Saturday, April 18, 2020

Giant's Blood

Giant's Blood

"In my medicine cabinet
the winter fly
Has died of old age" ~Jack Kerouac

the tired giant sat
looking at America;
no light but Edison's stars,
no song but subways' caterwaul
in the emptiness of time
that made him small.

he decided America
was constipated. He invented
a purgative of darkness and fireworks, 
administered every night, 
and in his ennui
took most of it himself.

he rolled, up and down
the endless ribbon that was
 two thirds the mark of the beast,
til the road ran him down
and went on, its
 pockets full.

he covered the
spliced paper continuum
til  the page flapped out. He saw
the medicine he'd swallowed
was his own black blood,
while America 

was just exactly
what it seemed.

April 2020


posted for
hosted by the inimitable Fireblossom

Process Notes: Kerouac's great novel On The Road was written in one continuous burst. "Before beginning, Kerouac cut sheets of tracing paper into long strips, wide enough for a typewriter, and taped them together into a 120-foot-long roll which he then fed into the machine. This allowed him to type continuously without the interruption of reloading pages. The resulting manuscript contained no chapter or paragraph breaks...
..On the morning of October 20, 1969, in St. Petersburg, Florida, Kerouac was working on a book about his father's print shop. He suddenly felt nauseated and ..began to vomit blood. Kerouac was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital, suffering from an esophageal hemorrhage...He..died at the hospital at 5:15 the following morning, at the age of 47. His cause of death was listed as an internal hemorrhage..caused by cirrhosis, the result of longtime alcohol abuse." ~ wikipedia

Images via internet, authors unknown.  Fair Use


  1. "No light but Edison's stars" this is brilliant from title to close Joy! I love Jack's quote and the excerpt at the end of a back ground. This truly depicts him and his fall as well as the world we know. You cannot walk away from this poem without taking it with you. That is what true poetry should do!

    1. Thank you so much, Carrie. I will be by the Muse to read and comment soon. Thanks for providing the platform.

  2. Friday 55 may have been yesterday, but you have kicked ass here, my friend. I love "Edison's stars", America's constipation, and the full pockets. But most of all I love the faithfulness of the poem, the language he would have loved, the clear-eyed depiction of him in his later years, and the damning, sickening, honest wrap-up that even heroes can hardly change anything even at mid-century, let alone now.

    Thanks so much for plumbing his--and a sometimes iron cookie-cutter nation's--soul in a poem for my humble prompt. I continue to say that you are the adult in our poetic room. Ride on, Witchy, and always keep writing marvelous stuff like this.

  3. ps--I really love the process notes, as well.

    1. Thanks dear Shay. I felt including them really was necessary to the poem, as they were what hit me when I did a little reading prior to the write, and what came out in the end product. I'm so glad you liked it, and felt it said something. Your comments are always treasured.

  4. Wonderful, Joy. Your poem is powerful and the closing lines have special impact. I found the process notes especially interesting. LOVE the taped-together endless page as I wrote for years and years on an old Underwood, even after some of the keys fell off, and I had to go back and fill in the missing letters by pen. LOL.

  5. Well, you really captured him there - and with brilliant words.

    1. Check your spam folder for my comment, Anthony. And thank you.

  6. that caterwaul still echoes in the screech of tires on that "two thirds" and its brethren. a clear-eyed vision. ~

  7. Felt like I stepped right on a conveyor reading this. Loved the street-level stars and the idea of the country just passing through the poet.

  8. Going to have to quote a lot of this, really terrific. First things first -- "he decided America was constipated" was something along the lines of my initial reaction, LOL! But you put it so much better.

    "no light but Edison's stars" -- just wow.

    "He saw
    the medicine he'd swallowed
    was his own black blood," -- amazing.

    And the whole of it a perfect Kerouac somnambulism, America unrolling like a single long paper highway, typing to the margins of consciousness. Wonderful.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it--I really really had a blast with yours, qbit. Of course, after typing furiously for fifteen minutes, word press ate my comment, but I have begun sneakily copying them before I hit the button, so here it is, in case you can't find it in your spam folder:

      "You've done a real workman's job of capturing that pretentious not pretentious stream of consciousness he practically invented, and I too am not a huge fan, having known a few of the Beats in my hippie salad days and found them cold and depressing--but he is what he is, and it changed everything, tho I have to admit when I read up for this prompt and found out he was a virulent anti-communist who loved McCarthy, among all his other bleeding toenail qualities, it was a bummer. You made me spontaneously laugh at least three times in the course of this. Every line shows real insight, and a compelling gift for expertly painting a canvas you might not really want to paint at all yourself. I loved the offset lines between paragraphs for their humor, and sheer inventiveness and originality, but the meat of the piece is the big run on sentences in between that give life that ant's eye perspective--if an ant could see everything. Just really well done., and once again, my very great pleasure to read."

  9. My travel industry mentor died the same death as Jack ... it is a brutal way to exit Earth. You captured his essence well.

    1. It is indeed. That's the dark underbelly of the counter-culture, and it's still all too much there. Thanks for reading Helen.

  10. It seems not even an enema can cleanse America from its diet of dark capitalism and the gaslight eye shine. Love this poem.

  11. Wow! I think this Jack would love this! It captures both the decadence and the purpose of it all, in words and phrases he could have written. I especially loved the first (lone giant) and final stanzas. Also: "he decided America
    was constipated. He invented
    a purgative of darkness and fireworks" and "the endless ribbon that was
    two thirds the mark of the beast. . . " yes, that's pretty much the entire poem.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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