When I imagined, made, & posted the ‘for / the good of all /& for / the goodness in all’ this morning, I had no memory at all of this piece (of which there is more in the file I copied this from)!
“What’s this? A poem?
“You’re working much too hard.”
“This isn’t work, it’s poetry.”
“I hope you’re writing about me.”
“Not tonight, my dear.
“Well, now you’ve asked, maybe I will.”
Thank you for the hot tea on your way to bed thank you for
my electric blanket thank you for being there, loving,
you know: though all my memories
of scenes do blank
this I joyingly know
you are around me inside me beside me
also when I don’t remember
earth of my tree, tree of my earth
sea of my sky, nor sky of my sea
for my sea is humanity & my sky is its sky
as they’re yours,
in this cell
of the world to come.
let me tell you about the world to come let me
the world to come is the world that’s coming
back in we’re
ing the A
lpha or O
begins with the closed beginning open ended B_e_t_h of B_e_r_e_i_s_h_i_t_h_, G_e_n_e_s_i_s
which we’ve turned around, heading east as the earth rolls
& that’s all
I want to say
(& check out the Categories & Tags I’ve listed below)
What this came from: while (in bed before sleep) remembering two of a set of four lines I learned from an erstwhile mentor, E.J. Gold (via his books) & during an early period in this bed in this room in the hills outside Mullum (we moved here in 2002) & used to repeat before sleep: “For the sake of all beings everywhere”, & “To relieve the suffering of the Absolute”, these lines came.
& what do I know? well, while I can’t say I believe that silently sending one’s good-willing energy “out there” can make a difference, as some people say prayers can, I also can’t say I believe that it can’t — & it certainly can’t do any harm. & it makes me feel good… & that’s good too…
This is how I found out, from a post on Facebook:
It was John, more than anyone, who first turned me on. Which means he had a great influence on my life. &, therefore also as my son (the second of three) Ohav (he’ll be 47 this month, & he arrived here yesterday from Tel Aviv for a month’s stay with us, which he does mostly every year) remarked laughingly & rightly, he had a great influence on quite a number of people who never knew him, all of my sons in particular.
I first met him 50 years ago, when Nitza & I were living in Melbourne for a few years. I was 30 & he was 18. I was the working as the sub-editor of The Australian Jewish Herald, a weekly newspaper that ran for several years in Melbourne. One day John came into the office in High St, St Kilda, to visit his friend (& by then mine too) Peter Weiniger, the newspaper’s young reporter. That was the beginning of an intense & beautiful friendship. (I soon learned, by the way, that I knew his father Sam, in whose clothing factory I ‘d worked or as a dispatch & pay clerk some time before I left Australia to become a member of Kibbutz Nirim across the UN-policed border with the Gaza Strip.)
Soon after this, I remember, John & I sat in my car for hours talking about so many things. This was my first contact with a “head” – already a buzz word then for people (mostly young, of John’s generation much more than mine) who had tuned in to the new wavelengths of consciousness with the aid of substances old & new, legal & illegal. Many of them then would have identified with the saying (coined in 1964 by Jack Weinberg but often wrongly attributed to Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, the Beatles, and others) “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. I was just over 30 then, & for as long as I live I’ll continue being grateful to him for having trusted me despite that. If he hadn’t I might not have escaped the fate of so many of my generation who never experienced the entheogenic or psychedelic wonders of reality made accessible by psychotropic plants & compounds…
I was almost ready for it, though not so evidently to myself at first. I was disgruntled about much that was happening with myself & in the world. For myself, I was OK with Nitza, & with working for a living for now while trying to write a novel, but for quite some time had been feeling frustrated & pretty hopeless because I had no real idea what the novel was to be about or like. & in the world – the Viet Nam war, nuclear proliferation, collective & individual alienation, exploitation, discrimination, deprivation, abuse, population explosion, subjugation of indigenous people in colonized countries, you name it, & no prospect of positive change; & to my thinking then the hippies I’d been reading about were just into escaping from it all…
My thinking (& much more) changed after I first turned on. That, though, took more than a year after that first meeting with John. Actually, a few months after we’d met quite a number of times, & after many vivid description by John of what I might see & feel if I tried it, I agreed to smoke a joint with him. We were alone in the apartment Nitza & I were renting in Redan Street, across the road from the “Own Your Own” flat my mother had bought with the reparations money she’d finally received from Germany. Nitza was out, painting or etching at the National Gallery Art School in town. I took a few puffs, but started feeling nauseous, & had to throw up. It’s not for me, I decided.
A few months later we moved to a terraced 2-story house in Nelson Road, South Melbourne, & I got a new job as an afternoon-shift proof-reader for a trade-printery not far from there. Our first son was born. I didn’t want to call him John, it was too Christian a name to my mind, but I was thinking of John when I suggested the name Jonathan, Yonatan in Hebrew, & Nitza agreed.
I was glad to be a father, I felt so much love for our new son. & glad too that my mother could joy in her first grandson & hold him in her arms (& even laugh when once he pissed right in her face). It was to be only a brief joy for her: she died of a stroke a few months after he was born.
