JD Rage

Conversation with Jack
are you really under there
you - who probably wouldn't
even talk
to me if you were alive -
I have arrived at your grave
having come forever to get here
riding dark buses into the night
from forty-second street
riding in a rented red car
through a snowstorm
of an intensity that
said turn back turn back
dangerous weather ahead
but dangerous weather
never stopped you
and now you lie down
there skeletal by now
no doubt
your last vision not
of angelic Gerard
but the galloping gourmet
though Stella tells it differently
being an alcoholic myself
I vote for the TV show, not
the typewriter
background music for
the DT's
background video
for the hemorrhage
you old laughing stock
all your misery suffered
only to describe it to me
the painfulness of never
making the right connection
of the deliberate drawn-out
born one month earlier than
my mother who is now sixty-two
forty-seven was about all you
could take I want to stop now too
a few months shy of forty-seven
I prepare, hoping my nine year
abstinence from self-pollution hasn't
set me back from my destination
I know why you drank
writing a thousand books
and poems stuffing your head
with historical facts
rushing back and forth
across America
doesn't still the rage
built on the embarrassment
of betrayal
dreams turned to shit
wastelands of isolation
awkward to the kiss
to the touch to the thought
morbid without purpose
I know why you drank
and never wanted to stop drinking
I walk around with my
umbilical cord in hand
finding no place to hook
it up
even death refuses to open
the door
only alcohol gave comfort
only heroin delivered indifference
only cocaine guaranteed distraction
while never concealing
the barter of my soul

I don't know where I'm going
yesterday riding into the
eternal storm to reach
your grave
a kamikaze fifteen minute visit
to hear your words read
by my poet friend
over the flat snow swept stone
to take a photo
to hold onto nothing
and today riding straight
into the sun
that will not enfold me
that will not warm me
that will only make it hard to see
the future
riding away from your bones
I am not content

I don't think you would have
talked to me and if you had,
the odds are I would have
ignored you,
like I ignored a drunken
Peter Orlovsky at a memorial
for Neal Cassady, yet I would
not be me without you
I am your faithful reader
still defending from all attackers
I remember how I dreamed
I could be you
I would have been anyone but me
but I actually thought
being you would be fun
I was wrong
you under that marble
under that foot of snow
in Edson Cemetery of
Lowell, Massachusetts
Lincoln Avenue
between 7th and 8th Streets
near Eisentraub, sleeping
with Stella, without a view
of Moody Street or the Merrimack River
you are not having fun
no fun under there
no Benzedrine
no beat angelic inspiration
no gallon jugs of deep red wine
no pens or secret notebooks
or typewriters or interviewers
down below with you Jack
there is nothing
and I was wrong
if I had been you all I would
have gained was death

I will take that newest photograph
of this grave
I will blow it up and hang it
above my bed
sleep beneath that stone
like you do
we will sleep, Jack
under the same carved stone
all of us who are alone
all of us who honored life
but could not abide it
an image for me
the weight of NYC tenement air
a reality for you
the weight of dirt and marble
no difference

but my experience of your grave
is only mine
since you have never seen it
never photographed it
never screamed silently over it
never wished an impossible wish
over it
you only rot under it
rotting away my inspiration
there will be no more words
from you Jack
but come to me in spirit
tell me how to save myself
tell me how to want to stay above the stone

Jack Kerouac Blues

Blues, baby. Is it the blues?
The long slow jazz blues?

He was young and crazy, reading madly
in small-town libraries, afraid, afraid, afraid,
a small baby already delivered to us in shame,
and Jack, he would become our phantom jack,
shadowed in the railroad yards and skid rows
of America.

Through darkened windows he looked at the
cold moonlit nights, suffering as his sweet
wild-eyed brother Gerard died young
and tainted
his thoughts forever
"Be saved," he cried,
"go to the phantom and die."
Blues, it's the cold blue blues.

He saw those stars like the rest of us
floating the midnight Massachusetts sky
smoke from the factories, the railroad yard
below, he saw heaven in his new shoes.
Gertrude Stein he claimed to love as he hated
and did not hate himself, his poems and his novels.
We are poems by his mind not ignored.
The clarinet softly describes the scene
as we gather around the memory of his words
and hear the silence now and the breezes blow
him this way and that down the long road.

