List of Characters:
Opening Scene - Virtual Online University’s Athena Campus (a multiple object oriented site). A dialogue occurs on five separate computer monitors. Each is displayed in a different context in respect to each of the five characters.
Birdman’s is in a messy Volkswagen Van full of bed and texts of all sorts, music, etc. Art and art supplies are crammed in there also.
Lizard’s is on the bare wood floor of a dance studio with a 3-D wall piece elegantly displayed above it and large speakers running out of it.
Lion’s is on his desk at a university office with shelves of books instead of walls.
Dog’s is on the dining table in the living/dining room of a double-wide trailer strewn with toddler’s toys.
Mockingbird’s is on a reddish wood extension from a large desk in an elegant corner office of the top floor of a Park Avenue office building.
The dialogue is spoken by various computer voices out of Lizard’s speakers.
You have just entered the office of the Birdman. Watch your head as you enter the side-door of the 69 Volkswagen Van which is currently not running. The Birdman is seated at his terminal on a raised mattress which is high enough for him to keep his eyes on the ever-changing view of the Sangre de Christo mountains.
You see Birdman’s emissary, Plato (recording); Lizard; Lion; Dog; Mockingbird; and Birdman.
Birdman says, “It s October 30, 1998 at 2:00 pm MST. I have carefully selected four people from diverse backgrounds to create a discussion together which will help me with a problem given to me by The Oracle:
Birdman holds up a sign:
| NEW MYSTERIES MUST BE |
| ENCOUNTERED. |
The five of us have each chosen pseudonyms so that our gender and other personal characteristics may not be revealed to each other until later on in the discussion. The discussion may last several days but will not exceed nine. I will attempt to strictly play the role of mediator, not expressing my own opinions except when helping the group arrive at a consensus. This is a role determined by Virtual Online University for its faculty.
For the purposes of this discussion The problem set by The Oracle cannot be questioned, therefore, we must not discuss the issue of whether or not “new mysteries must be encountered.” All of us must agree to these conditions at the very beginning.
Birdman looks at the others in order to elicit comments.
Lion says, “I can live with these conditions. Even Socrates was said to have given such deference to the oracle at Delphi. Also, some limit should be given to our discussion, oracle or no, therefore I can accept the ground rules of this discussion though I know nothing of your ‘Oracle.’”
Lizard asks, “Who or what is this ‘Oracle?’”
Birdman explains, “I am referring a poem that I wrote by juxtaposing various ideas and projects with a Chinese oracle called the T’ai Hsuan Ching. The problem for this discussion is a verse from the poem.”
Mockingbird looks at Birdman questioningly.
Birdman continues, “It’s like a game in which chance plays a strong role; something like drawing a topic for discussion out of a hat for a debate.”
Mockingbird asks, “So, this is like a debate in which some of us take a position and prove that another is wrong?”
Birdman blushes and explains, “No, I’m sorry, perhaps ‘debate’ is a bad choice of words. I’m really hoping that we can arrive at some kind of consensus. I would like for us to find a solution to this problem that would truly satisfy each of us.”
Dog exclaims, “Yeah, right!”
Birdman asks Dog, “You don’t believe this possible?”
Dog says, “I can see already it won’t be easy. I’ve been in classes where nobody can agree on anything, even those who have similar backgrounds.”
Birdman, “Precisely my point. The product of our discussion may be all the more valid if we can agree despite our differences. . . It may not be possible.”
Dog says, “Oh, what the Hell. I’ll go along. I get credit for this right?”
Birdman blushes again and says, “I’ve worked out a suitable compensation according to the needs of each participant.”
Mockingbird says, “Sure, why not? I’ll give it a go.”
Lizard exclaims, “Sounds exciting!”
Birdman continues, “Great! Let me show you the ‘words of the Oracle’ again.”
Birdman holds up a sign:
| NEW MYSTERIES MUST BE |
| ENCOUNTERED. |
Lion raises its paw.
Birdman cracks up.
Birdman says to Lion, “It is not necessary to raise your paw. You may simply speak up.”
Lion smiles sheepishly.
Lion says, “Okay . . . It seems that the question that’s really being asked is ‘What new mysteries must be encountered?’”
Birdman says, “That seems like a good place to start. How about you others?”
Lizard says, “Yes, of course.”
Dog asks, “What do you mean by mysteries?”
Mockingbird adds, “And what’s wrong with the old ones?”
Mockingbird o 0 O ((Wasn’t supposed to bring up that one!))
Mockingbird grins mischievously.
Birdman looks to Lion for an answer.
Lion shifts for a more comfortable position in his chair and answers, “Well, I’m not really an expert. My field is Sociology, but I’ve read quite a few classical texts. The ancient Greeks honored an institution we call “the mysteries” in which an elite group of men were initiated. They were of different orders according to different deities or personalities such as: Dionysus, Orpheus, Demeter, etc. Their rites were said to have been down from a time which were ancient to them. Some were imported from farther East. Each were very secret with severe punishments for those who revealed the mysteries to the uninitiated. Not much is known about their specific content but much Greek writing seems to imply that the mysteries were concerned with things spiritual; that is, beyond what may be perceived with our senses. And where our souls travel after death.”
Lizard exclaims, “Whoa here now! These mysteries are just for men.”
Lion says, “According to what I’ve read no women were allowed during the ‘Golden Age of Greece.’”
Lizard says, “Well that settles WHY new mysteries MUST be encountered.”
Dog yells, “You go, girl!”
Birdman sighs, “So much for not revealing our gender.”
