The road was long, the road was full.
Loaded rucksack on your back and
Thumb pointed north, you bummed your way
Across the country back and forth.
Down to Mexico and Old Bull,
Chasing visions of love down old
Dream sidestreets, fish markets, brothels,
Scribbling in notebooks tales of trips
With N.C., of morphine queens, by
Candlelight on rooftops of piss
Rank junkie hovels. And then the
Return to the States, spending days
Banging away at that big black
Underwood, during those weeklong
Coffee-fuelled sessions, onto
Scotch-taped teletype rolls stretching
Hundred miles, spring of ’51,
In downtown apartment, you and
Joan, her quietly expecting,
Soon to be left there, abandoned.
Restless, you fled to the West Coast
To seek out salvation with mad
Dharma poets. Trying to find
Mind Essence at the bottom of
Wine bottles, instead found yourself
Alone, frustrated, staring at
Fir trees and snowy peaks atop
Desolation. It suddenly
Struck you, mourning the hut mouse you
Killed out of fear, learning of death
For the first time, truly knowing
You could never bring back the years.
(Driven by the need for constant
Movement, the desire to make it,
To break free of convention and
Attain starry-eyed connection;
Taste, savour the rich exotic
Flavours of reality, to
Go go go, burning out of sight
With the electric fiery night.)
To Tangiers, Morocco, Paris
And Madrid, it was in New York
With Joyce, fall of ’57,
When you finally hit it big.
Month-long celebration ensued,
What proved both your ascent and your
Doom, singling the end of youth
Beat down, howling for a lost moon.
In that cabin at Big Sur, three
Years on, paranoid, hung-up, your
Mind snapped, way gone. Wanting to
Run away, hide, you retired
On the fly to Florida sun
And sky. Beloved Memere and
Third wife there, watched as, bitter and
Broke, soul-dry and empty as the
Steady succession of bottles
Of scotch that lined the walls of your
Study, you bashed out another
Batch of slapdash manuscripts,
Blew and told all, in a last sad
Dash towards immortality.
Sporadic interviews, aired for
The world, all but confirmed what the
Critics said: He’s washed up, done in,
Finished, a hack, nothing left but
Bloated imitation, poor cat.
But you knew what was coming, first
Neal now you; last letter to
Nephew little Paul, it said it
All. Sign it away, the papers,
The house, and most of all the fame.
But what if that wasn’t the last?
What if, like Neal, you too grew a
Beard, changed your name, disappeared to
Some far off place in Spain, living
Out your eternity writing
Long buoyant letters to Memere
With hardly a care—and breathing
In sweetly the fresh morning air.