Map of Kerouac’s Subterraneans

He lives below, in the undercity,
travels with a wet currency of doubt
in his pockets to unwashed sheets
with a woman who goes naked
in a stairwell, moaning.

To the toilet and back again,
he thinks of her as an alley cat, going
under fences away from him,
from the male brain
with its mad streets and habdasheries,
closed at dawn but open all night.

In that brain-space he dives
to the v-thighs of a paper doll dressed
in black and white on window display,
his hands undaunted.

He wanders to a bus stop, to a shoestore,
constructing all the while a volcanic sea
of lovesickness across the woman’s

then heads south to plantation
pillars in moonlight and cobwebs, where
roads are softer and everything is haunted
by the Cherokee, the way his heart is

He wants the way lit up, wants a lantern,
a flame, a match, but it’s blue dark,
this map, and him a phantasm

built from life’s postponing,

and the only door open to him, finally,
is his memory of the woman’s sweet
and lusty, sweet sweet sweet straight
to God’s ear orgasm.


Tamara Miles teaches college English in South Carolina. Her writings and art work have appeared in Fall Lines; O’Bheal Five Words; Love is Love; Auntie Bellum; Pantheon Magazine; UnLost Journal; Subprimal Poetry Art; The Tishman Review; Flash Fiction Magazine; and Apricity. Upcoming publications include writings of various types at The Devil’s Doorbell; NewPages; Verity La; Local Gems Press; Clade Song; and Cease Cows. She is a proud member of Irish writer Jane Barry’s online creativity salon known as That Curious Love of Green and a 2016 contributor at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference.