Haunted By Jack Kerouac's Ghost

by Wayne Scheer

Harlan hungered for the night, starved for the flashing of evening stars popping like paparazzi bulbs spotlighting the path to holy Vegas where glamour and greed blaze a trail to the American Dream.

Harlan hankered for the night, after the streetlights zapped on and the safe suburban homes dim to only the ashen flicker of TVs and the sad gray gloom of computer screens, where guilt-ridden souls hide in work stations by day and play stations by night dreaming of dancing like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire on the tables and walls of America.

Harlan howled into the night, searching for a pretty girl who'd sing sweet songs of love to a stranger, dance to the hip hop of her heart and Velcro green florescent strips to her bare ass and roller blade nude down the Great American Road into the starry evening sky.

Still Mad

by Sean Pravica

How many people must have sat on Big Sur beaches
Dusted off their Rucksacks to join Snyder’s Revolution
Turned to sky kissing views for summer employment
And snapped their fingers to a poet’s beat
Just to follow the footprints you left behind
More than you could ever know
And I’ll guess more than you’d want to
I can imagine your pensive face
Arms crossed and eyes down
To the floor
Or to your bottle
Feet itchier than ever to thumb along the roadside
To get away from all this
The generations of followers
Just looking for the next kick
Across the America you showed them
And as long as young kids still find themselves
In the hallmark jazz of your madman prose
Which, like it or not, Jean Ti
You'll seeThis is still a beat generation
And you’re still the King
If you ever get a chance to look down
From the Heaven you spent your life trying to find
Look on all the road weary disciples
Who got what they were looking for
One way or another
Just like you did
Your Catholics say a man’s a saint
After only three miracles
I guess a countless number of Mad Ones
Anointed by your credo
And hell bent on being in love with thr lives
Even if it kills them
Wasn’t enough of a Roman Candle
For the Vatican to recognize
Meanwhile your spider legged visions
Still smoke across the sky
Which, like it or not
Proved you’re not so alone
After all

The only ones for you were Mad
And still are


by Mather Schneider

Do your push-em-ups
be a good father
steady dependable
breadwinner so others
can grow in safety
and comfort within
confines of absurd
society seeming so
rational and even
dying with a smile
on your face is
victory happiness
success by others’
standards ignore your
gut above all stay
erect work hard sleep
enough and only love
one woman besides
your mother.

One Last Attraction in Orlando, Florida

by Ben Nardolilli

Apologies are in order Jack Kerouac,
I completely missed your house,
Forgetting that you too, have been here,
Obviously when the city was a town
And lay with the railroads,
When it was a small shrine to sunshine,
With orchards the closest thing to outlet malls.

Your final berth wrapped in wood
Before the outside world descended
To find you, the ink dredging voice
Of something lumped up into a generation,
Yes I missed it, and I had a free day too,
Disney and my parents did not own me
The entire time I was down in Orlando.

What did I do? I rode a boat with a fan
Over the lake and through the reeds,
We went to the streams and into nests,
Making spinach green alligators hiss at me
As they guarded dirty white eggs about to hatch,
With passengers from all around the world,
Looking for something to fill empty hours.

Your house is still there, and who can say
If you cared any more about it
Than any of the other homes you had?
Like a string of beads you amassed
Addresses to span the country sea to sea,
Like Edgar Allan Poe you let so many cities
Give you a chance to rest your feet and head.

And like Edgar Allan Poe, I hope
All those former abodes will be spread
Out as obstacles and frustrations
For developers across the land,
One day, people who never read your books
Will fight to preserve your homes
From being paved over by future highways.


