In Vain

- 1922-1969

The stars in the sky
In vain
The tragedy of Hamlet
   In vain
The key in the lock
      In vain
The sleeping mother
      In vain
The lamp in the corner
         In vain
The lamp in the corner unlit
            In vain
Abraham Lincoln
                        In vain
The Aztec empire
                           In vain
The writing hand: in vain
(The shoetrees in the shoes
         In vain
The windowshade string upon
            the hand bible
   In vain—
   The glitter of the greenglass
         ashtray
In vain
The bear in the woods
         In vain
The Life of Buddha
         In vain)

More by Jack Kerouac

One Flower

One flower
   on the cliffside
Nodding at the canyon

Mexico City Blues [113th Chorus]

Got up and dressed up
      and went out & got laid
Then died and got buried
      in a coffin in the grave, 
Man—
      Yet everything is perfect,
Because it is empty, 
Because it is perfect
      with emptiness, 
Because it's not even happening.

Everything
Is Ignorant of its own emptiness—
Anger
Doesn't like to be reminded of fits—

You start with the Teaching
      Inscrutable of the Diamond
And end with it, your goal
      is your startingplace, 
No race was run, no walk
      of prophetic toenails
Across Arabies of hot
      meaning—you just
      numbly don't get there

Mexico City Blues [182nd Chorus]

The Essence of Existence
      is Buddhahood—
As a Buddha
      you know
      that all the sounds
      that wave from a tree
      and the sights
      from a sea of fairies
            in Isles of Blest
      and all the tastes
            in Nectar Soup
      and all the odors
            in rose arbour
      —ah rose, July rose—
            bee-dead rose—

and all the feelings
      in the titwillow's
      chuckling throat
and all the thoughts
      in the raggedy mop
      of the brain—
      one dinner