Paul Swehla was awarded an Honorable Mention in Drama in the 2018 Prison Writing Contest.

Every year, hundreds of imprisoned people from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. On September 13, PEN America will celebrate the winners of this year’s contest with a live reading at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Break Out: Voices from the Inside.

The Dystopian Hermit Monk: Poetry & Drama In One Act


MONK, A Zen Monk, Chef, and Wayfarer.
PEER, A Hasidic Rabbi, Hippie, Sous Chef, and Traveling Companion.
BRAND, A Priest, Beatnik, Garde Manger, and Traveling Companion.
LILITH, A Succubus, Woman in Green, Waitress, and Wise Old Woman.
GIRL IN KIMONO WITH OBI, A Guide along the Path.

Are monks and hippies and poets relevant? No, we’re deliberately irrelevant. We live with an ingrained irrelevance. Which is proper to every human being. The marginal person accepts the basic irrelevance which is manifest above all by the fact of death. The marginal person, the monk, the displaced person, the prisoner, all these people live in the presence of death, which calls into question the meaning of life. They struggle with the fact of death, because there is something deeper than death, and the office of the monk or the marginal person, the meditative person is to go beyond death. Even in this life to go beyond. To go beyond the dichotomy of life and death and to therefore be a witness to life.

     — Thomas Merton, an American Trappist Monk,
        from his Asian Journal.

Heretic Plague

(This play is produced through the use of multimedia. Pictorial images are superimposed onto a screen behind the actors. Unless otherwise noted, photos and art are juxtaposed, gleaned from the public domain, and compiled at the discretion of the director. This is meant to advance the surreal and deep Jungian imagery to its maximum effect. Background music is noted in the stage directors.)

(The play opens with a Zen Buddhist seated in meditation in his cell. He sits, facing the audience, in front of a lighted candle and small altar.)

(Stands and gashos to audience. He performs the first of three full bows before speaking.)

The second coming of the Christ never came.
(Cue: BWV 1004: V- Partida for solo violin: Chacon.)
(Screen: Picasso’s “Guernica”)

(second bow)
The nuclear explosions were followed by a global electromagnetic pulse and widespread pandemic. Mother Earth grieves.

(third bow)
I am the heretic plague.

Wet apocalyptic dreams
deluge my memory of
false prophecies for the
advent of the Christ.
(Screen: “The Tree of Life”)

To save a certain sect
of the human race,
roots like toes are
stretched upside down
clenching onto the spiritual realms
of all the world’s derivative souls.
(pauses, final gasho)

Form is emptiness.
Emptiness is form.

(enters dressed as priest with collar)

The term Christ is actually misleading. The Hebrew term Mashiach is more precise. He was Jewish, not Greek.

(enter dressed as Hasidic rabbi with tzitzit and locks)

You do see the irony in your pontificating on these matters, don’t you, Brand? And why do you speak in the past tense? You know that the vessel cannot endure the extremes of hot and cold. The Creator mixes good with evil so Lilith can live.

(Kinhin, walking meditation, chanting)

Gate, gate paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha. The vessel is empty of self. Enter the womb of wisdom and rebirth.

(clasping his hands)

Well! If it isn’t my alter ego, Peer Gynt! To thine own Gyntian self be enough!

(looking up and around, mindfulness interrupted)

Wonderful! You two come to me at the most opportune times!

(to Monk)

It’s the Sabbath. We thought you might like company.

I’m a Buddhist.

You will always be Jewish, just like me.

One day you’ll return to your Christian roots.
(looks at Peer)

You of all people — Shabbat, not Sabbath.

(shrugs shoulders)

Oy Vey!

(dances playfully in a traditional folk style of Eastern Europe as he sings)

Shalom aleheim malahei ha shararet
Mala he-ei-ei-eilyon
Mimelech malahei ha shaharet
Ha kadosh baruch hu

(mimicking the same dance)

Peace and blessing unto you, too!


Aleheim shalom, u’vracha.

