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Authors: Jack Kerouac

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BOOK: Desolation Angels
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The awakeners, if they choose, are born as babes—This is my first awakening—There are no awakeners and no awakening.

In my shack I lie, remembering the violets in our backyard on Phebe Avenue when I was eleven, on June nights, the blear dream of it, ephemeral, haunted, long gone, going further out, till it shall be all gone out.


I wake up in the middle of the night and remember Maggie Cassidy and how I might have married her and been old Finnegan to her Irish Lass Plurabelle, how I might have got a cottage, a little ramshackle Irish rose cottage among the reeds and old trees on the banks of the Concord and woulda worked as a grim bejacketed gloved and bebaseballhatted brakeman in the cold New England night, for her and her Irish ivory thighs, her and her marshmallow lips, her and her brogue and “God's Green Earth” and her two daughters—How I would of laid her across the bed at night all mine and laborious sought her rose, her mine of a thing, that emerald dark and hero thing I want—remember her silk thighs in tight jeans, the way she folded back one thigh under her hands and sighed as we watched Television together—in her mother's parlor that last haunted 1954 trip I took to October Lowell—Ah, the rose vines, the river mud, the run of her, the eyes—A woman for old Duluoz? Unbelievable by my stove in desolation midnight that it should be true—Maggie Adventure—

The claws of black trees by moonlit rosy dusk mayhap and by chance hold me much love too, and I can always leave them and roam along—but when I'm old by my final stove, and the bird fritters on his branch of dust in O Lowell, what'll I think, willow?—when winds creep inside my sack and give me bareback blues and I go bent about my meritorious duties in the sod-cover earth, what lovesongs then for old bedawdler bog bent foggy Jack O—?—no new poets will bring laurels like honey to my milk, sneers—Sneers of love woman were better I guess—I'd fall down ladders, brabac, and wash me river underwear—gossip me washlines—air me Mondays—fantasm me Africas of housewives—Lear me daughters—panhandle me marble heart—but it might have been better than what it may be, lonesome unkissed Duluoz lips surling in a tomb


Early sunday mornings I always remember home in Ma's house in Long Island, recent years, when she's reading the Sunday papers and I get up, shower, drink a cup of wine, read the scores and then eat the charming little breakfast she'll lay out for me, just all I have to do is ask her, her special way of crisping bacon and the way she sunnysides the eggs—The TV not turned because there's nothing much of note on Sunday mornings—I grieve to think that her hair is turning gray and she's 62 and will be 70 when I'm in my owlish 40's—soon it will be my “old mother”—in the bunk I try to think of how I'll take care of her—

Then as day lengthens and Sunday drags and the mountains wear the pious dullish aspect Sabbathini I always begin to think instead of earlier days in Lowell when the redbrick mills were so haunted by the riverside about 4 in the afternoon, the kids coming home from the Sunday movies, but O the sad redbrick and everywhere in America you see it, in the reddening sun, and clouds beyond, and people in their best clothes in all that—We all stand on the sad earth throwing long shadows, breath cut with flesh.

Even the skitter of the mouse in my shack attic on Sundays has a Sunday halidom about it, as though churchgoing, churchment, preachments—We'll have a whack at it around.

Mostly Sundays I'm bored. And all my memories are bored. The sun is too golden bright. I shudder to think what people are doing in North Carolina. In Mexico City they wander around eating vast planks of fried porkskin, among parks, even their Sunday is a Blight—It must be the Sabbath was invented to, soften joy.

For normal peasants Sunday is a smile, but us black poets, ahg—I guess Sunday is God's lookingglass.

Compare the churchyards of Friday night, with the pulpits of Sunday morn—

In Bavaria, men with bare knees walk around with hands behind their backs—Flies drowse behind a lace curtain, in Calais, and out the window see the sailboats—On Sunday Céline yawns and Genêt dies—In Moscow there's no pomp—Only in Benares on Sundays peddlers scream and snakecharmers open baskets with a lute—On Desolation Peak in the High Cascades, on Sundays, ahg—

I think in particular of that redbrick wall of the Sheffield Milk Company by the mainline of the Long Island Railroad in Richmond Hill, the mud tracks of workers' cars left in the lot during the week, one or two forlorn Sundayworker cars parked there now, the clouds passing in the pools of brown puddlewater, the sticks and cans and rags of debris, the commute local passing by with pale blank faces of Sunday Travelers—presaging the ghostly day when industrial America shall be abandoned and left to rust in one long Sunday Afternoon of oblivion.


