Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Mexico City Blues

by Jack Kerouac

“A great masterpiece, a singing religious poem.”—Michael McClure

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 256
  • Publication Date March 21, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6244-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $18.00

Written between 1954 and 1957, and published originally by Grove Press in 1959, Mexico City Blues is Kerouac’s most important verse work that incorporates all the elements of his theory of spontaneous composition. Memories, fantasies, dreams, and surrealistic free association are lyrically combined in the loose format inspired by jazz and the blues. Now featuring a striking new cover as part of Grove’s centenary reissues, and with references to William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Bill Garver, this important book in Kerouac’s oeuvre is an original and moving epic of sound, rhythm, and religion.

Praise for Mexico City Blues:

“A series of improvisations, notes, a shorthand of perceptions and memories, having in large part the same kind of word-play and rhythmic invention to be found in his prose.”—Robert Creeley, Poetry

“What seems to me to emerge at the end is a voice of remarkable kindness and gentleness, an engaging and modest good humor and a quite genuine spiritual simplicity.”—Anthony Hecht, Hudson Review

Praise for Jack Kerouac:

“The first clear development of the American Romantic prose since Hemingway, Kerouac’s writing is full of mad sex, comedy, widescreen travel writing, and long lyrical evocations of American childhood and adolescent memories.”–The Times (London)

“Kerouac’s work represents the most extensive experiment in language and literary form undertaken by an American writer of his generation.”—Ann Douglas

“Each book by Kerouac is unique, a telepathic discord. Such rich, natural writing is nonpareil in the later twentieth century.”—Allen Ginsberg

“An outsider in America, Jack Kerouac was a true original.”—Ann Charters


1st Chorus
Butte Magic of Ignorance
Butte Magic
Is the same as no-Butte
All one light
Old Rough Roads
One High Iron

Denver is the same

“The guy I was with his uncle was
the governor of Wyoming”
“Course he paid me back”
Ten Days
Two Weeks
Stock and Joint

“Was an old crook anyway”

The same voice on the same ship
The Supreme Vehicle
S. S. Excalibur
Mersion of Missy

2nd Chorus
Man is not worried in the middle

Man in the Middle
Is not Worried
He knows his Karma
Is not buried

But his Karma,
Unknown to him,
May end –

Which is Nirvana
Wild men
Who kill
Have Karmas
Of ill

Good men
Who love
Have Karmas
Of dove

Snakes are Poor Denizens of Hell
Have come surreptitioning
Through the tall grass
To face the pool of clear frogs

3rd Chorus
Describe fires in riverbottom
sand, and the cooking;
the cooking of hot dogs
spitted in whittled sticks
over flames of woodfire
with grease dropping in smoke
to brown and blacken
the salty hotdogs,
and the wine,
and the work on the railroad.

$275,000,000,000.00 in debt
says the Government
Two hundred and seventy five billion
dollars in debt
Like Unending
And Unnumbered Sentient Beings
Who will be admitted –
Not-Numberable –
To the new Pair of Shoes
Of White Guru Fleece
O j o!
The Purple Paradise

Copyright ” 1959 by Jack Kerouac. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.