(to both)

Why are you here?

I’m not an angel.

We know, Peer. You’re a messenger of the Most High.

What’s the difference? You’re both empty and void, without form.

(crestfallen, melodramatic)

Monk, you hurt me so!

(pauses as he thinks)

But it’s true. Even Brand will tell you that form is emptiness. Remember too that everything is foreseen.

And Peer knows that emptiness is form. Yet he often forgets that freedom of choice is given.

I don’t know this; I simply realize this. Nothing is possible but everything is given. What follows is chaos and void. Hope in the end is overrated at best.

(looks from Brand to Peer)

Why are you really here?

We have a message.

Let me guess. Brand, you’ll damn me to hell. And Peer, you’ll melt me down.

There’s no such place as hell. But there is a purgatory.

Use Hebrew, not Greek! It’s Gehenna, not purgatory!

What kind of priest are you?
(looks to Monk)

What’s with this guy? I think he’s confused.

We are here to warn you of your imminent death.

And rebirth!

I supposed you want me to repent in the meantime.

That’s not necessary anymore.

But you already knew that, considering your enlightenment and all. Karma makes different demands, no?

Do you believe that?

I believe not to believe

Belief evolves forever.

(looks to Peer and Brand, laughs in disbelief)

I can’t believe!

Form is emptiness.

Emptiness is form.

What’s the message?

You will die and be reborn.

In post-apocalyptic times.

No better time than the present!

But there is a test, a riddle, you might say. If you prove yourself worthy; as you may say, karma is in your favor, you’ll no longer reincarnate into endless suffering. If you succeed, you will cross to the farther shore. Do you have any questions before we begin?

(tree pose)

A request. Teach me all the laws of the universe.

(pushes Monk and he falls)

You heathen!

(stands, to Peer, resumes tree pose)

Teach me — while standing on one foot.

(smiles as Brand scowls)

Do not do unto others that which you would not have them do unto you. Everything else is commentary, subjective and fallible. Now! Go and do!

Tell me, Brand. Why are you here?

(now seething)

To remind you of your pain and suffering. To prove to you that the world is black and white, good and evil. You are one or the other — or empty of all! You’re either right or wrong, and you will be judged accordingly! It’s all or nothing, Heaven or Hell for you, Monk!

I don’t believe in Hell. I am empty. You have said so yourself. I am not bound by your creed.

I’ll be the judge of that.

You judge me in every case as you always do.


I’d damn you to Hell if I could!

But you can’t.

(turns to Peer)

And you, Peer, why are here?

(grins mischievously)

To remind you of your chaos and confusions.

(gesticulates with fanfare)

Your freedom to choose! I am your fear to become who you are. I am your Boyg.  I am your Great Sphynx. I am your reason to go round about! For you cannot handle the truth. The only real question you have to answer in life is whether or not to kill yourself!

I am not your Sisyphus.
(turns to and points at Brand, with indignation)
In fact, you are my thesis!
(turns to Peer and points)
You’re my antithesis!
(with vindication, points to them)
And I’m YOUR synthesis! 

You think you know the answers.

That’s just it, Brand. I know I have no answers at all. And neither do you.

Yet you forget the wildcard in our little play.

And what might that be?

Not what, but who.

I am still free to choose.

Nay! Destined to lose!

She has no power over me. 

We shall see.

(Blackout. Cue: Nystedt’s Op. 111, “Stabat Mater.” Enter Lilith, a decidedly goth figure who offers her breast to Monk. Her movement is contorted, creepy, over pronounced, writhing with sex and death. Images appropriate to Monk’s following monologue are projected on the screen: dark, implying sexual abuse of a male child by a woman, maternal incest, homosexuality, a snake. Milkweed and monarch butterflies. A wooden bridge and stream, etc. Peer and Brand take turns miming appropriate parts as Monk recites the poem.)

The order of Mother Right dominates black times
of youthful milkweed larvae.
Tiresias captivates innocent minds
with prophetic Monarch butterflies.