With his ugly many bud legs the green alpine caterpillar comports in his heather world, a head like a pale dewdrop, his fat body reaching up straight to climb, hanging upsidedown like a South American ant eater to fiddle and fish and sway around in search, then cromming up like a boy making a limb he aligns himself hidden under heather limbs and plucks and monsters at the innocent green—the part of the green, he is, that was given moving juice—he twists and peers and intrudes his head everywhere—he is in a jungle of dappled shady old lastyear's gray heather pins—sometimes motionless like the picture of a boa constrictor he yaws to heaven a song-less gaze, sleeps snakeheaded, then turns in like a busted-out tube when I blow on him, swift to duck, quick to retire, meek to obey the level injunction of lie still that's meant by the sky whatever may chance from it—He is very sad now as I blow again, puts head in shoulder mourning, I'll let him free to roam unobserved, playing possum as he wists—there he goes, disappearing, making little jiggles in the jungle, eye level to his world I perceive that he too is overtopped by a few fruits and then infinity, he too's upsidedown and clinging to his sphere—we are all mad.

I sit there wondering if my own travels down the Coast to Frisco and Mexico wont be just as sad and mad—but by bejesus j Christ it'll be bettern hangin around


Some of the days on the mount, tho hot, are permeated with a pure cool beauty that presages October and my freedom in the Indian Plateau of Mexico which will be even purer and cooler—O old dreams I've had of the mountains on the plateau of Mexico when the skies are filled with clouds like the beards of patriarchs and indeed I'm the Patriarch himself standing in a flowing robe on the green hill of gold—In the Cascades summer may heat in August but you get the Fall hint, especially on the eastern slope of my hill in the afternoons, away from the burn of the sun, where the air is sharp and mountainlike and the trees have well withered to a beginning of the end—Then I think of the World Series, the coming of football across America (the cries of a keen Middle-western voice on the scratchy radio)—I think of shelves of wine in stores along the mainline of the California Railroad, I think of the pebbles in the ground of the West under vast Fallbooming skies, I think of the long horizons and plains and the ultimate desert with his cactus and dry mesquites stretching to red tablelands far away where my traveler's old hope always wends and wends and only void-returns from nowhere, the long dream of the Western hitch hiker and hobo, the harvest tramps who sleep in their cottonpickin bags and rest content under the flashy star—At night, Fall hints in the Cascade Summer where you see Venus red on her hill and think “Who will be my lady?”—It will all, the haze shimmer and the beezing bugs, be wiped off the slate of summer and hurled to the east by that eager sea west wind and that's when hairflying me'll be stomping down the trail for the last time, rucksack and all, singing to the snows and jackpines, en route for further adventures, further yearnings for adventures—and all behind me (and you) the ocean of tears which has been this life on earth, so old, that when I look at my panoramic photographs of the Desolation area and see the old mules and wiry roans of 1935 (in the picture) hackled at a no-more corral fence, I marvel that the mountains lookt the same in 1935 (Old Jack Mountain to an exact degree with the same snow arrangement) as they do in 1956 so that the oldness of the earth strikes me recalling primordially that it was the same, they (the mountains) looked the same too in 584
—and all that but a sea spray drop—We live to long, so long I will, and jounce down that mountain highest perfect knowing or no highest perfect knowing full of glorious ignorant looking to sparkle elsewhere—

Later in the afternoon the west wind picks up, comes from smileless wests, invisible, and sends clean messages thru my cracks and screens—More, more, let the firs wither, more, I want to see the white marvels south—


