Tree of Life Review



AIRMAIL: Bodhi Blues — A Year in India: Questioning The Maitreya Project by Jessica Falcone

COLUMN: Storiedmusic — The Night I Walked Out by DJ T’challah

NOVEL EXCERPT: In a State of Partition by Aneesha Capur

UP THE CREEK: Editor’s Notes — Art, Yoga, and Abu Ghraib

Three Months After

That long pony —
Struck my face,
Again again.

Too much speed made
Me hold
Your waist a couple
Times my
Shouting drowned
By twin chrome
Pipes. Sportster
900 c.c. you

By the time we
Got to Wood —
Stock, it was
Really Mt Saint Helen’s,
I was not stardust,
Not golden, I was
Goggle — eyed red rimmed,
Sunburnt, nearly
Deaf with flies in
My teeth, mosquitoes in
My lungs, hanging out
My used black boots in
A suicide stretch, my
Arms swimming in the forward
Progress of Harley —
Davidson wind.

There, in welcome
Shadows cast by
Mt. Rainier, old white
One, crisp as peeling
Skin, glaciers upon white
Layered Nesqualli glaciers, some
Hulking dream floating
White upon blue in
The mist, like you, baby
Like you, we talked
About marriage, merging
Our black leathers my
Skin inside your
Skin, the roaring of
Our human machines, made

Up on the mountain,
The one who blew it all
Away, Saint
Helen’s, your Harley’s roar
Eased silence. We saw
Ash, smelled old elemental smoke
Knew trees tumbled charred
Matchsticks, Sasquatch’s toothpicks neatly
Ordered in chaos thousands
Probably millions laid
Down to die by
Mother volcanic boom three
Months before.
“Mother earth will”
he said. “Swallow you,”
I sang. “Mrs. Helen’s knows
Of dead Harry Trumans,” he
Said, voice dry as old desert,
“of Spirit Lake parboiled like
a rainbow
trout,” he croaked, “then flung into atoms.”

Up near the top we saw lava still
Burning. Our illegal
Guides said we can’t
Take you into the red
Zone. But they showed him
And me an inferno, one
Bigger than anything I’ll
Ever be. “Blown away,” he
Said. “Red zone, redline, what the
Hell’s the difference?” I
Saw tiny
Plants growing at
My boots. I saw all
Our footprints, Buzz
Aldren marks on the
Moon. The guide
Said, “we’ll scorch our feet.” I
Thought firewalkers of
Ceylon. “There’s never total
Destruction,” somebody said. I
Think him.

At least I thought
I heard it
That way.

So I followed your
Damn lashing ponytail
Into British
Columbia, we got
Hitched during an
Oil change. I shoudda thought
About ash, hot death, not
The tenacious weeds breaking
Out in spite of all. Instead
I farted by
Mistake during the
Ceremony, such as it
Was, laughed so hard to
Hear it trying to escape out
Of my leathers, laughed so hard
Tears came. Everyone
Laughed, even him, and the
One who he hired to
Make our human
Engines into white,
Into one.
Laughed so hard
We had to stop
The ceremony, the
Tire chimes clanged;
No one noticed we
Didn’t clean the
Ash, the burnt cinders,
Off of ourselves.

Off in the far
Distance I could
Feel white Canadian
Rockies long waiting to

James Freeman

James Freeman

James A. Freeman is a transplanted Shasta County, Californian who, for twenty-five years, has taught Language and Literature and Philosophy at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, PA. The author of fifteen books, Mr. Freeman’s own favorite fiction titles are Ishi’s Journey — From the Center to the Edge of the World (Naturegrah), Never the Same River Twice (Charles B. McFadden), and Parade of Days.

In a 5/5/05 Philadelphia Inquirer review of Parade of Days, reviewer Marc Shagol wrote, “The engaging characters’ stories stay with you for days.” Books Editor Frank Wilson, writing of the reissued Ishi’s Journey in a 1/6/06 review as his “Editor’s Pick,” said: “This is a wise and wonderful book. The descriptions are lovingly precise, and the whole novel is a moving elegy for Ishi, the last wild Indian in North America, and of his vanished people. If this book doesn’t sometimes make you smile and also move you to tears, then you are in need of a heart transplant.”

Jim lives in Newtown, PA with his daughter Kellie, one dog, one thoroughbred horse, and a cockatiel. His new collection of poems Fire in the Hole is forthcoming, as is his new novel Liars Tale of True Love.

POEM: Three Months After