Jim Morrison’s Wilderness Volume 1: The Lost Writings

This is where The Lizard King parted ways with us.

Graffiti_Rosario_-_Jim_MorrisonI always hated Jim Morrison. He was what I wanted to be and I assumed he couldn’t possibly deserve it. When I started reading his poetry, I brought my negative attitude with me. I felt vindicated with every cliché. I wanted to destroy the myth of Jim Morrison, the myth he lived, a wild fiery sprint from ordinary, a screaming tear through the night woods of youth, a lingering flash blindness and whispered stories.

He was a consummate borrower. Another way to say this is his poetry is pregnant with reverent homage to great writers. I wish this was a fault, but it’s not. We can never reach farther than when standing on the shoulders of giants.

A man rakes leaves into
a heap in his yard, a pile,
& leans on his rake &
burns them utterly.
The fragrance fills the forest
children pause & heed the
smell, which will become
nostalgia in several years

It’s a poem about change, acquired wisdom, innocence, youth, a moment captured in sense memory, universal and unique, and he’s riffing on “Easter 1916” by William Butler Yeats, which is also a poem about those same five things. Changed utterly. Transformed utterly. A terrible beauty is born.

Everyone knows the worshipful biography No One Here Gets Out Alive. Everyone knows the Oliver Stone film. The real Jim Morrison is a man in a mirror. He is nothing without his audience. He wants to be for them what they want to see. Now I’m doing it. Those are Ben Folds’ words.

One school bus crashed w/a train
        This was the Crossroads.
               Mercury strained.
     I couldn’t get out of my seat.
            The road was littered
              w/dead jitterbugs.
            we’ll be late for class.

He is parting ways with us here. We will be late for class. He does not care anymore. The road is littered with corpses that did not fulfill their destiny. Here’s luck, for we know not where we’re going. Being a military brat, there’s a good chance he heard this poem recited as a toast, right before his family got shipped to another state.

          I keep expecting a
knock on the door
well, that’s what you
get for living around

a Knock? would shatter
        my dreams’ illusions
              deportment & composure
The struggle of a poor poet
         to stay out of the grips
     of novels & gambling
                   & journalism

Loneliness, the view from the top, wishing there was more, another peak, a highlanders’ retreat where the border was less important, totally disconnected, unable to communicate with the boring fatalist humans swarming in from all sides, believing there is more, the helpless knocking multitude, selling what they don’t understand. A knock on the door. I wish I didn’t flinch when the phone rings.

There is no easy path to redemption. We’re not even out of the woods yet. The path is set, cut through the wilderness like a trail of burning kerosene. We can follow, or stand on the flickering edge, cursing the foolhardy zealots who dare.

Categories: Arts/Literature

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3 replies »

  1. I think Morrison’s poetry is for an audience of one. His lyrics are his published work. These are the thoughts of a man who understood what was happening to him, fame, drugs, death, and longed to share those thoughts via a connection he could not achieve. I won’t argue aesthetics. He’s not a scholar by any stretch. Nor am I. His poetry is rough hewn timber, big ol’ knots and everything. There is, however, a question hanging from the scaffolding. Who’s in charge here? It takes courage to ask that question.

    I read your article. It’s a well deserved send up of a conspiracy theory. I empathize with your distrust/distaste regarding all things Mr. Mojo Risin. I recently reread A Light In The Attic by Shel Silverstein. It’s positively juvenile. That does not preclude the possibility that it has merit. I recognize spontaneity and immediacy as important components of poetic expression, and Morrison seems to be pouring out his young dumb heart. Here’s the last bit.

    After 4 yrs. I’m left w/a
    mind like a fuzzy hammer

    regret for wasted nights
    & wasted years
    I pissed it all away
    American Music

    Good-bye America
    I love you

    Money from home
    good luck
    stay out of trouble

    It’s a journal with line breaks, a primary source, like Kurt’s journals except I didn’t care about this guy until I read his side of it. He was not in control. He just went with it, and let the chips fall. Brave, naive, self-destructive, sure, and uneducated too, yet we are all in his thrall as the jazz poet lizard king. How did he do that?