The Canticle of Jack Kerouac by Lawrence Ferlinghetti #7, #8, #9


In the dark of the fellaheen night

in the light of the illuminated

Stations of the Cross

and the illuminated Grotto

down behind the Funeral Home

by roar of river

where now Ti-Jean alone

(returned to Lowell

in one more doomed

Wolfian attempt

to Go Home Again)

gropes past the Twelve Stations of the Cross

reciting aloud the French inscriptions

in jis Joual accent

which makes the plaster French Christ

laugh and cry

as He hefts His huge Cross

up the Eternal Hill

And very real tear drops

in the Grotto

from the face

of the stoned Virgin



Light upon light

the mountain

keeps still



Hands over ears

He steals away


The Canticle of Jack Kerouac by Lawrence Ferlinghetti #6



And then Ti-Jean Jack with Joual tongue

disguised as an American fullback in plaid shirt

crossing and recrossing America

in speedy cars

a Dr Sax’s shadow shadowing over him

like a shroudy cloud over the landscape

Song of the Open Road sung drunken

with Whitman and Jack London and Thomas Wolfe

still echoing through

a Nineteen Thirties America

a Nineteen Forties America

an America now long gone

except in broken down dusty old

Greyhound Bus stations

in small lost towns

Ti-Jean’s vision of America

seen from a moving car’s window

the same as Wolfe’s lonely

sweeping vision

glimpsed from a coach-train long ago

(And thus did he see first the dark land)

And so Jack

in an angel midnight bar

somewhere West of Middle America

where one drunk madonna

(shades of one on a Merrimack corner)

makes him a gesture with her eyes

a blue gesture

and Ti-Jean answers only with his eyes

And the night goes on with them

And the light comes up on them

making love in a parking lot

The Canticle of Jack Kerouac by Lawrence Ferlinghetti #5



Ah he the Silent Smiler

the one

with the lumberjack shirt

and cap with flaps askew

blowing his hands in winter

as if to fan a flame

The Shrouded Stranger knew him

as Ti-Jean the Smiler

grooking past red brick mill buildings

down by the riverrun

(O mighty Merrimac

‘thunderous husher’)

where once upon a midnight then

young Ti-Jean danced with Memere

in the moon drowned light

And rolled upon the greensward

his mother and lover

all one Buddha

in his arms

The Canticle of Jack Kerouac by Lawrence Ferlinghetti #4



And the Four Sisters Diner

also known as “The Owl”

Sunday morning now

March Eighty-seven

or any year of Sunday specials

Scrambled eggs and chopped ham

the bright booths loaded with families

Lowell Greek and Gaspe French

Juoal patois and Argos argot

here incarnate

in the rush of blood of

American Sunday morning

And “Ti-Jean” Jack Kerouac

comes smiling in

baseball cap cocked up

hungry for the masses

in the Church of All Hungry Saints

haunt of all-night Owls

blessing every booth….

The Canticle of Jack Kerouac by Lawrence Ferlinghetti #3



And the old Worthen Bar

in Lowell Mass. at midnight

in the now of nineteen eighty-seven

Kerouacian revellers

crowd the wood booths

ancient with carved initials

of a million drinking bouts

the clouts of the

Shrouded Stranger

upon each wood pew

where the likes of Kerouac lumberjack

feinted their defiance

of dung and death

Ah the broken wood and the punka fans still turning

(pull-cord wavings

of the breath of the Buddha)

still lost in Lowell’s

‘vast tragedies of darkness’

with Jack

The Canticle of Jack Kerouac by Lawrence Ferlinghetti #2



There is a garden in the memory of America

There is a night bird in its memory

There is an andante cantabile

in a garden in the memory

of America

In a secret garden

in a private place

a song a melody

a nightlong echoing

in the memory of America

In the sound of a nightbird

outside a Lowell window

In the cry of kids

in tenement yards at night

In the deep sound

of a woman murmuring

a woman singing a broken melody

in a shuttered room

on a old wooden house

in Lowell

As the world cracks by


like a lost lumber truck

on a steep grade

in Kerouac America

The woman sits silent now

rocking backward

to Whistler’s Mother in Lowell

and all the tough old

Canuck mothers

and Jack’s Memere

And they continue rocking


And may still on stormy nights show through

as a phantom after image

on silent TV screens

a flickered after-image

that will not go away

in Moody Street

in Beaulieu Street

in ‘dirt street Sarah Avenue’

in Pawtucketville

And the Church of St. Jean Baptiste


The Canticle of Jack Kerouac by Lawrence Ferlinghetti



Far from the the sea from the sea

of Breton fishermen

the white clouds scudding

over Lowell

and the white birches the

bare white birches

along the blear night roads

flashing by in darkness

(where once he rode

in Pop’s old Plymouth)

and the birch white face

of a Merrimac madonna

shadowed in streetlight

by Merrimac’s shroudy waters

— a leaf blown

upon sea wind

out of Brittany

over endless oceans