Lizard winks at Birdman, “I knew what you were as soon as I saw your name, BirdMAN.”
Birdman blushes a third time.
Lizard turns to Lion, “And you know I seem to recall that the oracle at Delphi was a woman who was the voice of the god, Apollo. She couldn’t have just come off the street.”
Lion says, “No, she would have been initiated as a priestess, but very few could have been allowed to enter such an order. The mysteries I was referring to was open to a larger segment of people.”
Lizard clarifies, “Men.”
Lion answers, “Right.”
Mockingbird asks, “Were they something like the Masons?”
Lion answers, “I suppose so though I can’t be sure because I am not a Freemason, but I have read that Freemasons claim that their rituals are derived from the mysteries of the ancients.”
Mockingbird says, “Well, I am and my experiences and some things I’ve read support what you say.”
Birdman asks Mockingbird, “Is there anything that you can share with us that would give us some insight into our task at hand?”
Mockingbird answers, “I am likewise sworn to secrecy, but I believe that the purpose of the secrecy was mainly for identifying real members from others. I can tell you that my participation in the Masonic rituals has helped make me a better person. The symbols can certainly be interpreted in mystical ways but I see them more as tools for developing moral character. I, therefore, tend to trust Masons more than other people.
Lizard o 0 O ((Men!?!))
Birdman smiles at Lizard.
Birdman says to Lizard, “Well, so much for the mysteries of the past. What about now?”
Lizard says, “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not for throwing out the old. I am fascinated that Freemasonry seems to connect its members to those of prehistoric times. It’s just a shame that women are not included in this process.”
Mockingbird says, “There’s the Eastern Star, but I haven’t been involved with them enough to know much about what they do. My wife’s a member but she’s not very involved.”
Dog says, feeling a little left out, “I miss the old Latin Mass. Even though I couldn’t understand what the priests were saying, they seemed to have a power about them I haven’t felt at Mass recently. I think that relates to what you were saying, Lizard. When I think of ‘mysteries’ I think of the Eucharist, visions of saints, etc.”
Lion agrees with Dog, “Again I was influenced by linking the word ‘oracle’ to mystery. A baptism is another form of initiation into the ‘mysteries’ of Christianity.”
Lizard says, “Maybe being linked to the distant past is like being linked to those who have ‘gone to the other side’ and would be essential to any good mystical rite.”
Dog looks worried and asks, “Are we supposed to come up with our own ‘mystical’ rituals? That seems like we’re working against the church.”
Birdman says, “It may be necessary for us to find meaningful rituals for ourselves which do not go against the teaching of your church . . . if we are to agree.”
Mockingbird says, “The Masons have faced this same problem from the Middle Ages until even now. Our own minister at our Baptist church has preached to its members about the evils of being a Mason because of its pre-Christian origins, but I cannot find in my conscience any conflict between the teaching of Freemasonry and Christianity.”
Lion adds, “Christianity has pre-Christian origins also.”
Birdman says, “It would be good if we could come up with rituals which do not come into conflict with any other religion.”
Lion asks, “How can that be possible when a religion declares an exclusive right to all things spiritual.”
Birdman asks, “What about psychology?”
Birdman asks, “Isn’t it a science of the soul?”
Lion says, “Yes, and I suppose there wouldn’t be many ministers who forbid their churchgoers from receiving psycho-therapy.”
Birdman says, “Exactly.”
Dog says, “I’m still not sure what we’re supposed to be doing. How can we create new mystical rituals out of what we’re able to share as a group? We’re not psychologists. We do not really know what the ancient rituals were like. Our Freemason can’t tell us what his rituals are like . . . and I’m not going to be comforted by you telling me that what we’re trying to do may not be possible!”
Birdman says to Dog, “We’re a mother, an artist, a business person and a teacher. I think that gives us something to work with.”
Dog adds, “Yeah, but we don’t even represent most of the people of the world. I mean, here we are all typing English on our damned computers. It seems like we have all been ‘initiated’ into some form of Christianity. So what if we can agree on something? Who’s going to care?”
Birdman answers, “Me. I will care because if we can agree
on anything then maybe I, myself, can come to some conclusions about a
problem that has been troubling me for some time.”
Dog says, “Maybe you should go to a psychiatrist.”
Birdman laughs, “Yes, maybe, but I came to you instead. I also want to add that I have found that these types of explorations, when published, can help many though not everyone.”
Lizard says, “I’m starting to get a better idea about why we’re here and my excitement for the project is increasing with my understanding. However, I must say that this medium is pretty limiting for me. I am a very visual person. Also I am not a good typist. I am most expressive through my movements and not my words.”
Birdman says, “You seem to be doing fine . . . but I understand what you are saying. I anticipated this concern and have acquired a budget for travel so that we can meet sometimes in person. So where SHOULD we meet?
Lizard says, “MY studie!”
Lizard says, “I mean, my studio!”
Dog exclaims, “My God!, I wasn’t planning on traveling. What about my baby?”
Birdman says, “I can make arrangements for a baby-sitter.”
Dog says, “Maybe we should meet at each of our places at different times so that we can all get a hit on what each of our lives are like.”
Birdman says, “Good idea. You’ve already met in my van : ) Is that ok with everyone else?”
Birdman asks, “Lion?”
Birdman exclaims, “Good! then I think we have made a good start for now. You will each be receiving tickets and hotel reservations for a trip to Manhattan. Our next meeting will be at Lizard’s loft studio.”
Dog o 0 O ((Like being a winner on Queen for the Day))
Lion winks at Dog.
