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They're Hanging the Political Traitor

Dreamed late Sept? 1953 by Jack Kerouac

writer Jack Kerouac sleeping, 1958; photo by Robert Frank


THEY'RE HANGING THE POLITICAL TRAITOR in my closet up in my room at Phebe Avenue, crowd watching from near the window and I (with friend) from near the corner---It's an old man like the actor Ray Collins, he isnt too scared, not at all in fact---The executioner puts the rope around his neck and for an instant we see a look of distaste (for the rope) (itself) (not death) on the face of the condemned old man---I stand horrified to see it's all "really going to happen!"---the hangman ties the knot and then with no ado puts up laboriously the body of the big man, I had intended not to "watch" but I do "see" and the rope tightens, the politician grimaces to choke, his body rises, silent---no complaint---no comment from the audience---I "dream" his twisted side down deadneck, not moved at all but curious---going downstairs then with Lionel to the parlor where I turn on the television though it's 5 A M and Ma's in the kitchen cheerily making her go-to-work lunch and chatting with also-up Nin---I say to Lionel "But he really wasnt all Ainti Fascist!" and it's my father I'm talking about, my father was hanged---

My mother looks at me as if she didnt recognize me immediately or what I was doing down there---The red livingroom rattle furniture of Lilly Street flat in 1929 is responsible for the horror, the hanging, the guilt, the old Victrola's just a new TV now, is all---the coffin that's never been removed from the parlor of the Kerouacs---le mort dans salle des Kerouac---

--Jack Kerouac

EDITOR'S NOTES

Kerouac's dreams consistently portray his dad as giving up on his family, hope, life itself, while his mom persevered. I suspect this is the treason he's hanged for in the dream.
"Ainti Fascist" is not a scanning error for "Anti-Fascist", but a slip in the original journal that Kerouac kept in. ("Ain't he fascist", perhaps?)

Source: page 152 of Book of Dreams by Jack Kerouac, expanded (2001) edition, City Lights Books.
Date: estimated from sequence.
Title: Kerouac always capitalized a dream's first phrase as a working title, even if it didn't fit the dream as a whole.
Paragraph break added.

--Chris Wayan



LISTS AND LINKS: politics - justice - violence - death - dads - parenting - family - grief - Freudian slips - Dad's not the only death haunting Kerouac: see Irene's Dream - more Kerouac

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