Jack Kerouac in Spring Rain

I am not sentimental. I am very sentimental. I’m not easy. I’m very easy.

This morning I’m letting reality weigh itself. I’m very free.

Unlike Jack Kerouac I’m not in a hurry. Maybe that’s because I can’t drive.

(Well, blind people, “can” drive, but it’s not advisable, especially

if we generally like humanity, and I “do” love my odd, dented, still aborning

fellow citizens…)

I’m free…and yes, I’m thinking of Kerouac this morning in particular:

i will write

it, all the talk of the world

everywhere in this morning, leav-

ing open parentheses sections

for my own accompanying inner

thoughts-with roars of me

all brain-all world

roaring-vibrating-I put

it down, swiftly, 1,000 words

(of pages) compressed into one second

of time-I’ll be long

robed & long gold haired in

the famous Greek afternoon

of some Greek City

(from Daydreams for Ginsberg) 

Ha! Inner thoughts, with layers of roar—brain that!

Architectonic thoughts, striated, simultaneous, with electrolysis—turn it up!

Fast Greek! Kero-stotle! Naked! Dancing in the Agora! Open parentheses…

Reminds me of the “lecture” (the big one) about the Greeks, back in college, Freshman year.

Old Prof stands, looks at hundreds of students, raises his index finger, sez:

“What’s the first thing Aristotle did in the morning?”

No answer from the students.

“He hiked up his toga and took a piss!”

Students didn’t know if it was OK to laugh.


Kero-stotle, robed & long gold haired in the famous Greek afternoon, takes a pee….

Thinks meantime, 1000 words (of pages) compressed into one second.

Kero-stotle wants to go exceptionally fast.

He thinks time is running out.

Those guys over in Jersey invented the atom bomb.

All world, roaring.

Don’t sit there, so weak minded.

Do the Whitman “thing”—go up on the tenement roof and make barbaric noises.

Even Barbarians had points of view.

Write fast.

Drive faster.

Advantage over old Greeks: automobile.

Pounding, seething across Indiana, telephone poles lifting like they’d been electroshocked.

Poetry has advantages over prose:

It extends your eyelashes.

More feeling, less bloat.

“How do you know you’re alive, Son?”

“Because zig zag lines of lightning pour along my arms, officer.”

Even the Greeks would have had difficulty making sense of Indiana.

Jack Kerouac. A better poet than he was a prose writer:

 211th Chorus

The wheel of the quivering meat


Turns in the void expelling human beings,

Pigs, turtles, frogs, insects, nits,

Mice, lice, lizards, rats, roan

Racinghorses, poxy bucolic pigtics,

Horrible unnameable lice of vultures,

Murderous attacking dog-armies

Of Africa, Rhinos roaming in the


Vast boars and huge gigantic bull

Elephants, rams, eagles, condors,

Pones and Porcupines and Pills-

All the endless conception of living


Gnashing everywhere in Consciousness

Throughout the ten directions of space

Occupying all the quarters in & out,

From supermicroscopic no-bug

To huge Galaxy Lightyear Bowell

Illuminating the sky of one Mind-


I wish I was free

of that slaving meat wheel

and safe in heaven dead.

Poor Jack Kerouac! The body is a prison. His. Ours. And even if you didn’t think so, say, because you love your Ivory Soap, the ten directions of space will finish you off just as surely as the attacking dog-armies…Ach! What a mortal mess. What meat bags we are! All of us. Soap only masks the inevitable. Poor Jack! Gnashing everywhere in consciousness! No respite, no matter where you look in creation! From virus to supernova—everything is excreting from its bowels, what’s an amateur Buddhist, ex-Catholic to do? Play his guitar of course. His blue guitar. “I wish I was free/of that slaving meat wheel/and safe in heaven dead.”

There’s no evidence that “safe” counts in Heaven—one must fairly ask (as Alan Turing did) if consciousness can exist at tall outside the body. You see? Kerouac can’t resist jumping from Buddhism to Catholicism at thinned out edges of his poem.

I love him for that.

I love that he’s just like us.

Blues. Bravado. Wishes. A few lies. Some dreams. And he can make you laugh or cry. All while taking dizzying steps.

