Dylan Quincy is a Middle West Icon

(by Daniel R. Jones)

i.

When I first met Dylan Quincy, he had ice in his veins,
in the literal and proverbial sense.

On his one arm, he had a punk-y chick with a blunt-cut,
clad in black, lacquered nails and Doc Marten boots.
He held her like a grudge.

On his other arm, he had track marks.

Dylan told me to not postulate on the dissolution of ego, because the ego loved such talk.

He talked of transcendence, as if
car notes and
dirty dishes and
unread notifications:
the ballast bags of everyday life
didn’t exist.

Dylan wanted to— like Jesus—feel the power go out from him.
But given that—unlike Jesus—he cared very little who touched him.

If I relaxed my gaze, I’d get a bit cock-eyed
and his philosophy came into focus;
like some human-shaped magic eye puzzle.

His life was a burnt offering. So what if it was a slow burn?

ii. 

Without a lung full of flower, Dylan’s thoughts bumped up against one another like railway cars,
the link
              and pin coupler never quite
      aligning.

He couldn’t connect one to the other in a way that formed a coherent
                                                                     train
                                                                     of
                                                                   thought.

Dylan liked that the DSM-5 calls it a ‘hypomanic episode.’ 

“Because it really does feel like an episode of some action thriller,” he’d say.

“The boring parts of life all stripped away;
my every action imbued with a sense of meaning,
distilled seven times over;
the minutiae of everyday life
left on the cutting room floor.

Life in mania is the way it’s meant to be seen.
No fluff.
The Director’s Cut.”

He ended his homily with “Such a life is deeply satisfying.”

That lie the lone tarnish on his otherwise silver tongue.



iii.

Dylan Quincy once told me a koan disguised as joke:

Jim Morrison had a spray bottle of LSD-25 in one hand and a rag in the other. He was spritzing the acid on a sliding glass door, wiping it down every few sprays. Aldous Huxley happened to be passing by, and he asked Jim what he was up to.

“I’m cleaning the Doors of Perception,” he answered.

The Lizard King finished his chore. The door was perfectly clean; there were no streak marks at all. In fact, it was so transparent that you couldn’t tell the door was there at all. Just then, William Blake passed the two, and ran headlong into the glass door, bumping his nose and injuring himself in the process.

He cursed at Jim Morrison. 

“Why are you angry?” Morrison retorted, “I was cleansing the Doors of Perception, that I might see the infinite.”

“Perhaps you should’ve left a streak mark,” Huxley responded. “That way, you never forget you’re inside.”

I told Dylan I didn’t understand.

“Then you do!” he said. “If you don’t get it, you understand it perfectly. Glad to see you know you’re inside.”

iiii.

Still, there were times when it seemed he almost broke through.

Such as Golden Hour on that lush spring evening,
when Dylan and I hoofed it fourteen blocks to get to his favorite public park.

At the first scent of lilac, we remembered we were eternal.

He had me on his wavelength when he turned and said, like a benediction:

“In April, every loamy, dew-drenched field is holy ground. Oh, God, forgive us the times we neglect to take our sandals off.”

His life was a drink offering. So what if it was a slow leak?


iiiii.

What called him up today, so many years after his memory finally faded?
Perhaps it’s just survivor’s guilt in our ceaseless spiritual war.

Not so hard to sell a soul that’s never been used.

When I last saw Dylan, he had one shot
                                       liquor bottles strewn about his feet
like discarded cups of communion.

An eyeless Samson, slumped
against what wasn’t
a load-bearing
pillar.

Didn’t anyone tell you Dylan? 

Too much Keurouac is like vinegar to your soul.

When you get the message, you hang up the phone.

You can lose the title of “Seeker.”

It happens when you’d rather seek than find.

When you fall in love with the questions,
to the detriment of the answers.

No burnt offering,
no drink offering,
just the smoldering embers of
“the fire in your belly.”

From rotgut,
not from zeal.

Indianapolis Makes Peace with Me: a Haibun

(by Daniel R. Jones)

I was feeling cynical from living grid-locked in a city spelunking so far below the poverty line. I took a walk and passed children on blacktop with sidewalk chalk in hand. Underprivileged kids— if clothes, or a bed to call your own, or a father can be called a privilege.

I made my way to a park, passing kids playing pick-up baseball—kids who can’t quite reach the lowest rung on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, but still manage to find time to enjoy themselves.

I proceeded past a couple girls making a wish on a dead dandelion. Where there should’ve been hope and joy, I saw an invasive species and an old wives’ tale.

Superstition ensured
the weeds would spread
as children blew through ghastly heads.

I came to a playground and took my seat on a swing.

And there, suspended in air, swinging like a pendulum between love and hate for the place that I live, the city said it’s sorry:

For not being more conscious of itself. For teeming with cocksure gangsters in ’97 pimped-out Cutlasses, their seats slid back, one hand atop the steering wheel, feeling like the king of the world.

For the middle-aged men on Mopeds because they’ve got DUIs. For the fact that they drive in bike lanes, passing lanes, and sidewalks indiscriminately, always at 35-miles-per-hour.

For the stench of ammonia rising up through the ceilings of two-bedroom apartments and heroin needles strewn across tall-grass where children play.

For the morbidly obese, the ramshackle houses, for miles of industrial blight and the ratchet white girls with bad tattoos. For dirt-poor, underserved neighborhoods named after Parishes, such as Holy Cross and Little Flower.

For all this, the city says it’s sorry.

For not living
the way Christ said we should.
The Great Omission.

Forgive me, the city says. Forgive me and I’ll reward you with sunny afternoons and strolls through Ellenberger Park. With the sound of children laughing as they climb the jungle gym and snack on Takis.

I’ll reward you with charter schools where white kids learn to shout “aquí!” when they’re open in two-hand-tap football in the schoolyard. I’ll reward you with the Pour House, where the homeless are fed and clothed.

With a thriving jazz scene, and Book Mama’s and Irvington Vinyl. With rich cuisine at oddly named restaurants: “Bluebeard” and the “Slippery Noodle” and “Milktooth,” and with a world-class racetrack.

The city says it’s sorry
offers up its charms
Apology accepted: I take it in my arms.

View from the Window (poem)

(by Daniel R. Jones)

Just out the door is a stream that spills downward
into a brass bowl of a pond.
It serves as home to scores of bluegills,
fit for frying, if you can catch and clean as many.

And if you were to head due west 
two and three-quarter miles,
you’d find a farmer leaning against his split rail fence,
looking over some fifty head of cattle.

Nearby, his son is turning in from mucking the stalls.
He stands barefoot on the grass, 
clapping the heels of his work boots together,
deriving strange satisfaction with each dirt clod he loosens.

If you could climb in the cockpit of a crop duster,
southern Indiana would spread out beneath you like a quilt,
with patchwork fields every shade 
of gold and green and brown.

But if any of this is true, I am oblivious to it.
My day was made of spent toner cartridges,
the taste of no. 9 commercial envelopes,
and flickering, fluorescent light.