‘Jack Kerouac Dreaming’ by Dan Sklar

The annual Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! literary festival is coming up, October 5-9. Here’s the schedule of events. My writing colleague from Somerville, Mass., Doug Holder, sent us this poem by his fellow faculty member at Endicott College, Dan Sklar, who teaches creative writing. Dan’s latest book, Flying Cats, Actually Swooping, was published by Ibbetson Street Press. He rides a bicycle to work.—PM


 Jack Kerouac Dreaming


Ozone Park is the name of a place

in Queens, New York, where Jack

Kerouac lived in an apartment with

his mother over a flower shop and

he wrote and wrote and wore a

lumberjack shirt and took the

subway into Manhattan to meet with

friends to drink and talk and the name

Ozone Park seems to me the perfect

name for a place where Jack Kerouac

lived and wrote and wrote The Town

and the City, On the Road, Some of

the Dharma, Dr. Sax and hundreds and

hundreds of pages of journal notebook writing

and it dawned on me that this place named

Ozone Park could not be a better

name for a place where Jack Kerouac

lived and wrote and wrote and bought

wine and bread and cigarettes and ate

the meals his mother cooked and she

went out to work in a factory in Ozone

Park, Queens, New York, and he would

dream oddly, very oddly of horses and

a ranch in Colorado probably too many

Zane Grey novels and Saturday matinee

westerns and Red River and then when

Jack Kerouac gets a book published,

The Town and the City, he goes

to fancy Park Avenue dinner parties

and the opera with his agent and with

the publishers and their friends and

Jack Kerouac wears a tuxedo and

you see him on the subway from

Ozone Park where he walked on the

sidewalk to the subway station and

he is wearing a tuxedo and imagining

himself in a sophisticated English

play made into a movie like something

out of like Noel Coward who when they

said the play must go on Noel Coward

said why, and here is this French-Canadian

kid from Lowell, Massachusetts, and

he is wearing a tuxedo and wants horses

and a ranch in Colorado and even Neal

Cassady thought it was a nutty idea and

Neal Cassady was the king of nutty ideas

but Jack Kerouac you cannot forget was a

hypergraphiac crazy nut maniac lunatic

wild man writing obsessed dreamer genius

and now I think about Ozone Park Ozone,

Ozone, Ozone, Ozone Park and Jack

Kerouac wearing a white tee shirt and gray

trousers in deep Queens, New York,

October nights over the typewriter, fingers

pounding keys to keep up with his mind

an old lamp from the house in Lowell,

Massachusetts, on the desk now in

Ozone Park like Buddha in Deer Park

and all sentient beings are probably

Buddhas awake in tuxedos on subways

Jack Kerouac alone on a subway car

heading to fancy Park Avenue dinners

and opera and jazz clubs and dive bars

and Jack Kerouac alone in a ranch house

with no furniture in Colorado, Jack Kerouac’s

bones in a tuxedo on a subway dreaming in

Ozone Park where everything becomes a

dream because it already is a dream anyway.


—Dan Sklar