Friday, November 09, 2012

Iquitos, Peru: Ayahuasca (Part One)

Ayahuasca Ceremonies of my Psychic Fucking Pains

It is not your memories which haunt you.
It is not what you have written down.
It is what you have forgotten, what you must forget.
What you must go on forgetting all your life.

James Fenton, "A German Requiem." (1981)

Bar stared at me hard as he sat in his new electric wheelchair at the Fortress where I worked as bodyguard and buddy to his corpulent self in the late stages of his decay, a great man trapped in a mound of rolling, rotting flesh, his determined and agile mind capable of tasks needing strengths I sat in wonder of as he banged away through many a night and following day working on a computer problem till he had it solved, all of us amazed and most of us bewildered; and a fine soul in that rotting body, all of Bar soon enough to leave this world, though it took too long. I still see Bar sitting in his wheelchair, his sweat shirt filthy with food stains, his track pants dirtier still, he glowering at me in mock sternness, saying, as my mind reaches back to him laying on his bed, his  hand searching for the telephone just out of reach, his call for help laying dormant in the gap, close to 400 pounds of disease there dead, my friend whose voice, a beautiful baritone that would fill our fortress where we worked in the midst of the lowest scum people in North America, a voice that sent shivers through the thighs of young women and a voice that made men lean forward in eager anticipation of wisdom and love, his clear blue eyes filled with humour and happiness at times, with compassion for the scum people, depression over the loss of his family, his bruises and running sores seeping through the bandages wrapped round all his limbs, the stench of his gangrene as bad as the piebald sickness sight of his skin, him rotting there, his hernia flopping like a hot head cheese between his swollen to bursting legs, his feet so huge he had them wrapped in plastic bags, his whole self a horror of dying in slow motion; Bar, a dead man speaking, said: “Who needs friends when you can sit alone in the dark and drink?”

It was nearly two years that I didn't see Bar at all, me sometimes asking if he had died yet, they saying no, month after month Bar living on against all expectations, particularly his. I had raged at him that last day, slamming the door so hard I feared I'd broken it, going over in my mind my screaming at him, demanding that he die quickly like a man or that he go with me daily to the clinic where we would take him for whatever help they could give to restore at least some health to him, to lessen the pain somewhat, to clean him up and wash away the stink of him. I slammed the door on my way out, leaving him with my last words: “You'll die like Mary!”

It took a week for anyone to bother looking in on Mary, and in that week she had suffocated from the tumors in her throat that grew around the machine she used to speak with, she too, like Bar, a huge hulk of rot, wheelchair bound, her soft pink flesh marred with homemade tattoos from her frequent bouts in gaol for petty crimes and prostitution and drunkenness and stupidity. Mary was clever, though, and got herself an apartment to die in, a nice place where one day she sat in her livingroom and choked and died and stayed day after day as the sun light shone on her and her trapped gas kept building up in her piglike body till she exploded and hit all the walls with her stuff that stuck so badly the cleaners had to rip out the walls and tear up the floor to be rid of her.

It was two years passed by, and one day as I sat working at my place the doorbell rang and there was Bar, so hideous with running sores and seeping cloth I could barely recognise him but for the outline of him and his voice. Thus, we spent the evening chatting about the nature of things, his lost family pressing on his mind, his friends who had stayed and those who had given him up and left him. I'd been hard on Bar that last day when I left, not so gentle as I might have been, screaming at him and calling him names and telling him how much I hated him, how much I wanted him to die. I left him there and returned to my books and my ideas, my brooding. I don't have a lot of friends. Who needs friends when you can sit alone in the dark and think?

There he sat in my apartment and we had dinner, a baked dozen chicken legs that I couldn't eat at all, and Bar ate them, spooning out the grease from the pan in the kitchen, scraping up the potato left in the pot in the sink, and finding an apple pie in the fridge for dessert to go with the bottles of whiskey he'd brought to wash it all down, and a loaf of bread with mayo. He came and we talked and he came to apologise for making me upset when I'd demanded that he die and he was sorry about it and my psychic fucking pain and all. But he didn't say anything, of course, we being men who don't speak like women. We just talked, maybe about the Yankees, maybe about women. Maybe we talked about sawing boards and hammering nails and lifting sacks of cement. But he was there and didn't say he was there to say he was sorry about me being sick over him dying so slowly. Yeah, we talked about cars and motors. '57 Chevies. We sat and we talked and I laughed a lot and not long after Bar laid in his bed and tried to reach the phone to call for help and he couldn't and he died and we found him dead with his hand reaching out for help as he died and he was dead.

Here I am far from Bar and I find myself in the healing centre of the universe where people come to partake of psychic fucking pain healing ceremonies of ayahuasca drinking and shitting and puking and hallucinating that makes one somehow 'whole' again. Yup, in the centre of people who can heal the pains in my brains and I can be a good and decent man if only I pay a shaman from California $40.00 or so to sit with hippies and get stupid and puke.

I've asked people for months about this jungle drug they drink, ayahuasca, and what it brings them they don't have already if they thought. I am in the centre of such folks who love me and want to be my brother in a circle where we can heal together, they ubiquitous and thick like beetles on the ground around. I'm not so keen to sit and shit with my psychic brothers and spiritual gurus who commune for me with the native Mystik. Everyone pukes. Still, I'll try this trip. I feel I must. But who needs a circle of healing hippies when one can sit alone in the dark and stink.

I find it offensive that folks tell me I should come to know myself and heal my psychic fucking pains. I think I know my pains because I caused them all by monstrous harms in this here life my own. I know those pains each one, and why. There are those who feel nothing, and I have written elsewhere and still believe, the less the pain, the worse the hurt, till those who are harmed the most feel not a thing at all. Should they suffer? No. That's revenge; that's the justice of it all. They don't feel a thing.

Should I wash away my psychic pains in jungle drugs and feel whole and healed? Should I go harmonious into the cosmos attuned? Should I lay aside my hates and rage for horrors done? Men in the world hurt. We are small. I look deep into the endless empty skies and see the gods that hate us. Wounded? I laugh. Healing ayauasca? The man is grand who sits so still alone in his own pain, his rotting body, his hand grasping in the dormant gap. We don't need others to heal or hurt; we harm ourselves just fine. Who needs fiends when he can die alone in the dark with the gods I thank.

A gentle reminder that my book, An Occasional Walker, is available at the link here:

And here are some reviews and comments on said book:

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