From MillValleyLit Spring 2019, “Salutes Psychedelia” Issue:
Dragonfly Wings…Valkyrie’s Claws
by Drew Stofflet
They traveled from Mill Valley south on dragonflies’ wings.
Pulling into the train station in the middle of the old growth redwoods they met the torchbearer, the former kid. He has grown into his cloth.
He was doing Valkyries business this day (in a good mood, much to our relief).
He came bearing a drinking horn, giving us a glimpse of fate and reincarnation, clawing open the sky, where Odin’s ravens Huginn (thought) and Muninn (mind) circled above, on their daily flight around the world. They are the eyes of the world. They watch over the living and the dead (the hanged and the slain) (the judged and the persecuted).
Odin’s wolves, Geri and Freki, and the “wolf-warrior-bands” (the Ulfheonar) prowl the perimeter, desirous, greedy, ne, audacious. Wanton. “Give us your soul.”
Charon, Styx and Acheron journey across the river that runs between the hills, in the valley of this life and death, guiding this blessed transformation. Electricity from river eels is help on the way, as well as fate and reincarnation.
Meanwhile, the sharpness of the sun’s rays are needles that pierce the heartspace. Respiration from locomotive breath sprays into the light like a dolphin’s spout.
A train’s whistle sends shivers up and down our spines. Malachite crumbles. Shakti pop and the broken pieces are eyes like pinballs. Googly eyes. Googly-oogly eyes. More eyes of the world. Communal convulsion.
The train arrives, earth shaking. Headlights shed light. The train I ride. A passenger train, a spirit carrier. The guidance of the dragonflies. Turtles and brakemen. Storytellers. Transformation.
They walk along the kaleidoscopic path of humanity. Some forgot their clothes.
Everyone waits for Gabriel’s trumpet. And the leaving train whistles. Though the end is untold, would they blow you safely home.
Drew Stofflet “Outro” as he illuminates his “Dragonfly Wings…Valkyrie’s Claws”: In late September I attended the annual Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Fest, held in the Roaring Camp Railroad Yard under the giant redwoods in Felton, California. The musical lineup on the last day, Sunday, was largely focused on the music of the Grateful Dead, and more specifically, Jerry Garcia.
Garcia’s lifetime friend, sidekick and bandmate Bob Weir graced the stage with many of his longtime musical friends, including the Golden Gate Wingmen, and his own new three-piece band called The Wolf Brothers.
A certain drama transpired on stage that day, invoking the images I am trying to depict in my piece. I would say it was powerful, potent and “different”, because I have been participating in these ecstatic group events for more than thirty years. Something was happening in a heightened, focused and profound way on this day; from hawks circling high above, to masses of dragonflies flitting above the heads in the crowd, low-bent golden sunbeams, and extremely Grateful Dead-esque train imagery.
More specifically, all of the music Mr. Weir guided that day seemed to be from the great songbook of Garcia and his prolific musical collaborator Robert Hunter, rather than his own compositions (that he formed with his own partner-in-crime John Perry Barlow). All of this could seemingly add up to just another day on the lawn, listening en masse to this beautiful music. But the music on this day seemed to come from a higher place-much higher-as Weir visibly shook his head in a convulsive manner and led the crowd as one through the same energy trance at the end of the show.
The train whistled and took all of the revelers back down the mountain; I shook and shivered through the night, wondering, processing and questioning the “what” and “why” of all of this. I knew there was something bigger. When I returned home to Marin the following night I received a text from an old friend and bandmate stating that Robert Hunter, the Dead’s literary source and sorcerer (along with Barlow) had passed, which brought some answers to what I had witnessed and felt. END
Drew Stofflet is a lifelong reader and writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. A professional wine, food and travel writer, his weekly column “Wine Reveals Truth” has appeared in the Aspen Daily News (Colorado) since 2008. Drew is also a lifestyle, food, travel and wine contributor for Sensi Magazine and SensiMag.com. An avid mountain biker, personal chef, wine sommelier, musician, dancer, yoga practitioner, and adventuring world traveler, Drew formerly lived with his Australian Shepherd high on a hill in Lagunitas, California, and now resides high on a hill in Mill Valley.
ZOOM — the New Scene
Is it real? Literally virtually real. Sensitive Skin Beer Virus Reading #9,” with M.C. Bernard Meisler featuring Circus of the Sun: a novel of San Francisco author J.Macon King, poet Francine Witte and writer Ron Kolm. May 21, 2020. See instant replay here and tune in Thursday nights.
VIRTUAL San Francisco library Online Services from creators Elizabeth Pepin Silva and Lewis Watts.
A platform for the Fillmore’s musicians, nightclub owners and residents of the 1940s and 1950s to tell the neighborhood’s history in their own words, as well as feature rarely seen photographs and memorabilia. Co-sponsored by Heyday Books and the Museum of the African Diaspora.
Social Distancing — The Hip New Scene
Walkyrien (c. 1905) by Emil Doepler.
Purple dragonfly by K.L. Newman.
Author photos, this issue, from the authors.
Uncredited photos by J.Macon King.