God Is Pooh Bear

By | 3 February 2024

for D.M.

My lecturer picks corn
chip from his beard
before telling me
how his world turned
darker than a black bean
the morning it dawned
on him that Kerouac
possessed only one
emotional register—sad.
Lowell’s favourite Jack
found everything sad.
The middle-class
philosophy was sad.
His lover’s post-coital
yawning was sad.
(Parenthetical thoughts
between streetlamps
were sad). Even
spreading mustard
on salami sandwiches
in a parking lot toilet
was sad. But burning
the roof of your mouth
on hot joe or running
out of Benzedrine
was lugubrious. Despite
his thirst for adventure,
I don’t reckon Jack
would be my first choice
of passenger: at stop signs
and red lights he’d recite
scraps of Nietzsche
or spill his cask wine;
he’d detail how the folks
sharing a meal together
down the RSL were sadder
than most because they
didn’t know or accept
their sadness; he’d let
his cigarette grow
perilously floppy
with ash while he gaped
at a cloud that stuck
like a lump in the blue
throat of the sky;
and when cruising by
Cold Tea Creek,
I couldn’t bring up
the anti-tank ditch
in case the car combusted
with his disgust
for the faceless military-
industrial complex.

What would Jack make
of me eating all alone
this Saturday night
in an empty SUBWAY
opposite the highway?
Maybe he’d say no gal,
no digs of my own,
and no permanent gig
are ideal ingredients
for an authentic poetic
existence. Or he might
just think it sad. After
damming the river
of drool that floods
the cotton fields
of his faded plaid shirt,
he’d wonder why
his offbeat dream
had suddenly come
to a halt; he’d bang
on the windows or kick
the driver’s seat,
laughing as he shook
half a century of sleep
from his wandering
eyes; and then he’d cry
until we were back
on the road—a sea
of shadowy houses
ebbing in our rear-
view mirror and jazz
flowing through our ears
as daylight oozes
over the horizon
like God sat on a lemon
or upset his honeypot.

*The title of this poem comes from a passage out of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road (1957).

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