Metaphysical Times

HomeArchiveStories, Essays & Poems by AuthorStoreContactFind us on Facebook


The Brook
by Franklin Crawford

The most powerful place I've ever known isn't there any more except between my ears.

It was a flat swampy wetland with a brook flowing through it that once fed a shallow lake that Mom said she had skated on in long ago winter times. I imagined Mom skating in a mental newsreel, black and white and shaky; not a memory of my own at all but of something else I never knew but wish I did.

The lake had since been drained and filled so I only knew the leftovers that my older brother and his gang introduced me to. We just called it “The Brook” and it was the best thing I ever really did know.

It had distinct sections, one of which was an impenetrable marsh full of cottonwoods and hummocks surrounded by dark stinky muck the dog loved to explore. Not me.

My part of the brook was hemmed in on three sides by the lesser wonders of humankind: train tracks, a coal yard, auto places and a bar; there were other parts, but that was my stomping ground. The stream was formed by two branches that flowed into it and ran a poor man’s mile to the saltwater docks. The northeast branch gave my elementary school its name, Brook Avenue. That was aways upstream and you’d have to be a serious scout to bushwhack that far and the road leading to the accessible part ran through a rough neighborhood I was smart to avoid.

The other branch seemed to come from a small pond not far north of the train tracks, a miniature lake once known for having bass, trout and pike; swans floated on it. There was a pretty split level house with a stone chimney beside the pond that I dream about now and then and the dream always starts real nice and quickly gets menacing and I have to stop it.

I only saw one pike in that pond and the size of it scared me. Swans were scary, too. They could grab a boy’s foot and drag him under and drown him, I was told. I never trusted any kind of swan.

But in my brook there were colorful carp in a still water ditch perpendicular to the brook. They were big too and not scary at all. Some were a deep orange red, others more lemony red and some were calico clowns with black and red and white spots.

The only water birds were ducks and one time there was a scovie duck that me and my friends captured. He must’ve escaped from somebody’s pen. He was very tame and lived at my house for a few months until a neighbor’s dog killed it. I cried for days about that. His name was Waddles and he followed me around and liked to be carried, laying his long neck over my shoulder to be stroked.

We lived on the south shore of a Long Island hamlet and the brook emptied into a brackish inlet where a lot of people docked their boats. You could trap killifish there but I didn't care for fishing after I saw how painful it was for the fish. That was during a very poignant time in my childhood and it seemed to me everything was in some kind of pain, even trees, even the sky some days looked like a painting of pain. My brother without his glasses looked in pain. Mom always looked wistful, like something was pulling her away and Dad some times exploded in outbursts that pained all of us. My sister didn't seem so much in pain as at pains to do whatever it was she intended to do with herself which I found out was to get away from all the pain. It gave her a stern expression and a desire to save souls in the Congo and a commitment to painfully long rides in the green Rambler with plastic covered seats that belonged to Aunt Meada and Uncle Will. They were meek people, dry and dull as virtue and in a patient kind of sour pain all the way to the First Baptist Church of Babylon and back.

A line from a Stephen Foster song kept looping inside my head then:

All the world is sad and weary

Everywhere I roam.

Dammit to school! All it ever did was take me away from my dog and the brook.

I was only a kid, less than ten years old. Other songs bothered me too and I wish the stupid radio wasn't playing all the time growing up I might've been spared wondering about things like what answers the wind had to offer to questions I never would've thought up myself as in what sea did magic dragons puff alongside of? Dad said that was a fruitcake song about dope. I couldn't reconcile fruitcake with dragons. I’d find out about dope soon enough, though.

I spent an awful lot of time trying to not think about these things and to simply enjoy my dog and the brook. It worked a magic on me like nothing since except, maybe ... Well. It doesn't matter. I can say now that I was in love with that brook and I always will be and I still miss my dog.

Time is not distance, I've learned.

Shit. I'm talking about a very brief period. The really bad things hadn't even happened yet -- not to me, anyway. I just had forebodings, premonitions, shivers. Bad things had happened to my Dad, sure. The war messed him up all kinds of ways but I thought heroes didn't get sad so if there was sadness or terror in the house I figured it was because I didn't know the answers. Which were in the wind. Which is a goddamned lie.

That has nothing to do with the brook. The brook was, as I read in a Golden Guide "teeming with life."

