Monday, December 26, 2011

ballad from a can of bones

God is just one strange hifalutin’ collection of bilious government bull manure
He’d make any righteous varmint bellow an’ cuss through yesterday an’ tomorrow -
But hey! Look who busted that mean old goat moustache bender for a sob story
An’ roped him to the razor backs of rustled critters cut loose in ghost dance country.
Let him ride! We’ll throw our wild dreams yonder like sweet mountain gold dust.

We trust that any wild howling night walk through the grass is goddamn righteous fun.
Let’s wander down Snake River – bleedin’ with the green sky devil’s whirlin’ rain water.
Let’s sit easy, drinkin’ coffee so precious heavy it’d float a .45 hog leg and scald the snow.
We’re singing that brave explosive stampede in life’s magic thunderstorm cat house
We’re riding ’em home and laughin’ furious at the tumble weed in the bitter killin’ wind.

Strong sun in the snowy winter is a fast free gallopin’ high minded song of mornin’,
But in the young prairie summer-time we’re riding through the sage brush hollerin’
We’re high plain drifters snortin’ crazy danger – but hankering mostly to see beauty.
That’s the way with all true brush-fire rodeo romance under the sky’s mad moon
When there’s nothin’ left but joy and freedom and a straight trail to the edge of death.

After drinkin that darn ‘Rattle Brand’ beer my grizzly ranch ain’t no trouble pardner,
I never git no mean rough saddle remorse ’round here, and no horse’ll buck me neither.
No cursed cowardly thief’ll poke my mother’s shy pony when she’s hitched to the rail
Or try to dally-do lasso us like a slow horn steers runin’ round eye-sore and beat out.
Listen bad feller, don’t you cheat us over nothin’ or you’ll know fear and eat dirt both.

So giv’em hell! Live long boy and girls! Bare boot spur any big bragging critters outta here.
We’ll camp above the sky pastures where the women all wear hot gun chaps and big hats.
I’ll ride through the crazy morning with one arm wavin’ free – calling to the whistle-pigs
Stomping through the sage brush and calling down the festival lights of circumstances
Flying with open reins up the red road plains into the glaring champing gusset of sunset.


January 2002


Composed employing Shelly Juster and Bill Bone’s Yuletide gift: a can of ‘Cowboy Refrigerator Magnetic Poetry’ and ‘Cowboy Refrigerator Magnetic Poetry add-on pack’.

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About Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam)

As the caption on the author-designed cover of Doc Togden's (Ngakpa Chögyam) upcoming collection of poetry ravings of a mild mannered maniac reads:

Tantra is Art - and a tantrika explores the sense-fields through the Arts. This work paints with the cadences of language - because the poet is both a painter and musician. He marvels at existence whilst lampooning the prevalent sociopathy of spirituality. As semantic Jazz - linguistic density jives with space, taking readers into realms where linear logic is only one possible vector amongst many. Comedy and tragedy dance, provoking a cascade of surreal impressions that change with each reading. Rock & Roll lyrics sung by dakinis erupt in counterpoint to the paradoxical hymns of a 'vicar or vajrayana' - a trans-Atlantic Englishman who raves, tongue-in-cheek, on the nature of reality. This is the first volume to be published in the contemporary genre of 'Critical Mass Poetics' as defined by the author and his students.

On the phenomenon of having two names, he writes:

"I appeared on FaceBook as Doc Togden because I wanted a fresh start in terms of the Arts. I have often found a dual prejudice to exist. If one presents as a musician / artist one is not taken seriously by Buddhists. If one presents as a Buddhist one is not taken seriously by musicians / artists. This is obviously a generalisation – and as such, probably meaningless for anyone apart from myself. It is true however, that Captain Beefheart had to give up his Rock musician persona to be taken seriously as a painter. A few Tibetan Lamas—such a Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—have managed to evade the censorious radar of common opinion – but the same largesse of view would not seem available to the inconsequential eccentric yogi and yogini. Doc Togden is as much my name as Ngakpa Chögyam because the name on my passport—and other legal documents—is Dr Chögyam Togden. The Tibetan designation ‘ngakpa’ is hard to pronounce for most people and so, as I have a doctorate in Vajrayana Psychology I use that in everyday association outside my rôle as Lama. The title doctor releases me from having to designate myself by gender and appeals to my sense of humour vis-à-vis my fondness for Doc Holliday and a variety of musicians who have ‘Doc’ as their first name. I have five FaceBook friends called Doc and they are all musicians.

The time has now arrived to merge Doc Togden and Ngakpa Chögyam – and to allow them to be as they have always been. Hopefully those who may have looked askance at either will feel reconciled to the fact that they can talk with me as an artist and Buddhist teacher without feeling wary on the one hand or fearful of potential religious polemic on the other. I have no desire to convert anyone to Buddhism – but I do have a desire to offer aspects of Buddhism to the world of Art and Art to those who practise Buddhism. I believe there to be a common language – an essential language that speaks of the timeless efflorescence of the elements. The Arts arise from vision—from the empty space of primal creativity—and that space is the space everyone can access. Buddhists say that everyone is essentially a Buddha. I take from that that everyone is essentially an Artist. Now . . . did Ngakpa Chögyam say that, or did Doc Togden say that? Who ever said it, he’d also like to say that there is essentially no difference."

On Facebook, Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam) describes himself as a "Teacher / Artist: painter; poet; author; life-style choreographer, and musician (vocalist, harp, rhythm bass, and 12 string / resophonic guitars)."

In reference to the roles of "Teacher" and "life-style choreographer", the informed reader will notice the uncanny resemblance of Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam) to Ngak'chang Rinpoche, whom together with Khandro Déchen are the lineage holders of the Aro gTér. The Aro gTér is a stream of Vajrayana Buddhism in which ordination is congruous with romance, marriage, and family life that focuses on the teaching and practice of the Inner Tantras from the point of view of Dzogchen, an essential non-dual teaching.

As a writer, Doc Togden's (Ngakpa Chögyam) most recent books include an odd boy and wisdom eccentrics.