My name is Prophet but they call me, “Hey, you!” I am a penniless drifter shod poorly, diseased & despised. I sing for a seat near the hall down the path to the shed used by swine. I’m gleeful with joy for any place to dine. Crafty by circumstance, I am blessed with a spark of divine mind. I trade hope for shelter. I barter truth for a comfortable lie. I am privileged. I feel honored to share my most cherished possession with whatever lurking beast or saint there may come a-knocking on the door of my rice paper heart. The possession I speak of is my inner light; my love; the most powerful force in the universe. More often than not, I possess neither food nor shelter but light has never let me down. My huckster mind tries to convince me otherwise, yet when it does I always rally to the cry of, “Shyster thoughts be damned!” Beliefs do not make invidious fantasies real. I’d think I’d gone insane if there was such a thing as sanity in this world. Those evenings I am cold, angry, lonely, rejected, and filled with remorse for coming to this place in the first place, are the same evenings I forget to be grateful. On these occasions, nights crawl painfully slow to that trickster I call dawn. What I lack in essentials I make up in wisdom. Vagabond wisdom is priceless so I give it away for free. I must. As my father before me, I stand hunched back, just as his father before him. My deformed stoop is the result of an incalculable weight I carry upon my shoulders. My mother was born in Hell’s Kitchen. My father was orphaned at the age of two in the musky dank Mississippi poverty which knows no equal. Tragedy & poverty make good bedfellows. They don’t always have a choice. Obstacles overcome by both my mother & father overcame a long distance of heart, and so they conjoined in Union. Union was just one element of their prismed battle, for the Confederate flag flew in my father’s brain until the day he faded away. For one brief moment of a time eternal, Shangri La embraced their love with ideals & passion & abandon. Even so, sometime it is easier born deformed & senseless than bearing this weight, this soul numbing weight. I fear the worst should I stumble or fall. I fear for the innocents striding between land & the cobalt blue seas. When I fear it is because I’ve abandoned gratitude. Sometimes my unbridled dejection paralyzes my connection to God. It is easiest then to dismiss divine light as a dreamers hallucinations run amok. And I do. Yes, I do. I dismiss like a diva.
I tossed and turned throughout the night,
something amiss, not quite right.
Thunder rolled across black skies,
lightning struck shut both my eyes.
My bed lay shattered upon shards of glass.
Clouds swirled by like comets, fast.
I wondered if this night would pass.
I prayed to God this would not last.
Take me away,
my soul please spare this doubt,
this pain, this noise I hear.
This heavy night I cannot bear.
What I can’t see is what I fear.
When sunrise creeps into the day,
what in the world will loved ones say?
Well morning came, morning went,
my body wracked, my spirit spent.
The day turned into early eve
while deep within my dreams did weave.
Finally, my conscious broke
into a world where flowers spoke.
The life I’d known was all but gone.
Rocks and trees sang sweet love songs.
I looked around for someone to share
this miracle I swear I hear,
someone to see the Robin’s egg
jump up and dance upon the chair,
someone to play that old guitar
driving by in his yellow car.
I realized then, it’s just me,
alone again, just me who sees.
I wiped the sweat clean from my brow.
Who would believe me, anyhow?
Burnt onto the pages of my ancient history, is the story of our love; a spiritual decree. Penned onto the memory of my simple, fleeting life, is the epic of our union, quite beautifully described. I am stunned by the depth of your soul. Shall I be forever mystified? And this evening, brazenly confetti’d on a Hollywood freeway overpass, I saw your initials set upon a fractured heart. While my soul bleeds adoration in silence, I wonder, is this love’s crucifixion? Is this how Mary felt in the garden? No answer is of consequence, for what I will remember long after I have died, is the memory of your face, indelibly inscribed.
He says he loves Jesus and Jesus loves him.
He’s a modern day prophet forgiving your sins.
He’s a radio pirate with a cable show too,
A mistress in Paris, an eye out for you.
His brand of religion breeds heartbreak and pain.
He’s a born again Christian with something to gain.
Deceitfully convincing his flock of salvation,
In return he receives a standing ovation.
His glorious sermons preach schemes of division,
Exquisitely crafted to prevent any schism.
Triumphantly pitting his will against right,
He lusts after money & covets your wife.
An unnatural affection for boys under ten,
He’s drugged quite a few on his couch in the den.
He’s suspicious of women and fearful of men.
There’s a gun by his bed marked ‘specially’ for them.
He’s a beast. He’s a monster. It’s sad but it’s true.
His secret agenda keeps Jesus from you.
He’s afraid you’ll rise up if you find out the truth,
Afraid you’ll tip off your wife & your youth.
He’s a huckster, a shyster, and the devil disguised.
He’s a freak who insists only his god is wise.
This prince of invective is consumed by desire.
While preaching forgiveness he’s stoking his fire.
Full moon silver frosted leaves, and glacine dew robed sycamore sleeves. Sagacious spiders (masters of weave), slept snug & warm beneath my eaves. The creek roared fierce with a late spring rain: All things full must surely wane: Perpetual blossoms should not be sad, yet how do I sing when I’m this mad? Atomic beats drove me insane. The sight I saw played upon my brain. I wondered if the sky feels pain? Suddenly a Raven soared in for attack. The hawk’s quick eye did catch the beast but not before the raven’s feast. The hawk chick fell from the sycamore to the rocky banks of the canyon floor. The rest, of course, is etched in lore. An angel garbed in feathered dress descended from her perch of rest. The battered babe, his blood now cold, rose from the dead on wings of gold. Miraculous in the Phoenix mold; fell from the skies then resurrected: A god-shot is quite unexpected. For when the reaper comes it’s time to go. Since the first dawn this has been so. But then again, how’d I know? Heart returned to our beloved’s sky, & then the glint in our dear chick’s eye. The babe ascended his lofty nest to the greatest comfort, a mother’s breast. Successful in her Angel quest, our heroine in feathered dress returned to where all angels rest. And to this day this lore I’ve told delights all children, both young and old.
Painted in Southern California.
Photo by David Blattel 2000
|Oil on canvas, measuring 17 1/2 inches by 29 inches. Signed by Gégoux , and dated 1914. Painted at Topanga Canyon, California. Gegoux was interested in capturing the “marine layer” effect of this coastal area. In this effort he would travel to the beach at Topanga Canyon and each morning observe the dominant atmospheric effect known as the “Catalina Eddy”. This vortex forms periodically off Santa Catalina Island and throws marine air on shore, resulting in periods of up to a week or more when fog persists through out most of the day. Excerpts from “The Topanga Story”, edited by Louise Armstrong York, © All Rights Reserved.
The wetlands of old can be seen in this image, from circa 1914, which shows the entrance to Topanga Canyon viewed from the southeast looking northwest. Courtesy of the Ernest Marquez Collection, © All Rights Reserved. This painting was acquired from the estate of the Mary Eldriedge – Champoeg, Oregon.
My grateful appreciation to Elisabeth Walton Potter for her help in describing this paintings and providing provenance information.