R. Jean Mathieu

“Preta (Smashwords edition)”

Copyright © 2013 by FedoraArts Press.

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In loving memory of Jimmy Karnstedt,

the secret mortar of the City,

for upholding the whole cosmology of San Francisco

It was the little dharma bum Owen Weinstein and me, sitting in my tiny apartment in North Beach and cooking up macaroni and beans, when Michael died and came back. We were the angelheaded hipsters, poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed, we were contemplating jazz. I was all up on Friday night’s poetry gig down at the Six, while Owen had just said something like, “what is the last train to nirvana, off this samsara wheel of wail?” and Michael’s precise and muscular knock on the door, but too low. I opened up and looked down and saw him crumpled up like a first draft somebody tossed in the garbage. He was laying in a small pool of blood and pale and ice-cold to the touch but he was still breathing, by God, he still had blood in his veins and life in his bones. That was my man.

I asked him what happened as I tried to pick him up, and I could feel bodhichitta rising up, the mercy and the selfless love and the desire to help that beatifies saints and makes the bodhisattvas the angels of mercy. His brawny body was wrong it was closed-heart cold but I felt his rough, cool cheek against my collarbone move quiet, trying to talk. I shifted around so his lips lay sprawl across my neck, just under my ear. I could only hear Owen shouting a little, but I heard every word Michael was whispering.

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