collage by David Hickman

Stephen Gatling

Everything at Once;
 A Hyperkinetic Ode to Pantheism

Chapter One

Everything’s a hustle, reality’s negotiable
on the job and in the street
in this dystopian nightmare
inspiration can come from anywhere
it could be the visceral ghetto poetry of Tupac Shakur
the scathingly vertiginous sax solos of Coltrane
or the quirky character driven films of Wes Anderson
it could be anything...or everything at once

In the beginning was an idea
before the Universe... there was the idea of the universe
if god did not exist it would become necessary to invent him
and then this fantastic deity had a son…
many monikers were applied, but God’s Poet Laureate seemed
to be the most apt or at least the most ubiquitous…

        The story is related in non-linear, multi-perspective flashbacks; a dissolute pastiche of seemingly disparate vignettes and poetry fused together in an eclectic sprawling opus, where fiction trumps fact and cause brazenly mocks effect. Our hero, God’s Poet Laureate, enemy of the mundane, castigates a nation addicted to clichés, attempts to slay the nefarious sorcerers of the pernicious Corporate Oligarchy and champions those of us in search of profundity in our daily lives.

Dada Circus

Surrealist acrobats drink the acrid dew
Collected in the recessed navel of Ishtar
She laughs blithely at their puerile folly
Conjoined twins swing on a tandem trapeze
The refined salt extracted from their tears
Flavors the stale concession stand popcorn
In the stadium seats, single faces can’t be isolated
Within the lascivious buzzing human tapestry

Terminally flatulent monks hunker down
For an austere day of silent contemplation
Except for the occasional horn like intonation
A foul emanation in B flat

The circus continues with a phalanx of midget ninjas
Throwing stars whirl and glint in flattening light
A human pyramid of salient amputees topples
Leaving prosthetics ajumble in heaps
Of polymer, decadence and flesh

* * * *

A retort to accusations of cynicism
(allegedly written by Dance Harley in his jail cell)

              I get high inhaling the narcotic essence of the Universe. Nihilists believe in nothing, as a pantheist i believe in everything and i have a voracious appetite for more...i wanna cartwheel semi-nude into the royal courtyard of Buckingham Palace and placidly dance the Lindy Hop as the stoic royal guards look on impassively, but in their heads they are snapping invisible fingers, softly intoning, “go daddy go, that’s one hepcat, baby”...late nights, quiet and still bring on an irrepressible urge to serenade the heavens, a black on black Fender Stratocaster sending notes flailing plaintively from a marshall stack amp, feedback resonating sharply across the expansive horizon. God gazes at me, bemused and wary. I rush forward, brusquely taking him in my sinewy arms and give the creator a deep kiss on his/her infinite lips. In a dream i’m celebrated as God’s Poet Laureate, the divine trickster...I wake up in a dank, dimly lit cell and laugh at my tenuous plight...I turn on the T.V. and there I am, another garish celebrity, performing the songs of public Enemy transposed into iambic pentameter, delivered with all the oratorical fire of Chuck D, as one the surrealist acrobats from the aforementioned Dada Circus punctuates every fourth line with a raucous “yeah boy”...this time i wake in a bottle indeterminate origin, cast off from the shores of time into an oceanic abyss, traveling afloat for 44 years, landing on a distant coast, only to be found by a curious and a bright eyed aborigine who subsequently consumes my lightly carbonated soul in a single gulp, pauses serenely, then belches the words, “the medium is the message”...traversing a path from cynicism to optimism, I’m like Benjamin Button, aging in reverse...the walls are still here...or maybe my cell is a concrete womb, penitence in utero, here i sit in suspended gestation, waiting pensively for release...

