Dear Jack Kerouac by Constance Hanstedt

Dear Jack Kerouac
by Constance Hanstedt

How did you do it?
Time after time, 
driving rustic highways
from Times Square to Frisco
with stops in Denver
to see  Neil’s woman, then
aiming those worn-out tires
back toward the east coast.
In the sixties, my long-haired brother
thought he was you
in a Buick nicknamed Thunder.
Muscular arms, white cotton tee shirt,
cigarette dangling between his lips.
On the Road on the dashboard.
Back seat jammed with books
by Hesse and Camus and record albums,
not the jazz you preferred, but the Stones,
sultry Laura Nyro. When he called
collect on rare occasions, Mom said, 
Where are you? Did you run out of money?
The same questions, Jack,
your mother must have asked you,
the golden boy of Lowell.
And when you returned,
she welcomed you, made stew
and baked bread. Mom cringed at the sight 
of Thunder and a girl tucked alongside 
my brother. When are you going to do
something with your life?
He answered, Ma, I’ve just seen the world!
Jack, you would have been proud.

Hear Constance Hanstedt, and other selected poets, read their poems on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast:

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Constance Hanstedt was raised in the Midwest and currently resides in Livermore, California. She was employed as a high school English teacher and proofreader/editor before becoming the co-owner and CFO of a general contracting firm for 30 years. She is the author of the memoir Don’t Leave Yet, How My Mother’s Alzheimer’s Opened My Heart (She Writes Press, 2015), which was named a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference in 2011 and a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards in 2015. While she continues to write memoir and essays, poetry is her first love. Her poems explore the integral aspects of family, history, loss, redemption, and compassion. They have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Calyx, The Comstock Review, Rattle, Naugatuck River Review, The Porter Gulch Review, and California Writers Club Literary Review. Her poetry chapbook, Treading Water, will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2022.

Constance has been on the Executive Board of the California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch since 2015. She is most proud of forming and leading the Poetry Critique Group, which meets twice a month and offers support, encouragement, and validation.

To learn more about Constance, visit her website at

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