Jack wrote On the Road the year I was born and published it when I was seven, but I lived closer to “Leave it to Beaver” than to poverty or to rebellion.
Look at him crouching mid-street-dangerous!
I’ve pictured him in a car since I met him
in a “Beat and Hip” literature class
in nineteen sixty-nine, Woodstock heaven.
On campus, every rule I thought I knew
turned inside out and the invitation—
the compulsion—to try what was taboo
was both freeing and frightening.
So, yes, we became smiling and sensual hippy
lawn dancers holding negatives to watch
sun’s eclipses, listening to the Grateful
Dead and embroidering bells in our jeans.
Free speech and love, flowers and weed. We stopped
hypocrisy. We brought the troops back home.
We dropped out. We turned on. We ignited
worlds where the once low became high and known.
And we colored outside the lines, carried
Ginsburg’s and Ferlinghetti’s poetry,
and moved to San Francisco, Big Apple,
and freedom communes in the country.
I don’t remember reading Jack’s Big Sur,
The Dharma Bums or On the Road, living
in one place long enough for library
cards. Did we have homes? Did we earn livings?
We hitched to Woodstock, grew in music, gardens,
and dramatic arts. We built protests and fear-
proof identity politics. Many
came out from closets. Many disappeared.
for Sunday Muse #104, an ekphrastic prompt
My blog poems are rough drafts.
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© 2020 Susan L. Chast