The Lama Swine Toil first appeared last December at the Surreal Cabaret at the Seligmann studio in Sugar Loaf. He has returned a number of times since, most recently at the Spoken Aggregate performance produced by Adrianna Delgado and Glenn Werner in the Widow Jane Mine in Rosendale August 26.
I am the Lama Swine Toil
I am the belated Surrealist chaplain.
I am a guru without disciples.
I am the yogi who arrived late and whose stomach rumbled out of a full lotus for the next hour, distracting all seekers alike.
I am wise though one would never guess it from the crumbs all about my place at dinner.
My mind wanders the heights and still calls out plaintive as the wild goose.
My shoelaces were untied and as I dozed the novice monks tied them up in an original manner so that when I woke and stumbled, I fell into perfect enlightenment.
My words are precisely as effective as the voice from the radio, but I cannot stop speaking them nonetheless.
The Old Lama
My master taught an end to all masters and yet taught with cranky authority.
One day he would strive with all his might, seeking an end to striving, and the next he would drift, scarcely knowing any goal at all.
He followed the North Star of enlightenment as a way to while away the time.
Among his scriptures were Pogo, Nancy, and the divine Krazy Kat.
My master said that for him rocks were rocks and water was water. (Though he realized that this was not, strictly speaking, true, yet he found it served in most circumstances.)
My master said that he became a lama in order to avoid selling snacks in the market. As good a reason, he thought, as any.
My master could read the irregularities on the surface of a loaf of bread. A croissant was to him a novel, a brioche a hymn.
My master knew that, in spite of differences, his big toe’s fate was bundled with his tongue’s and thus he found it wise to be wary.
Think of nothing.
Seize upon what you thought of when attempting to think of nothing.
Regard it from every side noting how unique and exquisitely commonplace it is in every aspect.
Discard it whether it seems a precious leaf in the wind or a dead pearl.
After a time, gaze upon your rubbish until you spot a comely match:
coffee grounds besmirching high-minded lemon rind,
cantaloupe seeds victorious over yesterday’s news
proliferation of feathery pale mauve mold covering all.
Here, here you may found your credo,
safe from all challengers however many may venture here to follow.
You may tell the rest, but they will hear only the hum of their own intent search,
Place this discovery on a chryselephantine altar and be glad.
You need search no more. Know one can go no further.
Apothegms of the Backbrain
Chasing after anything will surely make it run. Your breath has better uses.
The flame is bold and glorious for consuming itself; the clod hermetic and wise for doing nothing whatsoever.
Definitions slip and slide. Our vision’s is made of concepts, concepts of words. The deer in the woods sees things straight on, and eludes pursuers even when killed.
The toil of a swine is beautiful to behold; the slime on the tireless worm’s back reflects galactic shine.
In the end we all are in the same boat, and we know it has sprung a leak, and we hold hands in dread and in this way our comfort and our fear are as one.
The artist and the saint are muddlers very like yourself.
If the saints of an earlier era were giants, the fleas they scratched must have been more powerful yet.
In the corridors of the maze of time, nothing else is visible, but one may change
perspective without changing location.
The true base of morality is aesthetic: great-hearted deeds are muscled cats exploring new territory, small-minded ones make of the brain a hard and shriveled pea.
You depend on the creeping insect half a world away as it in turn must have your love.
There is no questioning joy.
The Lama’s Vision
In the middle of the open air’s a sign,
a letter hidden to common view,
a signal ample to the knowing.
I answered a knock at my door
and found a discarded plastic bag
in a suit with a narrow tie
peddling eternal life.
I rode out upon the highway
and saw specters of desire
on every side of the interstate.
I opened a can of pintos
and saw between the beans
ties and animosities,
contending armies and one small chance for love.
I leaned down and saw the angle of an ant’s knee,
that calculated forwards and backwards
corresponded to the movements of history.
In the pain of my lower back I saw an opening,
dived through it, and seized the fish
that had eluded me for years.
The Lama’s Confession
I participate in every vice, though I am too lazy or dull to actually enact any but the most trivial.
I am a fraud and only my cheerful admission of this fact preserves my ability to assist the needy.
I know nothing whatever of immortality or the divine will and this ignorance keeps me pure and thoughtful.
I like to play at being a lama and consider it less harmful than playing at business.
And if I detailed my failings further, you would be repulsed, and the world needs no more ugliness.
The Guiding Paw
We may receive the aid of tutelary spirits if we conceive them aright, and for me the cat’s guiding paw points out the path of wisdom.
For the pounce is all act and a performance we might emulate with advantage.
For the cat’s whiskers are sensitive antennae, taking the measure of the world and
asserting herself most delicately.
For the cat kills without anger or compunction to illustrate that life can live only on life and that is why the world is always moaning,
and if she toys with her mouse, it is only to express wonder at the spot in which they both find themselves.
The cat produces a great variety of articulate sounds to express the stirrings of her heart: indignation, alarm, and an inquisitive attitude.
And most memorable among these sounds is a meditative mantra of purr.
For the cat is so tidy as to lick her own anus.
For the cat rests, realizing that nothing need be done.
The Lama’s Dietary Laws
It is easy to imagine oneself a kale plant,
plunging forward with baroque and curled leaves,
or a radish, all the more pungent for being shallow.
See how bright and hopeful the chives!
Such light plays sometimes on all.
But few can see with rabbit’s eyes,
or move with chicken’s abrupt readiness,
and fewer yet can bathe in the sea
of bovine eyes. The lama says,
eat only what you can understand.
Spare monkeys and neighbors,
for they will be always surprising.
Hot pepper’s cock-a-doodle’s a wager often won.
Allspice will conjure for the true believer.
We’re prairie beasts, we live on grass.
Milk is booty from our raids.
As food may be the greatest art,
each eater must make menus alone,
each digestive tract tale unique.
What more obvious karma than a meal?
Reckon your flavors and bulk and belch
and stomach’s turns and draw your own conclusion.
Neither more nor less pleasure and pain in your future, neither more nor less beauty; if you want to experience the future -- know! -- you are already doing it. Now!
The branching maple of your ego is there and is not there. If one digests this stubborn fact fear will have no space to sit..
Why rush? The finish line will not dash off, and when you glimpse it, you will be sure to feel needless regret.
How silly to grasp – no need, no need!
Holding the reins of dark and light, you will ride steadily onward. On the ridgepole of ignorance and wisdom, you will stride with confidence.
After all is known, nothing is changed.
The Lama’s Blessing
You are elect already as you are here.
You cannot step outside your nature even for a moment. Carry on exactly as you are. Correct!
How grand an assemblage of distinguished minds, distinguished for one thing of not for another!
How hopeful a congress for the future only the event will tell.
Feel on all sides the brains of your fellows, pulsing in exhilarated sine waves, and know that your own self’s surf is no less grand.
May a waterdrop fall upon your head and with its cool arrival may you know all is well and proceeding according to plan.
Embrace those specters to your right and left, your neighbor – it can be chilly here on earth.