Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Holy Oil and Wine

This is a poem I composed when I was able to see in perspective the summer of 1967 (THE Summer of '67), which I spent as a true drop-out in the East Village.   As a former Yale graduate school student in Psychology, that summer I got to know, meet, and/or rub shoulders with Harvard drop-out Timothy Leary, artist Peter Max, Alan Ginsberg, Ed Sanders and Tuli of the Fugs, Abbie Hoffman, Nico of the Velvet Underground, Louis Abalofia - artist and "King of the Hippies," Paul Krassner, Lenny Horowitz - N.Y. Times art critic, Diahnne Abbot (before she married De Niro), poetess Anne Waldman, and many of the early and original spiritually-oriented hippies and anonymous drop-outs and Village denizens,  some of whom I met at the old Paradox Restaurant on E. 7th street - a popular macrobiotic eatery and gathering place.

That summer the "flower child" movement had a distinctive Franciscan flavor, until it succumbed to the forces of hedonism and sunk into the abyss of Woodstock two years later. Ironically, it was a book called The Little Flowers of St. Francis that restored my Catholic faith, as the decade of the 70's began.

This poem, written shortly before I rediscovered the True Faith, was inspired by my love for P. M.

 The front entrance of the Paradox Restaurant on E. 7th St. NYC


Deep deep deep within
Where music glides from clouds around
Where the beat is deep
Down down
Within the mind
Into into
Riding upwards into the mind
Where to descend is to rise
Where the way downward, in, in
Seems like the way upward and out
Where getting high is to sink into your mind.

And coming down
Is really coming up - out of your mind
Into the world around you
Outside of you.

Where to feel high is to go down into your  mind
And come down is to rise up out of the mind.

So high is low
And low is high
And down is up,
Up is down
In is out, and out is in.

This way and that way
That way and this.

So here, so there, so everywhere
See, see, how it is.


Rat tat tat
Rat -a- tat tat
One two
One two
Begin, let us begin.

Now, we see all about us
Empty lands
And tingling glasses
And echoes from the sun
And the beauty of a garbage dump
The excitement of an empty, brick strewn lot
The joy of an ambulance siren
The way the living gather around the dead
The holy oil and wine.

Rat tat tat
Rat -a- tat tat

Loneliness, emptiness - how joyful that was
If I only knew then
That when I was suffering,
I was in love.

Which is better?
To love, and not possess -
Or possess, and no longer love?

Rat tat tat
Rat -a- tat tat.


Twist and twirl around
The ocean shall flow
Whether or not it is aware of itself,
To grow and to possess
Is our nature.

To grasp and draw within
To desire anew
When all hope of desire is gone.

To hate suffering
Then to wish for it again
And to give up hope
Of ever being allowed to suffer again
Then to suffer again.

This way and that way,
That way and this.

High tide and low tide
Shall come and go
Whether the sea
Is aware of itself or no.

And we shall grow
Whether we want to or no.

And she shall come
And she shall go
And she shall come again.

Sometimes here, sometimes there.

For how can the ocean
Stop its own flowing?
Now I know
That when I was suffering
I was in love.


Yet I shall suffer again
And say: This is not love.
And I shall seek an end
to suffering once more
by possessing the one I love and desire.
And I shall suffer no more
Neither shall I desire and love,
For that which I loved
Shall become part of me
And I shall have grown.

Rat -a- tat
Rat tat tat
Rat -a- tat tat.

This way and that way,
That way and this,
Joy and growth and happiness.


To grow takes courage
The courage to commit oneself
Confidence and belief in oneself
To fight
For what belongs to us
When others would try to take it away.

To grow, needs
The courage to die for that which you love
And yet one loves many things -
Which one to die for?
Which one to give one's soul for?
Why her of course.

And they will tell you
That you do not love her.
The decision is all your own.

Your own and only your own
No one else's
But only your own.

Look inside, look outside
There is the tree
That is your own.
Know it is yours
And you have grown,
But oh the emptiness
And loneliness that follows.

And how disappointed we all shall bee
When we come to know that
I am you -
And you are me.
What desires are left to be?


Does the universe
Go on and on?
Or does it stop and start again?

Does God keep growing and growing?
Poor fellow -
How hard it must be
To be where no one else has been before.

So many things we don't know
Such as
How far do we have to go?
Is there any end?
Do we decide to start all over again?

Ting -a- ling. Ding, ding
God falls in love with non-god
and non-god falls in love with God
And the one becomes the other
And the other becomes the one
So on and so on
Forever and ever.

Oh oh forever and ever
Ever and ever, ever and ever
On and in and up and out
High is low and low is high
God loves death and death loves God
Rat -a- tat
Rat -a- tat
Rat -a- tat -a- tat.

Copyright 1969 Frank M. Rega
View all of my books. 


  1. I was born in a town called Castiglione Sicily & I came to America because my brother was 15 yrs old & in 1937 Mussolini was getting chummy with Hitler. My father saw that his son would soon be of draft age and would go in the fascist Army. My father was a naturalized US citizen & took the whole family, which included my two brothers, mother & myself of 2 yrs old at that time. So we left for New York on the ship called the REX & landed in Manhattan & grew up in the what they now call the east village, 10 street to be more exact. What street was the Paradox on? Ciao ciao

    1. Glad to hear it,WW2 was a tragic waste of Life.Communism was the only clear defenitive victor of that tragic War.

  2. It was on East Seventh street, it was in an old building which was probably there when you were living on E. 10th street. The Paradox Restaurant was founded in the early 60's I believe.

    1. Did you hang out on the Bowery in mid-1970's?
      Did you ever see any early street rock or punk rock bands? Ever hang out at CBGB or Max's Kansas City?

    2. No, by the mid-70's I had left the city. When I first moved to NYC in mid-60's, went to Max's but it was so crowded they were not letting anyone in. I politely asked the doorman how long a wait to get in, and suddenly a bouncer yells at me for "giving the guy a hard time" and slammed the door in my face. So much for Max's Kansas City!

    3. Interesting story and I often wished as a young man that I could've been old enough to hang out at Max's Kansas City, CBGB etc..from the late 60's through the early 80's.
      That music scene for better or worse was the template for our modern society.

    4. I did sort of "hang out" at the Village Theater, before it was renamed Fillmore East. For a few dollars admission I remember one amazing concert with both the Doors and the Vanilla Fudge. Richie Havens performed often, as well as a colorful Viking character named Moondog.