Poem by Anne Whitehouse

 

It Wasn’t An Hallucination
Carlos Santana speaks

Angels have appeared
at crucial times in my life,
to show me the way to go.
The first was the manager
who made us play Woodstock.
“This concert will change your life.
Your heads will get so big
you’ll need a shoehorn
to get through a doorway.”
We rolled our eyes: “We don’t
buy into this rock star thing.”

When we got to Woodstock,
we found Jerry Garcia,
looking as beatific as a yogi
in a Himalayan cave.
“It’s a mess here,” he said.
“You’re not going on for twelve hours.
Might as well get comfortable.
Take this,” and he gave me mescaline.

It wasn’t the first time
Jerry had fed me psychedelics.
Once in Vegas, without my knowing,
he shot a syringe of acid in my Coke can.
After we played our set, we left.
As I walked down the gate to the plane,
the hallway got longer and longer,
The colors in the carpet oozed like lava.
At take-off I looked out the window,
and the lights of Vegas looked
like Aztec hieroglyphs I couldn’t read.

When I accepted Jerry’s offer, I thought,
I’ll be chill by the time we go on.
But scarcely two hours later,
Jerry thrust his face in mine.
“If you don’t go on now,”
he roared, “you won’t play at all.”
I took my faith in my hands
and prayed, “Please, God, help me
stay in tune and on time.”

I wrestled with my guitar,
not fighting it like an adversary
but riding it like a surfer
at the crest of a wave.
I could feel the audience’s glee,
like on the hottest day of summer
when they open the hydrants,
and kids rush to play
in the cold arcing spray.

The crowd was joyful,
swaying and dancing,
uplifted by our rhythms.
We were leading them,
and we were also following
the thread of what they found in us,
back to the shamans in Africa,
who call spirits forth
from the deep.

Inspired by Rob Tannenbaum, “Woodstock at 50: How Santana Hallucinated through One of Woodstock’s Best Sets (His Own)” The New York Times, Aug. 6, 2019

 

Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016). She has also written a novel, Fall Love, which is now available in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes by Compton Press. Recent honors include 2018 Prize Americana for Prose, 2017 Adelaide Literary Award in Fiction, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, 2016 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City.

Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, writer, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in the USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum,The Albright-Knox Art Gallery & The Allen Memorial Art Museum. Since 2006 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 230 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Creative Artists Public Service Grant (CAPS), two Pollock-Krasner grants, two Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grants and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. in 2017 & 2018 he received the Brooklyn Arts Council SU-CASA artist-in-residence grant.

 

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