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.