardiac arrest.’

We needed to slow down, for Paul’s mental comfort and heart rate, and to negotiate that sharp right-hand turn at the bottom of the hill, but we still needed enough momentum to make that final dip, and roll into camp in neutral with the engine off. I wanted to show him we could do it.

“It’s got brakes,” I said with a half-laugh, looking over at Paul. “You’ve just got to pump them six or seven times.”

He never took his eyes off the road. And we never got around to that theological discussion.

At 80 years old, Father Paul is one of our oldest dancers, never mind that he’s a Catholic priest, steeped in theological doctrine from a lifetime within the church. Bo, who ended up behind him in the lineup, laughed later, saying to Misty, ‘Your dad would probably roll over in his grave seeing me fan off a Catholic priest with his eagle-wing fan.”

He danced the entry and exit rounds, between Lou and I, with Bo behind him. Tom asked us to keep an eye on him. We teased him out there a little bit, “Pick ‘em up, Father Paul. Look alive!......You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay,” he’d say, beginning to shuffle his feet.

“Just checking.”

It was good to see him when he popped in the door the other morning. Over toast, eggs, and orange juice, we sat with Tom and David Frankel, who had just wrapped up his work downstairs for this legal leg of the water fight with the uranium people.

“Did you know that flies are necrophiliacs?” I asked. “Do you think it’s okay to kill them?”

“What?” asked Paul, taking a seat at the kitchen table.

“Do you think Jesus would say it’s okay to kill flies?”

David softly asked, “Father Paul, would you care for some breakfast? Some eggs? Some orange juice?”

“…and, if so, what about someone on life support?”

“I’d like some orange juice,” he said. “Christ would probably say all life is sacred.”

“And then, bacterial life. You’re killing them with an antibiotic.”

“Well, there’s good bacteria, and bad bacteria.”

From there, the conversation went off track, then back on, hopping around absolute truth, relative gods, discarded gods, irrelevant gods, the God gene, Jungian archetypes, 2000-year old desert camel gods, semantic twists and turns, and Paul kept reconciling everything…the pipe…the dance…our animistic pagan ways…through his Jesus filter. “Jesus was the first sun-dancer,” he said, “the first pipe-carrier.”

Well, Paul wrote, ‘The Pipe and Christ’, so what would you expect? And that got me to thinking about another question for Jesus.

W…Wait a minute.

“WHAT?” Jesus didn’t carry no pipe! That’s blasphemy!”

“Well, figuratively,” said Paul. “You could say Christ was a pipe-carrier.”

I knew he’d say that. Jesus was the common denominator in all things, ‘the Alpha and the Omega’, as Father Paul would say, and did. What’s the opposite of cognitive dissonance? That would be something like ‘cognitive harmony’, to continue the symphonic analogy, or maybe ‘adaptive cognitive resonance’, incorporating new info into a new world view, huh? Not necessarily a 180 degree ‘flip-flop’, or changing your mind, but kind of like, changing your mind.

- end