Serpents slither in the grass by the stream under the old
wooden bridge, whispering how women enjoy sex more than men.
The priest claims that something evil resides in my house
after I confess that all I really want to do

(Monk and Lilith act out the next stanza)

is suck on the nipple of any Great Mother,
Mary, Astarte, Teresa of Avila, Guadalupe or Asherah;
one of her hands at the base of my neck,
the other with fingers flowing through my hair

Less to do with sex than transfiguration — sleep, peace, and death —
No intent to blaspheme the Spirit.
But Lilith, she eats me alive, a Mother she is not.
Sucked dry with erotic stealth, there’s no reprieve for the soul.

Steel gray and blue at the backdrop of a black, fringed
treeline in silhouette, mid November,
reminds me of the solitude yet to come with diminished light,
and shortening of sub-zero days and howling northern nights.

I no longer resent the Teutons or Celts,
nor the medieval Christians,
for bequeathing us with Yule,
Saturnalia or even Sol Invictus Mithras.

(Monk slowly lowers to the ground as if dying on his back. Lilith mounts him and they copulate. Lilith exits as Monk curls into a fetal position.)
(Monk rises in victory to recite the last two stanzas with fervor.)
(Cue: Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna”, edit accordingly)

Fire up the log of incest and revelry!
Let Mother give birth to our son.
Fertilize the fish and Easter eggs:
The boy must inseminate Mother and die with the setting sun.

Oh, to be born again — to come again!
Light of the world, ebb and flow as one.
Winter Solstice, I am your son reborn:
Praise for the day of the Unconquerable sun.

(Montage fades, lights dim. Curtains.)
(Cue: Miles Davis’ “Freddie Freeloader.” Curtains are closed and scene changes; voices, laughter, talking, glasses, plates, silverware. Trumpet solo fades.)

Cabaret Night Scene
at the Threeway corner of
Dylan, Ginsberg, and Jung

(Monk is still in robes. Brand is dressed as a beatnik in black. Peer is a hippie. Lilith is in a green summer dress. All mimic appropriate roles in the monologue.)

(narrating with inflection)

I remember the good times before the chaos.

The Cabaret is a carnival as wine begins to flow, from carafes consumed
by ubiquitous mouths sensual with lust for food, wine and the promise 
of sex, unspoken, conveyed only through theatrical gesticulations,
hands, limbs, darting eyeballs, contorted masks, faces reverberating
with singsong inflection of the voice and the occasional gyration of hips.

The chef serves raw scraps of chicken fat, outside the back door, to
a cat as she lights a hand rolled cigarette, while my favorite waiter
glides blithely in his sacred, ritualistic dance of service unto the
common man, kind of blue, like miles falling note by note —
boop-boop-bedooop — of the bass behind him, carrying the sustenance of the beautiful
people, with trumpet and fanfare to the g-ds and g-desses of the city.
Another cork pops from a dark green bottle of bin ordinaire de la casa,
in this house and holy home of eclectic friends and lovers, strangers,
meeting and greeting in the night.

A pitcher of water fills the glass of a sober shipmate sipping at his
tea, now wise from cracking his skull one too many times, wisdom of
the fool he used to be. The poet, ballerina and vagabond bard, shaking
hands, as Freddie Freeloader plays on dusty bindles of uninsured greenbacks
truffles, sensual sauce not optional as the ghost of Escoffier is in
the house, smiling with prowess and command as his legacy is alive and
well, albeit hybridized via culinary evolution dressed in ethnic fusion — oh,
the cheese, salami, kalamatas and charcuterie!

Flowers adorn tables covered in cloth, dinner is served during hours
of open mic intoxication; color textures and flavor alluding to the
erotic nightshade tomato, dried and pierced by the sun, with lift, loft
and flare — the spice of life epitomized by, through and with the tongue!

Taste the sweet and bitter umami of my pleasure with a tinge of guilt
to remind me I’m alive!