by Steven Gulvezan

Sitting at the end of your final road
In the bedroom of the house you built
A fence around
Sitting there, in Florida, at twilight
The scorching Florida sun sinking
In the semi-darkness of your room
You, wearing your famous lumberjack shirt
Sitting at the typewriter
Trying to channel “Duluoz” but finding nothing
All the books, all the editions, all the
Manuscripts and memories, arranged
So precisely in the drawers and on the shelves
You’re sitting there, sucking a beer deftly
Maneuvered out of the kitchen behind Memere’s
Back – or so you both choose to pretend –
Few things pass before Memere
Or Stella
Sitting there in your room, in the twilight,
Sweating, bored to hell, lonely, all the works
Codified as best as you could codify them
Ready for the bug-eyed archaeologists to
Dissect them
Perhaps pounding the keys on the typewriter
Any keys, any words,
Just to be typing…writing…
At this point it doesn’t matter what…
The ultimate spontaneous bop prosody
The fat old clown goofing on the edge of eternity
While Memere is speaking from her chair:
“I don’t want that dirty Allen here –
Never will he darken my door.”

Hitchhikers Redux

by Dennis Mahagin

I was about to call it a night, 
when my Macbook channeled 
Jack Kerouac, on brass knuckle 
Blackberry, updating his web log 
from an outpost on Antares: 

"It's like desert, where nothin's as near as it appears," 
said Jack, "or that Time shooting craps, with Pascal 
when I was but a greenhorn, fresh out of stratosphere... 
I watched him press his Hard Way bets while I built up 
my bank, until Double Fours blew me out of that game 
like pink particle dust from a sunflower super nova!”

On chat platform, I scrambled to answer Kerouac 
with my cheesy 3 - D Pulsar Avatar of Milky Way 
Bar, typing on a wing-shaped keypad, just as fast 
as my fingers could fly: 

"Well other than that, how have you 
been getting along, Master Kerouac?" 

"Oh man, with gravity in a hermetic 
vacuum it's nothing but zoom-zoom… 
zoom – zoom - ZOOM!" 

"Are you an angel now, Jack?" 

"Heavens no! But yesterday in fact, I did catch a 
glimpse of Neal's snow-white chin whiskers in the 
Katherine Wheel sparks of a Haley's Sleigh Ride. 
And man what a gas... What a GAS!" 

"So it's true, we're not all alone in a vast 
coal-black, frigidly-indifferent universe?" 

"Nah, man. Just very, very Self Centered. That's all... 
Remember: Even the most gaping, galloping Big Sur 
fault line cannot stand up against a heartfelt rope 
skip rhyme—" 

"And all addictions, fratricide, and bad 
tattoos have been spawned by boredom?" 

"Where did you get that one, kid?" 

"It is written: On the sweating wall 
of the Cow Trough Pisser ... Club 
Satyricon, Portland Ora - Gone 
circa Twenty Forty Six…" 

"It's not half-bad." 

"Anyway, I think this post is gonna draw 
a whole lot of freaking Web hits, Jack!" 

"That's cool, kid—now, dig, 
I gotta fly, but I just might 
—be back." 

"Well then ... Until Zen?" 

"You're catchin' on, Dad ...You 
really are comin' along  just fine." 

(first published in Unlikely Stories)

On the Road...Soon

by Jeffrey Miller

I felt the pull of the open road long before I heard of Jack, Sal, Dean and all those other hipsters with their jazz and smoky clubs; their yearning for something bigger than who they were and the freedom that went along with it; their rendezvous with destiny traveling from coast to coast while pounding out the rhythms of post World War II America and not looking back.

The open road—it’s in our blood, I’m sure. It’s as American as apple pie. It’s that primal hunger to find America and ourselves.

Reading On the Road didn’t hurt, either. My copy came way of my older brother who once hitchhiked across America to find himself before he went off to Nam and got himself shot up. Now that paperback hand-me-down was my ticket, Rosetta Stone and Bible all rolled up into one dog-eared, highlighted and underlined copy.

When I felt the time had come to satisfy that yearning, I didn’t get too far that first day. Just got out of the driveway in the beat up Chevy my buddies and I worked on all last year in auto mech class before my mom yelled that I had to cut the grass. Said there were a few bucks in it for me. Hmm...gas money. She also made Sloppy Joes for me. Jack and the others would have to wait until tomorrow. Damn, I promised Steve I’d look at his bike. The day after tomorrow, then. Definitely.


by Keith Higginbotham

Will you ever
aspire to unbridled
sleepwalking, beat
the emptiness
of slow
poison, across
town no movement there.