Birdman says, “There is a homework assignment. Please be thinking about some significant turning point in your life, one which might have given you new insight into your life and/or destiny. Then, try to find a way to share your experience through an experience created for us by you. These will be due when we visit you at the space of your own choosing.”
Lion exclaims, “Whew!”
Dog says, “If we’re done for now. My baby’s waking up from his nap.”
Birdman says, “Class dismissed.”
Dog trots off.
Lizard slithers away.
Lion struts his stuff and jumps out of your computer.
Mockingbird flies to his own nest.
Scene II - Lizard's Studio
Lizard: This is “Lizard.” Birdman asked me to narrate the next scene since it occurs in my studio. I knew before we were given our assignment what I wanted to share with the group. There’s a way I like to improvise that gets me to “the other side” and when I first tried it I felt so unburdened by my inhibitions . . . well, there’s no telling what I could have done. Since then I’ve done this kind of improvisation with all kinds of people. I’m only a little bit nervous about how Mockingbird’s going to take it. He seems kind of like a Republican type, though he seems nice enough. I wonder what those Masons do?
I was amazed by how quickly the group’s coming here was organized. Our encounter on the Internet was on a Monday and here I am expecting them this Saturday morning. Some of them spent the night here last night at different hotels. I wonder what was the purpose of that? I guess they’ll be in their own worlds until they get to me. Birdman informed me that he’s bringing something to record what happens and then will have it transcribed into text. He wants me to then go over it so that I can provide some visual descriptions and personal commentary between the quotes. Also, I have the option of skipping over some of the chit-chat.
Birdman arrived first. I was surprised to see how little he was! He’s just like a little boy with some wrinkles, gray hair, a moustache and a tiny beard in the middle of his chin. Yes, very bird-like. When I asked him about his name he showed off some amazing bird sounds he makes just by whistling. He brought a tape recorder and a microphone; no video. He said that he trusted my memory better than what would get picked up by a video camera. I guessed correctly that he is a musician.
Mockingbird came next dressed in self-consciously casual clothes; very blue and barely washed jeans and a dress shirt with a buttoned-down collar. He seemed a little embarrassed after seeing me in my leotard. I should have told everyone that I expected them to dance. He and Birdman discussed the recording equipment until Lion arrived.
A most beautiful Black man! I was shocked. I was in love. He knew what we were going to do. He came in sweats. He moved with the grace of a god. I was wondering how I was going to keep my aesthetic distance when Dog arrived.
She came in sweats also, though I get the feeling she’s often in sweats. Goodness knows what my life would have been like if I had a baby at her age. Dog is a rather light-skinned Hispanic woman who looks like she must still be in her teens, but a really good kid. She seems so studious with her glasses and the way she works hard at everything she does. She fought that five-story walk-up all the way to my studio, though she wasn’t out of breath when she got there and her chubby little cheeks weren’t flushed at all. I could see that I needed to spend a little time relaxing the Mockingbird and slowing down the Dog before we would be able to get down to business.
Birdman started the class by saying, “Now I think we’ve had enough time to come to terms with seeing each other’s bodies. . .” (Did he direct that comment at me?!) “. . . and I think we should begin. I will now turn the class over to Lizard.”
He had told me we would keep to our original pseudonyms. That Birdman has some strange ideas even for me. I think he thinks too much.
I started the class with a basic dance warm-up; Eric Hawkins-styled. I had them put the souls of their feet together and bounce their torsos in each direction while I tapped out a rhythm on a drum. I felt so sorry for Mockingbird who could barely get his knees down to a 45 degree angle from the floor. I suggested that he take off his jeans but he just laughed a little like I was joking. After we did various similar exercises I had them just lie on the floor listening and feeling their bodies sink to the core of the earth. Then, I laid out the rules for the improvisation which were as follows:
1. Make movements and sounds only in response to other sounds and movements. Treat the silence and stillness as being very fragile and precious.
2. Love and caress every movement and sound and never do anything carelessly.
3. The world is Chaos. Only you perceptions give it order. Make movements and sound which show how you perceive the world and make order out of Chaos.
4. Do all these things without thinking conscious verbal thoughts. When ever you find yourself talking to yourself in your mind be still.
There were a few questions or comments, but not enough to totally ruin the mood I had created.
Mockingbird asked, “What if we can’t stop our thoughts? Do we just lie there still for the whole time.”
I told him that that would be appropriate but usually folks find themselves reacting to each other without have to think about it.
“I have always thought that the world was ordered but its our perceptions which make all the Chaos,” said Dog just playing the Devil’s advocate.
“You can think about it either way. It still works out the same. Just try and see that order you’re talking about,” I countered.
That beautiful Lion spoke up, “What’s going to start it. . .I mean, if no one can do anything unless someone else does.”
“We’ll just wait as long as it takes for something to happen. Remember, we’re in New York City and lots is going on around us.”
And then it started:
Secret notes to myself until later sharing:
Reading lots of Freud around
Finding lots of libido,
Bracketing tight interactions.
Sometimes, tonight, the world would
Try to break in.
But it was like breaking in between us;
An unwelcomed intruder.
Other times, our world would enclose us,
Causing us be become more intricate and delicate.
Although we sometimes move so slowly
Fast things occur within.
Sharpening my ears continually,
Scanning for things fast and quiet,
So complex as to seem random;
Only to the uninitiated.
I am reborn everyday.
The libido moves the focus around.
The rest stays the same
Throughout the constant remaking;
This time I was born again in the libido.