Noumena is what you see with your eyes closed, that immaterial golden ash, Ta the Golden Angel—Phenomena is what you see with your eyes open, in my case the debris of one thousand hours of the living-conception in a mountain shack—There, on top of the woodpile, a discarded cowboy book, ugh, awful, it is full of sentimentality and long-winded comments, silly dialog, sixteen heroes with double guns to one ineffectual villain whom I'd rather like for his irascibility and clomping boots—the only book that I have thrown away—Above it, sitting on corner of window, a can of Macmillan Ring Free Oil that I use to keep my kerosene in and to stoke fires, to fire fires, wizard like, vast dull explosions in my stove that get the coffee boiling—My frying pan hangs from a nail over another (castiron) pan too big to use but my used pan keeps dripping dribbles of fat down its back reminds of streamers of sperm, that I scrape off and flut into the wood, who cares—Then the old stove with the water pan, the perpetual coffee potpan with long handle, the tea pot seldom used—Then on a little table the great greasy dishpan with its surroundant accoutrements of steel scrubber, rags, stove rags, washwhirl stick, one mess, with a perpetual puddle of black scummy water under it that I wipe out once a week—Then the shelf of canned goods diminishing slowly, and other foods, Tide soap box with the pretty housewife holding up a Tide box saying “Just made for each other”—Box of Bisquick left here by the other lookout I never opened, jar of syrup I dont like—give to an ant colony down the yard—old jar of peanutbutter left here by some lookout presumably when Truman was President apparently from the old peanut rot of it—Jar I keep pickled onions in, that turns to smell like hard cider as the afternoon sun works it, to rancid wine—little bottle of Kitchen Bouquet gravy juice, good in stews, awful to wash off your fingers—Box of Chef Boyardee's Spaghetti Dinner, what a joyous name, I picture the Queen Mary docked in New York and Chefs going out to hit the town with little berets, towards the sparkling lights, or else I picture some sham chef with mustachio singin Italian arias in the kitchen on television cook shows—Pile of enveloped green pea powder soup, good with bacon, good as the Waldorf-Astoria and that Jarry Wagner first introduced me to that time we hiked and camped at Potrero Meadows and he dumped frying bacon into the whole soup pot and it was thick and rich in the smoky night air by the creek—Then a half-used cellophane bag of blackeyed peas, and a bag of Rye Flour for my muffins and to glue together Johnny-cakes—Then a jar of pickles left in 1952 and froze in the winter so that the pickles are just spicy water husks looking like Mexican greenpeppers in a jar—My box of cornmeal, unopened can of Calumet Baking Powder with the full-headed Chief—new unopened can of black pepper—Boxes of Lipton soup left by Ole Ed the previous lonely fucker up here—Then my jar of pickled beets, ruby dark and red with a few choice onions whitening against the glass—then my jar of honey, half gone, for hot-milk-and-honey on cold nights when I feel bad or sick—Unopened can of Maxwell House coffee, the last one—Jar of red wine vinegar I'll never use and which I wish was wine and looks like wine so red and deep—Behind that, new jar of molasses, that I drink from the bottle sometimes, mouthfuls of iron—The box of Ry-Krisp, which is dry sad concentrated bread for dry sad mountains—And a row of cans left years ago, with frozen and dehydrated asparagrass that is so ephemeral to eat it's like sucking water, and paler—Canned whole boiled potatoes like shrunk heads and useless—(that only the deer eat)—the last two cans of Argentine roastbeef, of an original 15, very good, when I arrived in the lookout on that cold storming day with Andy and Marty on the horses I found $30 worth of canned meat and tuna, all good, which in my tightness I'd never have thought to buy—Lumberjack syrup, a big tall can, also a leftover gift, for my delicious flapjacks—Spinach, which, so iron like, never lost its flavor in its seasons on the shelf—My box full of potatoes and onions, O sigh! I wish I had an ice cream soda and a sirloin steak!

La Vie Parisienne, I picture it, a restaurant in Mexico City, I go in and sit at the rich tablecloth, order good white Bordeaux, and a filet mignon, for dessert pastries and strong coffee and a cigar, Ah, and stroll down the boulevard Reforma to interesting darknesses of the French movie with the Spanish titles and the sudden booming Mexico Newsreel—

Hozomeen, rock, never eats, never stores up debris, never sighs, never dreams of distant cities, never waits for Fall, never lies, maybe though he dies—Bah.

Every night I still ask the Lord, “Why?” and havent heard a decent answer yet


Remembering, remembering, that sweet world SO bitter to taste—the time when I played Sarah Vaughan's “Our Father” on my little box in Rocky Mount and the colored maid Lula wept in the kitchen so I gave it to her so on Sunday mornings in the meadows and pine barrens of North Carolina now, emerging from her man's old bare house with the pickaninny porch, you hear the Divine Sarah—“for Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, forever, a men”—the way her voice breaks into a bell on the “a” of amen, quivering, like a voice should—Bitter? because bugs thrash in mortal agony even on the table as you'd think, deathless fools that get up and walk off and are reborn, like us, “hooman beens”—like winged ants, the males, who are cast off by the females and go die, how utterly futile they are the way they climb windowpanes and just fall off when they get to the top, and do it again, till they exhausted die—And the one I saw one afternoon on my shack floor just thrashing and thrashing in the filthy dust from some kind of fatal hopeless seizure—oi, the way we do, whether we can see it now or not—Sweet? just as sweet, tho, as when dinner is bubbling in the pot and my mouth is watering, the marvelous pot of turnip greens, carrots, roast-beef, noodles and spices I made one night and ate barechested on the knoll, sitting crosslegged, in a little bowl, with chopsticks, singing—Then the warm moonlit nights with still the red flare in the west—sweet enough, the breeze, the songs, the dense pine timber down in the valleys of the cracks—A cup of coffee and a cigarette, why zazen? and somewhere men are fighting with frighting carbines, their chests crisscrossed with ammo, their belts weighed down with grenades, thirsty, tired, hungry, scared, insaned—It must be that when the Lord thought forth the world he intended for it to include both me and my sad disinclined pain-heart AND Bull Hubbard rolling on the floor in laughter at the foolishness of men—

BOOK: Desolation Angels
12.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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