“Happy, just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired in the red fired dark, singing, swinging, spitting, jumping, running, that’s the way to live.” That was the writer’s prompt. A line from Kerouac’s book “Dharma Bums.” Jack wrote that line, just a couple blocks from where I live and I’m writing this entry.
We are from the same province in Canada. French-Canadiens whose parents moved to mill towns in Massachusetts, and we played that silly baseball game with made-up teams and players. We were both drawn to poetry, eastern religion, haiku, and the addictive quality of good booze and exotic scenery. We both lived in the College Park area of Orlando, but our writing styles couldn’t be different. I always felt Jack wrote in a trance like stupor punching at typewriter keys like an underdog prize fighter sensing a decisive knockout while I tend to dance around the edges of the ring.
The house Jack lived in here in College Park is now home to the Kerouac Project Writer’s in Residence Program. I’ve had the opportunity to write in the Jack’s space, in front of the window that looks out to a backyard filled with lush Florida trees and tropical fauna. This week the Kerouac Project sponsored an event at the Avalon Gallery and I was one of a dozen poets to read at the event.
I read my poem, “Hey, Jack Kerouac,” which incorporated the prompt from Dharma Bums, and my own additions.
“…drinking shots of tequila on the roof top
of some decrepit hotel
under a starry Mayan sky,
tracing 242 choruses
of Mexico City Blues
in a trance like stupor
punching at typewriter keys
like an underdog prize fighter
sensing a decisive knockout…”