GREAT ZEN MASTER
went looking for the great Zen master
-a sick junkie told me, try the Safeway
I think he works down there
at the Safeway the manager was very busy
cashing paychecks etcetera
but he took the time to tell me
you must mean Jimmy Bananas we used to call him
he donít work here no more since about two weeks
but you ask Swenson that guy over there stamping cans
Swenson knows where he lives
you ask Swenson
so I asked Swenson who said
yeah he lives in the Ocean Spray Hotel
is he in trouble or something?
the lady at the hotel
didnít know anybody by that name
never knew any great Zen masters at all
if it came to that
coming out of the hotel pretty discouraged
ran into the junkie again and he said
you still looking for that cat man?
I just saw him - heís down on the beach by those rocks
of course when I got down to the beach
there was nobody there
just a dog chasing seagulls
just a dog and me standing on wet sand and feeling foolish
and the surf booming over those rocks
John Thomas was born in Baltimore on December 31, 1930. As a young man
he attended Loyola College, considered the priesthood, but joined the U.S.
Air Force instead. During the early 1950's,while in the Security Service,
Thomas visited Ezra Pound frequently at St.Elizabeth's Hospital. Pound was
obviously Thomas' first poetic influence. In 1959,with fourteen dollars in his
pocket, Thomas hitch-hiked from Baltimore to Venice, California, where he became
an early member of the Los Angeles Beat poets, a group that historian John
Maynard, in his 1991 book on the subject called "an outlaw strain in Southern
California letters." In the mid and late 1960's, he was friend and support to
the late Charles Bukowski. "Thomas was a commanding figure on Los Angels'
avant-garde scene for four decades.'" (Elaine Woo, LA Times).
His books of poems include The Book of Sleep, The Ghosts of Venice West,
and Great Zen Masters & Other Holy Fools.
© 2003 Underground Voices