Letter Left on the Porch of the Kerouac House
by Ray McNiece, Copyright 2002
So as I sit still on the
in the warm breeze cooling
the outskirts of downtown
Orlando, gray-green moss swaying
from this 300 year old live oak
like American bhikku beards
speaking the long vowels
only the stretched ears of a buddha
can hear, I ponder one word
I could give at the end of the road.
one word as small as the
I once spit from this porch.
Smell that orange blossoms wafting
below the skyline of high-rise banks,
the tallest adorned with black horns,
the white church spires beneath
reflecting in the glass boxes
here on the whirlpooling edge
of the Disney vortex like the wheel
of samsara that spins all matter out.
I was poor when I came here
and never really made enough
dough for more than a good bender
though the estate sold the original
teletype manuscript of On the Road
to a pizza mogul for 2.6 million.
I never genuflected at the altar
of the almighty dollar when I went
down on my knees praying at the end.
But there is no end, only the
scripture unrolling and outlasting
the teletype, the live oak, and the horned
cash cow. What is the commerce
of eternity? Ask Walt Disney
who plunked down his dream
of automated fun in the middle
of panther extincting swampland
that became an empire so rich
he could freeze-dry his remains
under the magic kingdom.
what would Walt Whitman say,
who praised the live oak arms
upraised in steady ablutions,
as he hands out one flower
with every Sunday newspaper
he’s selling at the intersection
of Colonial and I-4 as America
rushes by him towards Autogeddon?
The same meat wheel spun
both to this sense realm.
The black and white cat sitting
on the car top lives also no less,
nor the chameleon scuttling over
dry leaves stopping to tilt its head
and bat a translucent lidded eye
in a wink of awakening I saw
as the world refracted in a drop
of sweat dangling my eyebrow,
catching on one lash, the oceanic
prism of light that flesh is heir to.
Open your eyes and close them –
being and nothingness in a nutshell,
but for that one drop at heart
that booze could not blot out.
Those days I would shower
six times a day and prayed
rain would cleanse the ignorant
steam of mind, listening to it fall,
that blatting of motion and stillness.
What good that teletype
of the road, or even this letter,
a goodbye as soon as a heads-up
howdy do, going, gone -- condensed
to a postcard of live oak and shack –
Wish you were here. Guess what,
dharma bum, you are! And the word
that bubbles up from the bottom
of Lake Adair fed, this clear bubble
of breath bursting empty sounds…still.
additional poems, other poems, and a published article on Ray's stay at
the Kerouac House, click here to go to> Ray's
Ray with other major poets, below...
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• at Jack Kerouac's House •
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