Needless to say, I formed a strong bond with my new feline male companion. Usually, when I give a workshop, I keep my focus rather “global” and/or concentrate more on the “novices” who might be having some troubles loosening up. I should have known that that crazy Birdman had more experience with this kind of thing than I had previously thought. He, the musician, kept us together through his sound while I could just flow with it. That river took me right into the arms of my Lion. I was aware of the others just as lovers believe the stars shine and birds sing just for them. At times our movements lost the abstractness I usually indulge in and he and I danced, snapping back and forth like lovers on a dance floor in Harlem. When I notice his longing to connect more with the others I felt a moment of embarrassment and realized I was hogging this all for myself. I was supposed to be “initiating” the others into my mysteries, but all I wanted was to get this man deep into the sanctum sanctorum of my deepest pleasure. How could I be blamed because what happens here is the will of the gods. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the Birdman dancing with the Dog while making sounds with the Mockingbird who scarcely moved. Lion and I chimed in for a lush sonic effect. Their movements seemed to me to be purely reflections of ours. It all tied in though; even Mockingbird’s minimal swaying. I am always surprised to find out time and time again how good people are at doing this even when they have never ever done it before. I suppose everybody dreams and the only thing that’s different here is that we’re doing it with open eyes.
I didn’t really much about what anybody said because, as almost always happens in my studio, what is said isn’t all that important. Somehow we all found an ending. I think it was a sharp high scream out of me that caused it. Birdman’s focus abruptly changed and we just looked at each other like, “where the hell did you come from?” While we were still quiet and disoriented Birdman add to our assignments. He said that we were to log our experiences in a journal and try and process the description into an introduction of the narrative concerning our own piece. That sounds hard and I’m glad I went first. We’re meeting again next weekend in San Francisco at Lion’s home!
Scene III - Lion’s Home
Lion: I get a little tired of going through the process of coming out to everyone with whom I get past the acquaintance stage. I suppose it is like renewing an initiation process that has been significant to me and, in that light, it’s ok. It was refreshing, however, participating in Lizard’s happening where one’s sexual orientation really didn’t matter. I could be whatever came to me at the moment; even an inanimate object. I admired Lizard’s unique ability to bring out the best in others. I felt like I was a pretty good dancer. I felt myself being people from different eras in the history of our planet but, probably due to Lizard, always really something; the best of the best. Although this experience was very interesting to me, I hasn’t changed what I have determined I would present to the group. Being gay is a very import part of who I am. Society has forced it to be a defining characteristic. My most dramatic transformation occurred when I finally knew that I had to be who I really am as opposed to what I had been taught to be. I am a little thankful that my path is supported by a newly discovered gospel that was attributed to Thomas, an Apostle, who quoted Christ as saying, “If you bring forth what is in you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is in you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
I am having our meeting at out home where I will introduce the group to my lover.
Light comes up on the other members of the group. Lion is addressing them:
Lion: I will then present some poems that were inspired by what has become the deepest and most stable relationship I have ever had in my life. I will add some commentary in order to better bring the poems within the context of our discussion. I would enjoy getting feedback from you all along he way, though, I must confess, I feel very nervous about it. I have been a professor for many years but I have never given a lecture quite as personal as this one will be. I hope that, in doing this, I might afterwards become a better teacher . . . and a better person for that matter. The first poem I will read has a title which suggests a direct relationship to our topic:
I plunge repeatedly into your deep well,
Sacrificing old life for new,
And prepare the greatest nourishment for myself
By throwing away all prefabrications.
You impart the deep wisdom of your soul;
Mysteries of receptive flux;
And of Love's protection, power, and healing
Through all your deepest openings.
Darkness from pain and sorrow reveals a light
Pure, penetrating, too clear to be seen,
Yet it illumines, where once were shadows of doubt,
With hope and the grace of pure love.
Pure love engenders pure love
Making the empty full
And it causes me to wonder why
A gift so precious can be given to one so unworthy,
Yet made worthy by his own love.
By my love, I can be you
And learn your wisdom firsthand.
I can feel your feelings, experience your pain,
And give comfort and service to one most worshipful.
Yet we have become so mixed
That I find that what best serves you serves me.
My penetrating into your inner most depths
Reveals my own as well.
Surely as we apply ourself
To concerns involving others
We will display a special power
And move like two eyes on the same head.
Will the pleasure we give each other seem selfish
Because we are neglecting others,
Or shall pleasure be our meditation and offering
By which the world is uplifted with our spirit?
My life has started over
By the initiation of your love.
I must be nurtured by you for some time
Before I am able to serve others as a deeper soul.
Lots of approving sounds and gestures from the others. Lizard sheds some tears.
Birdman: So your poem suggests an initiation into, if it were described as a religious path, Bakti; the path of love. However, your adoration seems to be for a human beloved.
Lion: I suppose it’s about seeing the divine in the human and/or the best of myself in my beloved. Unlike the religious devotee I must love my beloved even when he doesn’t resemble my religious ideal.
Lion’s lover laughs: Have I been that bad?
Lions kisses him on the forehead: Not at all. You’re human just like me. I think that our intense passion has turned up some of the heat for our arguments but, as we realize that we mostly arguing against our past care-givers and not each other, we’ve been able to mellow out a bit and deepen our relationship further. Here's another poems which describes me as a kind of priest getting ready for his beloved deity:
The pujari offers his obeisances to the God of Love
And quickly repairs his altar,
For the arati begins
When he appears with sweet fragrances
And his body clothed only in jewels
Worshipped by all senses,
Portals of divine experience;
So that I, for the moment, may be Krishna
Playing him like my flute
And thus maintaining a mountain of pleasure
Through the caress of my little finger;
Or, ravish him like Nrsmhadeva tearing into His demon.