A fly lands in the food, shooed away with a glass of wine, spilled, as
a plate crashes to the floor and a fork points one way and then another,
as techno music discharges from a goose that’s cooked, served with a
pickled egg garnish, sauce liaison, on a talisman platter with circles
inside of squares, purging ghosts and demons from the air, but Chef Escoffier is
allowed to remain, by charm, since we’ve permanently conjured and captured his soul in the limbic ether of this vaudeville gastronomical void — purist
or fusion artist — ode unto the beans that taste like creamy fertility g-ddesses,
Cornish hens and capons, sucked from the bone, finger lickin’ good!

(Quoting Ecclesiastes 1:2 with conviction, fervor)
Meaningless! Meaningless!
says the teacher.
Utterly meaningless!
(pauses, despondent, dejected)
Everything is meaningless.

(from Ecclesiastes 3:1-3, 7-8)
There is a time for everything
a season for everything under heaven:
a time to plant and time to reap,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to destroy and a time to build, a time to cry and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance…
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and time to hate
a time for war and a time for peace…

(cue: Pete Seeger’s version of “Turn, Turn, Turn”)
(Screen: Footage of atomic explosion)

The Dystopian Hermit Monk

(Screen: Salvador Dali Painting, desolate landscape)
(Cue: Itzhak Perlman’s opening to Kol Nidre)
(Monk in robes: Peer and Brand, rabbi, and priest; gothic Lilith)
(Kol Nidre fades. Cue: Arvo Part’s “Tabula Rasa” – I. Ludus and II. Silentium)


The ghost has injected its smoke into the machine.
Shape shifting air turns acrid, sensitive nostrils bleed.
The limbic node is anesthetized with cushioned reptilian bliss,
     Recalling the breasts and womb of mother Mammalia.
The nimbus circles the head of a saint at one with Artemis.
Visions of a stone foundation dug deep within the soil;
Solitude with simple food, light and heat brought forth with fire.
Frigid water is tapped from the earth in a pit from a private well,
     Sealed in a vault of a darkness, reciting poetry in luz corporeal.
The machine sputters and gasps in a circulatory flood.
The anointing salve is smeared by the Dystopian Hermit Monk
as the machine idles like a pale anemic horse.

Swimming upstream for sex and death, I am not a fish.
Mother is beaten to a bloody pulp by the drunken German-Czech.
Jesus enters the bedroom, a blond, haired, blue-eyed, German Jesus,
and he lifts Mother into his arms,
Swaddled in a comforter — the Mother of us all.
Madonna with child, prophesied advent,
Apostolic seal stamped on the back of the grandfather Czech.
The boy will be a jester to the Court,
Performing great and mighty magic tricks
Before the coming of the L-RD.

Atomic colon cancer destroys the German-Czech.
Opiatic heresy passes on by covenant.
Dystopian Hermit Monk dons the spectral habit,
Blindfolded and back-saddled on his pale anemic horse.

Shofar blasts pierce the night, alarm to purge the demons:
Mother declares spiritual warfare,
damning the dark with the blood of Christ,
bound to the cross, praying in tongues,
     healed by the touch of her hand.
Bind the spirits of abyss, not with ropes or chains;
     Blood atonement, yet the cavity remains.

Lust for the body, this life, to eat and drink;
     Ravens neither sow nor reap.
Grass of the field, burned and charred;
G-d will feed you like the raven and clothe you like the grass.
I pretend not to touch these things for fear of Mother’s guillotine.
Blessed are the fakers
     for they’ll be healed of the worms and maggots in their guts.

          (Cue: Arvo Part’s, “Mein Weg”)

The first time I drowned
in a deluge of yellow ocher
on a sea of empty canvas
in my rubber inflatable raft
ruptured in the dark
cold wind and rain.

The ghosts are in the cell house tonight
drowning in pools of blood as
Indigo rain falls from the ceiling.
The air is thick
with putrid man odor,
walls painted yellow ocher.

