RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Sunday, June 26

45s on 33 – #73: “Heaven or Hell”

Railroad Time explained shapeshifting into a wolf like so: “First time I done it was like meditation. I was trapped in some blackberry bushes along an L&N line, hiding from sheriffs after that one sheriff done shot himself and they pinned it on me. My heart was beating like bongos and I was worried the sheriffs was gonna hear it, so I tried to calm myself down. Just focused on my breathing slow and deep, thought about how all the shit going on right then was just the moment but in the big picture of all this shit, I was connected to it all more than I was just to that one spot.”

“That’s kind of like meditation, Railroad Time.” I’d not called him by his name before. He laughed.

“You can just call me ‘Time’. That’s what most folks does. But yeah, I don’t know a whole lot ‘bout no meditations, but if that’s what it is then that’s what I was doing. But it started to feel like I was floated out my body, like I won’t connected to this body no more.”

I thought of my own time where I had that out-of-body experience after sleep deprivation and meditation behind my mom’s house when I was a teenager. “Were you still connected to your body at all?”

“Well, I knew I had a body but I ain’t think about it. I just felt like running. And I won’t afraid of them sheriffs. So I popped out the brush and took off running. Some of them sheriffs shined their lights at me, and they said, ‘Wolf!’ and pulled they guns but none of ‘em shot. And I seent where my body would’ve been back there, and they was gonna look there, but I want to go back and see if I was still there. So I ran like a motherfucker, ain’t stop runnin’ ‘til I was halfway to Georgia.”

“So look, Time, I had a thing one time where I felt like I was out of my body like that, but I was floating up above myself, and when I saw my body down there, it freaked me out and got sucked back down into my body.”

“You was probably almost there, I don’t know. I done had it happened where I be thinkin’ too hard about it all, and I’ll be a wolf but still thinkin’ ‘bout being a man, and it’s like a rope pulls me back into being a man. That was in the beginning though. I got it down now. If I wanna be a wolf, I can be a wolf, no man thoughts in the way.”

“So it might’ve been the same thing?” I asked, as if he would know. He didn’t even know what I experienced.

He laughed again. “Yeah, could’ve been. You named fuckin’ Raven, maybe you a bird or some shit. Where you get that name anyways?”

“From my folks.”

I thought about Railroad Time’s shape shifting abilities, and what he said about how it worked, how that felt familiar to the one time I had. But how do you just make yourself do something like that?

“The thing is, when I say I can be a wolf,” Railroad Time said, as if reading my mind, “I ain’t make myself do it. Kinda hard to explain but I have to unmake myself do it. As a man, all we do is make things do shit, force this into that. That ain’t how wolf does, or bird, or anything else in nature for the most part. Most things just is, without forcing anything. They just is. So you can’t make yourself. All that making forces all the broken shit, all the blacks and whites and heavens and hells and norths and souths, and ain’t no wolf or bird or nothing thinkin’ about all that shit. They ain’t even thinkin’ like we think. But they ain’t thinkin’ in a lesser way. Plenty times I feel like they might be thinkin’ smarter the whole time, like they think with their heart instead of their goddamned head.”

“Our goddamned heads,” I thought, ironically enough in my head. I tried to think it with my heart, just that three-word phrase. “Head” translated easy enough, and I could get “our” to make sense to my heart, but “goddamn” I just couldn’t squeeze into heart thinking.

“When we get out of here, I’m gonna go back to my mom’s house and try that shit again,” I made my head promise to my heart.

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