The Dharma Bums / An Excerpt

Throughout all these parties I always stole off for a nap under the eucalyptus trees, instead of my rosebush, which was all hot sun all day; in the shade of the trees I rested well. One afternoon as I just gazed at the topmost branches of those immensely tall trees I began to notice that the uppermost twigs and leaves were lyrical happy dancers glad that they had been apportioned the top, with all that rumbling experience of the whole tree swaying beneath them making their dance, their every jiggle, a huge and communal and mysterious necessity dance, and so just floating up there in the void dancing the meaning of the tree. I noticed how the leaves almost looked human the way they bowed and then leaped up and then swayed lyrically side to side. It was a crazy vision in my mind but beautiful. Another time under those trees, I dreamt I saw a purple throne all covered with gold, some kind of Eternity Pope or Patriarch in it...And as I say, that hummingbird, a beautiful little blue hummingbird no bigger than a dragonfly, kept making a whistling jet dive at me, definitely saying hello to me, every day, usually in the morning, and I always yelled back at him a greeting. Finally he began to hover in the open window of the shack, buzzing there with his furious wings, looking at me beadily, then, flash, he was gone. That California humming guy...

Though sometimes I was afraid he would drive right into my head with his long beaker like a hatpin.

There was also an old rat scrambling in the cellar under the shack and it was a good thing to keep the door closed at night. My other great friends were the ants, a colony of them that wanted to come in the shack and find honey. ('Calling all ants, calling all ants, come and get your ho-ney!' sang a little boy one day in the shack), so I went out to their anthill and made a trail of honey leading them into the back garden, and they were at the new vein of joy for a week. I even got down on my knees and talked to the ants. There were beautiful flowers all around the shack, red, purple, pink, white, we kept making bouquets, but the prettiest of all was the one Japhy made of just pine cones and a sprig of pine needles. It had that simple look that characterized all his life.

~From The Dharma Bums c. 1958 Jack Kerouac. c. renewed Stella Kerouac and Jan Kerouac, 1986

Copyright 2002-2008 by Jack Kerouac/

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Jack Kerouac: Excerpt from The Dharma Bums