Lonesome Travelers
by James (Jack) Penha

I too wrestled in the chalice of the church
with desolation angels, demons and a mother
who found strength only at the end in shame
and anger. I too found relief in the bottle,
in dharma, and between the thighs of wives
and bums on the spontaneous road to paradise
and poetry. But my sun still shines. I still sit
beneath Manhattan stars and the huge bulge
of Asian skies by the Hudson
and the Chao Phraya, the East
and the Mekong,
the Kill and the Kampar
where God is many and close
and I wear already the forlorn rags
of growing old, and I think
of Jack Kerouac,
I even think of Old Jack Kerouac
the father we ever read, I think
of Jack Kerouac.

PHOTO: Author Jack Kerouac in Greenwich Village, NYC , 1958 (photo by Jerry Yulsman, Associated Press).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written spontaneously in response to the prompt and to Kerouac.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha — known to friends and Silver Birch Press readers as Jack — has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors’ Choice Award. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry.

PHOTO: Jack Penha on the East River, 2015.