Introduction to Gil Helmick’s Wounded by Zen

Necessity is the mother of excuses. Gil would astound the surrealists of mustache and baby bottle with metaphysical meteors of the eyes too sensational for the National Enquirer. The San Francisco Chronicle could not come near him; the nearest they came was in the hanging of the phone, and that was the phone’s worst demise— like the birth of a million ethnic guilts and the death of the rats before the plague of happenstance. Gil Helmick needs no excuses. Descriptions bring only regret. Better justify the sexual boils of politicians or the casual blindnesses and inabilities of the great middle class. His work is the burning flame of our secret abilities. It is the hidden excitements of even boredoms and hangovers. Think what he might do with the circus of courtship with the tragic stage-show of street life with the adventure of a Sunday morning. Let us open his book to “The world is in the clutches of itself,” to “My brain is an apple fused to the teeth in a kiss,” to “Like the golden rubber arms of a great mischief,” to “pubescent alchemists” and “cancerous gaze” and “the great nuclear pie fight,” to “this heroin axe,” and to “the Babylon effect,” and let us rise in the eternal energy of Wounded by Zen. Walt Whitman and William Blake, were they alive as we believe them, would idiolize this writer, Gil Helmick. “It only makes osmosis volatile,” he writes.

16 March 1981