It was a squared-off area of maybe five acres bordered by the train tracks and a trestle to the north and Main Street to the south. The brook disappeared under Main Street and came out into the brackish waters behind the Ebb Tide Lounge and the backs of Main Street stores smelling sickly sweet like sewage. Did I tell you that already? So I did.

A man caught me emptying a killifish from a trap into the inlet. He was younger than my dad so he didn’t frighten me. Plus he was one of those clean, new-looking people who were moving into places by the water. I didn’t like his Alligator shirt and shiny creased pants. He wanted to know what the hell I “thought” I was doing.

“I think I’m letting them go," I said.

“What gives you the right to do that?"

“They are stuck."

"You stay the hell off my property. I catch you again I'll throw you in the water.”

Rules were simpler back then. I didn't threaten to report him for child abuse like some smart ass might do nowadays. But it was news to me that someone could own any part of the water.

From then on I made sure the coast was clear before I freed any more killifish.

See? I just wanted to tell you a simple story about the most powerful place I ever knew but it's so powerful I can hardly begin to tell you before it starts moving through me and rising all around in every direction and recollections bob to the surface like from a wreck. Come to think of it, that’s what the whole thing was: A wreck. I came into the wreck when it was listing heavily to starboard, but still upright. Then I watched it go down the rest of the way. Most of the natural good in this world was long gone before any of us moderns came to be anyway. You can argue the logic of that with me and you might win but it wouldn’t mean that what you were right. Logic isn’t always truth.

Also: Thinking of the brook I see the eye of a hurricane. It was just as deceiving.


One way to enter the brook was from Lake Avenue, named for the lake that mom skated on that wasn't there. A high anchor fence surrounded the place but it was old and rusted and falling down and I flattened it some more.

Or you could come sliding down the railroad embankment just beyond the coal yard and the freight shunt. Or you could cut into one of two sides from Union Boulevard next to the brand new Elbow Room Tavern with its ample parking that buried a quarter acre of wetland that included: Snakes, three kinds of turtles, frogs, salamanders, muskrats, possums, coons, regular rats, field mice, dragon flies, dobson flies, crickets, grasshoppers, red winged blackbirds, bluebirds, crows, hawks, starlings, carps, shiners, eels, oaks, willows, poplars, birches and swamp maples and every form of pond life you can look up and see for yourself in the Little Golden Guide to Pond Life. All so some asshole swingers with mullets and wide lapels could get sloshed and play pool. The stamp of Eden lay ruined beneath that parking lot and when I think about how much stuff is under parking lots and shit-hole places everywhere I about want to explode. Of course it’s not fair to hate all of humanity because of what happened to the brook. But it’s a start in that direction. More recent atrocities should get you the rest of the way.

And I’m not even counting the microscopic brook things that are gone forever, or the golden grasses that Alabama Carl rolled around in one afternoon as happy as a sharecropper’s son ever would be. That’s another story for sure.

Even so. I’m describing how a power place came to shape my cast of mind. Fate’s what happens to all of us; destiny’s what happened to me. It’s clear now that the two converged in the brook. I’m glad I had a dog with me. I’m glad that dog was the noble resilient mutt we nicknamed The Beef. Amen. That dog did not fear fate until the very end (lord forgive me) he didn’t give a steaming crap about destiny so long as it involved exploring a doomed wetland with a boy who didn’t, wouldn’t and still doesn’t know any better. That and the promise of some chow back home when day is done and The Beef was solid. I wonder if it is still that way anywhere. Maybe it is. Maybe it ain’t.
But that brook is preserved in my skull like a goddamned national treasure. Like a bug in amber. I wrote some doggerel about about that.

The pointless point that we pursue

The fly encased in amber knew

One wrong move

And I'm stuck in goo

There but for the grace of god

Go you.

Another way in: The really swampy side of the brook that hadn’t been drained, from behind the Goodyear tire place. It meant maybe catching crap from one of the grease monkeys working there but it led you to the hard-to-reach side of the carp and painted turtle ditch. Why people give a shit about a kid and his dog going into a brook I don't understand but you could bust in past those idiots and their barrels of oil and stacks of tires and car guts and keep going till the lug nut drilling stopped feeling personal. The sound penetrated every part of the brook but traffic sounds and trains and planes overhead didn’t matter at all inside the brook. The brook was an insular, self-contained world and I might as well been deaf when I was in there.

