Fred had Watched a Lot of Kung Fu Episodes

so when the policeman asked
to see his driver’s license, he said
Does the wind need permission

from the hedgehog to blow?
which resulted in a search of the car,
which miraculously yielded nothing

since Fred had swallowed all the mescaline already
and was just beginning to fall in love
with the bushy caterpillar eyebrows
of the officer in question.

In those days we could identify
the fingerprints on a guitar string
by the third note of the song
broadcast from the window of a passing car,

but we couldn’t tell the difference
between a personal disaster
and “having an experience,”

so Fred thought being locked up for the night
was kind of fun,
with the graffiti on the drunk-tank wall
chattering in Mandarin
and the sentient cockroaches coming out to visit
in triplicate.

Back then it wasn’t a question of pleasure or pain,
it wasn’t a question of getting to the top
then trying not to fall at any cost.

It was a question of staying tuned in,
one episode at a time,
said Fred to himself
as he walked home the next morning
under the spreading lotus trees on Walnut Street
feeling Oriental.


- Tony Hoagland, Donkey Gospel