His half-answers to questions hint at the kind of playful relationship he has with life--a deep understanding that the world is just what it is, without any need for cause and effect. That way of seeing is surely what makes his poetry so rich and his personality so charming, and lets him get away with giving me a final explanation of his poetic voice:

"It makes what would be a sort of mechanical, boring existence into something magical and goofy and fun. It's hard to say. But it's a thing--of feeling and also of some intuitional trip going on about what it is. I don't know."

Kaitlin Quistgaard is a freelance writer who lives in San Francisco. This is her first article for Reed.

Photos are by nationally recognized photographer Phiz Mezey '48. Mezey has been taking photos since the '50s; her portraits of James Baldwin, Jimi Hendrix, Martin Luther King, Jr., Philip Whalen, and others have appeared in art galleries and museums around the country.

Poems from Canoeing Up Cabarga Creek: Buddhist Poems 1955-1986,Parallax Press, 1996

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