Ryan wanted to buy some DMT, which is ground up toè plant or something like that. We took a mototaxi from our relaxing hammock hostel to the Belen market in Iquitos, and bought a big bag of it. You can also buy a baby jaguar at this market. We bought mud boots and repellent for our walk to Kapitari, because we heard the mud on the walk would be up to our knees.
The boat to Manacamiri took about 30 minutes. From there, we hiked through mud and blistering, humid heat for about an hour. Ryan had a rolling suitcase and had to carry it above his head because he brought a rolling suitcase into the Amazon.
We made it to Kapitari just as night fell. We embraced our host, paid him up front for two weeks, and he showed us to our cabins. We bathed in the slimy cool muddy lake, then a plant juice cleanse where he beat our backs with plants. After the cleanse, we dressed and walked to the food tent where three women were cooking over a fire.
“Are you doing the ayahuasca ceremony tonight?”
The old woman looked up at me. “That will be enough food.”
She smiled and Ryan and I walked into the ceremony hut, found our spot on our beds, and relaxed. We had no idea what to expect. I was calm and nervous all at once. Ryan was the first to be called up to drink. I was next. I walked up to the shaman, who poured the concoction into a small coconut cup that I reached up and took with both hands. I drank. It tasted like thick chalky coffee and the bile that creeps up your throat.
I went back to my mattress and waited for everyone in the room—three more people to take. Then the ceremony began. I laid on my back for the first twenty minutes, as the room quieted and dimmed to black. I rolled onto my side to ask Ryan if he felt anything. I didn’t feel anything. He rolled over on his side and said “maybe a little.” His face was replaced with a long flowing beard and white hair. I laughed and said it was hitting me and laid back on the mattress. He whispered “mas suave Dan.” Then my life began flashing before me.
For the first few hours, I saw really intense intense visuals; girls I’ve loved, stars, trippy things, mardi gras lights, casinos, girls tempting me. I vomited because I thought I had to, the lizards and snakes asked me to. “Ayahuasca es medicina, no es peligrosa,” the shaman kept chanting.
In the first stage, a woman suspended in perfect black space drew me toward her with her fingers. She convinced me to put an oxygen mask over my face and I exhaled and was brought through the connecting tube and into a spaceship coffin. The woman then closed my spaceship coffin and we toured around. I saw my parents, Sara, and my sister. Deep, deep, hallucinations. I’ve never seen or known that other people’s faces could be seared so permanently in my brain. I got to briefly say hello to ex-girlfriends and I sometimes wanted them to stay but then vomited those fleeting impulses away. All my past was brought up and I was able to focus truly on each moment, or experience that I wanted to. Object permanence in real time. We build up tough exteriors and this tears them down.
I thought about my future and was told by the spirits that the answers are already inside of me, and that at each juncture, I’ll know what to do and who to reach out to. I thought of brothers and friendship. I thought of nature and breathing life into plants as they breathed their life back into me. I thought of creating a child with Sara. We would be on our own together, moving through the jungle. I sat back and watched myself in my natural state throughout college, growing, becoming me.
In the end, we become ourselves. I glimpsed my own mortality; this is the same chemical that is released before you die. In my moment of death, my life flashed forward and backwards and I wrung my brain dry of fears, guilts, insecurities, and loves. I kept rotating around myself, each time trying to reach out and change a bit of me. I asked where I’ll go, but the spirit said I’ll know soon enough, quieted me, held me as I drifted off into a happy lucid dream.
Now here I am. Lying alone in bed. Kind of scared. In the thick of things. Middle of the Amazon. Shamans. The sounds of the jungle. The sound of animals fighting. My own hut. The idea of being alone. You can’t be afraid of being alone. We’re never all alone. Besides this place.
I am scared I am exiting my youth, Madeleine
that the time has come to pass
for me to sit cross-legged
on the floor changing people's minds.
I am scared I'm becoming a man,
a fixed point, a temperament stuck.
water that runs over the same land again and again can't help but a river become.
