N a p a l m H e a l t h S p a : R e p o r t 2 0 0 8
(after reading Cliff Fyman's ATLANTIC HOTEL IN LONG BEACH)
beer all the way from
Vinnie driving, he newly clean from H and teaching high school
me desperate to get away from my wife who'd told me
just hours before that she was leaving the marriage
(this after playing happy beside me in the mountain snow all day with her family)
Vinnie let me ramble but to my: "I can't believe it--we were gonna be famous
rock and rollers" said:
"Fame's a bitch goddess worse than yr wife."
We drove on, the hours a numb blur of stabbing headlights.
From his house it was a few blocks to the once grand boardwalk
fresh snow lay thick and muffled every sound but the ocean’s
love for the brilliant white sand.
There was a pit where once a grand hotel held the newlywed dreams of couples
long since grandparents or in graves under snow.
a vow to rescue beauty from depression but I hadn't had enough to drink.
The moon shot out from the clouds so that the world was black and white
and everything seemed new and broken at the same time.
“Don’t know how you folks can live in a place like that
where everything burns”
the dump truck guy said before hauling away trash
3000 miles from our home in the
at that moment
50 m.p.h. winds fanned burning madrone, pine, oak and redwood.
The forestry dept. evacuated the Tibetan Buddhist conference center
my neighbors in safety were on TV, some waving,
some interviewed: “Well I got up at 5:30 to pack important papers
and the dog—say hi to Pard.” (camera on Australian sheepdog)
My diabetic cat went into shock being driven through the flames
The orchard was on fire
Our teacher had time only to take his mother, wife, dogs and cell phone
Everyone gathered downhill at the market to field calls and to check where
the fire was by calling our friends who’d stayed to fight.
A retreatent struggled to take a heavy metal statue of Vajrakilya Buddha
with her but left it in the front yard— wrathful guardian covered in ash—
her cabin later incinerated behind it.
Guilty pang of giddiness hearing I too might have lost my home
no more weddings to cater, eager nervous brides on telephone
no more aching feet, appetizers or spinach ricotta stuffed pasta shells—
but then dread and worry—no more income for the center or me…
That night in the Catskills we heard reports from teachers and friends
everyone up late eating, drinking too much and sleeping little.
The next day we began our return no new reports—the Governor
declared a disaster— but only two cabins and the redwood
wedding amphitheater gone.
The conflagration raged through other canyons, our land became the
firebreak, the line 40 firetrucks and forestry crews from around the state
drew in the sacred dirt.
They saved our home and everything that would remind us of home
and the dining hall and kitchen where I work, and the World Peace Stupa
where we’d buried treasure and swords, guns and broken wedding rings
and the meditation hall’s thirty-five foot golden statue of Padmasambhava
where we practice Buddhism to accept impermanence
and they say: Practice as if your hair were on fire...
The inferno was only a quarter contained three days later
flare-ups behind the bookstore and above the three-year retreat camp
smoke hung thick in the oily air but the danger passed
heading somewhere else