From the Lake Ave dead end the path opened wide and narrowed fast at a bend where the ground got sandy like beach sand only the pebbles were bigger and the tall fluffy marsh reeds sashayed and blackbird cavorted in the sumacs overhead with the dog crashing into the reeds and muck excited as hell after I don’t know what. He’d thrash around and smash ahead of me and then circle around till we got to the brook itself with its sandbanks and stunted willows and the enormous cluster of yellow and purple flag iris near the trestle and it was all you could want and more than you could take if there weren’t any big kids or freaks in there to break the spell.

I wasn't supposed to go to the brook alone. If Mom saw me going out the door she'd tell me to not play in the brook. I'd say okay sure we're just going up the street and that was that. If it weren't for us coming back so stinking muddy nothing much would ever have been said. She was an excellent housekeeper and wet dogs and dirty boys are enemies of order. It was the bums and railroad workers who camped and drank there my father was most worried about. He said they kidnapped little boys and sure enough they could be scary but the dog kept them off me the few times I ever ran into them. What Dad was really worried about was me getting buggered by one of them. That such was a possibility didn't occur to me until I was a grown man and the brook was nothing but piles of dirty fill.


(back to home page)



Places of Power
an Introduction

by David S. Warren, Editor

Here is a map showing supposed lines of force, or connection, or power transmission, or something simply mysterious called “Ley Lines”. When they intersect, Ley Lines are said to create places with a special power - typically the habitat of Bigfoot or powerful spirit beings, the landing place of aliens, or serving as portals through which one communicates with other worlds or other states of being. Spiritual centers, sacred places, and locations of political power...
(Go to Story)_______________________

Places of Power

by Tarka Wilcox PhD

Reply: Have you ever seen a small chunk of pure sodium metal burn, shriek, and tear itself apart when dropped into water? The energy release during the extremely rapid oxidation is impressive. It’s not the same as the earth, but in some ways it’s analogous - earth is burning (slowly), and tearing itself apart constantly - as a result of trying to cool off.
(Go to Story)


by David Rollow

At this site on top of a rocky outcropping a castle once stood
that was the main stronghold of the Cathars, the heretics who were systematically wiped out in the Albigensian Crusade. At the time, I knew nothing about the Cathars. I went to Montsegur because
a friend put it on the map for me... (Go to Story)


The Brook
by Franklin Crawford

The most powerful place I've ever known isn't there any more except between my ears.

It was a flat swampy wetland with a brook flowing through it that once fed a shallow lake that Mom said she had skated on in long ago winter times. I imagined Mom skating in a mental newsreel, black and white and shaky; not a memory of my own at all but of something else I never knew but wish I did. (Go to Story)________________

(more "Fish Eye" cartoons by Mark Finn)


Water Power
by Georgia E. Warren

It seems that humans can’t resist following water. I am sure that it didn’t take primative peoples long to know how much easier to get from one place to another perched on a fallen log and then a hollow log, a canoe and then finally a boat.

If you get tired going down the river, you pull to the side and stop. If there is a waterfall too steep or rapids too rough, you pull to the side and stop. Build a hut and eventually it becomes a community. (Go to Story)

"Collector's Luck
in France"
review by
Josiah Booknoodle

It seems that humans can’t resist following water. I am sure that it didn’t take primative peoples long to know how much easier to get from one place to another perched on a fallen log and then a hollow log, a canoe and then finally a boat.

If you get tired going down the river, you pull to the side and stop. If there is a waterfall too steep or rapids too rough, you pull to the side and stop. Build a hut and eventually it becomes a community. (Go to Story)

The Stone at the
Old Same-Place
by David S. Warren

The Old Same-Place, as we called it when we lived there in the seventies, was a nineteenth-century farm house next to a small, unmowed cemetery under tall White Pines as old as the stones where Blackcap Raspberries thrived in a couple of patches. Wild Morning Glory vines hooded the tomb stones and climbed the old pines to their first branches twenty or thirty feet above the ground. The old Pines had grown so large that their sprawling roots tilted the vine-hooded tombstones so that they seemed to be running away

One morning I was poking into the cemetery with my dog Kasha to check on some ripening BlackCap berries in which Kasha had no interest, she lay down in patch of Morning Glory vines near a stone I had never noticed before. It was mostly obscured by the vines but the thing was bigger than a bowling ball and glowing red. (Go to Story)


