Monthly Archives: November 2012



The sagebrush knows

Not who owns this land

It grows on just the same

Effervescent scent

From desert rain


-Winnemucca, NV 2002


A Haiku, For You

Fat, soft descendents

Of hard European men

Die slow of boredom


Minutae Poetry Quotations and attributions

Kerouac Haiku

“Light a Fire

Fight a liar

Whats the difference

In existence?”

-The Dharma Bums


Hey, don’t blame me if you don’t think it’s a Haiku. I know there are several traditional forms and the ones that play out at 5-7-5 are the ones that Westerners know best. There are longer ones as well, though. Jack Kerouac sat up in a fire-watch tower in the great Northwest one summer and related that story in The Dharma Bums. Here is where I found his poem.

In Hinduism, Dharma is translatable as Law or Natural Law. For a good understanding, you might consider it a Just Order of things. This would inform the Indian/Hindu concept of the caste system which governs the station into which a person is born and out of which they may not rise.

Being a Dharma Bum is an eastern way for Kerouac to attempt to convey the same notion as being a member of the Beat Generation. “Beat” is a reference to the Beatitudes from Jesus’ sermon on the mount. The Beatitudes were the portion of the sermon that include, ‘blessed are the meek.’ Blessed are the downtrodden and abused. The Beat Poets were the down and out and they knew it. The Beatitudes blessed the pure of heart, the pure of soul. The Beat Poets considered themselves the those with the clearest vision of what was actually happening around them.

A “Dharma Bum” was another attempt to relate the nature of the group of writers and poets who began working in the 50’s and lay the groundwork for the discontent of the 60’s. By nature, down to one’s marrow, in one’s soul, one was a bum, a drifter, unattached to the rest of what was going on in society. Being on the outside and looking in affords one tremendous opportunity to critique a system objectively. This is what the Beat writers thought they could do. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if they succeeded.