And yet, I am also in his power
Like the demons who were once seduced
To give up their immortality
By Vishnu in the form of a woman;
And, like Shiva, I ejaculate silver
Simply from watching the clothes fall from his body.
Our love-making is the Rasa-Lila and the Holiest of Holies;
A bright beam of ecstasy,
Extending through the three worlds
Amid this desolate world of sorrow.
The rubble is cleared from the bed.
The altar is prepared.
The sacrifice is nothing short of the world and its cares;
And we become gods.
Dog: Dressed as a woman? This is starting to sound a little kinky.
Lizard: So?! Lovers must be allowed to explore everything. Who else can one better trust than a lover for letting out all those images that are burning inside? The inner spiritual world can then become a shared reality.
Dog: Ok. I guess I didn’t mean what I said to sound judgmental. I was just making a joke.
Lion: What you said, Lizard, about sharing reality leads nicely into this next poem:
Our Fledgling Reality
The highest joy can so easily become the deepest pain
When what was made real by two becomes the floundering fantasy of one,
For love is true for two, but for one is only insane,
And then, the greatest beauty burns away like a moth flying into the sun.
Our love is our fledgling child, more fragile than one newborn,
Feeding on our faith in our love, ourselves, and each other.
Let not our baby from loving parents be torn
Neither let doubt, fear, nor weakness cause it to smother.
My steadfast insanity will give you the space you need to make yourself sure,
For I can endure the pain of reality obscured when there's hope of your light
And that you might love me all the more and our love will endure
Beyond our lives to the gods, mortals, and our own delight.
Yet, for all the pain of which I complain, I prefer a love insane
To the dark black void of doubt that is seen by the world as sane.
Dog: I feel a little reluctant to bring this up because it may sound judgmental also, but . . . the baby metaphor seems strange in the context of a gay relationship.
Lion: But our relationship is as fragile, tender and dear to us as a baby.
Lizard: I often think of my projects as my babies especially when they’re done in collaboration with others.
Dog to Lizard: I think that I really cannot relate to what you are saying. A baby doesn’t just go away when you’re ready to do something else. You have to do everything you can to keep that baby alive and/or not let it grow up into a criminal.
Birdman: I am looking forward to hearing more about the importance of being a mother in your personal development.
Dog: So, I bet you’ve guessed what my presentation is going to be about. I’ll let Lion get on with his.
Lion: Well, I do mean that the relationship is like a baby to me. I want to that you all for bringing up issues that lead so well into other poems. It’s causing me to skip around a bit but I think it’s great. Keep it up! The idea of a nurturing parent comes up in this next poem:
While I held you naked in my arms, you drifted away in sleep,
I caught just a glimpse of the little boy you once were, and still are,
And I cried for that innocence that we all must keep.
My Dear, how I love the way you trust me, so your trust I will never betray.
May I be your child sometimes and rest nestled in your warmth,
So that we may both rest together as in our very first day?
Soon we will enjoy a whole night of sleepy caressing.
How I long for the drool of your sweet sleep on my shoulder.
We mating lizards will then become more like quiet roots entwining
And our breathing will be the sighing of the wind in our boughs
And our dreams will fly like birds to the heavens,
Where time ranges eternal, infinitely more broad than our little nows.
Lizard: It’s like a lullaby!
Birdman: These poems have been pretty lyrical. Do you see the initiatory aspect of love to be mostly about entering another world which is “kinder and gentler” than this one.
Lion: Not necessarily. It’s more like we enter the Bardos which can also be very frightening and, I think, even pretty “nasty.” Here’s a poem which describes sex a a journey into Hell:
Lion Goes to Hell
Our demons have been getting it on ever since we met
Biting and fucking doing things that humans couldn't think of doing.
We have had them on short leashes for so long
And now the leashes are so tangled that we can't get those fucking demons apart
But who wants to,
Because all that blood and semen is getting into us
And burning us crazy
So that all we can think about are those demons getting it on
And then we rub each other like cleaning windows
Looking into each other's selves at the demons
And get so into what they are doing that we start caressing the windows
Until we are getting it on just like the demons
With their blood and semen burning through us
And I can't see them for all the smoke
But I know my demon's getting fried a golden brown just ready to be eaten by your
And it does,
And now I'm fried like I've been taking way too much LSD
Toasted golden brown ready to be eaten by you
And you do,
And all because I dared to look at your demon
And your demon is so big and strong
And you get afraid because you've known about it for so long
But your demon won't get into trouble while it is fucking my demon
Unless you call that trouble,
And we'll keep burning without being burned up
Because nothing's consumed when it's burning in hell.
Dog: I’m sorry. My upbringing is getting in the way of my being able to get this, I guess.
Lion: That’s ok. I have a couple of poems which were written in the voice of a comforting and reassuring priest which you may appreciate:
Great lights beam from dark caresses
Resurrecting lovers departed.
For many weeks we celebrate our reunion
And pray that we may never again be parted.
True recognition has destroyed all doubt
(Everyone can see it in our eyes)
And tender kisses, when we're about,
Continue to renew our ancient ties.
Why did it take so much time
For us to find our true love?
Why were we joined with others who hurt us
In unions not blessed from above?
My love, you have been my mate
E'er since time's beginning.
Our love is blessed and it is no less
Than divine protection against sinning.
For as long as we love sincerely and faithfully,
Fully, unconditionally, and deep.