I press my pen down harder
and those fantastic nights
being cold and inhaling
stuttering up my chest as a
hand touches my stomach
crying for what I could be.
does sex get dull as we age?
I am scared to leave my youth my friends
I have always been aware of leaving my youth
I could throw up.
I could throw up and not because the future freaks me out, but because we must act with intention and mean it. we must be what we thought we could be.
we mix our martinis, we shake ourselves off at the stall.
come on dan, my dad says behind me.
I'm skiing and he's behind me in case I fall.
The thing I’m best at is standing still.
My heart, like everyone else’s, pounds in my stomach.
But what if my fate is to be suspended in thick gravity–
observing and turning over everything I see?
I wonder if home is short for homeostasis.
I wonder if my young lungs turn to static drizzle as I age.
And all the while, the world moves in slow motion,
produces currents that rock mountains to sleep.
I hear a calm voice calling out to me,
if only I knew how to reach.
i don't really get the tides.
i know, i know,
the moon and magnets and magic–
so you're saying it goes away here
and deepens over there?
we tried to build an ocean at home the other night
i placed a small bowl in your hands
the water ate the sand
we spun and laughed but couldn't get it right
too many rooms
too many lamps
not enough light.
it was getting dark out and the shadows were stretching long and thin against the bricks.
you know those scenes in movies where an old woman throws the bath water out of the window and hits someone and they start yelling up and down at each other? that didn't happen, but we were walking through one of those streets where it could have happened.
i watched her thin accordion dress move at her calves and hug her waist and i was happy to be in Paris with her and walk along the water at night with the lights shaking on the surface. we turned right into a loud alleyway. i knew where i was going so I couldn't get lost. the pack of cigarettes lost all romantic value with the girl coughing up blood on the cover. they don't tell you that the mosquitoes bite in Paris. That it gets so hot at night in the summer and that if you open the windows in St. Germain people are laughing until sunrise. i kind of wish i stayed out but i didn't know anyone or where to go and had an early flight. so i got eaten alive and closed my eyes.
Excuse me, please be careful around the art.
With the same care and force you’d tell a child to put down a long, sharp knife.
Everyone walked with their hands behind their backs. Swaying.
He was at the Dia sitting in the middle of the exhibit by On Kawara. He wanted to just pick up the blue one in the middle and run out with it. How far would he get? Are museums set up like mazes to catch a running art thief? Do the police find art thieves? The blue one with the rounded sans serif. Probably made in Buenos Aires, maybe Barcelona. How is it attached to the wall? How easily could he pick it up? What does the canvas feel like? Would anyone notice that april 5th 1968 is missing? He could certainly run past the docents. They'd slip on the gymnasium floorboards. Was this place once a gym? Did the artist ask for his paintings to be displayed on a white wall perpendicular to a gymnasium floor?
She was wearing all black. An unflattering cotton stretchy dress. With slippery shoes that would slip on the floorboards as he juked past her. He wouldn't even need to juke past her let’s be honest. But he’d do it for the other visitors. It would spice up their day. Add a touch of flair to their sit-down dinners with friends. When they were asked to identify the thief they'd gush at the scene he'd made. Is art meant to be stolen? Is it meant to be property?
I got up from the cushion in the middle of the room and walked right up to the april 5th and lifted it from its hinge hook with my right hand. I put in under my armpit and strolled out of the building. I looked up and caught eyes with the security cameras. I wanted to walk over and do that. Who's going to catch me. I’d be back in San Francisco by midnight. My palms were sweaty. I walked around some more. Poked my head around. Walked out empty handed.
it's so weird
there are so many worlds out there
and when you're not tuned in they disappear
cemeteries, car depots. Hibachi restaurants and silent majorities
the House of Representatives
gone in an instant
we peel tape from apples to fill the void
we pick up toys
I just tried virtual reality in my eyes for the first time
it was wretched you should try it and buy it and tell your friends so they'll invite you out again.
memory sets are like freezer chests your dad packs in the car.
will we drink milk over the weekend?
who knows- –bring it, there’s room.
and I cannot read into the future.