A year stretches to lackluster
anymore, monotonous to
rescue. Your mind
is a remedy.

What you do is trapped
in the escape. The stream is ready
to leave.

A jealous colleague shuffles
papers, how do you do.

Torture is a victim.


by Chris Butler

Normal Norman is a normal man,
the neighborly stranger greeting 
his fellow beings with a musical hello
and a handshake contacted by eyes,
but as a boy he was the one
who marked each day on the calendar
as the anniversary of his 
classmates’ assassination,
later he recreates his crescendo moment 
as a Twentysomething nobody trapped
within a geometrically imprisoning office,
alongside his co-prisoners shot with 
.22 caliber bullets from his thoughts,
but now as he’s displaced by middle age,
fantasizing of serial killing while
stalking milfs breastfeeding their infants
two-percent milk down the cereal aisle,
but everyone only knows him 
as Normal Norman,
or norm for short.   

you're a bastard...

by Ross Vassilev

if your mother and father
scream all the time

if you prefer blue sky
and white clouds over people

if you picked your nose
on 9/11 and dream
of Slavic paradises deep
in lost forests

if sunshine on red bricks
makes you think of Kerouac

Jack, we forgive your awful

your daughter Jan
forgives you for abandoning her

the world will always remember you,

we'll just try to remember the myth
and not the man. 

Bastard Haiku

by Jessica Otto

a voice in the ash
of a lonely, dead tree:
Jack's night in October

El Gigante

by Michael Frissore

A giant in a body suit,
seven feet, seven inches
of Argentinean steel
shooting hook shots and
fighting Ric Flair for the title.

Sadly, I knew when you
chloroformed the Undertaker
that you were destined for
him soon, even sooner
than most – most – in
your tragic circle.

Nod to Jack

by Robert Vaughan

My first cross-country
car trip was a nod
to mentor Jack Kerouac
Gregory and I scaled the
arch in St. Louis, ate
Rocky Mountain oysters
sat on the great Grand Canyon
wall imagining possible
new beginnings in our
house on Harold Way
Turns out that trip was
the highlight of transition
The flop house in East
Hollywood, a dissolving
relationship, the strange death
of a childhood friend
made Los Angeles seem
cold, austere, the novelty of
t-shirts in February wore
thin in one day, meanwhile
I missed the Lower East Side’s
harsh amenities, smoking weed
on the stoop, stealing time

A Sunken Ship Named Benzedrine

by Melanie Browne

At Midnight I feed the dog,
I read Kerouac
to imaginary chickens,

they cluck at the
mobiles called

They follow me
as I drive to
to the 24 hr
pharmacy for
a yellow highlighter,
a gallon of milk

when I come
out of the store
they are lingering,
trying to
rent videos
from the Redbox

a horror film,
direct to video

I whistle at them
tell them it's time
to go,the streets 
are slick, it's 2 am 

Three Poems

by Suchoon Mo

A White Flower

a white flower alone
in the sagebrush desert
you are too beautiful
I shall not touch you
or hold you in my hands
you are too beautiful
I have come your way
and I shall be gone my way

On A Wooden Cross

in an abandoned chapel
in a ghost town
a young woman sits
on a wooden floor
facing a young man
nailed and dead
on a wooden cross

Flowers In The Cemetery
(after Ko Un)

Flowers come
To the cemetery
Flowers die
In the cemetery
No memorials
For flowers
In the cemetery
Not even in the cemetery

(previously published in Dissident Editions)

Landscape with a Solitary Traveler

Mother Road Fever

by David S. Pointer

Bleeding words at a writer’s desk-
seeing every empty alcohol bottle
as a desktop replica of another
dead writer hearing Kerouac’s car
engines in every poem knowing
you can get better than cabin style
stars leaning back in a convertible,
or a speed loader limousine filling
up with girls and gas on Route 66


by Randall Rogers



by Steven Gulvezan

Naked body cold on a table—

“He looks so small—
I thought he was a much bigger man”

“A poseur”

“Pretending he was something he
Never was”

