Cliff and I relaxed on the brown leather couch
Passing the pipe back and forth, laughing.
We were waiting for our man,
Waiting for our Neal- who promised he would
Visit that evening and always kept his word.
I wasn't sure how Cliff knew Neal,
But then he knew everybody.
We were talking about disappearing childhood relics
and how as we get older, we are more alone
When who should bound through the door
But old Neal himself, looking every bit
The beat hero I'd only read about.
He was tall and lanky, liquid blue eyes
That burned fire and a smile that ached my heart.
Jack walked in behind him, the surprise guest
That I instantly pawed and cradled his face.
"Finally we meet. I already love you." I said
With meaning and without filter.
The look on Jack's face indicated happiness,
The pleasure of being found.
Neal carried a big grocery bag full of presents,
Though I did not know what,
and he smiled at me and said in his slow drawl,
"You will like what I brought."
He presented me with an amber colored candy straw,
Looked like a Twizzlers but smelled like medicine.
Jack let me lean on him as I chewed on it.
Cliff and Neal laughed together, watching me,
Reassuring my paranoia that I was safe
With them, and I believed them.
Introducing Jack and Neal to our conversation
We were having as they walked in,
I described a staircase I'd used all my life
In a store that kept changing hands,
Its faded orange steps now forever removed
From my feet and boarded up,
Or the tree whose roots I'd laid myself upon
Staring up at the great majestic through its branches
Recapturing the feeling of being ten years old
and feeling lost and alone for the first time,
Or sweeping the dirt around it
With a twig full of needles, my first living room
Now ripped from the ground where it grew for fifty years,
Resting somewhere in the Siletz river
With the rest of the magic forest.
"Where's my tree? I want my tree." I said,
Feeling drunk and sad.
The couch was too small for the four of us,
So we retreated towards the bed,
Scattering Neal's gifts in the middle
Of our sacred square.
But the bed became slippery, I kept rolling off-
I hit the floor giggling and it was Cliff
Pulling me up every time.
Somberly we all laid together meditating,
Remembering Jack's cats, Neal's old shoes
and Cliff's lucky hat that he'd outgrown
But still carried everywhere in his backpack.
Jack and I talked about poetry, rambling how
The poets may be dead but people like us
Keep them alive, by emulating them piece by piece
In our own daily lives, unconsciously
Yet meticulously, as if they were ingrained
Into our own personal blueprints.
I looked into Jack's eyes and he into mine,
Touching my face, he acknowledged without words
Our sudden kinship, and I called each of them
Brother with a kiss on their cheeks,
Which they returned with an air of communion
As Cliff passed around the freshly loaded pipe,
The room filled with smoke and laughter.
Then my own brother walked in the room,
I was jolted back to reality
As he asked for a ride to town and I struggled
To say yes in spite of my condition,
But feeling too drunk, I rested my head on Cliff's lap
and asked if anyone else could drive.
Neal jumped at it, I advised him to stay quiet
(Steven doesn't like talkers)
and we all went, Jack tagged along in the back seat
To keep everyone calm.
Steven was excited for the adventure.
The looks on my co-workers faces
As we passed through the drive-thru was priceless,
I ordered a large fry and a large diet coke
In my mother's voice,
Then when they discovered the ruse
I felt compelled to reveal "These are my brothers too."
As Neal eased the car slowly away.
This is a nearly intact recreation of the dream I had last night. For those of you who don't know who Jack Kerouac or Neal Cassady were, I highly suggest you check out the following links:
The Neal Cassady Estate