In a little-known manuscript, as well as in his published works, Jack Kerouac imbued the haiku poem with his Beat ethic, yielding poems that he called “pops.” In true Kerouacian spirit, “pops” both embrace and reject the classical haiku form as they capture the fleeting everyday moments of American life.

Barefoot by the sea
stopping to scratch one ankle
With one toe

Drunk as a hoot owl
writing letters
By thunderstorm

Neons, Chinese restaurants
coming on—
Girls come by shades

I don’t care
the low yellow
Moon loves me

From Book of Haikus by Jack Kerouac, ©2003 by the Estate of Stella Kerouac, John Sampas, Literary Representative. Reprinted with permission of the Penguin Putnam Group (USA), Inc.

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