Sal Paradise lifts the gallon of cheap
red wine at the edge of the stage while
The beats beat the beat, the beat, the beat
the choruses repeating sweetly sing-song.

Jazz men sit drinking coffee
as drunken Jack comes on too strong and
scares the girls away.
He says, "it's better not to wake up"
I wonder as I wake to nothing.

He cries of clever academic poets dressed in
gray with balanced bank books and the
horns play it low.

"Dead," he says, and his head hurts
and it continued to hurt, dead though
he said he was.

A needle is pushed to dope junky nod and
buy a few more bags for more slow
jazzy trances when nothing was what he
saw and sang about.

They asked him questions about tomatoes,
but he heard only ecstasy. . . .

Time wonders, time wanders and sometimes
we rest remembering it other times we rush
through it gracelessly, covered with slow colored leaves
where Indians dance in secret circles
brilliant in their native Mexican tongues
even before the Spanish buried their children under riffs
of crashing words, Kerouac blues words
always running away while we try to listen,
try to capture those lovely sentences,
Honky tonk or wise musical words.
No, we can not keep them or the
music. It passes by quickly, slow low faster
climbing, but it's only ours to dazzle briefly,
to mourn because we can't remember
the wind.

The universe is made of powder stars and dusty moons,
Christ wears one dove, Brother Gerard has two birds
perched on his saintly chalk white shoulders as fragile as glass
broken shards shattering the muted trumpet
with endless, mindless giggles of morphine dream
of boys wondering through World War II

"Crazy," he said, "I'm crazy," and he knew it
was true as he wrote the dreamer's blues, his madhouse
all America, the wide world blues, the railroad
rushing blues, the disappearing blues,
the visions of Cody blues, saxophones wailing
and higher, way above the night flight
of soaring saints dressed in Grecian robes
singing in the corner, riffs dying in rapture,
riff the Bronx, die riff and the lowdown bass rumbles and fades as . . . .

He talks of the disease of the stomach,
the cancers, the deaths that would become his own, hemorrhaging,
and he tells of the Bennies, the drugs that brought him
to his speeding death, caught up to him, deep red dead
in his mother's house where he hid in those drunken delirium days.

But the poetry still sings, still sends me,
still makes the dying worthwhile.

His Buddha dreamers keep turning over
in their graves, life now also ungraspable,
but he cries of it still, a lonely singer wailing the sad story
of trying to own the stars you can see but not touch,
the stars that seem to fill the void.
The stars that love only poetry and music and dreams.

He sings suicide songs, but breakfast overrides
his death wish in the lunch cart jazz poem mornings, desert dryness,
sad demon dancers in a mirage of afternoon sun porches,
October was his favorite month I think,
swallowing him up in infancy and whirling
its skeletal trees through all his later dreams.

He puts words together to the slow beat, the low beat,
waterfall splendors of the lowdown beat,
one step ahead of destruction angel go beat.

Oh Jack, Jack Kerouac, where did you go?
Your words are my true religion and you
are my long lost brother, hitchhiking far
from home. I sing your name in my favorite

Your final words to me were "stretch
that skullcover and smile," and I been
doing it, Jack. This is the first poem I ever
wrote for you and yet all of them are yours.
So, go, man, go!

J.D. Rage (1947-2018) said she dreamed herself up in a drug rehab in 1978 and came to life in February of 1985 on the sixth anniversary of the suicide of Sid Vicious. She believed that words are more important for their sound than their conventional meaning but that when both effects combine in harmony, the result is true beauty. While searching for excitement and peace, she played bass guitar and sang lead in several bands, wrote three unpublished novels and vomited up mountains of published and unpublished poetry, painted many portraits, and worked with film and digital photography. She was co-editor of CURARE, a multimedia magazine, and of Venom Press, a chapbook publisher. JD Rage was one of the co-hosts of the Sunday Open Series at ABC No Rio in the 1990's. She wrote in one of her bios, "She thinks Jack Kerouac is god even though it is no longer politically correct for a woman to feel that way. And by the way, god is dead. LUV, JD."
     (Bio note & photo kindly supplied by Ptr Kozlowski)
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