Chapter 3


11 [11.] ‘Dragon Host’ Oil on Paper 40″ x 30″ 1975

Originally titled “Eucharist”, or “Dragon Eucharist.” This work continues the themes of the paintings above. But, when this painting was made, I had moved from a completely secular environment and lifestyle to the monastery. Catholic influences were beginning to enter my previously Surrealistic or Abstract Expressionist work.


In which:

-The main character is taken aback by the esoteric, eclectic color of his own benignly “Southern Gothic” experience.

-Abstract poetry is provided but sage warning is given about its consumption.

-Brief mention is made of unrequited love, an important theme for later alchemies.


As I am piecing together these events, I realize the possibly horrific fact that here are already mentioned two graveyards, two crazies, one large massacre and the terrifying brave new world of international technological commercialism. All of this is still introductory. There is also one optimistic old lady and a priesthood that suggests chastity, celibacy, ancient religious institutions, other rare things such as truth and integrity; as well as shamanism, deities, paranormal powers, magic, esoteric martial arts and the current desperation of our times. This banquet of images sets the table1 on which such elements will form and reform, deform then finally come to a health of sacred vision, (I hope). This vision will be one of survival, evolution and salvation. So, don’t think that I am only eclectic or even pessimistic about the state of things in “our times,” for we have only begun in this to deal with “love.” Curious. but, what love means or how it works is hardest to describe. Yet, it is the most common and basic of all the elements in this story. I hope that my “charitable”2 intention will be made clear before the end, for the sake of my priestly “career” if nothing else. It’s hard to say even now where this will lead.

I traveled with my brother the following Fall 1970 to the highlands of Guatemala for two months. I collected bromeliads, rare air-feeding plants, for friends in California from the trees in the misty mountain forests. He collected folk art. This was my first exposure to a largely Animist/Shamanistic culture.

I wrote my first poem there. It was a long poem and successful with the little poetry community in which I moved back home. The time spent with my brother was an exhausting, tense confrontation of brotherly wills. We both contracted hepatitis by the end of the two months there. A fitting end to that trip. But our relationship survives somehow, becomes very good as we grow old. But there was worse to come then.

When I finished college in June of 1973, my roommate and I went to Tijuana on the Mexican border and caught a bus south. We were headed for Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of South America. We got as far as Bolivia. On that trip, I conceived two long poems from which come these excerpts: (If you’re not into poetry, skip the next few pages.) I include them here because they contain the “abstract” of what is going on but from an intuitive or dream level. They, like the paintings, indicate deep ontological changes happening within me that I see now as preparation for priesthood, shamanic action- even Tantra and the rest of the “work” described in this story. Also, poetry has transformative power, if you read these poems carefully, they might change you in a way you don’t suspect!



a spider floats down

across a window





n-  across

It comes into sight then disappears.

With a chorus of scraping chairs, we rise…



Got to stay fit though,

work helps, running too.

The dog runs behind me,

dog is older now and limps

but there is a tail arched joy

for him in these runs

sniffing, smelling, leaving smells to be sniffed…

Crows fly low, circling occasionally

down the river bed dry this time of year,

in the morning doesn’t feel dry.

Cottonwoods root in the sand and gravel

that cover a flow of water.

It’s getting lighter,

crazy loud crows,

don’t know enough to be quiet just before the dawn.

The mockingbirds must sing all night.

Maybe they’re nightingales.


The sun is coming up.

Wonder what I look like running along here…

I can see my shadow behind me along the road.


Part 1

Slide the yellow grass hill

down to the city

wrap mist around the soul

shroud the consideration of ought and should

until morning

push the thigh shoving sigh up…

what of who or when?

Dark road

chestnut horse stud

big in the standing stall


cold dream

Oleander buds pop red for spring…



It’s such a strange blue light

the wall of the room seems to be a barrier of space

gray blue

solid yet not so

so old

What place is this?

What strange mountain light?

What whistling visage of passing flight?

A mild avenue of ghostly light,

holding each form as an animal in a womb,

sparkling as from last night’s rain.

What image could not pass the tourist by in this mysterious light.


Because I climb a cage of stairs

Because I climb

Because I climb

and strive to strive…


The aqueous movement of clouds

The piling high of clouds

as wave

as whipping large of seaweed.

So large in the push of the wind,

held between spheres of mysterious intent.

A man fingered his nose

his eye

his other eye

examined his finger after each

pinched his pants to his scrotum

watched the rainfall

from the high floor

of the unfinished high-rise


The lake

reeds and water

forming an order in my thought





forever the reed

forever the light


Hills vibrate incessantly

with the excitement of light

Quiet distant mountain

The Fall


the other Fall is from Love

(re-build the church

hold the chalice

plant one frozen block on top of the last

watch it fall in the wind)

In my stuttering affluence of emotion

I acknowledge all I lack

and happily, admit that having just left you

miss you

and want you back.