We can be just as nasty as we want to be
Alone together, and our virtue we'll keep.
Then nastiness becomes cleanliness, most chaste and austere
Even when we're fucking, with me on your rear,
Or I'm ejaculating semen into your ear,
God's wrath we need never fear.
Our love was His gift to us long ago
So that we might experience His world together and know
All mysteries, both spiritual and physical, of Heaven and Hell,
So we must make love often to know them all well.
Much laughter from everyone, especially Dog.
Our love transcends the laws of mere mortal men
And all social conventions,
For we always act right by a divine inner light
Made strong by true love's affections.
Since, while we abide with me deep inside
We are devoutly learning God's lessons,
The more pleasure we give to each other and live
By our love, the more we'll get of God's blessin's.
Birdman: He sound’s a bit like that priest in Tartuffe.
Lion: The next one gets the priest out of the role of lover so that the advice is a little more serious, or at least “disinterested.”
Dear sweet innocent child, please do not depart from love's true
For treasures beyond measure still lie before thee along the way that God hath
Chosen for thee that thou mightiest be a beacon for many to see,
By learning the true nature of the soul of man and beast.
Do not forsake God's plan for thee and thy lover, or at least
Struggle weakly against what thou canst not fight and win,
Namely that love which is a power of God and not the will of men.
It is only thy spiritual pride that would call thy giving in a sin.
That "sin" would reward thee with the gift of all knowledge and begin
A new era of God's great miracles all within thy skin.
Think not that I sound like that serpent who told Eve to "take and eat?"
Thanks to the serpent, Christ came to our Earth and gave of His body to eat.
Thy lust is for one man alone whom thou mayst trust with all of thy demons.
He is protected by God and cares deeply for thee and with a clear conscience can enjoy
all his creamin's.
Give him all thy lust and love, both, please, do freely give!
So that thou mayst stay happy and healthy, and learn much more of thyself whilst thou live.
Losing him would be like losing thy soul because he reflects and strengthens it so
And without him thou couldst slowly fade away whilst thou live in a domestic hell.
Stop fighting against God and give in to thy "weakness"
So that thy desire will not smolder inside, repressed, and causeth thou great
Birdman: Mockingbird, you have been very quiet. What’s on your mind?
Mockingbird: This is all a bit new to me. I am . . . impressed by how these poems could work just as easily in a heterosexual context. I think about my wife’s and my relationship . . . and the strange things that go through us as we . . . learn more about each other. Is this making sense?
Birdman: Yes, definitely. You seem to be saying that these feelings are universal.
Lion: But because they are about a homosexual relationship in a heterosexually dominated and homophobic world there’s a strong element of danger present which gives the poems a greater intensity for me. No one thinks that much about your sex life but mine has been declared war against by rednecks and fundamentalist Christian groups. I literally risk my life every time I come out to someone and, when I can find a relationship that works amidst all this oppression and danger, it becomes the most valuable thing in this world (and maybe the next) to me. . . my emotions are causing me to forget some my academic skills . . . by valuable, I mean meaningful, spiritual, goodness and even morality.
Lizard: But what you’re describing seems to be beyond what can be judged as good or evil.
Lion: Yes, but we do tend to judge, especially ourselves. I grew up in the same homophobic society that everyone else has. It is difficult for me to ascend into a state of non-judgement. The next poem may shed some new light on this issue:
Light must reconcile itself with darkness.
They caress each other so gracefully
That only the highest and most subtle beauties are revealed.
I would be afraid of the blinding brightness of pure light
Without the depths of the unknown.
Mysteries are still left undressed,
And we can find new ways to become even more naked.
When we can see our nakedness
Then we can face God unashamed.
I might try on a garment of shame;
See how it feels and looks to others,
Or in my reflections.
But, then I will throw it off
So that I can rub against you
Love cleanses our bodies
Of all superfluities
This process is repeated again and again
Until nothing is left but pure soul.
We merge into one through mutual attraction
Until the garments we call our bodies
Melt away in the fire of old age and decay.
Let that fire burn fully
Until nothing is left to smolder.
I pity those whose lives are only acrid smoke.
Lion: I suppose this poem is about how I would like to be all the time. I get there sometimes. I must say that it most often occurs when I am having sex. I felt then like I’m in the presence of God. I take grave risks for the sake of my religion.
Dog: Like a martyred saint?
Lion: I hate to admit it, but sometimes I feel that way.
Lizard: Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful poetry. I believe we’re kindred spirits.
Birdman: Where do we meet next?
Dog: I almost know what I want to do.
Mockingbird: Then you go on ahead because I’m stumped.
Birdman: Then we will meet next weekend in Santa Fe.
Scene IV - Dog’s Home
Dog: I enjoyed being able to let myself go for a change while I was at Lizard’s studio. I’ve had to be so practical ever since the baby was born. I’ve always considered myself artistic in that I have learned as much as I could from my grandmothers about their crafts like crocheting, sewing, etc. I can literally make just about anything I want. I wasn’t so inclined to do “fine art” because it seemed like you couldn’t do much more with it than look at it. I have always enjoyed making things I could use. However, Lizard’s ritual did open my eyes to some different parts of myself. It was like entering another world and, thus, made me feel just a little less attached to this one. It’s not like I’m ready to sell my baby and join the circus or anything, bit I was able to step out of my self as a responsible person just for the moment. I was very shy, at first, and couldn’t stop thinking enough to move, but Birdman brought me more into it by responding to my nervous giggles about what the others were doing. It help to keep my eyes closed. Then, wouldn’t be so tempted to think about how stupid I looked. Once, when I opened them I saw Mockingbird who must have felt even more stupid than me. That helped me get over my shyness also. Birdman seemed to be on everything I did while connecting to Lion and Lizard who seemed to be working as a couple. Mockingbird was always making sounds which were sometimes pretty amazing. Both those birds kept some pretty interesting sounds going. I felt more like moving and keeping my eyes closed, and I didn’t run into anybody! Maybe they were looking out for me.