Enter the Poet

         Flash, a star shoots across the outstretched sky, a portent of a terrible glorious prophecy. Three Magi pull up in a jeep, looking more than
a little bit ragged after forty days of riding around the desert, philosophising, pontificating, gallivanting and trippin’ balls on the psychedelic mushroom(Amanita muscaria) alleged to be the original sacrament and impetus for a megalithic monastic cult that has impacted society in numerous ways for over two millennia. The Magi(aka, the idly traipsing recalcitrant nomads) stand, faded and serene, “follow that star, man.”
          A star that leads the way to a newborn savior. God 2.0 has anointed the infant Poet Laureate, destined to become a virtuoso performer of ineffable miracles, truculently crashing through the nexus of man’s confusion and the final tremors of faith, as the old/new prophet, the Ubermenschenkinder, heralding the collapse of the consensual hallucination commonly mistaken for reality, a philosophical iconoclast on a mission to subvert mainstream values. Imagine Walt Whitman fused with Eminem or Jay-Z morphed with Shakespeare,a bombastic specter of tenuous beauty, spiced with the grace and aplomb of of Bugs Bunny conducting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra with a dash of Hemingway machismo just for effect. He would immediately inspire a mesmerising awe in the idly traipsing recalcitrant nomads, as befitting a dynamic savoir savant with street cred and moxie to boot.
         The Magi arrive at the ramshackle manger less than four hours after the star sighting, yet due to an odd wrinkle in the space/time continuum, the prophet is now fully grown. As the emerging sunrise bathes him with a warm cascade of light, the divine poet dances with a joyous foreknowledge of a DNA encoded eternal note, the harbinger of a rapturous song of man's fascination with the universe's enigmatic mysteries. "Hey, how ya like that? Zero to thirty years in nuthin' flat. What's with the shitty jeep, is that a rental?"
           After some spontaneous knee slapping and guffawing, all eyes scan the spot where the jeep was and all they see is the sun shimmering on an arid desert oasis punctuated with a sparse assortment of withered cacti. "Oh yeah, the automobile doesn't exist yet. Anachronistic events keep occurring due to a weird curvature of time." The prophet leans back and cleans his teeth with a toothpick in a gesture reminiscent of a weather beaten Southern farmer contemplating his fate, as he examines the expansive rows of his failed crops.
           Later, much later in fact, the members of the sordid cast have reconvened in a twenty first century that is rife with debauchery and crass materialism. The Poet feels as one drop kicked into a cliché addicted, video drone culture, surreptitiously ruled by a malicious corporate oligarchy, predicated on the tenets of realpolitik. The Magi(no longer idly traipsing, but brazenly gallivanting) now have their own vapid reality show and a fatuous rap video in the works. The weekly cable show is dubbed, "The Magi Mafi", with the garish tagline, "From O.T to O.G. There formerly timeless wisdom seems a bit truncated and passe at this point.
           The whole hierarchy has become fractured; The Holy Ghost has gone solo, God 3.0 outsources all his divine machinations to The Corporate Oligarchy(to whom lascivious Lu now answers directly), as he is quite busy setting up a new franchise, but Lucifer, being a very adaptable demon and quite the entrepreneur apparently, has set up his own malevolently conceived amusement park with endless merchandise deals in the works and scheduled a world (and underworld) tour with the surviving members of Black Sabbath. The Poet abides all this with a zen like insouciance. He doesn't even begrudge his father for jumping ship with the parting line, “just business, never personal." The prophet's upcoming press conference is being hyped, with shameless airwave saturation, by a predatory media gone wild, as the ultimate supplication for divine clarity.

                "Is this thing on...a Jew, an Arab and a Christian walk into a bar...ok, seriously folks, I have been called by many names; God's Poet Laureate, The Ubermenschenkinder, The Divine Pimp, The Holy Trickster, etc. My story has been told many times, most famously in the sprawling narrative of the Wellesian tour de force commonly known as the gospels, a combination of blatant plagiarism and mystical mumbo jumbo, this hand me down piece of revisionist history has become widely accepted as a document of historical veracity and divine law. Those who manipulate language adroitly, cast spells that shape reality for their listeners. These high priests of deceptive oratory,deftly ply their idiomatic fulcrums to further their verbal point of leverage and elevate their positions on the spiritual food chain. The bible is a static document of dubious origin. At the Council of Nicaea(C.O.N.), politicians decided what books would be included therein. I will be introducing a new bible, this infinite tome will be interactive, all inclusive and democratic; like Wikipedia, anyone can make additions. I know my views and radical methods will incite a shit storm of epic proportions. So be it. Fear is tantamount to failure.
           “For many millennia, i have been saddled with the task of serial self replication. Man, immortality’s a drag sometimes.Everything’s a hustle, reality’s elastic and negotiable. The priests have brazenly asserted a monopoly on truth and then had the audacity to sell this fictional product to the unwitting masses. In the beginning was an idea; something out of nothing. In binary code zero denotes nothing, the mysterious unknown void and one is the phallic spark of life. Before the Universe, there was the idea of the Universe. Consider everything you have learned thus far as somewhere between grossly inaccurate and outright mendacious. It’s time to think for yourself. There are no guarantees, but you tend to get out of it something proportionate to what you put in. Garbage in, garbage out. Reprogram your computer and kill the virus known as consensual reality. I’ll close with a verse,

