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eventually we must own up to our awkward spirituality or agnostic clumsiness. if the crack is large enough, we can use it for baptizing our polluted shell & shot glass. plus we could still gulp down enough to flush all the toxins from our system. that should count for something, though it might not make the final ledger sheet. it seems like a good place to start forgetting all we can no longer use, or don't dare to use as up to date reference.

who wouldn't be willing to trade all the guilt we carry for some indifference?

somewhere between heaven & hell is enigmatic vagueness which may pass for transcendence in some circles, & free transportation in some squares. a detached look which might be mistaken for a higher plane is  ambiguously aloof. or a scene from a bible epic that might be misinterpreted as grace. a plastered icon which gives the impression we have a never-ending fountain of faith, when in fact we've traded the word for scatological surgery, though the almighty will often let us slide.

what if that's a crack in the sacred heart? does that mean we can pick it up for a bargain? or is just another reason to feel guilty? 

the middle of night is bursting with 20th century cartoonish flakes. sparks are confined in cranky enclosure. the difference between a sacred heart & a simply bruised one has nothing to do with penitent holes in our knees. we burn several votive candles for that which we covet, for those we've screwed over all our life, for those who may have simply gotten the wrong idea. perhaps our sarcasm & irony didn't translate with the sincere. the fact it may be a metaphor for the inarticulate pain of being human doesn't seem to occur to most. there's no indirect participation that supposedly keeps our hands clean, which is invaluable when we're ordered to pull them from our pockets.

a sanctified call & response coaxes the pearly gates open then signals all are free to come & go to a place where one can stretch a note long past intent. write a ballad that will entice the genie out of the bottle or a dirge that can drive a thousand judas out of our back pockets & other damaging, though less conspicuous, pieces as well. it's where, in good conscience, you can ignore any offers for everlasting from carnival barking pitching tons of phony severed vocal cords. it's where we can summon forth that which lies chin deep in spirit while waiting patiently for release, or spilling over the top without any staged urgency, or to placate those who paid a steep price for torn admission tickets. it's a benefit show, but they don't qualify. yet they're determined to have a damned good time even if it kills them trying.

we ride the flow of heaven's waves which need no translation.

a world of our own invention sounds egotistical & lots of hard work. they claim nirvana is prying coin from dead man's hands & has too many limitations & heaven's gate sounds like a cult with a list of rules so long you could drop dead before you can read them all. those small rituals that are supposedly part of our spiritual exercise should transcend any historical references, organizational theory or behavioral modification.

trial & error is an unconditional gift, though some see it as inconvenient at best. it's where we can run our fingers across a harp gracefully while wiggling our toes in a gutbucket blues riff. where a simple nursery rhyme stands on equal ground with a lush symphonic piece dripping in stained glass crescendo. where we can hone our technique, or build our own instruments a la harry partch, or invent new sounds from common objects like john cage & later tom waits.

a world where there's no strings attached. a world we can rename at any juncture.

a ceremonial march, a well ordered pageant which never strays far from memorized chapter & verse though smeared in lamb's blood to keep away the angel of death & tax collectors, while the real doubters are checking the user's manual for a sure-fire ways to reach pie-in-the-sky topped with a mansion of many rooms, which they'll swear doesn't have any vacancies for any unwelcome guests who don't dress the part of sunday's best.

they pretend to speak in tongues, while others are speaking on behalf of those unspoken for. those who are accused of being yellow or red but not blue. the lost tribe are labeled troublemakers.

behind the inn is a shotgun shack so overpriced only the desperate would bite. there are sticklers for nothing but the facts who will deny the spirituality of impulse & spontaneity. they see life as a solemn occasion with pseudo-atmospheric low light when hooking up with a saintly intermediary who can smuggle requests out for a small love offering plus postage & handling.

some let themselves be badgered to death with another's alleged vampires well-disguised as personal angels. some quickly realize we must rise up to be counted, but not like innocent, good soldier who must dodge that proverbial bullet with their name on it.

some are pulled into a dreamy sequence that will spit them out when least expected, when the story gets rolling. they find themselves in a motel room which is both familiar & disorientating.

some immediately recognize their lack of choices. they can head for the big house instead, climb babel & start rapping on the windows, trying to convince the morality majors to let them in. either way they lose.

others gravitate to that which seems to make the most sense, which is subjective even for hard science. then there are those who search for a manner of speaking, which is less likely to check up on them later to see if they followed the protocol nailed to the door & pasted to gideon for good measure.

my side of the paradigm is built for comfort not for speed. willie dixon & werner heisenberg put me wise to this ride. an observation deck where i can kick or scrutinize questions that are supposed to be asked but aren't necessary, no matter how you spill the ink or beans. probing for direct relation to the subject in hand can cause quite a scandal if not done discretely.

some days i can't help myself. i go for cheap laughs. a structured set of involuntary spasms set back scientific investigations, which are best to be reinterpreted when the buckshot stops rolling. mine is being emulated for the prevailing dig this. a scientific context is dueling a sporadic pretext for remaining limitations. i realize how this looks to the uninitiated, but nothing could be further from the truth or in the red.

an acceptable program is disguised as prevailing wisdom. it's not even worth a guess anymore. it's carved in stone with a clank of justice served very rare. it's a hanged effigy swinging in the dark fields of vengeance. it's a torched straw dog with convincing prerecorded whimpers.

either god answers to all names or none at all.

in the end we are all mendicants bowing & scraping for affirmative nod. some are effective actors. others are sincere. a discernable sequence in kaballah & lao tzu flows in ten thousand forms. i truly believe we will recognize our individual salvation eventually on our own terms.

what is defined as spiritual & that which is seen as carnal often overlap. it doesn't need your permission. it doesn't need an explanation. it doesn't need to adhere to any strict worldly code which so many cling to. it's a place where the audience is invited to be part of the creation.

when we feel open to it all, we may believe we've slipped into a state of grace. we may even believe we were pushed. then our instincts & perceptions feel perfectly synchronized with our idea of faith. a place we've never been. we feel like we've been tuned inside-out. we can't remember the words or the melody.

our reflection is a tiger burning bright. nothing can harm the pulse which turns around right on the beat. nothing can touch us without our permission. we're raw past readiness. disorientated to the point of initial conception. unchallenged by any mirrors.



mark hartenbach's new book is surfing the appalachian vortex from alien buddha press.


Edited for Unlikely by dan raphael, Staff Reviewer
Last revised on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 22:25