That I loved and was not loved is enough

The tower of Babel was breached

For an instant, there was a shouting of joy that filled our

lonely cells

Down the narrow marble hall

and into the church

with that quiet sigh, nearly inaudible, that tells so much.


Hills vibrate

In the migraine of my thought

I can leave you walking on young green fields

leave all that is less than sparkling

and find again the hard rail up…

dreams stranger than…. terrifying

…lies in the field, once plowed

but such…

In that passing moment I

see our mother weeping in bed

the years of her loneliness,

the hoped for joy gone sour

the close-hearted pressures of those close

the shy green grass joy turned gray

All this came tearing back to me

so that I could only sob uncontrollably.

After the diffusion of night

the hills vibrate incessantly

with the excitement of light

Winter winds beat down last spring’s grass

matt it to turf

light and air surround the new sprouts.


(In the wood, upon a bracken-covered slope,

a boy tripping

clutching that which rips….

The water is dark

another friend is lost

must search again the broken ark.)


The sun for a sightful instant

pierces from behind an ancient bell tower

mind, sanctity


closed within a skull

Behold the glistening within the forest

and a boy climbing the hill

lost among the rocks

Behold the rocks and the chase.

The forest stinks of rotten wood

supporting all manner of vegetation

within is the glistening

that narrow beam

that eyeful beam

seen by few

I am naked and singing

I am alone but not

I am clean in the light

I am–

I desire

but so quickly sold?

ready to barter

with God or philosophy

for a fresh clean loin

We have seen the fair flesh

We have been the fair flesh

young, succulent

(all bastards are washed clean in

this torrential downpour

as the streets of the dirty city)

Still is the glistening light.



A man steps to the urinal

thrusts forward his hips

follows an ancient ritual of excretion

empty rooms

I have climbed the temple stairs…

a summer, a spring

I have laid on cool white sheets

listened, watched, felt, the processes

of my brown body

could almost feel the fat stretch the skin.

winter, spring

My gaze dragged over his loin

Stephanie is in my thoughts

Desire is nothing…

fits his pants well

a cycle ages

I shall live above

the rotting wood

having seen the glistening within

and knowing the forest…

Oh! those blistered hills

that sever every connection

beyond the desert,

each mound a festering sore

each runs into each

Distance holds the quiet mountain

in the empty mission cells

the shouts of children

echo against the walls

Oleander buds pop red for spring.



Gulls squabble in spiral order

above the garbage dump

far from the sea.

In that moment of confession

beneath the arbor

with my friend my tutor

the terror of my past was released

held before me

Point of contact

excitement of friction



Oh! How that Indian woman talked

about the market and the exchange rate perhaps

How they laughed

she patted his hand and his knee

Constant thrap thrap

of the river pump, watering the fields

The afternoon is quiet along the river

but for distant children playing

and birds calling to one another


Fog desert

sand water

alike in the wind

The desert

Barren solitude


I left the rest

walked on the Peruvian desert

beyond the power poles and further

I turned for an instant

the road was gone

The high fog hid the sun

I was alone without direction

(Don’t go. I’m almost old.

you like me…

the others know me, know all I’ve done


The dry river, gravel

Torn in gullies to the ocean

The desert falls to the ocean

The cliff crumbles to rocks and sand

The sea beats against the cliff.



There is an edifice

a church

with stone stairs and pillars

St. Francis’ day

A statue of the saint in the image of Pius XII

Sitting with Egyptian rigidity in an ancient hall

celebration of the saint’s day

the celebrants stand on the stairs

and inside the church,

delirious with adoration

A crowd surging backward

from the church portal

Christ in the image of a statue appears from the door

stiff wooden huge

with a painted face

old varnished paint

the image falters

the face amazed

passes close to mine

rebuking the manic adoration.




A moth beats its wings against the window pane.

A hummingbird sits on a branch looking from behind a leaf.

Gnats swarm in mobile circles beneath a tree.

There bursts the cotyledon

a red bud bursts

ready with pistil and stamen

a barn owl



dark shadow after sunset,

a mouse scurries through the wild oat fields


All is ready



again we rise


with a chorus of scraping chairs

we rise.

Steve Frost
San Francisquito Canyon, California 1973


Et Cum Spiritu Tuo

 Sea cliffs no longer reach above the pounding, crashing day

but are nearly covered by the tidal lay.


Earthy substance is saturated and crumbling.


One green-leafed branch is wrapped to a mainstem in the wind,

branched from a tree otherwise bare or sporting bright dead leaves.


Ants pull cold pebbles over their holes.


I stand in a dry field,

a morning breeze slightly rustles dormant weeds,

from every side comes the click of mysterious insects

reviving on dead plants.



weed fields contain muted salmon, pale green and yellow weeds.


Color is held in mild suspension.


The cherries have fallen.


