Kerouac at 100

We’re joined this week by Are We Here Yet? podcast past guest and American Prose Poet Joshua Michael Stewart.

Find Joshua Michael Stewart on the Innah Net.

This gave us an opportunity to recount moments in the historical and literary life of Jack Kerouac.

Born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac March 12, 1922 in Lowell, MA Kerouac is widely considered father of the counter-culture phenomenon and literary movement known as the Beat Generation. 

Jack considered the term BEAT as shorthand for Beatitudes.  This suggestion of a spiritual ethos behind the beats is explored at length in our discussion, which is rife with the Buddhism Keraouc explored and the Catholicism he was born to. 

We read from several of Jack’s books including Visions of Gerard, Dr. Sax, Dharma Bums, On the Road, and from Jack’s Letters which have been posthumously published in two volumes. 

It is the development of literary forms post mid-century influenced by beat lit that determines the movements relevance beyond its own time. So we recount excerpts from Josh’s Bastard Children of Dharma Bum which we print in this episode script below.

Many of Jack’s artifacts including the original teletype of On the Road are currently on display at the Boott Mills Cottom Museum in Lowell, MA. 

Listen if you love beat literature, Lowell, writing in general or mid-century discussion of phenomenon Listen now.

Featured Poems from The Bastard Children of Dharma Bums (Human Error Publishing, 2020) by Joshua Michael Stewart.

Wondering if I heard 

the gas station payphone,

my fingers chatter

with a jug of wine.

The astonished poet—

a hip girl in love

with Whitman,

refuses to subscribe

to the privilege 

of consuming crap

and making children,

writes poems wine-soaked

and wild, praying cops

and the Republicans

learn how to wake up

and start breathing.

I sleep good, live cheap,

and don’t give a shit

for all that machinery

in a house. I got songs

made up plucking

on strings tucked away

in my brain. We walk

on both sides of the street

not hurting anyone.




Raspberry Jell-O in the setting sun

poured through unimaginable craigs.

Rose-tint hope—brilliant and bleak.

Ice fields and snow raging mad.

I read snowy air and woodsmoke.

The wind dark, clouds forge.

The sing in my stovepipe absorbs

vaster, darker storm closing in

like a surl of silence. No starvation

turmoiling. My shadow the rainbow

I haloed. Your life a raindrop.

I stood in rose dusk, meditated

in half-moon thunder.

My mother’s love drenching rains

washed and washed.

I called Han Shan in the mountains.

I called Han Shan in morning fog.

I closed my eyes, yelled dark wild

down in my garbage pit.

My hair long in the mirror.

My skin soaking pristine light.

My fire roaring. I hear the radio

singing, She was the wind

which passes through everything.

Birds rejoicing sweet blueberries

for the last time. Sitting, I twisted

real life and cried cascades

answering the meditation bell.

I know desolation.

I owe gritty love back to this world.




Poems from Love Something (Main Street Rag, forthcoming Fall 2022)


A bird crashes against a window

The children scream, the mother screams.

The bird’s in the dirt flapping its broken wing

as the children run through the rooms

flapping their arms like wings, slam

into walls, smash into each other, whoop

and holler and laugh, and unsheathe their little teeth—

so tiny it seems they wouldn’t break skin.


This house that smells like a woodpile

under a tarp after three winters,

where a social worker wrote in her notebook,

This mother clearly doesn’t love this child,

where a river runs through the living-room,

and wildfires bloom in the bedrooms,

where there’s something about my heart that isn’t right,

and I’m an old rug left out over a porch railing in the rain,

where tomorrow will come, and I’ll still be here

in one form or another, here where I can take off my shirt,

and bare the scar on my shoulder

that fits my younger cousin’s mouth.



Summer. We were walking,

a country road before dawn,

and you were dead.

I don’t remember your dying

but there you were, dragging your feet,

your eyes like the bottoms of glass ashtrays.

Your breath.

I said it smelled of death

and you just groaned.

I felt like an idiot.

I never wanted this.

I never wanted it to rain.

Do you have any idea

what a soggy corpse is like                                                                                         

so early in the morning?

I tried to pick up the pace,

but all you could do was slosh down the road.

Eventually, we came to a barn

and hobbled inside to get dry.

Soon the sun was up. The rain had stopped

and the insects were getting jiggy in the fields.

You slumped into an empty stall.

Sunlight beamed through slits in the boards

and the dust of your body mingled

with the dust of the barn, the outside world

and possibly me. Despite the decay

you looked lovely disappearing like that.

And I confessed if I wasn’t such a fool

I’d love you right down to the bone.

“Vultures usually do.”

It was the first thing you’d said all morning. 


Bastard Children of Dharma Bums front cover image from author Joshua Michael Stewart
Full Color Headshot of Joshua Michael Stewart.Prose Poet from western Massachusetts.  Yellow Cashmere sweater, 1950's style, Olive Green shirt and brown stepped fedora hat.

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