Thursday, March 12, 2009

PoemS of the day 03.12.09

Happy 87th Jack.

at the kerouac exhibit, new york city

immortality comes down to words
trapped behind glass cages
and holiday shoppers ogling
your drunken sketches of heaven.
i am told to stay off the glass
while trying to peer into your dead eyes
hoping to catch a piece of that glint
they always talked about you having.
instead i move on to the photo
of your last home, orlando, florida,
the one where you hemorrhaged fame
and alcohol and blood in,
and the hospital where you finally met
your christ.
was it all worth it for this?
an old gap ad displayed?
your name in flashing green neon?
a banner outside the new york public library,
but only until march 2008?
hip kids and aging boomers
still loitering around one book?
after all, dostoevsky’s genius isn’t
owned by a football team,
puskin and proust are free to walk the streets
and no one lugging around a macy’s bag
is trying to fondle chekhov’s old shoes.
perhaps an exhibit is the wrong place to think
about missing you, and the great deepening void
of the word.
so we move on out and head down toward
west 20th street,
down the quiet narrow blocks of red-bricked buildings
and the wind coming from the hudson river.
in a 9th avenue bodega, we buy two tallboys
and hide them in cellophane,
as we drink in front of 454,
looking at gardenias in a second floor window,
wondering if that’s the apartment where
all your gods collided and the pain began,
or if maybe it was one floor up,
the one darkened by the falling autumn sun.



hard as it is
for me to believe
there was a time
before kerouac’s books
existed for me.
it must not have
been much
of a time,
or at least it was
a time
that i don’t care
to dwell on
too often.
what a banal set
of years.
i prefer to think
that i was born
into reading
kerouac novels,
that the moment
that one afternoon,
blowing off classes
blowing off food
blowing off the sun
to read on the road
was the first time i learned
to breathe
and to see the world
around me as it was,
as it could be.
and it would only
come to pass
that through kerouac’s books
i knew that my life
would have to change.
the sensible ambition
had to go.
so did the common goal
of upward mobility.
friends would have
to fall by
the wayside,
and that the pen
and the word
would be all that
i really
could rely on
to get by.
and no amount of practical
could change that.
from the second
i sat
in the library
and opened that book,
i knew that i was
a goner,
that i had found the light,
the purpose,
the muse.
other gods have helped
along the way
as well:
bukowski, fante, steinbeck,
and henry miller,
to name a few,
but kerouac set it all
off for me.
he buried the first eighteen
in his first paragraphs
and gave me life.
and this poem doesn’t even
begin to that you, jack,
great ghost of
the merrimack,
for giving me some soul,
my beautiful loneliness,
that one gray october day
in pittsburgh


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