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Of Angels & Bitches

Twisted Typewriter Buddha

It’s good to be home.

I’ve been gone for a month, giving away poems while traveling up California and Oregon with Tyler. With our backpacks, we took to hitchhiking, busing, walking, walking, and of course, more walking.

…Did I mention I brought along my typewriter?

Tyler and I stayed in Ashland, Oregon for a week. Got a ride out of Mount Shasta, California with two women in a hippie goddess van.

I set up Typewriter Poetry during our downtime on the corner of Pioneer and Main. One afternoon, a man with a bicycle sat at a nearby bench. He watched me type poems for people and, after a time, asked what I was doing. We talked as he sat next to me on the fountain. I stared into his eyes as he reflected on his life, Buddhism, Ashland, his philosophies for living. I absorbed it all and gently pressed out a poem.

While exchanging goodbyes, he rummaged in his bag for something. It was a tiny buddha statue. It tumbled out of his hands and found home near my “free poetry” sign.

Free Poetry Sign by billimarie typewriter poetry calligraphy picture frame

Shouting interrupted the serene moment between the buddha and poem. I looked up to find a figure walking toward us, surprised that the violence was directed in our direction.

As if making his way out of one dream and into another, a man with a name I have long since forgotten approached the three of us. He and his cowboy hat intruded on our territory and conversation. He was proselytizing, I realized slowly. Bits about false idols and false gods came tumbling out of his being, making a mess all around him. With pink sparkling fabric tied around his waist, he took to claiming buddha as false. “I,” he announced boisterously, “am the one. True. God.”

This man criticized my new friend for not paying me with money for a poem. I asked, “who are you to judge another person’s investment?” He repeated that line over and over again, as if singing a song. “Who are you?” he demanded in a deep melodic voice, emphasis changing each time. “Who are you?” He scared my friend away, then unkindly demanded I create a poem about my question.

I took him in as I did everyone. He babbled and he babbled some more, his radio voice both soothing and irritating when coupled with his grandiosity. At one point, he dramatically took off his sunglasses. I confronted a piercing wild-eyed gaze that I have recognized on my own face several times before.

He affected Tyler and I deeply. We were both reduced to our knee-jerk, honest, unfiltered reactions. I watched as Tyler increasingly became enraged; his anger happened very quietly, beneath the surface, unnoticed by less watchful gazes. In me, I witnessed a sharp tongue I couldn’t hold back, a habit I haven’t had in a long time. It was a talk with gentle caustic lashings, a talk which others may not immediately recognize as severe dislike and annoyance.

The man talked on and on about angels and bitches; bitches this and bitches that. As I created a poem with him, everything around us dissolved into ephemeral spaces. The world seemed far away, out of touch. It was as if his person were being quickly unveiled as I watched, but in a way that is more chaotic than with most I write poems for. I distinctly remember I didn’t have to search. It was all there, everything, every phrase and concept and method of delivery, all etched in the folds of his fabric, the fabric of his folds.

It was the first time I was legitimately put off by a person while doing Typewriter Poetry. Just by watching him interact with myself, with Tyler, and with other strangers, you could tell he took up a space that did not care to register matters of personal safety nor accepted public behavior. As a result, he was severely avoided and ignored.

I was surprised to find he was graceful. The way he interacted with the environment around him wasn’t bulky and forced, it wasn’t shy nor unsure. It was confident. Self-affirmed. Solid. There are very few people I’ve met in my life who have that same nature. He even moved in a way that was uncluttered, though I could not say the same about other parts of his being.

I first assumed he was high on something. Talking with Tyler after the fact, I have to agree that instead, he might have just not been all ‘there.’

Yet even ‘there,’ as a word, doesn’t do it justice.

I feel strange talking about sanity (insanity?) in this manner. I feel strange rereading what I wrote because I want to make sure I acknowledge my own varied perceptions and experiences. There are gradients, not binaries, in how we dance daily with mental, spiritual, emotional activity. Insanity has always been a subject close to my heart, and like the abstract notion of god or love, I never like outwardly engaging in attempts to capture it because one will always fall short. I have since learned from Tyler that just because you fall short with words, it doesn’t mean you should stop trying.

I knew that out of all the million stories I could have told from our adventures wandering, this one would be the most important. Took a few photographs of this gifted buddha and my typewriter while figuring out how to try with this post. There are several other pictures in my camera that I enjoy more than this one. In fact, I actively dislike this image. A lot. But beyond the dislike, there is an essence I see glimpses of if I watch long enough, and that essence is worth the discomfort of observing something I find myself intensely disturbed by.

Last night I had my first nightmare in a while. When I am legitimately scared awake from a dream, it is always from a scene that appears to last no more than one to five seconds. A terror tailored to the beat of breath. In this particular dream, I ‘woke’ from sleep in my bed. I heard the front door attempt to be opened: a doorknob jangle, thick wood being pressed by a body. Suddenly, an older male friend of mine is crazy-eyed and on top of me, covering my mouth and holding a knife I recognize as one of my favorites from childhood. It is a thin knife with jagged edges and a stained dark brown wood. The wood is loose and wobbles as you use it, ready at any point to part way with the blade. In my dream, my friend made a quick move to stab my eyes. It was then I woke up quietly, without a gasp or a yell, the momentary suspension in time and place seeping through. My waking state overlaid perfectly with the dream (minus my friends and with my eyes fully intact, thank you). I listened intently in the off-color darkness for any hint that madness would rush out and strike. All that was felt was my own heart.

With that being said. I don’t even know how to conclude this post, except for saying it was the first time I ever wrote a poem for someone I actively disliked–but strangely, simultaneously, paradoxically took a liking to because his methods of interaction were such a challenge and in that struggle there was a space that, though uncomfortable, seemed less contrived and scripted than with ‘normal’ folk. Convoluted and confusing is the nature of tangles. I am reflecting on the meeting and what I keep coming up with is quiet magnetic repulsion and violence at what we like to call ‘connection.’ There is also an image of collision. With what? At what? I don’t know. All I do know is Tyler and I were happy to to see him go, his talk of angels and bitches finished. He continued to rant to anyone who would listen. We were not surprised that no one would. Trailing away was that unique spoken word voice, very charming and Southern Gentleman, coupled with a California surfer swag and cowboy potential. All of it bundled up. A flow of its own. It is a flow I am deeply respectful of, yet hope, in secret, that I will not have to cross it before I build my strength. That way, when forced to swim, I will eventually–if not immediately–get out of the stream alive, fully intact, and ultimately still all ‘there.’

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15 thoughts on “Of Angels & Bitches

  1. alex says:

    Keep up the great work!

    a free poem…

    Word Problems

    Determine the roots of z3 + 6z2 – 4z – 24 = 0

    We’re drunk. We’re a drive-by shooting. We’re free
    verse and hiding behind everything we don’t know.
    The moon is the thinnest slice of crescent I’ve ever
    seen. Your hand is sweaty cold and your voice cracks
    like static electricity. Tell me, again, how you recollect
    our future. Tell me again how we have changed from
    reds and blues into greys; into slits of light swallowed
    whole by a ravenous night.

    Thanks for your poetry

  2. Ray Sharp says:

    I had many similar experiences during my life on the road. mostly wonderful people i would never have otherwise met, and a few scary ones as well

  3. I once saw a post on instagram about you and what you do and I thought you were so wonderful and i’m so happy to have found your blog! (: Take care!!

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  5. Bianca says:

    I am so happy to have come across your blog. This is such a beautiful idea and an incredible way to share a gift! Maybe one day I’ll find myself with one of your poems in my hand ;) xx

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