Stale smoke burns our nostrils,
esophagi, bronchitis in the air.
Sweat and smoke and the smell
of rancid urine shimmering,
split semen in the night.
The wolves devour sheep
out of boredom and rage.
The ghosts whisper their mal intent
into giant supernatural ears
superimposed upon
yellow ocher walls,
listening as the indigo rain falls.

A flimsy aluminum shaft,
handmade blade,
penetrates the flesh in motion slow,
a cold stupid euphemism
surrounded by yellow ocher walls
drowning in pools of blood and indigo rain.

The years breathe by.
Indigo rains in our bed,
as we make love for the first time,
your sweaty body on top of mine.
With vintage clothing from the twenties,
Lilith makes me cry.

Another ghost of her love haunts the cell house of my mind.
Metal clanging, shackles shuffling,
     incomplete memories of utopia gone awry.
She rents a flat on the outskirts of my fragile reason
     to keep an eye on me and watch the company I keep.
She allows me, on occasion, to visit you, to know her again,
     just enough food to keep a man alive.
Physical pain with visions of starvation, I cannot get my fill;
     no comfort in your virtual hors d’oeuvre.
I come again with junk in my head, just to be turned away.
She leaves me standing at her door.
     crying like Dylan under your midnight moon.

Lilith has a tail; I know because she uses it for leverage
     When she’s on top.
Lilith is always on top.
Mother rushes me from the distance bearing her teeth.

(Cue: Philip Glass’ “Wichita Vortex Sutra”)

The smell of schmaltz and visceral fat
rendered from the cured and smoked
flesh of swine seeps through the
pores of unfit epidermal tissue.
The grimy film of rancidity
refuses the cleansing waters
of nightly showers.
Belches of noxious gas escape
after three days grace in the netherworld bowels.
Resurrected leftovers improve their flavor
during the second coming.
Eat, drink and be merry
for tomorrow brings flatulence of creeping death.

The ritually impure Dystopian Hermit Monk offers his sacrifice
of sanity for comfort in coq and vin.
(takes a bite from a chicken leg)

(Cue: Philip Glass’ “Opening”)

The clan waves hyssop and myrtle,
christening you a saint. I motion for
double-fisted crackhead soups and
praise G-d for comfort food.

Of course you deserve to be saved;
but so do I — and none at all.

They look at me and are reminded of their guilt.
I see swine covered in mud as
demons arrive in horse drawn wagons
led by black, riderless mares.
The clan has cut me off: I am their goat for Azazel.
And you’ve been granted remedy.
Still, I will not mock redemption.
The white thread is red; I’ve done my job.

I’ve dug a pit in rich soil
above a thick layer of clay
where I sit half in darkness.
My head reaches to the light of day.
In my pit I excavate walls and terraces,
and with my hands I fashion human heads,
animals of clay, my earthen menagerie.
I speak to them and await their reply.
My words become stoic as I begin to pray.
The little idols take my breath away.
In my pit, it begins to rain.
I pray to my tiny g-ds to wash the pain away.
They refuse out of wrath-driven erosion,
and I wallow in their clay.

After the rains, I commission a boat
to embark upon a river in the gorge
with limestone bluffs on either side,
portaging to hand pick stones,
unearthed flags for mason’s work.

The stone foundation is laid
with staircase descending
into a hollowed-out pit,
to a depth of three feet.
Rough hewn timber is piled and driven
at the head corner stone.
Walls ascend from the pit all around,
encasing hearth with ingle and nook to the north.
Cord wood finish the walls, gabled sleeping loft;
the roof is shingled with cedar shake.

At the Equinox, the Dystopian Hermit Monk
stores root vegetables dug from the humble earth.

A black bird lies in the garden bed
by a chain-link fence
topped by razor wire,
surrounded by clods of dirt.

The bird lies rigid with feet
protruding into the sky,
one wing extended, frozen forever,
frosted, eyes and pecker agape,
poised for a free lunch,
impatient for the worm fed in time past,
by Mother’s beak,
when life was good.