There was a big part of me that was resisting Lion’s presentation. I could identify with the passion and all but I could help but think about how I had felt like that before and now I’ve got a baby and the man I loved didn’t stick around to help. I know this passion is what created the life I care so much about, but still. No one in this group has any real idea what it means to be on your own and being responsible for a little baby. I bet they won’t like what I plan to give them, especially Lizard. Oh well, nobody said that I had to do anything to please anybody in this class. Birdman hasn’t really said much of anything. He gets paid for this? I had better get ready. They’re all coming in the same car this time. Birdman even let them stay in the same hotel!
Light comes up on the others in the group.
Dog: Hi, everybody. Come one and gather around the table here. There’s room. Just pull up a chair and cram on in. This is my baby. It’s his bed time so make yourself at home while I take him to his room and get him settled. I’ll turn this tape deck off so you can feel comfortable about saying whatever until I get back.
Light goes off just long enough to pass the baby off stage.
Dog: Ok. I’m going to give each of you something and you can’t give it away. My life changed the most when I became a mother. I then had to think beyond myself. In fact I am now mostly concerned with the needs of my baby. I don’t have time to think about much else. I go to school and do what I have to there because I’m trying to get myself into a place where I can better support my baby. I know that he’s going to need to go to college and I want to be able to help him. I’m getting some grants that help with my school and I work part-time. My aunts help me out when I have to be gone. My parents don’t offer because they’re still pissed at me about my my boyfriend. I don’t want to get into that.
I’ve thought a lot about my input in these meetings, thinking about what you must think about me. I’ve been this Roman Catholic voice for Christianity. I did grow up Catholic mostly but my grandfather was from one of the Pueblos and he taught me a whole lot about Indian culture. I’m not a member of a tribe because his Pueblo requires that its members be at least one half Indian. I’m a quarter. I’m not even a member of a clan.
Our tribe’s clan system got me to thinking about what we’re trying to do here. A person belongs to their mother’s clan and, along with that, would have certain ritualistic responsibilities that fit into the ritual needs of the tribe. Most of the Pueblos have stories about how certain clans weren’t allowed to settle there until they could prove the value of their ritual to the previous settlers on the Pueblo. I have experienced some rituals from you which has been valuable to be and the only way I can think of sharing what I find most valuable in myself is in the form of a gift. Since I seem to be the “token” mother here I thought it would be good to give you something that would give you some idea about what it is like to be me. No, I’m not giving away any babies, but I have chosen a . . . PUPPY for each of you!
Lizard: Oh shit!
Dog: I knew you’d be pleased.
Lizard: Do you know what it’s like having a dog in New York City. It’s almost as bad as having a car!
Dog: Oh well, you’ve got to keep him. You’re now responsible for this living being.
Lizard: I made a choice long ago not to have any children. It doesn’t seem fair to have a child grow up with my meager circumstances, and it’s not even fair for this dog to be with me and the life I lead.
Dog: I don’t want to sound cold, but I didn’t choose to have a child but I am responsible for him, and what really bothers you is you don’t ever want to grow up!
Lizard: Hey! I am older than you and . . . you think that just because I’m an artist, I am flaky and irresponsible. I do what I do because of being disciplined and becoming good at what I do. I was also disciplined enough to keep from getting myself pregnant.
Dog: But you do it all for yourself.
Lizard: Why do you say that! Not having children is a sacrifice. I made that sacrifice for a non-lucretive profession which I strongly believe benefits our whole society.
Dog: By playing?
Lizard: I play so that others can play; at least in their hearts.
Dog: Please don’t be mad at me. I’m sorry. I really hadn’t intended on coming off all judgmental. But, since you sacrificed you biological need for being a mother, couldn’t having this cute little puppy help you through your grief just a little?
Lizard: Now you’re making fun of me.
Dog: No, really. It’s just a dog. It’s mother has already got through the hardest part of raising it. All you have to do is feed it and be its friend.
Lizard: And take it out so it can go to the bathroom in New York City. And, carry around those plastic gloves so that I can pick up its shit when it poops!
Dog: It’s not as bad as changing diapers. Come on, look how cute he is. He’s going to sleep right on your leg.
Lizard: I suppose he is. I have this neighbor who’s around a lot who might be able to watch him when I’m gone. Hey, what did I ever do to you.
Dog: You shared something about your artistic experience with me and changed me a little, now I had to get you back.
Lizard: Since you put it that way . . .
Dog: Also, I believe that the dog teaches us about being there for others and about unconditional love . . . and, since these puppies are all brothers and sisters, we will have a lasting family connection to each other.
Lizard: This sounds almost like a promotion for slavery. Maybe I should name my dog Uncle Tom. Here, Uncle Tom! There’s a good dog!
Dog: I think that everyone can benefit from the idea of being of service. You said yourself, Lizard, that you’re being an artist is for the sake of others.
Lizard: But with dignity. Well . . . some dignity anyway.
Dog: Nobody said you have to be disrespectful to you dog, but I’ll bet he’d love you anyway . . . another way that having a dog is easier than having a child. Does anybody else have a problem with this?
