In the ‘seventies,
if the hem of your Indian print dress
was frayed, and laced with festival dust,
and your step relayed a weedy trace of patchouli sweat
you may have fooled them for a day or two —
assuming you moaned about the dole, condemned bread-heads and the status-quo, mentioned Huxley, Orwell or Camus (pronounced Cammoo, to give your words authenticity) and were familiar with the battles of Asterix, and the Moomins’ antics. An active interest in art was also an advantage —
but as soon as you refused a tab of LSD
the sneering zealots knew.
The fun-lovers tripped along the highway,
licking it like it was ice cream,
returning with grinning holiday tales of four dimensional dragons in blankets, of psychedelic rivers filled with shimmering sequence-swimming fish, and green-haired chocolate omnipotes. When you asked what a chocolate omnipote was, they shrugged, and said, “an edible God, but who cares?”
Your abstinence didn’t bother them,
but for the zealots it was an exclusive club.
reached to pull your loose threads through the doors of their perception, as they tried to tie your personal journey into a rickety rainbow rope for you to climb.
On their planet,
if you didn’t crawl, fly or walk through acid doors,
you were either. b o r i n g,
or subversively straight, like a copper sporting a kaftan and a long wig;
his plan to nab a dope-smoking head.
To put it bluntly, you didn’t belong.
It was no use saying there were many different ways of being; abundant ways to use your body and your brain, and, while you had every respect for their decision, living each day was complex enough without adding an extra dimension, therefore the chemical would be inclement to your presence;
you didn’t fit in.
They disliked those for whom oxygen and skin sufficed,
and despised we who were wise to our sickness.
Some seekers were broken, grabbing at a handle to hang to, while others were no more than curious. Those with strong brains found an entry into new thought-shapes, and continued to grow when they were straight,
but bent fog chased the lost, and few of those knew how to escape.
I was lost, too, but I knew what nobody told them;
the drug was simply a way to twist, stretch and open
their own perceptions and inventions.
It didn’t discern between precious pearls
and fermenting vegetation.
Had I tripped down the hippy highway,
I’d have crashed through the spinning doors of hallucination
into dreams and nightmares of imagined truth,
coloured and shaped by the vaguries of temper and food,
and festered forever in that place.
Like several buried friends,
I might have ended my days
spinning blindly in space.
©Jane Paterson Basil