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Michael Heller

For Carl

A Chinese poet walking, about as fast as you walk, strode among cloudy peaks looking for the Temple of Accumulated Fragrance. Somewhere, he took an odd turn and found himself in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Before him was a pond. He gazed down at a goldfish, swimming lazily, its scales gleaming in the sun and wondered, “if I meditate, I’m afraid I’ll I find that that Temple of Accumulated Fragrance which I have been searching for all my life is really in Secaucus, New Jersey, no?” Immediately, he pulled himself up straight, breaking the trance, and looked ahead, only to find he was facing a bit of Americana, a monk who resembled Allen Ginsberg davening and reciting in a Yiddish accent, “Vee are loo-n-ely, loo-n-elier than Villiam Carlos Villiams before a mirror.” “Oh boy,” he exclaimed, inner mysterioso, “the company is interesting, but is wisdom always this crazy? The only fragrance I want now is of paprika, the hot kind stirred into my goulash. I know just the diner to get it at.” As he started to move off, his gaze lowered to the pond, and at that moment, the goldfish leapt into the air and fell back into the water right on top of its own reflection, dispersing the image among the ripples. “Ah so!” or “A-Okay!” (depending on the translation) said the poet to himself. “I am enlightened, I was enlightened,” and he is, he always was.

On the occasion of Carl Rakosi’s one hundredth birthday
November 6, 2003

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