Lion: Even if I dared, I don’t. I really don’t. We’ve been thinking about getting a dog.
Mockingbird: So have we. The kids are going to be tickled.
Dog: Don’t you forget though, Mockingbird. This is YOUR dog.
Mockingbird: Ok. I like how they make us more like one family.
Dog: Birdman, you still with us?
Birdman: Sure. I’m fine about getting a dog. I guess we will be meeting next weekend at Mockingbird’s office in Houston, Texas.
Mockingbird: And, if ya’ll don’t mind, please wear proper “business attire.”
Birdman: I have a nice suit but it’s getting a little shabby. I have trouble finding ones that are my size.
Mockingbird: You just come on a little early. We’ll find something in Houston that will fit you.
Scene V - Mockingbird’s Boardroom
Mockingbird: I have been pretty quiet through all this. I sometimes haven’t even known what to think. I have felt things but I think that those feelings have been too difficult to describe. Each offering from each member of the group has brought out a new part of myself that I haven’t seen before. I have been very surprised to find how much I can identify with the feelings and thoughts of these people. Like Dog, I have been so involved in what I have perceived as my role, father/provider, that I haven’t taken the time to think much about myself in other roles. My first impression was that I was being thrown in with a bunch of “wild-eyed” liberals who depend on tax money for their livelihoods. I have worked hard for the benefit of my family, employees, community and society as a whole through the services provided by my company and I have been duly awarded for it. I have also supported charities who have been found worthy by my wife who has even taken the time to become involved with them. I have always believed in helping the family first. If families would only help each other out more, people wouldn’t have to depend as much on the government.
Lights come up on others listening in an executive boardroom. A nicely dressed administrative assistant is serving coffee.
Mockingbird: I still think this, though I have soften somewhat on this position after seeing both Lizard’s and Dog’s circumstances. I might have said before that they just needed to find a good man to help take care of them, but I see that this cannot always be an appropriate solution.
I was very moved by the way Dog made us into one family and I now am starting to feel responsible for you all as if you were of my own family. Dog also helped me with a problem that had been going on in my mind since we started this discussion, which was, “How can one find meaningful ritual (as meaningful as the Blue Lodge of freemasonry) for every person in this group with all our differences?” Intend, this has been a key question for the group all along. then, Dog mentioned how the Pueblos shared their rituals so that the whole tribe could benefit from the specialized clans. This is how our economy is supposed to work. Why shouldn’t our rituals reflect these kinds of partnerships as opposed to each religious group claiming its exclusive on the truth? We have Southeastern Indian blood in our family but most of that culture was lost between the small pox and the acculturation before the Trail of Tears. I know there were clans but I know little about how they functioned. The Pueblo people are fortunate that they still have something of that spirit of cooperation still intact.
I am a good manager; one that has kept up with its latest humanistic trends. What makes a good manager and negotiator is an open and creative mind; one that can avoid becoming too attached to a particular position so that everyone can find what they want. I want use this skill in order to help a ritual that I can share with you. Also, I have been thinking a lot about what I have valued the most about Freemasonry. The most respected members of my family play some role in each of my degrees. They went to a lot of trouble for me, and afterwards, let me feel like I was one of them. Being a valued member of a society is valuable to me. My present position has come about through a series of promotions for “a job well done.” I have been repeated rewarded for they way I have chosen the development of my character and for my service to others. I want you to experience this. that’s why I had you dress up and meet in this board room. You are each very important members of society who should be rewarded with as much respect as an executive.
Some sobs from the others.
Also, I want you to feel that you are now my family and nothing bad will happen to you if it’s in my power to prevent it. I have had my lawyers draw up incorporation papers for a non-profit corporation which will be a social fraternity with us as its founding members. Membership of new members must be voted on by consensus based on how the members feel the candidate can contribute to the whole.
Mockingbird: In its broadest sense. I have established a trust fund which can be used by the members in the way of grants for creative projects . . .
Lizard: Oh my God!
Mockingbird: education . . .
Dog: This is too good to be true!
Mockingbird: and advocacy . . .
Mockingbird: Such as for supporting a hate crimes bill, equal rights, AIDS research and all that.
Lion: You mean this for me?
Mockingbird: Of course.
Lion: I haven’t been that politically active, but I see you think that I should be.
Mockingbird: Only if you want too.
Lion: I’ve had lots of experiences where everyone got close and then swore they would stay close for the rest of their lives. It never happens.
Birdman: But in this case there’s some very practical reasons for doing so.
Dog: My children’s children had better continue on with this group.
Mockingbird: The trust fund is large enough to make so much interest that no one would ever need to touch the principal. That means our descendants could benefit by becoming members.
Lizard: I think you must have been the Wizard of Oz in another life.
Dog: Then I must be Dorothy because she’s always talking about how “there’s no place like home.” And, I could be “Toto too.”
Lizard: Well, Glenda’s outfit is a bit much for me.
Lion: That’s my role “Come out, come out where ever you are.” I guess I should be the Lion also.
Birdman: I guess that leaves the Scarecrow and Tin Man for me.
Lizard: What about me?
Everybody: The Wicked Witch of the West!!!!
Dog: But we don’t really want you to be dead. We need you.
Lizard: I don’t mind being dead so long as I get to come back better than I was.
Exeunt singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead."
Lion to Birdman while exiting: Is this what you were after when you brought us together?
Birdman while exiting: Sort of. I really didn’t know what to expect.
Actors return for curtain calls still singing.