Entering a
Powerful Place
by Davey Weathercock

Connecticut Hill, about the wildest part of Tompkins County, has some reputation as a portal between worlds, a landing spot for space aliens, and the habitat of Bigfoot. I don’t know about all of that, but I have hunted, prospected, and skied for years on that hill, and I don’t get how people manage to come across Aliens and Bigfeet there, and not even notice the numerous Littlefeet: the small yellowish natives who retreated to the Gorges when the pre-Iroquois Algonquins arrived, and left the gorges for the hills when the Iroquois took over.
(Go to Story)


A Note from
Gabriel Orgrease

In the 70’s I was known in Tompkins County as someone that had an interest to play with stones and this fellow wanted to find a particular boulder to set on some property in Ellis Hollow at the northeast quadrant at the corner of Turkey Hill Road and Ellis Hollow Road. He explained there was a confluence of ley lines in the area and that it was full of power. He wanted to place a boulder at the intersection to make it even more powerful a meditation space. This was, as I recall, to be called something like The Temple of Light.
(Go to Story)


by Franklin Crawford

Before Alcoholic Anonymous, or AA, there were Ancient Astronauts, the first-ever AAs. I met some of them when I was drinking spiked Mother’s Milk in a far away Power Place called The Womb and later, after getting deported, at the Friday night Mensa meeting in Halifax.

They were a fast-talking fun-loving crowd but none too clever given they chose Earth as a crash pad. That was their big mistake and a dead give-away that these so-called Ancient Astronauts were on the interstellar lam and just looking for a new place to party. (Go to Story)




We would drive the buggy where
apart from the wheel tracks
we’d left last week
there was no trace of anyone
the land was so very flat
in all directions
we must unknowingly have crossed
one horizon after another

we might have been
let down from an angel chariot
for all the time
that distance seemed to take
your summons uplifted me
when the horse had its head
the prairie just rolled back
as steady as knitting

and in that pleasure
the body takes when it is
inured to hunger
and the fierce desires
in the renewed
appearance of tranquility
in each moved moment
we rehearsed our satisfaction

over and over so that
later I would find myself
repeating it even in my sleep
where there could be no expectation
of sharing it with you
how your call abides
that invited me
to look from that grassy shore

across a blind eye of water
with the ducks returning as
soon as our carriage-sounds stop
in a line that flattens as the surface
approaches beneath it
only to spill apart
and splash into several gratitudes
at the last moment

Chris MacCormick

Wake Me
by Mary Gilliland

In the treeless light of Delos
mullein flowers burn round
and the stone lions
have waited so long
some have lost their smiles,
others their heads.

In Eleusinian bus exhaust
rain beads like wax
drops along a candle
toward the smashed ruins.

In Samaria the temples
are not slabs of stone.
Water cold as fire
channels the gorge.

In the neglect at Dodona
Persephone has burned
to a shade thinner than sorrow
and fled to the caverns
leaving a painted turtle
to stare down the lizards.

'Nice Girl' first appeared in
The Greenfield Review 14, 3/4 (1987)


Places of Power
Mt. Shasta


In the fall of 2016 our prose writing workshop (“Traveling, Thinking, Writing”) read books by Eddy Harris, Linda Grant Niemann, and Robert Michael Pyle. Pyle’s book is called Where Bigfoot Walks and one weekend in early November we endeavored to go out walking in one of the places where Bigfoot is reputed to walk, Siskiyou County in northern California. We drove north for five hours—in a rented van—from Berkeley. (Go to Story)

Places of Power
Mt. Shasta
by Peter Fortunato

I’m originally from Kansas, and that’s why the name has stuck. A guy I met when I first hitchhiked to the Mountain started calling me that, and I liked it, and so on Shasta I became Kansas for keeps. That was my first time up there, 1976. I came down from the Mountain when Rinpoche arrived in the Bay Area, and there I made some new friends and we all stayed in the same house with him in the hills near Orinda. A lovely, friendly little town in those days—I wonder what it’s like now? (Go to Story)

The Texture of Music
by Peter Wetherbee

As a musician, audio engineer, and listener, I would like to define beauty in sound. What is it that makes something sound good? What is my favorite kind of music? If there could possibly be such a defining measuring stick, how would one quantify the magnitude of a given piece of art or music, the depth of beauty, or the absolute weight of meaning in the artistic gesture or statement?

I would like to call this magical sweet spot the location of power in music. (Go to Story)

(see full size)

© 2016 The Metaphysical Times Publishing Company - PO Box 44 Aurora, NY 13026 • All rights reserved. For any article re-publication, contact authors directly.