The Celebration of the Lizard

Jim Morrison of The Doors

We know him from The Doors, but he was also a decent poet. He had to be, particularly considering his original songs, particularly in his group’s initial album, The Doors (1967). I am not that much into rock music, but I did take the trouble to visit Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris after he died of a drug overdose.

Here is one of my favorites among his poems:

The Celebration of the Lizard

Lions in the street & roaming
Dogs in heat, rabid, foaming
A beast caged in the heart of a city

The body of his mother
Rotting in the summer ground.
He fled the town.

He went down South
And crossed the border
Left the chaos & disorder
Back there
Over his shoulder.

One morning he awoke in a green hotel
W/a strange creature groaning beside him.
Sweat oozed from its shiny skin.

Is everybody in?
The ceremony is about to begin.

Wake up!
You can’t remember where it was.
Had this dream stopped?
The snake was pale gold glazed & shrunken.
We were afraid to touch it.
The sheets were hot dead prisons.
And she was beside me, old,
She’s, no; young.
Her dark red hair.
The white soft skin.
Now, run to the mirror in the bathroom,
She’s coming in here.
I can’t live thru each slow century
of her moving.
I let my cheek slide down
The cool smooth tile
Feel the good cold stinging blood.
The smooth hissing snakes
of rain…

Once I had a little game
I liked to crawl back in my brain
I think you know the game I mean
I mean the game called “Go Insane”

Now you should try this little game
Just close your eyes forget your name
forget the world, forget the people
and we'll erect a different steeple.

This little game is fun to do.
Just close your eyes, no way to lose
And I'm right here, I'm going too
Release control, we're breaking through

Way back deep into the brain
Way back past the realm of pain
Back where there’s never any rain

And the rain falls gently on the town
And over the heads of all of us

And in the labyrinth of streams beneath
Quiet unearthly presence of
Nervous hill dwellers in the gentle hills around
Reptiles abounding
Fossils, caves, cool air heights

Each house repeats a mold
Windows rolled
A beast car locked in against morning
All now sleeping
Rugs silent, mirrors vacant
Dust blind under the beds of lawful couples
Wound in sheets
And daughters, smug with semen
Eyes in their nipples

Wait! There’s been a slaughter here

Don’t stop to speak or look around
Your gloves and fan are on the ground
We’re getting out of town
We’re going on the run
And you’re the one I want to come!

Not to touch the earth, not to see the sun
Nothing left to do but run, run, run
Let's run, let's run

House upon the hill, moon is lying still
Shadows of the trees witnessing the wild breeze
Come on, baby, run with me
Let's run

Run with me, run with me, run with me
Let's run

The mansion is warm at the top of the hill
Rich are the rooms and the comforts there
Red are the arms of luxuriant chairs
And you won't know a thing till you get inside

Dead president's corpse in the driver's car
The engine runs on glue and tar
Come on along, not going very far
To the east to meet the Czar

Run with me, run with me, run with me
Let's run

Some outlaws live by the side of a lake
The minister's daughter's in love with the snake
Who lives in a well by the side of the road
Wake up, girl! We're almost home

Sun, sun, sun
Burn, burn, burn
Moon, moon, moon
I will get you soon...soon...soon!

I am the Lizard King
I can do anything

We came down the rivers and highways
We came down from forests and falls
We came down from Carson and Springfield
We came down from Phoenix enthralled

And I can tell you the names of the kingdom
I can tell you the things that you know
Listening for a fistful of silence
Climbing valleys into the shade

For seven years I dwelt in the loose palace of exile
Playing strange games with the girls of the island
Now I have come again to the land of the fair
And the strong and the wise

Brothers and sisters of the pale forest
Children of night
Who among you will run with the hunt?

Now night arrives with her purple legion
Retire now to your tents and to your dreams
Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth
I want to be ready

A Martian at the Love-In

Poster for One of Bill Graham’s Presentations at the Fillmore

Poster for One of Bill Graham’s Presentations at the Fillmore

Yes, I went through the Sixties—and a wild time it was! That is, for some people. By the time I reached the (chemically-induced) age of puberty, around the age of 23, I felt badly out of place. And I would have even if I were not in swinging Los Angeles in 1967. I had just come off the operating table for a pituitary tumor in September 1966 and was still beginning to imagine life without daily severe frontal headaches pressing on my optic nerve.

Girls were pretty much out of the question. As for drugs, I was newly on hydrocortisone, thyroid, and testosterone (and still am, and will be for my whole life); and I didn’t want to see how LSD, psylocybin, and other psychedelic compounds would act on me. Also, within a few months after my arrival in L.A., I was told I had aseptic necrosis of the left hip and had to be on crutches for two years. Hence, I felt like a Martian surrounded by people who were intent on having a wildly good time.

I have never gone to a rock concert. I couldn’t even drive until 1985 because I was on a blood pressure medication (Catapres) that made me narcoleptic. On car rides, I fell asleep within minutes.

Rock Impresario Bill Graham

Rock Impresario Bill Graham

Today, Martine and I went to the Skirball Museum and saw their special exhibit on Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution. It was a revelation to me of all the things I had missed. Until this afternoon, I had no idea of the role that Graham played in sponsoring rock concerts over a quarter of a century until he died in a helicopter crash in a storm at the age of 60.

I eventually outgrew my Martian isolation. As a young woman, Martine was more familiar than I was with the big rock bands, as she listened to them all on her radio when she was growing up in New Jersey. In the 1980s, I began to catch up with the music—though in another fifteen years, I rejected all pop music in favor of classical music by dead guys in powdered wigs.

But, no matter, I was reminded of my early days in Los Angeles. I would wait until Fridays, when the L.A. Free Press was distributed. There I read about all the love-ins, the psychedelic power of oven-roasted banana skins (“bananadine”), with ads for all the head shops and local concerts. I was never much of a hippy, but it was a yeasty time. It was fun remembering it.