(Cue: Slow 12-Bar walking blues/swing line; e.g., Bob Dylan’s “Million Miles,” looped and remixed without vocals, etc.)

He has given me the power to cast out demons
through the invocation of blood transfused faith.
But to exorcise the demon within will divide my home in two.
Shackled with rusty iron chains,
the she-demon descends upon me with legs spread,
two pythons constricting, vulva entangling as a furcated tail.

Rolling, turning, choreographed waltz of Legion:
I am drawn — body and soul — into the nautílus
of voices groaning, grunting and sighing vulgarities.
A tall figure walks by, looking on with approval
from the shadow of his gabardine;
from his knapsack he removes a wallet, business card with monogram.

Lilith and I copulate in a vault, a cell, a womb—
the birth canal of the world.
I enter the Earth Mother and she enters me.
The only gift that Lilith ever gave me is an herb with simple
red flowers and alternate leaves — Alyse clover —fragrant, seductive
and sweet, but causing nausea and vertigo — influenza of the soul.

I am swallowed by a fibrous veil of synaptic nerve tissue
with millions of light emitting diodes
exploding at their spectral ends.
I have an allergic reaction to the pollen released.
I cannot breathe from my tripled heartbeat.
A giant lumbers through my being.

The banner is lifted and I descend the vale.
The Valhallic pantheon gazes down upon us
and I ride reptilian legs into the valley of the the wilderness.
Seed is sown and fruits emerge, but no vessel remains to contain.
Lilith exhales into the ether.
I exorcise myself and divide my house in two.
(Cue: Return to Arvo Part’s “Mein Weg”)
(Dim lights; close curtains; end scene)

The Kitchen Sutra
(This scene takes place in a restaurant kitchen. Monk is garbed as an executive chef with toque. Peer is the sous chef. Brand is the Garde Manger. Lilith is a waitress.)
(Cue: Philip Glass’ Etude No. 12 for Harp)

With the rising and setting of the sun
there is suffering in the kitchen.
Upon returning home,
clear your mind
wash your body and rest,
for tomorrow brings more chaos and suffering.

(speaking to Peer and Brand)

Simmer in the bones and roots slowly,
and keep the stock pure.
Skim the impurities as they rise to the top.
Fortify the stock.
Reduce the sauce to its essence.
Pay attention to taste.

Jesus says that it’s not
what goes into the
mouth that makes a
man impure; it’s
what comes out.
This is especially
true in the kitchen.

(speaking to Monk)

Do not let food or drink
disconnect you from this life.
Do not become attached
to food and drink, O Chef!
This is your suffering Karma.
This is your paradox!

(enter Lilith)

The chef who admits her mistake
is loved by all in the kitchen;
but the chef who puts his faults
upon his help is a jackal and freeloader.

(dances with Lilith)

Happy is the cook who learns to dance gracefully in the kitchen.

Happier is the Cook’s Compatriot and Partner.
(they peck on the lips)

Mindfulness in the kitchen
relieves tension;
(Monk and Lilith continue dancing;
Peer and Brand dance in unison)
balance and symmetry
lead to flow

Treat your Dishwasher with
high esteem and dignity;
this one is the backbone
of the kitchen.
(all break away from dancing)
When the Chef eats last respect is earned;
(Peer and Brand look menacingly at Monk as they each run a knife across steel)
When the Chef eats first,
the Cooks sharpen their knives

The Cook who has never waited tables is blind;
The Wench
(indicating herself)
who does not cook is deaf and dumb;

(Monk and Lilith each remove their shoes and exchange them with each other)

A good Chef will require the two
to wear each other’s shoes for a day or two.

Blind eyes will see.

Deaf ears will hear.

And dialogue will be sharper…

…then you Cook’s knives.

(Speaking to the Cooks)

There are Cooks who just pass through
and there are Cooks who have been sentenced to life.
Which one are you?
Your answer will make you a better Cook. 

