|A borrowed image of Neal and Jack|
This week’s poem was written in a Juncture 25 workshop. I had set an exercise of writing a poem about a picture on a postcard. I also asked the poets to look below the surface and to reflect on more than what appeared to be going on.
I drew a photograph of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady that I think I bought in the City Lights bookshop years ago. When I began to write I tried to ignore the obvious, that here were two of the most famous Beats.
For some reason I focussed on Kerouac’s canvas trousers. Yeah, I don’t know why either. They looked more worn than Neal’s new Levi’s. I wondered how they had become worn and this was my entry to the poem.
Face the camera,
the could-be brothers do not smile.
The light will not bend true,
more than this lens is flawed,
the photo blurs with more than age.
These are none-twins,
Yin and yang,
At the heart each is the other,
Everyone wants to be Jack,
And Jack wants to be Neal.
So take in the details;
note his canvas strides, frayed from
too many mediocre nights,
streets walked toward the dawn.
He will drown in the spotlight,
Run back to his mother-again.
Drink himself to death-at medium pace.
I had another line at the end, it reiterated that I knew how this ends and when we discussed the poem, after I read it out I discarded it.
I had re-ordered the lines of the poem a number of times. It is always worth placing the ideas of a poem in a different order-sometimes it makes for a better poem.
I am ending with two videos today. The first is Alan Ginsberg reading Howl. This, for me, is a magnificent poem. Deep, rich and powerful. I love to hear Alan reading it.
The second video is 10,000 Maniacs singing Hey, Jack Kerouac. Natalie Merchant is a superb song writer.
Have a good weekend.