THERE WAS A BAD TREE

FIRE PUJA IN JOHN GIORNO’S LOFT AT 222 BOWERY, 2009.

There was a bad
tree
a bad tree,
that people
hated.
The leaves gave off
a foul
smell,
and the flowers
had a bitter
stink.
If you got too close,
you vomited.
The fruit
was poison,
one bite
and you were dead.

 

Everyone really
disliked it.
The bad tree
stunk.
They talked
endlessly about it;
and decided
to cut it down.
Get rid of it.
They chopped
with axes,
and barely made a dent;
wearing breathing masks,
they whacked at it
and whacked at it,
and nibbled and chipped.
Oily powder
from the shiny dark green leaves,
got on their skin,
blistered,
and was really itchy;
and they scratched
bloody red.

 

They put on
protective gear
with oxygen,
and went at it with
electric buzz saws
and heavy equipment.
Working 24-hour shifts,
finally, they cut it down.

 

Everyone was very happy,
and celebrated
the great victory.
A noble deed, well done;
and they went to bed exhausted.
The next morning,
the bad tree
had grown back,
had sprung up
new and bigger,
and more beautiful
and ugly.

 

It was very discouraging.
They talked a lot about it,
and cut it down again,
and poured gasoline on the roots,
and burned all the leaves and branches
in a big fire.
After the smoldering embers
got cold,
the tree grew back,
bigger,
more bad,
and really gorgeous.

 

Other people
had been watching
from their houses,
waiting their turn.
They thought themselves
smarter,
with higher intellectual
capabilities,
they knew how
to get rid of the tree.
It was a growing plant,
a wood tree
that grew in the earth.

 

They incinerated it,
burned the roots
with chemicals,
vaporizing acids,
and robotic lasers;
detonated
on the ground,
bombed
from the air,
hit
with smart missiles;
and bombarded
with radiation.
They made
a fire storm;
and covered the ground
with concrete
and steel.

 

The tree grew back,
more fresh,
more elegant, even gracious;
and really ugly.
The wood was
harder,
darker,
more shiny,
thick hot muscle;
and the leaves,
full and lush,
moved like underwater plants
luxuriously in the breeze.

 

Everyone was very depressed,
extremely discouraged.
It was a catastrophe.
They had made for themselves
a hell world.

 

They talked incessantly about it,
and came to a big decision.
The Mayor resigned
in disgrace,
and those, who had worked
so hard,
left,
humiliated,
departed,
moved to the other side of town,
stayed away.

 

Then, out of the blue, appeared
these beautiful people.
They were simple
and humble,
and a little like peacocks,
and seemingly well-intentioned,
with a great sense of humor.
Radiantly relaxed,
oozing
loving kindness
and compassion,
they walked right up,
and started eating
the leaves.
They ate the leaves
and enjoyed them,
became happy,
and laughed
and laughed;
and chomped on more leaves.
You could tell they really
liked the taste.

 

They pressed
their cheeks
to the flowers,
black velvet
coated with transmission oil.
They licked
the sweet juices
that seeped
from the petals.
The pollen
was coal dust
and petroleum gas.
Burying their noses,
they sucked
in deep breaths,
eating
the smell,
great bliss.

 

They discovered The fruit
hidden beneath the leaves,
overripe mangoes
with sticky eggplant skin,
hung like testicles;
and inside The fruit
was rotting meat,
like liver.
The special people
got their faces
into the stinking slime,
and really got into it;
inhaling with their lips,
and teeth,
and tongues.
They licked and drank
the thick red juice.
The seeds,
like cabochon rubies,
seemed particularly potent,
and were chewed
with great delight.

 

The fruit contained
the five wisdoms.
The men and women
became luminous,
their skin was golden
and their bodies,
almost transparent,
were clothed in shimmering
rainbow lights.

 

They became sleepy,
yawned, and curled up
under the tree,
and a took a nap.
While they slept,
music filled the air.
Lounging
against the gnarled tree trunk
and protruding roots,
their huge bodies
colored red, yellow,
blue, green, white,
rested in
great equanimity,
and radiated
huge compassion.

 

Inside the tree
were the secret homes
of many demi-gods,
hungry ghosts,
and earth spirits,
who were very pleased
with all the positive attention
being paid them.
After years of abuse,
mutilation,
and destruction,
they were thrilled;
even though, they were being ravaged
and their flowers
wrecked.

 

At the root endings,
there were jewels,
diamonds and emeralds and rubies,
which were stars in the sky
of the world below.

 

The beautiful men and women
woke up,
and nibbled on the leaves, again.
They ate the leaves,
like deer,
pausing between bites,
looking up
at the vast
empty sky.
The leaves and fruit
increased their clarity
and bliss,
and introduced the nature
of primordially pure
wisdom mind.

Contributor

John Giorno

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