norbert blei | be it beat

9 10 2007



Anniversary Edition, #1 In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of ON THE ROAD


By Norbert Blei

I guess I’ll lead this off, if you don’t mind, start the first leg of the journey, and keep this Kerouac junket rolling via “Notes from the Underground” and “Poetry Dispatch” from now till year’s end, whenever THE spirit moves, whenever I see another curve in the road, alternate route, hitchhiker, mountain view, desert stretch, crossroad, caution sign, distance marker, roadside attraction…sense that old heartbeat to keep going.

Well, so it’s come to this indeed…fifty freakin’ years and still rolling. Who would of thought the Beat, the Beatific, that Bountiful Kerouacian road tearing heavenly havoc straight thru the American psyche, would be baptized, confirmed, hallowed in the name of the father, O Jack, still preaching—‘Hey! Get off your ass, man. Go!’

“Everywhere in America I’ve been in crossroads saloons drinking with whole families…The sun began to get red. Nothing had been accomplished. What was there to accomplish?…Mañana man, we make it; have another beer, man, dah you go, dah you go!”

No need here to repeat all the accolades printed and broadcast thus far on the 50th by publications and media outlets that didn’t give the book’s birth (this someday-to-become literary extravaganza called KEROUAC) the old snowball’s chance in Dante’s last circle of hell, when this throbbing manuscript (rolled/ unrolled/stacked) on the table finally saw print, hit the light of day in an oh so silent generating 50’s Americana of oh-thank-you, mum’s-the-word, oh-no-not-me. Nor did anyone foresee the Beat to come, an old beat, one the mass of lives lived in daily desperation were disinclined to hear yet learn to live with, beat Time to.

We’re talking history here, literary & otherwise…when & then and now or never:

Be It Beat



be it Beat.

Be as the beginning,

rhythm in time…

being, being there, beating.

beating time back.

Heart beating in the universe.

heya heya heya.a yo.ho yaha, Native American Navaho chant

(Kerouacian OLD ANGEL MIDNIGHT tongue).

“All good things are wild and free,” Thoreau’s ear to the earth. “Give me for my friends and neighbors wild men, not tame ones.”

“The purpose of life seems to be

to acquaint man with himself,” preaches Emerson.

“Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.”

Heart beat,

beat beat beat

beating the storylines of a country and its people,

individually, in unison, in time.

It’s all the same generation,

the beat within.

“I celebrate myself and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loaf and invite my soul,” wails Whitman.

“Breathe the air but leave plenty after me.”

After he, after we, after thee,

on the upbeat…Vachel Lindsay’s drum:

“Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.

Beware beware, walk with care,

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom.

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom.

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom.

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.”

Upbeat, downbeat, beatbeat, beatbeatBeat

“Drum on your drums, batter on your banjoes,

sob on the long cool winding saxophones.

Go to it, O jazzmen,” Sandburg croons in the Chicago streets.

“I will be the word of the people…I will say everything.”

(O jazzmen, O beatmen,

O bebop Bird, ah um Mingus, O blue Miles men,

beating in the waiting wings)

It’s like it’s all always coming together, man…

Enter: THE Beat, in their own time,

The word and world according to Then & Now.

The Beat all around as we breathe.

News Flash from the Cosmos: JACK’S BACK!


Check today’s poetry scene, performance & slam,

check the little mags & small presses,

the roads taken, the streets, the bookstores,

the angry pockets of America the Beautiful—bruised, broken, beat.

Jack’s back and crackin’, memorializing the moment.

“Where we going, man?”

“I don’t know.”

“…time to move on”….

Move on, man, but hear the Howl among us still:

Kerouac, Ginsberg, Waldman, Corso, Kandel, Kaufman, Ferlinghetti, Burroughs, Snyder, DiPrima, Cassady, Jones, Welch…

The heart of the Beat beats on…

The shadow of Patchen, past:

“I believe that to deliver myself

Is to deliver you.”

The prayer of Kandel, historic-present:



Be your own breath beating Buddha, any Way.

All together now:

The Beat in the beginning is now and ever shall be,

Ah, man!

Norbert Blei

Intro poem/riff from BACK BEAT by Albert DeGenova and Charles Rossiter, Cross+Roads Press , $10 , only a few copies remain



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