the distance
  • the distance
  • John Papaleo
  • New Blue EP


throw all your gold to the sun

it only ever shine for you

lay out your silver in the moonlight

gonna tell you what you already know

get borne, son

i’ll show you the way

by the scars on the back

of my hands

you called me last weekend

said you were on your way

to the heart-land

who holds your hand

to the fire?

does he even know

how far you’ll goto sing?

the distance in between

never felt so far

from the bedrock to the sky

never felt so far


Team Spirit- MRDR It’s Okay





It has been revealed: An event of such magnitude its meaning reverberates across past,

present, and future perceptions. Many feel it. Most ignore it. The few that are aware – the adepts, masters, the seekers, and those whose imaginations remain unspoiled heed the call and begin the journey to witness this cosmic event.


Latter 19th Century

A Lab in Alabama

“There’s this chap named Tesla who’s given me a portable window.  A telescreen he calls it, and machinery from his research into alternate current.”  Mr. Carver stepped away from the table teeming with plants, a cacti, and a big yellow brown eyed sunflower. There were coils  and vacuum tubes with tiny wires that looked like upside down hearts, an ancient looking Victrola, the wind up kind with a flower looking speaker growing out of brown wooden box with a crank on it.

Mr. Carver grabbed the crank and began to turn it.  He was tall and had to squat to reach the table and the handle. He turned it moving up and down looking like a Negro toy collectible you might find in Japan, complete with gray woolen hair and a white lab coat over a dirt stained overalls and a blacksmith’s apron.

The small audience was clearing its throat, shifting from leg to leg after standing on the hardwood floor of the Tuskeegee Lab #23.  Hearing the stirs of impatience, Mr. Carver stooped a bit more, and gave the group a smile frame by his woolen gray goatee, stopped cranking and said, “Gentlemen, I do so appreciate your patience and the indulgences of an old botanist like myself, but we’s almost done and the results are going to … astound you!”

Somebody groaned. It was low, but you could hear it over the whir and hum of the machinery on the table. Some of it starting to heat up, giving off a faint aroma of lavender. But  most researchers in the scientific community knew that ‘The Botanist’ though well meaning was prone to hyperbole and exaggeration about what his inventions and discoveries could do.

Of course the various inks, dyes, cleaning solutions and solvents made from sweet potatoes, cotton seeds, and peanuts were impressive forays into the arena of agriculture chemistry and maybe even commerce, but they were infantile forays; baby steps and doodles in a world grown up science like electric lights, steam power and aeronautics. The newspapers like the ‘kindly elderly wizard of Tuskegee and good stories in bad times sell newspapers, so it didn’t hurt Mr. Carver’s ego much, nor his pocket, or his status as a researcher of some import down at the University.  And Booker Bootstraps, head of the University, appreciated the endowments Mr. Carver’s reputation attracted.  So all was well.

Then Mr. Carver said, “Many of you know, if you read the interviews I’ve had with Mr. Russell, I wake up before the sun, walk in my garden – after I get dressed of course – and talk to the flowers, talk to the plants.”

A chair leg scraped the floor, somebody muttered, “Ridiculous.” Followed by footsteps and a door slamming down the hall a few seconds later.

Mr. Carver kept in stride, “There’s this chap named Tesla, who’s given me a telescreen and some tools from his AC research.” He stopped turning the crank.

“There’s no record on that thing.” Some said loudly.

Mr. Carver said, “I know.” He frowned and pressed a foot switch and looked at the crowd quickly changing his face to a smile.  “Please come forward.”

The body of scientists moved closer to the table.

Mr. Carver grabbed a handful of goggles and handed them to a short round man in the front. “Could you pass these out, sir? And keep one for yourself.” Pulling a pair of goggles over his short woollen hair without putting them over his eyes, Mr. Carver pointed to the Victrola,”I’ve interfaced Mr. Tesla’s machines with plants, with his AC coils over there and this Victrola right here.  There’s sound coming out of it, but none o’ y’all can hear it.”

“This is preposterous.” Someone crumbled.

“What are they saying, what do they want?” Curious asked.

“They want us to come back to the Garden.”

“Be careful Carver. The line between your beliefs and your hypotheses is hair thin!”

“How can you hear them, when we can’t?”