Kerouac the poet, writes an elegy for Charley Parker:

241st Chorus

And how sweet a story it is

When you hear Charley Parker

tell it,

Either on records or at sessions,

Or at official bits in clubs,

Shots in the arm for the wallet,

Gleefully he Whistled the



Anyhow, made no difference.

Charley Parker, forgive me-

Forgive me for not answering your eyes-

For not having made in indication

Of that which you can devise-

Charley Parker, pray for me-

Pray for me and everybody

In the Nirvanas of your brain

Where you hide, indulgent and huge,

No longer Charley Parker

But the secret unsayable name

That carries with it merit

Not to be measured from here

To up, down, east, or west-

-Charley Parker, lay the bane,

off me, and every body

Thank you Jack Kerouac. Thank you for writing ”Nirvanas of your brain”—just the right gift for Charley Parker’s ghost—“merit/Not to be measured from here”. Thank you Jack Kerouac for finally answering Charley Parker’s eyes. Thank you for writing a jazz prayer. Thank you for thinking of a horn player as a secret, unsayable angel. Thank you for praying to his spirit: “lay the bane,/off me, and every body”. Let us be relieved, every one, from the terrors of addiction and money and hungers. And thank you for the tenderness, Jack Kerouac. Maybe it makes no difference but I’m not convinced and neither were you. Thank you for not being convinced.

Oh and you were dirty and funny just like us, Jack:


Tryna get to sunny Californy’ –

Boom. It’s the awful raincoat

making me look like a selfdefeated self-murdering imaginary gangster, an idiot in a rueful coat, how can they understand my damp packs – my mud packs –

„Look John, a hitchhiker’

„He looks like he’s got a gun underneath that I. R. A. coat’

‘Look Fred, that man by the road’ „Some sexfiend got in print in 1938 in Sex Magazine’ –

„You found his blue corpse in a greenshade edition, with axe blots’   

I’ve hitchhiked some. Blind. Walking dizzying steps of days and nights in America’s liminal spaces, half in, half out of culture, twisting by the side of the road. It’s a liberated vagrancy.

Boom. They drive right past. “I wouldn’t want to ride with you anyway…”

Jack, America, properly, at its best, was always shabby. (How Lewis and Clark must have stank!)

Thank you for your Haikus:

Haiku (The low yellow…)

The low yellow

moon above the

Quiet lamplit house.



Birds singing

in the dark

—Rainy dawn


Early morning gentle rain,

two big bumblebees

Humming at their work


Bluejay drinking at my

saucer of milk,

Throwing his head back


Men and women

Yakking beneath

the eternal void


In my medicine cabinet

   the winter fly

has died of old age


Shall I break God’s commandment?

  Little fly

Rubbing its back legs


My pipe unlit

  beside the Diamond

Sutra – what to think?


Early morning yellow flowers,

thinking about

the drunkards of Mexico.


No telegram today

only more leaves




boy smashing dandelions

with a stick.


Holding up my

purring cat to the moon

I sighed.


Drunk as a hoot owl,

writing letters

by thunderstorm.


Empty baseball field

a robin

hops along the bench.


All day long

wearing a hat

that wasn’t on my head.


Crossing the football field

coming home from work –

the lonely businessman.


After the shower

among the drenched roses

the bird thrashing in the bath.


Snap your finger

stop the world –

rain falls harder.



too dark to read the page

too cold.


Following each other

my cats stop

when it thunders.


Wash hung out

by moonlight

Friday night in May.


The bottoms of my shoes

are clean

from walking in the rain.


Glow worm

sleeping on this flower –

your light’s on.


Thank you Jack Kerouac. For allowing your journeys to visit me. For saying there is nothing to be astonished about; there is everything to be astonished about.

For saying we can try out a hundred masks, then throw them all away before the void.

For daring to be the schoolboy who delightedly writes and rewrites misspelled word.

I like you better when you’re not in a car. You were a fine poet who got lured into prose. I think the skyscrapers hurt you.

I like you better when you stand before your bathroom mirror.

I like you better when you express your feelings with a broken pencil.

I am not sentimental. I am very sentimental. I’m not easy. I’m very easy.

This morning I’m letting reality weigh itself. I’m very free.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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