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Opium

This must be the golden river
Of the hidden valley of Chang.

I can tell by the shape
of their arrowheads.

As the dance changes
The violet bird

Flashes in his orange forest,
And the Commandments are written

In Sanskrit on the teacups,
And the still trees
                        moving
                              glowing
                                      flaming…

We wait under a bloom of stars
set in geometric display.

We do not talk much
Until the birds cease.

Someone wanders
In through the window,

Standing stock-still,
Munching a piece of cheese.

My shoes are red.
I must complain.

[1967]

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • tim October 21, 2021, 7:26 AM

    “Soft hangs the opiate in the brain,
    And lulling soothes the edge of pain,
    Till harshest sound, far off or near,
    Sings floating in its mellow sphere.”

    Unknown

    Tried it a couple times back in the day. Let’s just say I’m glad it’s not readily available…wow…

  • Mike Seyle October 21, 2021, 7:55 AM

    Buried my 39-year-old niece a few weeks ago. Heroin. If I ever tried any of this stuff, I’d be just as dead as she is. It’s hard enough giving up booze (week two).

    • gwbnyc October 22, 2021, 12:33 AM

      all luck/keep comin’ back.

  • James ONeil October 21, 2021, 9:07 AM

    When I was gallivanting around the Ring of Fire, the Pacific Rim, especially in Russia’s wild Far East, I’d always carry a strong prescription pain killer, something that I could get all the way back to the U. S. with, say, a badly sprained ankle or a broken wrist rather than have it treated in a 3rd world clinic.

    Since our beloved government is delimiting physicians’ prescribing opiates I’m tempted to explore street vendor availability.

    Such wouldn’t be suitable for international travel, of course but might be a worthwhile addition to a trauma pack when 20 miles out in the bush.

  • Humdeedee October 21, 2021, 9:57 AM

    I’m grateful that I don’t have an “addictive” personality, or gene or whatever it is that causes addiction, though it certainly runs in my family – not hard drugs, but alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. We stay on the legal side of addiction. I’ve used drugs like marijuana, hashish, mescaline, cocaine and milder forms of meth (diet pill type speed) for a few recreational experiences, but was lucky to avoid the physical and psychological need that leads to addiction. Never smoked (other than marijuana) or abused alcohol, either. Probably drink too much coffee, and I like food a little too much as well, so not perfect by any stretch. I’ve been told that nicotine addiction ranks at the top for difficulty to quit. Have to admit I’m intrigued by psilocybin mushrooms. Gerard, was that poem written from personal experience?

  • Walter Sobchak October 21, 2021, 2:06 PM

    A great Opium Song:

    Steely Dan — Time Out of Mind

    Children we have it right here
    It’s the light in my eyes
    It’s perfection and grace
    It’s the smile on my face
    Tonight when I chase the dragon
    The water will change to cherry wine
    And the silver will turn to gold
    Time out of mind

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rVmVIWChSI

  • Walter Sobchak October 21, 2021, 2:17 PM

    Can’t leave this topic without the greatest opium dream poem in the English language:

    Kubla Khan Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment. By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree:
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.

    So twice five miles of fertile ground
    With walls and towers were girdled round;
    And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
    Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
    And here were forests ancient as the hills,
    Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

    * * *

    A damsel with a dulcimer
    In a vision once I saw:
    It was an Abyssinian maid
    And on her dulcimer she played,
    Singing of Mount Abora.
    Could I revive within me
    Her symphony and song,
    To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
    That with music loud and long,
    I would build that dome in air,
    That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
    And all who heard should see them there,
    And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
    His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
    And close your eyes with holy dread
    For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drunk the milk of Paradise.

  • Wade Hampton October 22, 2021, 11:37 AM

    Thanks, Gerard, for your poem and thanks, Walter, for your reminder of Xanadu (which Gerard’s poem reminded me of too). One of my favorites. I wonder if in Heaven (if we’re so lucky) we’ll get to read the rest of it?

  • DeNihilist October 23, 2021, 12:44 AM

    Shit Gerard, as I read the lines I was expecting to see Leonard Cohen’s name as the author.
    Well done lad!

    • Vanderleun October 23, 2021, 7:14 AM

      That is high praise indeed. Thank you.