(speaking to Monk)
Do not be confused:
If you eat while standing or squatting,
You are a servant. 

(to Monk)
This realization
will make you a better Servant.

(pointing to self)


(pointing to Monk)

(sweeping hands indicating all)

Are inside of me.
(all bend to one knee and face audience)
We Cooks and Servants who transcend these are perfected Servants indeed.

Oolong Tea at the Crossing
(A suspension bridge spans a large river with mountains all around. Monk, Peer, and Brand are in traveling/hiking clothes. Monk carries a staff. A little girl, dressed in a traditional kimono with obi, leads the way, dancing. Lilith is dressed as an old woman.)
(Cue: Philip Glass’ “Runaway Horses” — Poetry with a Splash of Blood)

I descend the mountain accompanied by two disciples. One a Chef
in his own right; the other, a neurotic garde manager, ever gaining
knowledge at the expense of innate goodness. Our way is lead by the
ancient girl in kimono with obi.

(singing and dancing)

The monkey and the elephant
will forever
live together
in peace and harmony

We come to the river where throngs of people in a market
at the edge. I barter for a small earthenware kettle with lid,
handle and spout, yearning to cook lentils over an open flame. An old woman wantonly longs to brew Oolong in my kettle, so I bow
and give it her.

(bows and sits next to Lilith as she conducts a tea ceremony, lights incense)

She lights incense, performs a few rituals with choreographed
flutters of her hands and mumbling lips, then conducts the ceremony.
At the river is a rope suspension bridge above raging flood waters,
spanning a hundred meters across the angry river. A latent stampede of
bodies congests the entire length of the bridge. I wonder with horror
at their absent sense of danger. Clearly the bridge will be torn from
its moorings, ripped away by the current, the people along with it.
I look to my companions; my students are oblivious. The girls continues
to dance and sing about monkeys and elephants. 

(singing and dancing)

The monkey and the elephant
will forever
live together
in peace and harmony

Death and Transfiguration
(A zen garden with a bridge spanning a steam. A storm is on the horizon. Monk is dressed again in robes; Peer as a Hasidic Rabbi; and Brand as a priest).
(Cue: Richard Strauss Op. 24: Tod und Verklarung)

Dylan’s priest wore black on the seventh day —
     the Sabbath is a Friday.

The body and the blood have been poisoned —
     petrified transubstantiation;
     the pillars are revealed.

Shimmering shadows shifting in the fading heat and light;
     the cello’s voice waxes and wanes,
     climbing mountains with crescentic ecstasy,
     breathing melodic sorrow into the essence of slow,
     amplifying awareness of the virus—
     The Habitus consumes, devouring status quo.

Peering into the depths of the great wide open,
faces begin to appear as Mother exhales over the water.
Rocks melt and the sea burns as the old fashioned folkies sing.
Green foliage appears after an eon of bleak frigid leprosy.

The habitus and the Temple Priest meet and greet —
     both grind their teeth.
Each player is put in check, performing rituals to no avail.
     “No one ever proves a miracle!”
     hisses the man of G-d.

Even healed, memories reveal a leper I’ll always be.
     Meanwhile I become a Buddhist —
     and damn myself to Hell.

Still I know that my redeemer liveth.

The bridegroom is exhumed from the bowels of the chthonic womb.
Humus rich homunculus Henry retires into the sperm cell.
Anochton of pubescent Eden is prematurely seduced by Adam’s mistress.
Able’s homicide is revenge for carnal knowledge with a different mommy.


seeds are sown in the spring.

breathing once again,
exhaled to the netherworld of pause.

Fertilized egg,
germinating seed;

new life in both word and deed.

I’ve been called a sociopath.

This means I have the ability
to foresee the future
and embrace the animal within —
with my teeth if need be —
to reciprocate the madness
in exchange for symbiotic growth
like the nodes of nitrogen fixing radicals
giving and receiving
like a piece of shit
decomposing in the earth
to provide a nutrient rich womb
for germination of the seed
that regenerates into life and light.

