I’ve been up on the McCloud River for a few days, camping and learning how to fly fish–or at least how to cast. While there, I was reminded (by sleeping in one) how much I dislike tents–though maybe I’d like a bedouin tent better than zippered nylon from REI.
I came home to an email with this wonderful poem by Rumi, another radically accessible poet even in translation (can’t really get the line placement right here–it’s centered, not left justified, but you get the idea):
Outside, the freezing desert night.
This other night inside grows warm, kindling.
Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.
We have a soft garden in here.
The continents blasted,
cities and little towns, everything
become a scorched, blackened ball.
The news we hear is full of grief for that future,
but the real news inside here
is there’s no news at all.
Rumi, translated by Colman Barks
You can see a Bill Moyers interview of Coleman Barks on YouTube, which I found interesting despite the somewhat hokey presentation.
In any case, this poem in turn reminded me of a passage in Naked Lunch, by William Burroughs, from which Larry and I used to read aloud to each other when we were first together. It opened a very alien world to me at the time. In this passage, he’s rambling on about how opium smokers delude themselves that they are better than heroin addicts, but it applies to anyone feeling superior I think. “We have this tent and this lamp,” has been used as a kind of code in our house:
“But your Opium “Smoker” is more active since he still has a tent and a lamp . . and maybe 7-9-10 lying up in there like hibernating reptiles keep the temperature up to Taking Level: How low the other junkies are “whereas We – WE have this tent and this lamp and this tent and this lamp and this tent and nice and warm in here nice and warm nice and IN HERE and nice and OUTSIDE ITS COLD. . . ITS COLD OUTSIDE where the dross eaters and the needle boys won’t last two years not six months hardly won’t last stumble bum around and there is no class in them. . . But WE SIT HERE and never increase the DOSE . . . never – never increase the dose never except TONIGHT is a SPECIAL OCCASION with all the dross eaters and needle boys out there in the cold…
Room for one more inside, Sir.”
In any case, I’m here to report that my bed in my house is nice and warm..with this tent and this lamp.