Back on boogie-street – returning from peru

O crown of light, o darkened one
I never thought we’d meet
You kiss my lips, and then it’s done
I’m back on boogie street

(Leonard Cohen)

It’s now been over 4 years since I returned to ‘civilisation’ from living and working in the Peruvian Amazon. I’ve been back now almost as long as I was there.

In Peru I studied the traditional healing system known as curanderismo with the indigenous Shipibos… and facilitated plant medicine retreats for many crazy and lovable souls… and did so under the aegis of a spirited gangster from Massachusetts whose brain was infested with aliens… and loved intensely, and fell many times under my own shadows, and remembered what the point of all this is, and forgot it all, again and again…

I will always think of that time with joyful bewilderment, cosmic ambivalence, gratitude, a little heart ache.. and the silent nausea of unreality. Don’t ask me what happened, it was too many things, it was everything all at once,
and did it even happen now —


— the darkness and fear and jubilation and tobacco smoke;

— the cheerful, shivering legions of humanity hungry to be saved from decay and heartbreak; the shape-shifting holographic shaman who sold them salvation; the salvation itself
(both real and imagined) —


— the weeping (at the horrifying beauty of remembrance, identity, dissolution), the joy (of being, of animism) —

— the generosity and heart and shadows of our indigenous teachers (and the odourless, colourless, bag of colonialism that I brought with me, and only really started unpacking when I returned) —

— chiggers on my nutsack, chiggers on my back, chiggers on my hat-rack, chiggers in my crack —


— staying up all night, night after night, captivated by meandering constellations of meaning, stars, an infinity of shooting-the-shit, and the stories of people’s painful, absurd, complex lives that helped me become more human —

— friends, projections, nightmares, fantasies, adrenal fatigue, and the bittersweet relief when it all dissolved —

— black magic, anaphylaxis, malaria (twice), shigella, giardia, salmonella, universes of vomit,
pant-shitting / nut-clutching / high-impact supernatural dizziness—

— singing into the shining dark, being sung by the Other—

— praying, the plants, the jungle, the Blue Morphos and orchids and snakes and universes of fabulously adapted insects and lichen and fungi,
whose spirits I fell utterly in love with —


— Cielita,
whose spirit I fell utterly in love with —

belonging to the world, and coming back to the life process,

and a sense that this is what you’re supposed to be doing with your life.

Postcards of another world.

And then it’s gone.

And never again will be.

I’m back now, back in the cities and bloated, beige suburbs of Australia, back on boogie-street, and I’ve been back for some time, about 4 years already, almost as long as I was away…

When I got back in 2016, my father picked me up from the airport and I got the re-entry welcome that my
deserved —

— check this out: this is a verbatim snippet of a real conversation I had with my dad minutes after reuniting:

Dad: I prayed for you son, for God to save you from the cult, from being greasy swinger, from being drug addict, and all the calamities, because you looked so skinny and lost, I prayed for your salvation. You’ve wasted almost 5 years of your life, but now you have the chance to grow up and get a nice job again, to secure your future. If you work hard and cut your hippy hair, you could be a lawyer again. Inshallah, I pray for you never to follow the devil way anymore, and to never get the white woman pregnant,
and above all,
not be the gay.

Me: Please don’t pray for me, dad.