“I’ve been around em awhile. But they’ve given us a gift, a way to meet them half way.”  He pulled away a table cloth revealing a smoking pipe, a tea set, and several eye droppers.  “Through my communications I’ve  – we’ve –  been able to cultivate a vegetative strain with hallucinogenic properties;  not unusual. Been used in religious ceremonies for years as a way to talk to God.  Through  the plants guidance, I’ve been able to ‘hear’ an aromatic ether plants use to talk to each other and us.” Dr. Carver stopped talking and smiled at the cluster of narrowed eyed men. “Goggles please,” he breathed, waited til their eye pieces were in place, and stepped on a blue foot pedal this time.  The lights dimmed, and even though it was sunny it smelled like it was about to rain.  



Then a sound, a squeak, maybe, to some, to others a sharp blade cutting glass that turned into the song of an angel trying her best to sing in English.

Is that Latin? Celtic? A siren? Whispers bounced into whispers and tripped over murmurs, til one of them (narrowed eyed men) pointed at the Victrola and yelled, ‘The Flower!’

Dr. Carver’s face shined like a fresh baked cinnamon cookie. “They’re getting it.” He whispered to himself.

The narrowed eyed group moved as one toward the Victrola. And the closer they got the tighter their eyes got. They saw a black thick disk spinning underneath a fine pointed needle.  

One of the narrowed eyed men was leaning farther over than the others.  He shouted “Bethany Cable and the Tomm Lovick Orchestra?”

Then one of them, the one who’d been holding the bridge of his nose with his thumb and a finger, said through his hand “ We’ve indulged these flights of fancy, and outbursts of eccentricities, doctor, but I think we’ve seen enough.” They removed their goggles in unison and left the same way.

They whispered on the way out. “Tesla. That says it all right there it does.” “He killed an elephant, you know.” “Edison showed everyone how he did it.” “Ghastly.”  The last voice left, the door slammed and the room was quiet except for a lightning bug that had come in through the sky light. Dr. Carver sat down on an empty upright apple crate, and looked up. The sky was getting orange and he could smell the honeysuckle outside.  He grabbed a handful of the gray wool on the top of his head and squeezed, his dark dirty face wincing and wrinkling in response. With his free hand Carver grabbed the pipe off the table, stuffed it with the crinkled petals on the tray, pushed the pipe to his lips, clenched it in his teeth, retrieved a match from his lab coat pocket and scratched it against the floor. It burst open like one of his darlings kissed by the morning sun. He puffed a few times sucking the flames into the bowl turning the leaves orange with heat.  When he exhaled a curtain of white smoke pulled across his face like a shear sheet across a corpse.

“I’m an old joke, Harriet.” He began to cry then inhaled hard and sucked it back inside.

“How’d you know I was here.” The voice without a body asked and said at the same time.

“They told me.” He pointed to the flowers a breeze blew them back and forth, except there was no breeze. “And they like your smile.”

“Now what’s got the Peanut King so down? The committee doesn’t get you? Well there’s one thing I’ve learnt during my travels as a disembodied spirit and – would you like to know what it is?”

“I don’t know. Yes.”

“The path of the pioneer is rarely clear.”

“They think I’m a joke Mother Moses.” Carver said lighting a wood pipe, his face gone behind a white wavy veil of rising smoke.

“It’s their way of protecting themselves.”

“From what?”

“From you.  Them.” Her ghostly finger pointed to the plant covered table. “Y’all represent something most folks can’t embrace.”

“What’s that?”

“Tomorrow.  But look, here ain’t got the time to pout and chatter.  You needs to get cleaned up and dressed.  Get on the next train to Cali.”



“Where in California.”

“El Pueblo de Los Angeles?”

“That godforsaken mirage?”

“Yes. Dr. Niagra is convening a emergency meeting of The Tenth. And bring a few tinctures of your tonic you got there. And a case of your non existent black market Tuskeegee rye.” And with a candle’s quiet, Harriet was out.

Carver started  putting away his bottles in a brown leather satchel.  “God forsaken desert town.”  He paused, gave ear to the big bobbing eye, then said, “They do have those intriguing desert flowers there. He fumbled through some papers on his desk and found a small notebook. Globemallow, Phacelia, Yucca. Yucca.  Well then, ol George, we must hurry!”

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