“Still, he had a certain quality—
The way he looked at you sometimes—
A sort of knowing sadness…”

“He knew too much for his own good—
That’s for certain—
He knew what he wasn’t—”

“…Not a normal man…”

“Okay, a misfit, a freak—
But, in death—
Why don’t we just
Let him alone”

Jack Kerouac Memorial in Lowell, Massachusetts


by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

Planes sound like they’re falling.
The sun feels like it’s coming down.
The wet rain doesn’t fall and we
need rain more than anything.
Our hearts feel like they’re falling.
Floods of tears are coming down.
The skirts of lovers are not falling.
The wounded legs of walkers
are limping in the streets.  
The falling walkers are hurting.
The blood keeps falling like rain.
Worn mattresses fall from trucks.
The east side sky is falling.
It is falling on our heads.
It falls on us as we walk up 
and down streets and avenues.
The night appears to be falling.
The earth is falling apart.
I am falling for the lips of
the woman inside my dreams. 


by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Old Jackie used to spend a long time
getting ready.
He could not escape the athlete in him
and felt the need to warm up
and replenish his body 
before his next speed induced
writing marathon.       

Old Jackie would sleep for days 
on end
and eat healthy
and drink mineral water 
until the colour returned to his skin,

and then 
he would sit down to the typer 
and make the switch.

No sleep
no food
no water 
(mineral or otherwise);

nothing but black coffee
and bennies
for the next 24-36 hours.

And those words,
oh yes, 
those old America honeysuckle riptide
warble raving 


by Andrew Taylor

So unknowingly we stayed above the San Remo
sat across the apartment gazing up at the fire escape

drinking Rolling Rock year previous we stayed in Corso’s
building on Bleecker again unknowingly

take a shoeshine glad to help grabbed a wet shave
clothes Chinese laundry washed

It’s like when the lights go down finally in Zinc tab settled
iced pavements walk home clinging on for dear life

that following his steps down the echoing street
becomes something

to dwell on years later when reading his blues that stem
from pocket sized notebooks

painting passage down MacDougal from the Square
to the crossroads and on into shared histories

Jack Kerouac's Birthplace in Lowell, Massachusetts

Kangaroo Valley

by George Anderson

Jamming the hand-brake 
on the steep hill 
Big Al grunts for a boulder
“Slip it under the wheel,
just in case.’
Snobs shouldn’t have
picked up that rock
on the side 
of the blue metal road-
a six foot black belly
black snake slithers out
rearing its shiny 
black brut of a head.
‘Watchit!’ someone yells
The snake racing
between Snob’s  outstretched legs
‘That’s a big motha fukka,’ he exclaims.
That night we sleep
in the commune’s bio-dome
four of us:
Big Al
In the  tar of night
rats forage at our heads
taking swipes at our gear.
‘Told you to bring the flashlight,’
Big Al snarls.
In the morning
we stroll thru a paddock
to absorb some beautiful rays.
‘Me foot’s itchy’, Crowbar moans.
He removes his socks
there’s about 20 bloated leeches
sucking him dry.`
‘Anyone bring the salt, man?’ he wails.


by Alan Britt

That’s the funny thing about heart disease;
no matter what, it always reserves season tickets
to the local symphony,
Beethoven’s String Quartet in Hellish Existence,
or even his Eroica, sans Bonaparte. 
Imagine Beethoven on his deathbed 
celebrating life,
remembering stories
about black rains
Venetian canals 
and mildewing the cobblestones 
of 17th Century Vermeer townhouses;
or, perhaps, you’d prefer, instead, the movie star type
that Dion DiMucci sang about.
Hell, you might even dream
about a superficial solution to all the world’s problems.
The fact is,
the perennial court jester,
a la Hamlet,
held his own
for quite awhile,
until a CEO discovered him
wiling away his time
in a boxcar
bound for glory 
filled with 50-millimeter new-age cannons.
I believe that love is still, however, willing
to climb the lattice
of windy eyelashes,
instead of using
a glass elevator;
it’s merely what
our god-forsaken culture 
requires of silly humans. 
But who am I to question
Darwin’s heroes of the Industrial Revolution?
What’s that you’re hiding
inside the worsted wool pockets of your soul?
A second ago,
I saw you!
Sometimes, standing here in Ophelia’s moonlit grave,
waving my wooden sword through ironic lamplight, 
I hope I’ll be around long enough 
to kiss your crumbling headstone.


