Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Timothy Leary Is Dead

image borrowed from bing

Timothy Leary is Dead

“Think for yourselves, & always question authority.”
--Timothy Leary. 

It was 1968,
           San Diego, CA.       I was in the Navy, struggling
                                      to keep myself from being shipped
to Viet Nam.

Timothy Francis Leary was
coming to town;            a one night “Lecture Performance”
at a local theater. I felt that I had go to see him,
                                     this man that a few months later
President Nixon would call, The most dangerous man in America.

a Harvard Psychologist & Professor,
                 used hallucinogenic drugs
                 like Lycergic Acid Diethylamide,
                       peyote/mescaline &
                       psilocylin mushrooms,
                 claiming that they all had therapeutic potentials
for incredible breakthroughs in Psychiatry.

“Turn on, tune in, & drop out.”
were the tagline on the posters downtown.
Leary, I thought could walk the walk,
having spent time behind bars in 29 different jails
as testament to his principles.

I had done my research on non-drug induced
                        states of consciousness;    meditation,
                                                                   religious ecstasy,
                                                                   dreams &
                                                                   out-of-body experiences;
that to have a psychedelic experience, one needed
to understand that it was not the drug
                       that produced the transcendent event--
                       it merely was the key
that unlocked & opened the mind; freeing
                       the central nervous system
                                                       of its ordinary patterns.

Sure, when I arrived at the Theater,
                   I was offered those LSD sugar cubes,
                                         the dried magic mushrooms
                                         & the green chunks of peyote--
but I passed on all of them.

The place was packed, & the overwhelming
stench of unwashed hippy bodies
& marijuana smoke nearly choked me, spiced up
                    by two Buddhist monks in yellow robes
                    swinging their incense burners, while
three sitar players set the mood.

Leary entered to cheers,
walked regally to center stage
all dressed in Nehru-white,
and plopped down into the Lotus position,
                     which he maintained for two hours.
                     Ram Dass sat on his right, while
                     Allen Ginsberg sat on his left.

Between musical interludes, he spoke wonderfully
about metaphysical postulates, 
          scientific principles,
          Fascist politics & Life.             When at last he stood up,
                                      I leaped to my feet,
                                      fascinated, intrigued, entranced,
                                      ready to go AWOL,
                                      ready to drop out,
                                      ready to become a disciple.

But he turned & strolled off stage with his entourage 
not noticing me or my enthusiasm,
                                      my voice lost
                     in the middle of that great stoned throbbing throng.

He walked off stage into
the welcoming arms
of the the San Diego PD--
                & I had to reconstruct & reconfigure
                my soaring synapsis’ before
returning to NAS Miramar. 


Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Brian Miller said...

would have been interesting to hear...we need voices to counter the ones that are given us...i am not sure on the LSD...tried it a long while ago...twice...the last was an experience i never want to revisit...but it scared me straight and was the last drug i ever used...

Victoria said...

Thanks for this one, Glann. Because of my "chosen life style" at the time, I was completely off the radar when all of this was going down and have spent the last 25 years trying to catch up. I've heard of him, but didn't know that much. I enjoy it when your poetry takes a didactic turn, such as this one. I have a gut feeling, as well, that if I hadn't gone the direction I went, I would have been up on the Haight or some where such as that. Guess I do have a bit of counter-cultural stuff going on.

Björn Rudberg said...

Those days when unlocking the mind on drugs was in... Too young myself, and probably to scared... Thank you for sharing this experience... (And yoga I have tried)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful narrative poem indeed, felt I was there as I read what you have written. LSD? Experienced a fair few times long time ago, yes indeed, The Doors of Perception as Aldous Huxley wrote and then as he also wrote, Heaven and Hell. Nonetheless, no doubts for me but there are other dimensions of perception and being, after all my friends, isn't that what we often seek in our poetry both reading and writing?

Kate Mia said...

Ahh...to live like Tim..or Jim..Morrison..is a tight rope act.
to stay out of trouble..is
not always
when one is fully free..
but the way i do it..
none of the substance stuff for me...
Tim was right it's all there..
i find my keys
in controlled
place for
only..to keep it balanced
and hehe..
out of jail.;)!
i think Tim is cool..
and i think i've already had my year
of 15 minutes of fame enough for me..just
by dancing in super walmart

wild and free!

Hmm..and using my brain..to get that
ADA Accommodation..for a bad back..
approved by the super walmart manager 2!


it's gotta be both..
reason without heart
heart without reason...
is a sure way
some kind of broken path..
i think..@least..;)!2!:)!

Anthony Desmond said...

amazingly told tale... Now I just have to do my own research, because I have no idea who Timothy Leary is... I've actually never used drugs; feels like I'm the only person who hasn't tried weed (since my friends have). Loved how you say drugs are just the key, and not the entire door that we must walk through, it is US. I've been a little slack with meditation lately - I wonder if one could get "high" from complete inner peace...

Wolfsrosebud said...

wonderful read and take on the prompt... it's hard when heroes fall... but the wisdom one can glean.

Arushi Ahuja said...

possibly the most interesting lecture one can ever hear! ive only just heard the boring ones in which you dint really need any drugs to dose off or go into the day dreaming trance mode!! :)

Anonymous said...

Turn on! Tune In! & Drop out!

Excellent poem and it fits with the prompt. I love it my friend.

Timothy Leary is one of my biggest influences in writing. I love him and I miss him.


Anonymous said...

Glenn - your poetry always enlightens and delights me - what a story teller you are! K

Anonymous said...

I was interested in seeing where you went with this one - loving the theatre is almost like a living dream.

I remember Timothy Leary - I had a girlfriend who did acid - she used to get flashbacks sometimes.... that was the nightmare.

alan1704 said...

interesting and enlightening, some things i think are best left read and i leave the experience to others. Too much in life to cloud it.

Susan said...

Dramatic! So, yes, it's a little before my time, but it's hard to know Ram Dass as "Be here now" and Ken Kesey's writing without hearing all the Leary and Ginsberg stories too. I could visualize the scene as you laid it out carefully, showing the network of overlapping counter cultures.
Isn't it "turn on, tune in, drop out?" or tune in, turn on ... something about the order ....

Anonymous said...

Tmothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg together on a stage! Enough to get high on. Just their speech and poetry is mind altering.

Bodhirose said...

Enjoyed this account very much, Glenn...thanks for sharing. I would have been someone in that audience too if I could have. I own this very trippy CD of Timothy Leary speaking on his various philosophies. I knew that LSD and I would not have agreed with one another but was not opposed to a little weed now and then...

wielenga said...

"Far out" story about hippie culture, Glenn...just want to thank you for your service with the Navy :)

Arathi Harihar said...

thanks for writing this...isn't it amazing that what we search through so many ways is inside us but we are looking outside...and what all circus we do.. :)

Linda Rogers said...

I don't really know much about Timothy Leary except for a song from my childhood days about him. What an experience to see him lecture and then be taken into custody. What a powerful lesson and message in action.