A dynamic prophet, descended from an alien,
Proposed an ethos that was quite bacchanalian
He accused the high priests of manipulation
And blind faith was their major stipulation
They cast aspersions at oblique angles
Then dismissed heresy as all new fangled
They sold their fiction for a handsome profit
As they steadily lined their very deep pockets
The Poet said, stop feeding their wealth
Wake up and think for yourself!

          Thank you and goodnight. Remember to love, laugh and create. And if you can’t beat ‘em, confuse the shit out of them.”


* * * *

Editor's Note

            The book titled Everything at Once(EAO) has appeared in various forms over the last twenty three years. Authenticity and authorship have been questioned since the first bootleg copies hit the market circa 2001. The first “official copy” was published in 2023. Subsequent editions have varied as to the text included, though the bulk of the work seems consistent. Also many bootlegs have surfaced with little or no similarity to what is considered by scholars to be the original, most of which claim to be the real, unabridged, unadulterated, uncensored, undiluted version. Authorship itself seems to be even more tenuously elusive.The book is usually attributed to Elijah X, an obvious pseudonym. The main character is alternately referred to as God’s Poet laureate,The Prophet and Elijah, among other eponyms, but never as Elijah X, nor is he ever purported to be a muslim. Some of the more literal minded of readers claim that the whole of this work is true and that the author is time traveling bardic son of God(or step son as some have claimed), but most scholars have dismissed this claim as being batshit crazy to use the popular vernacular. The consensus of the “experts” is that it’s a tale handed down by various authors overs a period time, eventually resulting in the eclectic compendium familiar to most readers today. Though some argue the single author theory, adding that the author may not have been born Elijah X or been divine, but in a sense been Elijah X when writing this sprawling narrative, using the same arts of conjuring and transformation as Robert Zimmerman channeling Bob Dylan, Archibald Leach siring that Cary Grant or Edward de Vere donning the mask of Shakespeare. It seems apropos, and hopefully not too trite, to quote the great bard himself at this point,"what's in a name?" Or as Buckminster Fuller said, "there are no nouns in the experiential Universe". Yet another rumor is that Thomas Pynchon banged it on an antique Olivetti typewriter in a single weekend otherwise lost to Wild Turkey and psilocybin. Although some passages are obviously imitative and derivative of Pynchon's turgidly opaque style, even allowing for the possibility of self parody on Pynchon's part, experts agree that it is extremely unlikely that he would pen a work with such crass commercialization and an overtly didactic message at it's core. The most remote and obscure candidate for authorship is an ex-con nobody's ever heard of (outside the walls of silence) named Christopher Stephens apparently writing under the nom de plume of Dance Harley(or vice versa). The story goes (and this is almost certainly an urban legend) that this underachieving, drug abusing, petty hustler and con artist had some sort or major epiphany while incarcerated and inked the entire work in 23 days, straight through with no corrections and furthermore he claimed that no editing or revision was necessary, because the text was dictated to him from the from a divine source, namely the Greek god Proteus, who in the book EAO has twenty three incarnations. The number twenty three is purported to have mystical qualities and syncronistic historical correlations as most readers are probably aware. The whole truth may never be known, but to quote the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, "the truth is overrated", also translated as “chickens are chickens, except when they’re not.” The turgidly effusive verbosity of this piece must be excused as what this author deemed as the most effective way to penetrate the labyrinthine web of mendacity,disinformation and myth occluding the origins of the megalithic uber-epic assembled under the catchall rubric; Everything at Once(EAO for short) and gleaning it’s opaque idiom vis-a-vis it’s questionable authorship. For additional information, consult the website, Everything you always wanted to know about Everything at Once; A Hyperkinetic Ode to Pantheism, but were somewhat trepidatious about or for more lethargic typists, simply Google EAO.