John still visited, & we still talked of many things, cabbages & kings, but he didn’t try to push me to try again. In the meantime, however, I’d met another sweet & amazing young head who lived further up Nelson Road, Al Katinas (a brilliant photographer too), whose enthusiastic & entheogenic talking about his experiences & understandings again made me start thinking that there indeed might be something here for me. At this time too I started finding all kinds of articles in the newspapers, especially in Life & in Time magazines, about Haight Ashbury, about Timothy Leary, about what heads were experiencing. & one evening, while watching TV (which was still only black&white), I saw a news report of heads tripping near a body of water (I don’t remember if it was a river or a lake), & saw not only how blissed one or some of them looked as they were looking at the surface of the water, but also, through some blessed magic of the cinematographer, something of what they were seeing there, & something in that sparked something in me (I’ll return to this moment below) that led me to decide: yes – I’m going to try LSD. But to get myself ready for that I’ll take a few months of getting stoned.
John brought the hash, Al brought an incense charcoal tablet, lit it & placed the piece of hash on it, & thru the narrow tube of an emptied ballpoint pen we inhaled the sweet line of smoke that rose. & my world changed. An hour or so later I walked out into the street & was stopped for maybe half an hour by the sight of a tree with all its leaves & it was like I was seeing a tree & its plenitude of beauties for the first time in my life. The high of this smoking lasted into the next day: I spent the whole (beautiful, sunny) afternoon in the Alexandria Gardens, mostly lying on the grass, blissed, looking at (& seeing! & being with) the sky, the trees around, the blades of grass, worlds within worlds …
My first trip I took by myself. It was, I still believe, life-changing for me, but that’s another story: here I want to say only that I well may not have got there if it hadn’t been for John. My second trip, however, was with John. In Sydney. He’d gone up there a few weeks earlier, & after my first trip I felt I wanted to trip with him, so I went up for a couple of weeks. We took the trip somewhere near Kings Cross & John took us to a park somewhere around there. I remember John taking his shoes off & saying to them “Stay there!” & then laughing & remarking “I always say that to them”. A little? later? there was a pond in the park with a moon reflected in it & the ripples were moving & what I saw & felt & knew & was (you don’t just see when you’re tripping) was maybe something like what the tripper/s I’d seen on TV had seen, but more than that it was a déja vu, I’d seen this way before, maybe as a 2- or- 3-year old, in Poland, maybe in a foresty place my mother & I would spend the summers in before we fled in September 1939. I felt I’d felt this joyful awe & amazement at such beauty already as a child, & it was such joy to be feeling this way again.
John found me a place where I could stay with some of his friends in Glebe. We tripped there too, with a number of other lovely & loving people, whose names I no longer remember. I remember lying on a mattress & for the first time really hearing & digging the lyrics (& the music!) of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Until then I hadn’t really heard or listened to the electric Dylan: I’d appreciated his early folk/protest songs, to which I’d been introduced by Pete Seeger – but now, like wow x ꝏ!
Then there were more trips during those weeks, with others as well, I especially remember us driving from Glebe to Barranjoey before dawn, all of us well stoned, & John handing out the acid tickets about half an hour before we arrived to see the sun rising & soon everyone was tripping on their own in the amazing land&sea&skyscapes&spaces. Leary wrote once that it can be important when tripping to have an experienced tripper as a kind of counselor when necessary. John was such a counselor, for others, & for me.
In 1969 Nitza returned to Tel Aviv with Jonathan, & I followed her several months later. John & I didn’t stay in touch, but when Nitza & I visited Australia in early 1989 we spent visited him at the place he had in the bush. He was vibrant & it was great being with him. Here’s a photo of John & me from then that Nitza took & kept.
& then again years passed & no contact, till 1997, when Nitza & I came to Australia from Tel Aviv for about a year, to stay for some time with Jonathan & Ora, who were living in Redfern , & also to spend time with Zohar, who was living in Taree with two friends. From Redfern I made a trip to Melbourne & managed to also spend some time with John. He also took me (on the pillion of his motorbike) to Moorabbin to meet his daughter – I don’t remember which daughter, but I do remember how warm & loving their meeting was.
I didn’t see him after that. Years later he found me & friended me on Facebook, & we exchanged quite a number of messages…
I made the composite pic (at the top of this post from photos he posted on his page, overlaid on a Martin Sharp Jimi Hendrix poster) & I’ve also collated below a few of his Facebook posts from the past two years.
John, you will always be with me, & with all who have loved you & who have learned from you.
My condolences to all who feel the loss of your physical presence among us.
Blessed is your memory.
I wrote in some lines for your 50th birthday,
dancing suns in deep brown eyes,
spirit comrade of my spirit
brilliant seer, generous giver,
truest partner of my living and loving
and parenting and doing, […]
& attention to me, to our sons, & all our family,
true friend to our daughters-in-law, whose sides
you unstereotypically take so often, wonderfully devoted
to our four grandchildren who I feel are so fortunate
to have you as their grandmother. What would I do,
what would I be, without you, I often think, but I know
the answer: I am what I am now, already,
also because you are what you are.
So I bless you on this day, & bless this day,
November 12th, when you were born, 71 years ago,
in 1943, as the Red Army was driving the Nazis
out of Ukraine where your parents came from,
& the British were already in Italy,
& the Americans were already bombing Berlin,