cover image Pomes All Sizes

Pomes All Sizes

Jack Kerouac. City Lights Books, $13.95 (175pp) ISBN 978-0-87286-269-2

`` `Develop a pure / lucid mind' '' instructs Kerouac in ``Gatha,'' a poem in this miscellany of what Ginsberg ( Howl ) calls ``notebook jottings and little magazine items'' spanning 1954-1965. The poem's lines and title, referring to Zoroastrianism, signal the influence of Eastern philosophies on Kerouac's ( On the Road ) work. Stylistically, this influence displays itself in his uses of the verb ``to be.'' Lines like ``Enlightenment is: do what / you want / eat what there is'' have a calm, decisive tone and play a defining role, as if uttered after long, disciplined meditation. Another aspect of Kerouac's style directly clashes with this emphasis on clarity, however. He free-associates into a kind of linguistic clutter: ``ole Hotsatots dont footsie / down here bring my gruel, I'll / be cruel.'' Underlying this volume's hodgepodge, then, is the drama of Kerouac the mystic, with his urge toward control, at odds with Kerouac the freewheeling Beat and, on a personal level, Kerouac the alcoholic. Yet as Ginsberg observes in his introduction, division--the sense of life as ``both real and dream''--is the pervasive ``spiritual intelligence'' of the Beats. Given that, this is a perhaps ironically representative volume. (July)