by Michael H. Brownstein

Let me tell you all of this.
You have to find the glory within yourself.
The inventory of the soul is your private piece.
There are those who reach for history books
To read about themselves and there are those
Who write the history books so they can.
Still others shadow the behind scenes,
Create power, imaginings, give birth to…
The inventory of your soul is not a bragging stone,
Nor is it a public mitzvah. It holds no weight;
It has no shadow. In the Book of Life you know
And that is enough. Let the outside noise
Lift away. The best compliment lives within you.

Desolation Peak Lookout

Dig It

by Joan McNerney 

It's a digital
world and
there are
only 2 digits
off on
zero one
flying floating
over under. 

Listen to
yes no
up down. 

Damn it just 2 digits.
Why can't we
stop thinking
right wrong
black white? 

Discover shades 
nuances tones 
tints of grey 
all the tones of
that inbetween. 

Enter nebulous haze
this big bad
world of

Céline vs. the Beat Old-Boy Network

by G. Tod Slone

Tous ces gens sont loin. Ils ont changé d'âme pour mieux trahir, mieux oublier... parler toujours d'autre chose. [All these people are far away now. They’ve changed their very souls in order to better betray, to better forget... to speak always about something else.]
—Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Left Curve, a leftist small literary magazine, chastised me for submitting a poem dedicated to famous French author Louis-Ferdinand Céline: “The poem is good but be careful about dedicating poems to fascists. His anti-Semitism will get up and try to haunt you if you do.”

I was not encouraged to submit any further work, but wrote back just the same to tell the editor he’d clearly missed the point relative to the formidable French misanthropic iconoclast, Céline. Even Allen Ginsberg, of Jewish descent, understood Céline’s greatness. I also wrote mentioning that one was not necessarily anti-Semitic if one criticized a person who happened to be Jewish. Once I’d been dubbed anti Semitic for having criticized an academic piece of deadwood who happened to be Jewish. I’d also criticized persons who happened to be Protestants and Catholics, but that didn’t seem to matter to my critics. Anti-Semitism is bad. Let there be no confusion. Céline seemed to have gone overboard with his anti-Semitic tirades, but he also berated the Nazis and anybody else in power for that matter. Indeed, because of his courage to speak out, where others would not, it is not surprising that he ended up quite isolated at the end of his life.

I wrote Left Curve that it was politically correct, thus facile, to protest against the unfair treatment of women, blacks, Jews, and/or homosexuals, as well as other such groups possessing powerful lobbies. On the other hand, it is difficult to point the finger at hypocrisy, deceit and lack of professionalism in the ranks of the left, as I have done and will continue to do, because that is not politically correct.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline was somebody to read back in the 60s and 70's just like Kerouac, Brautigan and Jack London. But I didn’t read him, at least not back then. Sure, I followed, the long hair, bellbottoms and reefer, but never quite blindly. I read Céline when I was ready to read Céline, not because my hippy peers and marketers had mandated it as fit-in required reading. I lived in France during most of the 80's because I’d become an unconvinced, un-evangelized for-wont-of-better wanderer. Events and circumstances there and elsewhere ultimately had converted me into a somewhat raging iconoclast, much like Céline himself had been. That’s when I really examined Voyage au bout de la nuit.

Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs were largely responsible for raising Céline to icon status in America. Céline was perhaps their prime hero. Ginsberg and company had visited him in Meudon, France. What they liked about the author was, of course, his unprecedented style of wild, fast-paced prose, as well as his traveling escapades throughout Europe and America. Kerouac, whose own spontaneous “speed”-induced prose was very much like that of Céline, which preceded Kerouac’s by several decades.