We wait.


Canterbury is crowded this year.


In a dark room, old women wait. I wave to a friend. She and all the rest wave back– with crooked hands, bulging knuckles.


Young boys run down the street shouting:

“I have come, I have cum,”

like some noisy prophets

calling us to God.


The roots have pushed the river mud aside leaving a trench

for desperate souls who seek a path.


Indolent tarantula is drugged

dragged forth and back by orange and black wasps. They fight life battles over the corpse.


Bloody green blades push their way through rocky hymens

even while winter winds still blow.


“It’s cold in this place, cold!

I know the spring is coming but I hate the cold”


We are left bleeding in the womb

in this passage to light, again,

we are left bleeding.


A solitary hawk stationed in the air against the wind

maintains a position


A wall stands

topping even treetops

holds a hill

contains a courtyard

palace grounds

olive trees surround the wall

a circus is filmed in the court

color and sound

red and yellow

clowns to entertain

sane director, ringmasters


The exit is blocked

I cannot drive my car away from the grounds.

The clowns are chasing me

I run along the wall


run the wall

afraid to …

so far, to the soft grass



hills covered with yellow grass

waves of warm summer air

lift from grass

among the trees


The circus wall that holds

is not so high

as think the prisoners

afraid to fall.


Dominus Vobiscum–


It’s when the demands of dull daily patterns leave me

“an old man in a dry month”

that I rebuke this bright passage between two dark holes and

can only envision the final fall.

But other times, I remember the cover-tossing joy

holding you or talking to you

then, I laugh in the morning light

hardly able to wait for our next bright dance to come

hardly able to wait for my next chance to fold myself in your arms


Et cum spiritu tuo



Steve Frost
San Francisquito, California 1973


Not long after, I went to the monastery. My departure for the monastery was preceded by this musing, transitional reflection that follows. I have done a violence to this work in presenting it here in prose layout, … It was originally written with contemplative care– in the choice of word, space and punctuation, in poetic form as above. I’ve done this deed to indicate my attempt to switch from non- rational, more poetic mental states to prose- most difficult:

A day settles down. Cage birds fluff their feathers under cover. One star in sight, just outside the fading light. I have studied my Italian, eaten my diet dinner, called the people I should, written that letter of inquiry, drawn all I would, read the same. I am waiting and writing to disguise the fact that I am waiting and writing possibly to terminate the waiting and waiting to see if this writing turns into anything.

There is a girl I know, who, while I was in South America, I would think about at night on those long bus rides. Harry was across the aisle with Lucia, Luciano had gone off to Brazil with that beautiful red-headed French girl’s gym teacher. I would conjure up images of an unconnected line, lose my conscious self in the bus like a forgotten sweater and wander in the cold night landscape outside where it was almost light, pick up meandering phantoms and hold them between components of gray matter. She was the elusive butterfly. I was tripping over rocks with net in hand. She was the only sparkling prod in my lost lobal lumps that was able to initiate a welling up from deep electricated passages; tripping running fumbling, from the tongue, unexpectedly falling on the dinner table, the word, marriage, connubial joy and responsibility. She was the one who excited me to the point of not being boring or bored with the state of males and females chasing, checking, tasting one another. She works on a help line with people who need it. She is conversant in French and English. She mimes and acts well, is generally sympathetic. I have fallen off curbs looking at her. She was the only one who fits into the

I have fallen off curbs looking at her. She was the only one who fits into the above-mentioned categories and is in love with another man, considering me such a very good friend. Well, Lord, we all need friends and what do I care? I am waiting to have my resumes received and filed and while waiting for the master’s program information from those possibly green-leafed colleges to arrive, I’m waiting to make enough money to rent a studio and for Ester Robles and her gallery to get over her flu so that I may ask her to look at my drawings.

It is a serious possibility that I should, while I am waiting, forget all this, my family, my friends and become a brother at St. Andrews. Apparently one doesn’t need to know Latin anymore. I’m a devoted follower of God if unstructured and I hear that those Benedictines respect the Arts.

In the meantime, I’ve started another drawing, have plans for a large painting, and am in air-sucking delight with this year’s yellow-grey-black cottonwoods and the almost white- yellow of last years wild oats engulfing the southside hill sage and yucca plants. I am waiting for Spring, not that winter isn’t nice, I like the cold wind, rain, smogless, freezing days.

Steve Frost
San Francisquito, California 1974


At the time that I was infatuated with Stephanie, I was going with a girl named Jenny, a very pretty, intelligent, talented, woman. Stephanie as already mentioned was in love with a bi-sexual John. This was all too confusing. I withdrew altogether. Not long after that, I went to the monastery.

Was this move only the result of unrequited love or was there a larger design. (See bibliography, Mantak Chia for esoteric sexual practices, or Yang Jwing-Ming or “Secret of the Golden Flower.”)