A Kerouac Thanksgiving
by Suzanne Beebe
Thanks, Jack, for helping keep the city
On the map; for showing us what growing up
Was like in 1920s/1930s
Lowell of throbbing neighborhoods and mills
Where workers fed machines with wool and cotton
To feed their always-hungry children at home.
Thanks, too, for showing what a French-
Canadian kid could do when driven by thought
And faith and boundless talent to plumb the depths
Of radiant mystery shimmering in flesh
And muck and swirling rivers of life — the golden
Eternity ever ancient and new.
So sad, your mad, ferocious, clashing needs
And wants, addictions, pain, and self-conviction —
Your seeming inability to pull
Together all the currents of a being
Trapped in whirlpools of illusion, insight,
Contradictions. But thanks nevertheless.
Your writing, at its best, still glows
With wounded, wondering love amazed by life’s
Capacity for endless beauty and horror,
Growth and destruction — a signal gift to all,
Demanding care, reflection, impartation
To neighbor, workmate, parent, partner, child.