Tag Archives: Vincent Ferrini

Interlude #1 Perfume

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Bardo, A (Stephen Calhoun, 2015)


Forgive & let go
open the head
free the heart

be wary of vengeance
a life for a death

if you can’t
see anyone entire
there’s no one

not even you
aha aha

death is a giving up
risen as having gone
to be

the theatre of art
the spirit of fact

what you don’t know
give into

what the mind thinks

(Vincent Ferrini, The Pleroma, 2008)
Kenneth Warren wrote the Introduction.


A young man had finished his schooling and thus was hanging around the house.

His mother told him, “It is exactly the right moment to figure out what you are going to do with your life.”

The young man nodded his head. He also decided to get out of the house and spend more time in the village and observe what was going on every day there–because he hoped he would discover a clue about what he was to do.

For most of the next month he did exactly this. Over those weeks he found himself gravitating to a healer, a specialist in the ills of the back and spine. He observed people barely able to make it through the front door because their pain was so bad. He observed people returning after their treatment too. He figured these were follow up visits. These people were apparently free of back pain.

One day he announced to his mother,

“I’m going to ask the good back doctor, Dr. Fine, if he will take me on as an apprentice.”

His mother turned to him and nodded.

The young man felt good about his decision. One morning he knocked on the door moments after he had observed Dr. Fine arrive for the day’s consultations and treatments. He asked the doctor if he might need an apprentice. The doctor thought for a long moment and replied:

“Yes, you can join me as a student. All you’ll be required to do is watch closely, and, hold all your questions until I come to feel you have spent enough time watching.”

The young man thought to himself, ‘Simple enough,’ and nodded, and told Dr. Fine,

“Thank you very much!”

Over the next several months, the young man arrived everyday at the same time, put on a white lab coat, and, dutifully watched Dr. Fine work with, and on, his patients. As his time being watchful grew, the young man’s list of questions began to shrink.

Then one day, a middle-aged gentlemen somehow dragged himself into the examination room in a terrible state and in pain so great it was hard to watch. But Dr. Fine took a history, had the man lie down and rest, and then sent him home after asking him to make an appointment for a week later.

The young man was surprised by this case. All the previous worst cases looked the same: Dr. Fine would take a history, do an examination, have the patient lie down and rest for an hour, and then he would give the patient a quarter of a pomegranate. He would direct the patient to eat a tenth of the pomegranate each morning. Finally he would schedule a follow up to take place three weeks after the ten day course.

The young man had been Dr. Fine’s watchful apprentice long enough to see how wonderfully effective the pomegranate cure was for the persons stricken with the most terrible back afflictions.

This case was different. At Dr. Fine’s request, this same patient came back three times, and, each time he was sent away without the curative pomegranate. Finally, on the fourth visit, Dr. Fine gave the man the usual course of pomegranate.

A month later this same patient strode through the door for his follow-up appointment. He declared himself ‘a new man,’ and Dr. Fine nodded his affirmation.

The young man bit his tongue. Still, when Dr. Fine closed up for the day, as both stood on the small front porch, the young man turned to Dr. Fine and put to the good doctor his very first question,

“I have to ask this question, for I am disturbed to observe you give your worst cases the pomegranate medicine on their first visit, yet this patient today was made to wait a month. Why?”

The doctor put his hand on the young man’s shoulder,

“You see, every case is actually different, and is unique in its own way. The patient today presented a very difficult case and, likewise, the treatment recognized this, for where many unique cases are resolved by the pomegranate and healing regimen, in this man’s case, his difficulties could only be resolved by time and pomegranates.

With this, Dr. Fine, nodded, turned in the direction of walk home, and departed for the day.

(Adapted from a cassette recording of a presentation of Idries Shah.)

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Filed under adult learning, experiential learning, Kenneth Warren, poetry, psychology, sufism, visual experiments, my art

Perfect Sense

So, Yes
Kids probably don’t know what they’re saying,
and we, we’re one shy of all the stepchildren
it took to get here. In odder moments we’d contemplate
the swathe of water leading to the horizon
and pretend it was the grass had come full circle,
even to this sidewalk of cream and ocher brick. Those
who trespass against us slipped into rephotographed woods,
verifiable, at least for the time being.
He who stumbles at the brink of some great discovery,
perplexed, will endorse for many years
the fox and its entourage, part of some map
of life, he thinks. Emerging
from the shadow of his later career, he slides
into the contiguous states of America, all cherry trees
and floral tributes. It was right to behave as we have done,
he asserts, sending the children on their way
to school, past the graveyard. Evening’s loftiest seminars
can’t dim the force of that apostasy. So, yes,
others had to precede us, meaning we’re lost in a swamp with coevals
who like us because we like to do things with them.
The forced march makes perfect sense under such conditions.
Let’s celebrate then, let there be some refreshing change
overtaking all we were meant to achieve and didn’t.
On the practical side it looks as though their team lost
and ours failed to languish, absent a compelling reason to do so.

John Ashbery (A Worldly Country)

I love the line, really the phrase. “forced march makes perfect sense.”

Now I’ll provide a counter to Ashbery’s suburban sentiment. My colleague and friend Ken sent me a package full of goods, mostly his poetry and prose serial, House Organ. Although I am not much the poetry guy, and my naive prejudices only elevate Shakespeare, Rumi, and ee cummings, the fact is that I discovered a copy of Vincent Ferrini’s last collection, The Pleroma, had been sent in the package. I only discovered it when I was about to toss the mailer it was hiding in. ‘Wait, there’s something else!’

As it happened, Bucky had given me Ferrini’s Know Fish decades ago. I devoured it because about all I know of Ferrini is that experiencing his poetry is–simply–to be beguiled.

My favorite from Know Fish:

Tird Finga

Da words n thought
r da absurd
preamble of the turd

is like dis undergroun
ovagroun tecknishun
who spies on all
n flusha ideas down

is a mantra
clockt n evyting
trackin ezenshas
n ring a ling!

eacha passa test
by hell bent
no face
who butt da bent

is da Flog da lurch
n evey gentry
who like dis zpecshal
wa care fa you entry

Well, apologies to Ashbery, but sum ting is seeing the forced march.

from The Pleroma


black silk skin
for all dimensions

I can travel with the current

poverty of the Spirit
is the mortal
dis ease

Some march, others travel. Reminded of Shams of Tabriz, “Follow the perfume, not the tracks.”

review by Ken Warren

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