Wednesday, July 11, 2007

rolling thunder logbook

I found this short piece of writing by Sam Shepard while flipping through the The Outlaw Bible of American Literature. It's a thick collection of prose that features a wide range of edgy, beatnik, on-the-outskirts-of-society American writers, like Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson. Even people like John Waters, Patti Smith, and Dylan have pieces in it.

"Rolling Thunder Logbook" by Sam Shepard


Allen quotes from Kerouac's favorite Shakespeare: "How like a winter hath my absence been...What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!/What old December's bareness everywhere!" It's right close to the time of year he died in. Trees sticking up naked, blankets of blowing leaves. Dylan and Ginsberg perched close to the ground, cross-legged, facing this tiny marble plaque, half buried in the grass: " 'TI-JEAN' [little Jack], JOHN L. KEROUAC, Mar. 12, 1922-Oct. 21, 1969--HE HONORED LIFE--STELLA HIS WIFE, Nov. 11, 1918--." Dylan's tuning up his Martin while Ginsberg causes his little shoe-box harmonium to breathe out notes across the lawn. Soon a slow blues takes shape with each of them exchanging verses, then Allen moving into an improvised poem to the ground, to the sky, to the day, to Jack, to life, to music, to the worms, to bones, to travel, to the States. I try to look at both of them head-on, with no special ideas of who or what they are but just to try to see them there in front of me. Tthey emerge as simple men with a secret aim in mind. Each of them opposite but still in harmony. Alive and singing to the dead and living. Sitting flat on the earth, above bones, beneath trees and hearing what they hear.

Also, check out the The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, which I think is actually better than the literature collection.

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