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The Ecstatic Adventure

  Reports of Chemical Explorations of the Inner World

    Psychedelic Poetry

PROSE IS TALK, poetry is music. Prose is linear, grammatic-logic, sequential condensation of experience—what the categorizing mind can remember from the ever-changing flow of experience. Poetry is one step closer: what is communicated is more image than thought, multifaceted rather than linear, musical-emotional more than conceptual-mental. It is not surprising then that many attempts have been made to translate the fantastic experiential explosions induced by psychedelics into poetic metaphor.
    The first poem, "A Glass of Ayahuasca," is extracted from a larger, soon to be published volume of South American writings by Allen Ginsberg, who has been called "the most popular American." His good-humored and sensible approach to controversial political issues have won him the respect and admiration of political and social leaders and persons in all walks of life. His most devoted audience though is found on college campuses where with readings and mantra-chanting, he incarnates sometimes an ancient Indian philosopher-poet, sometimes an inspired Hebrew prophet; an American Jeremiah, whose Wichita Vortex Sutra touches one deeply, at the most human level.
    Timothy Leary's Pyschedelic Prayers constitutes a psychedelic manual, adapted freely from the Chinese wisdom text, the Tao Te Ching. Rewritten and tested many times in actual LSD sessions, they are designed to be read during psychedelic trips. "Psychedelic poetry, like all psychedelic art, is crucially concerned with flow. Each psychedelic poem is carefully tailored for a certain time in the sequence of the session." The two poems reprinted here are "prayers invoking cellular consciousness, seed consciousness. Odes glorifying the DNA code.... the brain of cellular life.... Psychedelic poetry should be read aloud at a slow tempo, in a low natural voice.... To the consciousness released from imprinted statics these prayers can become precise bursts of trembling energy and breathless meaning."

by Allen Ginsberg
in my hotel room overlooking Desamparados' Clanging Clock,
with the french balcony doors closed, and luminescent fixture out
"my room took on a near eastern aspect" that is I was reminded of Burroughs
with heart beating—and the blue wall of Polynesian Whorehouse, and
mirror framed in black as if in Black Bamboo-and wooden slated floor
and I in my bed, waiting, and slowly drifting away
but still thinking in my body till my body turned to passive wood
and my soul rocked back & forth preparing to slide out on eternal journey
backwards from my head in the dark
An hour, realizing the possible change in consciousness
that the Soul is independent of the body and its death
and that the Soul is not Me, it is the wholly other "whisper of consciousness"
    from Above, Beyond, Afuera—
till I realize it existed in all its splendor in the Ideal or Imaginary
Toward which the me will travel when the body goes to the sands of Chancay
And at last, lying in bed covered my body with a splendid robe of
    indian manycolors wool,
I gazed up at the grey gate of Heaven with a foreign eye
and yelled in my mind "Open up, for I am the Prince of eternity
come back to myself after a long journey in chaos,
open the Door of Heaven, My Soul, for I have come back to claim
    my Ancient House
Let the Servants come forth to Welcome me and let Silent Harp make music
and bring my apparel of Rainbow and Star show me my shoes of Light and
    my Pants of the Universe
Spread forth my meal of myriad lives, My Soul, and Show up thy
    Face of Welcome
For I am the one who has dwelled in the secret Temple before,
    and I have been man too long
And now I want to Hear Music of Joy beyond Death,
and now I am be who has waited to Welcome myself back Home
The great stranger is Home in his House of Joy."

or words or thoughts or sensations & images to that effect.

Thus for an instant the Sensation of this Eternal House passed thru my hair
tho I couldn't liberate my body from the bed to float away—
tho did glimpse the foot of the thought of the gate of Heaven—

Then opened my eyes and Saw the blast of light of the real universe
when I opened the window and looked at the clock on the R R Station
with its halfnaked man & woman with clubs, creators of time and chaos,
and down on the street where pastry venders sold their poor sugar
symbolic of Eternity, to Passerby-and great fat clanking beast of Trolley
with its dumb animal look and croaking screech on the tracks
Powered by electric life,, turned a corner of the Presidential Palace
where Bolivar 200 years ago in time planted a secret everlasting Fig-tree
and a fog from another life crept thru its own dimension
Past the cornice of the hotel and travelled downward in the street
To seek the river-had a bridge with little humans crossing, faraway
—and up in the hills the silver gleam of sunlight on the horizon thru thick fog
—and the Cerro San Christobal—with a cross atop and Casbah of poor
    consciousness ratted on its hip—
and overall the vast blue flash & blast of open space
the Sky of Time, empty as a big blue dream
and as everlasting as the many eyes that lived to see it
Time is the God, is the Face of the God,
As in the monstrous image of the Ramondi Chavin Sculptured Stone Monument
A cat head many eyed sharp toothed god face long as Time,
with different eyes some upside down and 16 sets of faces
all have fangs—the structure of one consciousness
that waits upstairs to Devour man and all his universes
—turn the picture upside down—the top eyes see more than the human bottom rows
Indifferent, dopey, smiling, horrible, with Snakes & fangs—
The huge gentle creature of the Cosmic joke
that takes whatever form it can to Signify that it is the one that has come to its Home
where all are invited to Enter in Secret eternally
After they have been killed by the illusion of Impossible Death.

Lima, Peru
May 1960

by Timothy Leary
    What is above is below
    What is without is within
    What is to come is in the past
Tall... deep... tree... green... branching... leaf
Root... above... below... thrusting... coiling
Sky... earth... stem... root
Leaf... green... sap
Soil... air
Soil... visible
Hidden... breathing... sucking
Bud... ooze... sun... damp
Light.. dark... bright... decay... laugh
Tear.. vein.,. rain... mud branch... root

    What is above is below
    What is without is within
    What is to come is in the past

    These wooden carvings displayed in her endless shelves
    Within each uncut branch—
    The carver's knife

—from Psychedelic Prayers

by Timothy Leary
Its rising is not bright
    nor its setting dark

Unceasing, continuous
Branching out in roots innumerable
Forever sending forth the serpent coil
    of living things
Mysterious as the formless existence
    to which it returns

Twisting back
Beyond mind

We say only that it is form from the formless
Life from spiral void

—from Psychedelic Prayers

    Chapter 12

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