* * * *

           Dance Harley is a figure shrouded in controversy, mystery, hype and probably quite a bit of grandiose self promotion. He entered jail in his late twenties or early thirties for fraud, robbery, assault, etc. He was a semiliterate hustler, a ward of the streets, who (so the tale goes) in his seven years of incarceration taught himself to read and write, devouring classics along the way; Shakespeare, Joyce, Proust, Pynchon. Then moving on from fiction to filling in other gaps in his education; science, history,psychology.Then he started writing. At first a lot of politically driven poetry and autobiographical tales from his time on the streets. Then, considering himself quite the raconteur, he began regaling his fellow inmates with his deftly crafted prose and proclaiming himself to be God’s Poet Laureate and in the process offending and intriguing inmates, guards and counselors alike. Then came his jazz poetry phase, "I can improvise the same poem a hundred times, each time it comes out a little different. I'm Ornette Coleman with a pen, muthafucka. Everything's a hustle, a negotiation. On the streets and in the joint. The truth is overrated. Stop bowing to Gods and Buddhas and create your own mythology.”

* * * *

Everything at Once

by Dance Harley

Everything's a hustle, a negotiation
In jail and on the street
Reality is malleable in the hands
Of the Empire’s Machiavellian sorcerers
In spite of authority’s monotony
Magick rituals can break their monopoly

Psycho cycles incessantly run
The High Priestess spins into being
From a moonlight drenched sea
Isis to Ishtar...she spawns a fertile gnosis
In the beginning...a stateless state
Chaos...with no maintenance required
I ching throws a hexagram’s weight
The dusk looms as Venus rises over
Black and white pillars...duality of man
The river flows betwixt the Danube’s shores
Right here, right now...humans just being

A joyous note of rapture’s warmth
That which can’t be given or taken
Who writes the tune...the Grand Composer?
The elusive man behind the curtain

Shakespeare's signifying monkeys are still furtively typing
A tale told by an onion, full of sand and f#*\, sanctifying muffins
A sled pulled by a team of Abe’s rabid salukis passes by
As pop culture swallows it’s own insipid head
In a nation addicted to clichés

A come-on overheard at a real estate seminar
“Hey baby, what’s your brand?”
On Wall street occupiers moon the corporate vampires
In protest of a malevolent hegemony
As the Tao Jones levels karmic balances
And human commodities earn hefty profits
A corpus delicti points to the culprit
Then suddenly rises in spontaneous glossolalia
“Sure locks at home, wot’s in a name
wie geht es, mein schwartzenmenschen”

Osiris rising...into mapped territory
Man’s trinity takes the stage
Unbroken lines of the inflexible state
The lion’s fiery mane...the sun’s thorny halo
Obsequious serfs pay tribute to their rulers
Fear operates as the currency of control
The balance has gone askew

Hodge-podge moves off the surging grid
A tale told three times
Becomes part of our lore
Magick, marketing, conditioning
What’s the difference?
Brace for vitriolic ruptures of seismic impact
As Shamans scatter words upon the soil
Chaos grows between ordered rows
Weeds insidiously creep into unsuspecting minds
Step lightly from one path to the next

Shim and Sham run askance
In a burst of Joycean revelry
“Riverrun river flow”
The Tao speaks of a process unspoken
Knowledge unlearned, methods untaught

Primal screams adorn Egyptian tombs
An echo of man’s inauspicious dawn
Quadrupeds fight for pack dominance
And now we stand erect…
In a political ritual handed down

Our memories play as reruns
Fantasies restaged in cerebral Technicolor
Nostalgia junkies stuck in time
We forget about now
As we dream of the future
What about right here, right now?

Life...comprised of small details
Colorless atoms dance a cosmic jig
We Impose meaning as we see fit
A composite artwork emerges

Lines of verse spilled in jest
A parody of a parody
In the beginning was an idea
Something from nothing
One phallic spark of life
Fertilized that zero
A binary genetic code
From duality to multiplicity
The divine could be in anything…
Or everything at once