However, the resemblance between the beats and Céline stops with the prose and voyage, for Céline was above all else a great iconoclast. The beats were not. Sure, there was “Howl,” but that was all there was. The beats formed a circle of tightly knit buddies from hence the cash began to flow. In fact, that cow became all too irresistible. “Tous ces gens sont loin. Ils ont changé d'âme pour mieux trahir, mieux oublier...” [All those people are distant now. They’ve changed souls to better betray, to better forget…] had written Céline. Indeed, they betrayed what “Howl” had started out to do, conveniently forgetting about injustice and corruption. Ginsberg became a tenured English professor and didn’t dare bite the hand that fed him. “...Parler toujours d'autre chose..,” [Talk always of something else] had written Céline, and indeed, they began speaking about other things such as themselves and only themselves. City Lights published them and they ‘sold’ City Lights. The system had easily ingested and digested them, despite the Buddhist trappings, spewing them out as elite college-boy, book-cover blurbs.

The beats did become beat over the years, reminding me of the exhausted college professors with whom I’ve worked: the same ‘when I was living with Kerouac’ stories and “Howl” recited year after year like rehashed courses and syllabi. Indeed, some of the beats, if not most of them, actually became professors. “Howl” is what is read in colleges and on the radio, not the poems Ginsberg published in later years in the New Yorker, for who but the New Yorker and a worshiping coterie of followers would have been interested in those minor works? Who knows how much money Ginsberg and all the other beats made on the back of old dead Kerouac?
Ginsberg had established a tightly knit old-boy network for the poetry game much akin to the old-boy networks found in the nation’s ivory towers. As in both instances, the networks serve to reward “old boys” through the semper fi credo, always at the expense of objectivity and integrity. Such intellectual corruption is as banal today as political scandal. Who would express surprise at the common sight of one old-boy beatnik behind the mike congratulating another old-boy beatnik? Who would express surprise at the common sight of fawning junior professors praising the senior professors who evaluate them, and senior professors awarding each other emeriti plaques?

Ginsberg had spent a lifetime praising his beat buddies, helping them get published and especially into the fame-game club. He’d written countless book blurbs for them, as they’d written for him. Why was he able to fool so many seeming intelligent people? We’d probably have to ask the nation’s educators that question. His blurb for the poetry of fellow beatnik Gregory Corso is revealing: “pure velvet, close to John Keats for our time.” Should we believe Ginsberg, or should we take a look at Corso ourselves?


by Len Kuntz

“I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.”  -- Jack Kerouac

The rain beats down our impulses,
beats and bleats
but you find the storm’s cocky cadence comforting,
caught up, as you say, in your own confusion.
Everyone else is dry, inside a warm place.
Some knit or preen or stay busy telling lies.
A lonesome dog wails by the door.
A father pours the last drizzle of topaz bourbon.
The daughter cradles her doll, and asks,
“What’re you thinking?”
Outside you have made the curb your desk,
your feet dangling in a suspect puddle.
You have no coat or hat,
no bumpershoot,
just an old Smith Corona as your weapon,
and so you blast away,
key after key,
word by wounded word,
telling the truth so loud
that the skies shudder,
weeping even harder,
mourning you,
begging for one more wild ride.

Encore Kerouac…
la Chambre de Commerce
de Lowell
(Poème écrit pour Russell Streur)

by G. Tod Slone
Moé j’aime pas toute cette idolâtrie
Kerouac, Ginsberg, et compagnie
Ça me fait vraiment chier
car les adorateurs n’apprennent qu’
à vénérer
bouche bée cuillère dans le gosier.

Font chier ces Beats en vie aujourd’hui
ces vendus profs et bouquinistes à piasses
engouffrés vifs volontiers par la
corrompue bonne société qu’ils ont
                        supposément dénoncée 
Font chier ces idoles en vie aujourd’hui,
grotesques censeurs de la bourgeoisie
Snyder, Waldman et Ferlinghetti. 

Mais Kerouac mort tôt bourré allongé
tout de même semble garder sa dignité
car il n’est jamais tout à fait arrivé
            à devenir
            l’un de ces crisses de tabarnaks!