It’s all a matter of balance and breath —
and shit coming round full circle.

(Speaking to Peer and Monk)

Brother Petrus emerges from the ancient
Reptilian order of Mother Right,
shape shifting into transfigured vessels
of monastic ash, dust and clay.
Theophonic light bursts forth
during the resurrection of Sol Invictus Mithras —
Day of the Unconquerable Sun.

Stabat Mater is sung in all four corners of the world,
an elegy to Mother, son, lover and wizened king.
Coronation for the coming age is
consecrated with blood, sweat and seed.
Plow the sacred earth through the
vaulted and chambered cave of contemplation —
sarcophagraphic death and rebirth —
return to the womb of Mother Earth.
Resurrect the warrior king from within,
O, humbled monk of the mysteries.
Mother is charged by the labyrinthine Minotaur
through the ritual passage of phallic fir,
chiseled and adorned with silver and gold,
and harvested from the sacred grove.

My soul mistress guides me through the land of ghosts
coddling neurotransmitters with serotonin ecstasy.
Her fingers stimulate the smooth skin of fibrous muscle,
polished nail gliding along the upper labial ridge.
Oxygen is no longer needed when the trance is induced
Night Queen of exhaled breath pushes pause between the worlds,
Cradling masculinity in her hand.

Pawn sacrifice by labyrinthine riddles,
I am your Minotaur
with pseudo-intellectual zeal.
You are my Thorazine.

You’ve been gracious and kind
to release me from your spell,
driving me on this quest of devastation
to my liberation above and beyond the Styx,
through bones and viscera,
rotten flesh, worm and maggot —
decomposing seed,
blooming into
flowers of eternity.

The shadow of the old man now can be seen.
Ahura Mazda, priest to be,
bows in the temple of the soul.
I will embrace you one last time
before I let you go.


(crosses the bridge to meet with Buddha, Christ — with tzitzit, locks, and yarmulke — and Lilith)

Boys don’t get raped.
At least that’s what men say — or don’t.
Matchbox car accidents mangle Barbie and Ken;
the mattress shrinks to the size of a pea.
Marbles tumble in the head as fire is fueled by gasoline.

Boys don’t get raped.
This is what Mother said
to her thumb-sucking Mama’s boy.
Sexual politics,
fondled by the pacifying tongue of diplomats in exchange for
sacrificial peace offerings
that conceal Beauty’s beast with a mask.
The bivalve corridor
unhinges the floodgates
as the alluvial baptism
drowns the ancient Order of Mother Right.
The Dystopian Hermit Monk renews the sacred vow,
secret mystery of the anima,
with a mollusk of Venus
and eggs of mourning and rebirth.

The men loiter and mock the boys who’ve been raped.
Their faces were weak with impotent anger,
animated by pretense, mimicked by the masks of clowns,
to deny their latent terror of Mother Right.

(Sitting on three legged stool, low to the ground)

The Dystopian Hermit Monk barters for a full length leather gabardine;
he sacrifices his pale anemic horse.

Tritone voices harmonize dissonant breath,
exhaling negative light before naked poplar silhouettes
in a backdrop sea of grey dread
that recedes into a riptide cloudbank exposing
Sol Invictus in all of his glory,
before Mother, fallen and
saturated from sheets of frozen needles
pricking at soft epidermal tissue,
yielding to the balance of YHWH’s
cherubim bearing and wielding flaming swords
at the Gates of Eden
on the eve of all Saint’s Daylight savings
time rolling like a hard boiled egg
in the mourning of orthodox Jews sitting Shiva.

(stands, facing Brand)

Form is emptiness.

(Facing PEER)

Emptiness is form.
(Brand and Peer — i.e., a priest and a rabbi – gasho to each other, exit)
(Gong rings out) 

(enters, singing and dancing)

The monkey and the elephant
will forever
live together
in peace and harmony

(Roll Credits)
(Cue: Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”)