[The following fragment was found typed on a single sheet of paper inserted between pages 242 and 243 in a second-hand copy of The Works of Thomas Vaughan edited by Arthur Edward Waite with a New Foreword by Kenneth Rexroth, published by University Books in 1968.]
After sitting through all it takes to watch Robinson Crusoe on Mars, I headed out for a walk down Orient Way to clear out that garish old sci-fi color from my head. A slice and a Coke didn’t do it. I continued walking. When I came to the gates of the cemetery on the side of the hill, I threw caution to the landfill and walked right in, suffering no harassment. You’d think they’d post a guard or at least a hoary cripple with malicious eye to ward off casual interlopers. After all, Joey Ramone is buried around here somewhere.
The serpentine lanes of the cemetery were well-shaded. Soon enough I arrived at the grave of a poet, his family interred there too, but I kept going for fear I might be stirred to floral utterance, as my head was still clotted with that cinematic sci-fi flamboyance. Besides, plenty of words were already inscribed in stone all around here: “Herman”, “Love Always”, “Terhune”, “Our Family,” “Fake”, “I’d Rather Be Flying.” A lifetime could be spent transcribing them into a long poem that everybody would talk about but nobody read. I strolled on along the cemetery lanes thinking about Charles Olson on Cole’s Island. No birds sang. At a certain crossroads, the groundskeeper had placed a trash barrel. It was brimming with malodorous grass clippings and greeny wilted flowers topped with a clip-on tie.
Next I came upon the grave of a famous artist who died young in a plane crash. I sat down with my back against his marker and took in the view. At the bottom of the hill where the cemetery gave way to former marshland once a vast glacial lake, somebody had built a fake castle, a gaudy tower. Next to that stood a glassy office building that looked real enough but no telling what might be going on inside. I wondered if the castle had a dungeon or maybe a bat cave. Was Adam West still alive? These and other thoughts I wrote down in a little notebook.
As I was doing so, a long black limousine rolled past. This I remember. The back window was open and an old man wearing a Nehru jacket was staring out at me or maybe at my notebook. It was a little creepy but I’ll take any readers I can get. The limo disappeared into the far reaches of the cemetery, leaving me with nothing else to write about, so I closed the notebook and went back to pondering the view. It wasn’t exactly picturesque, so imagination must have gotten the better of me—to judge by the strange things subsequently recorded in the notebook. I have no memory of any of it.
Clouds of passenger pigeons? Spreading chestnut trees? Hemlocks striding across boardroom tables? And what’s all this nonsense about an upside down mountain, its peak crowned with grave wax and smoldering mummy rags? Why did I descend it? Did I really sign the summit register? Was that your name in the book too? Who are you? And why was the canister filled with Space Food Sticks and Tang? Does anybody worry anymore about attracting ground sloths? “How dear you will be to me if you could just hold your ambrosia!” Who said that? Oh little hermit thrush, what are you doing here? And just for the ashy record, Force Majeure was a great band. Too bad they broke up. They couldn’t lay off the Ex-Lax.