Monday, March 12, 2012

Meeting of the Dharma Bums at Piper's Bar


Jack came back at Piper's Bar
He was doing snuff with Chuck
And laughing at me
“I'm always here, man.
I'm the other half of your heartbeat.
I need you to keep me alive.”
I cursed and I swore
That I thought that I didn't need Jack no more
But he came down from Oregon
To put me back upon my rails
“You know how old I was when I died?” He asked
Placing a hand upon my shoulder
I nodded, “Two years older than I am now.”

Jack smiled that beatific smile and told me
That I was the Golden Eternity
I reminded him that he was only pulling Snyder's leg
And that the Scripture was a conceit
Jack looked at Chuck and asked him if HE was the Golden Eternity
Chuck smiled through a 'stache that is whiter
Than the winter snow in Lowell
Knowing that he was the Golden Eternity
I didn't know then what I knew now
And that WE are all the Golden Eternity
Existing in nothing
Because we are beyond it all

Jack straddles two worlds
It would be unfair to say that he walks among
The living and the dead
Because they are just precepts
That the weak and infirm cling to
Like marigolds and candied skulls on the Dia de los Muertos

No matter how often I remind Jack
That he isn't here
He dismisses me
And points vaguely
At something out there
What was out there in the Mexican night
Was of no worry to me
I pointed to my chest
And told Jack, “It's in here.”
Chuck looked at us both and pointed to his head
Before downing a teqtonic

I snapped off 47 pics of Jack and his aura
His voice too fragile to be read
“Yeah, okay.” I conceded
As I put his words down on paper for him
He grinned that Kerouac grin
And slapped me on the back

Jack came back at Piper's Bar
He was doing snuff with Chuck
And laughing at me
“I'm always here, man.
I'm the other half of your heartbeat.
I need you to keep me alive.”
I cursed and I swore
That I thought that I didn't need Jack no more

 — Mark Butkus

(Meeting of the Dharma Bums at Piper's Bar by Mark Butkus first appeared in Bar None: An Anthology of English Writing from the Costalegre. Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac!)

20 comments:

  1. Gorgeous. I loved the feel and the details. As I am just lately learning of the Beats, I especially thought it was great. Thanks, and Happy Birthday Jack.

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  2. I'll drink to that Buddah and I'm sure that Jack would drink to anything.

    Cheers,

    Mark

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  3. Very cool tribute to a true legend.

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    1. Jack pops up in all sorts of places and his words live on.

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  4. damn man...this is just wicked good poetic story telling...loved every minute of it...next time jack shows up you gotta call me thats all i am saying....and def enjoy his words..

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    1. Our paths have crossed in Greenwich Village and in Mexico. If he shows up at a bar in Chicago I'll give you a ring Brian.

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  5. so very cool mark....very fine story telling..love that you let us in the dark a bit the first part of the poem...jack kerouac...so cool.. i drink to this

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    1. Cheers, Claudia! Thank you for the kind words. May Jack find you in NYC.

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  6. This is cosmic, man. Loved it.

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  7. I need to meet Jack. This was wonderful story-sharing. You pulled me in and held me there to peek in on the conversations. Much enjoyed.

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    1. Beth, there are many stories from Piper's Bar.

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  8. Very nice write...I like how you repeated the first stanza last ~

    I specially like:

    “I'm always here, man.
    I'm the other half of your heartbeat."

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    1. Long ago I heard Dizzy Gillespie refer to John Coltrane as the other half of his heartbeat. That line has always stayed with me. When I got married on Writer's Walk in Central Park I referred to my bride as the other half of my heartbeat.

      ( http://www.barnonegroup.com/2011/11/wedding-on-writers-walk.html )

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  9. I enjoy losing myself in a story and a good poem, this gave me reason to get lost in both at once. Nicely done.

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  10. This poem is tantalizing, nostalgic, pithy
    and rife with positive vibes, reminding me
    that Jack thought of good poets as "outlaws
    of the sensorium". Liked the lines:
    /existing in nothing/because we are beyond
    it all/ terrific metaphysical sentiment.

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    1. Outlaws of the sensorium...that sounds like Jack. Thanks Glenn for the quote and the kind words.

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  11. Can never have too much Jack, and I don;t mean in the Black. A fine poem, full of savor for me, reminding me of so much I never think about that became if not half my heart beat, some part of each of my cells. Loved every word of this, especially the 'stache whiter than the snow in Lowell.

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  12. That 'stache is even whiter now enjoying tequilas and tonic in the tropics.

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