On the Road to Satori – Melancholia

1958 vw microbus by harrietsfriend


we heard
of a woodstockesque music-fest
playing in Austin

when we got there
the tickets had sold out
so we stood outside in the rain
the gray clay mud sticking to our boots

we took refuge
in Rodrigo’s Volkswagen bus
singing and playing on a borrowed guitar
I improvised in John Lee Hooker time
Jones on the harp in the key of blue
and Rodgrigo slapping the beat
on his jeans

… melancholia’s killing me”

Jones and I
wound up hitchhiking back
to San Antonio waiting for a ride
near a Church’s Fried Chicken

the counter guy yelled
through the take-out window
“hey you guy’s hungry?” and handed
us two cartons of chicken
“Happy Thanksgiving”

we had totally forgotten!
we just knew we were cold
wet and hungry—so thank you
Mr. Church’s Fried Chicken man
somewhere outside Austin may
you be repaid in triplicate
for your act of kindness
to two cold and lonely

On the Road to Satori – Rodrigo

this is where I met Rodrigo
the born-again angel
of the Texas road

just inside San Antonio
the long auburn-haired
short-stance little gnome
of the largest man I ever met
who stopped and picked me up

he took me to meet his wife and kids
at his home where hitchhikers were welcome
to rest from their weary travels

he expected nothing in return
all due to his kind heart
and love of Jesus

after I explained how I
broke my guitar hopping off a train
at the El Paso freight yard: I’d have fallen to my
death if not for that Gibson

he told me of handmade guitars in Mexico
emblazoned with fine fretwork
rosettes of chipped abalone
all for a few dollars
then gave me the money
to go to Nuevo Laredo and get one

On the Road to Satori – El Paso

El Paso
broad daylight
the Highway Patrol
blasting me with their
loudspeaker horn tell me
“get off the highway
no hitchhiking

I walk down into the city
and smell the filth of the Swift-Premium
slaughter-house blood guts and excrement
of processed pig meat in this the new American
Frontier—Mexican Bodega signs in red and yellow
short Spanish women pushing baby carriages
staring at me like a sinister felon just
off the boat from Alcatraz—
what women with babies
fear about strangers

On the Road to Satori – Haight-Ashbury

circles by orzz

” Joaquín doesn’t live here anymore. . .

he died of the Vietnam War
—from drugs and alcohol.”

—it’s what I tell whoever asks
about my brother these days

I remember Joaquín
he’d fill my head with stories
about his time stationed at Treasure Island
on leave while in the US Marines
after his tour in the ‘Nam

the summer of ’67 San Francisco
the long-legged blonde hippies on Haight sitting
on the sidewalk with blue eyes staring
spaced out…sit down I
think I love you

Eric Burton
at the Fillmore—before
there was an East and a West
singing blindfolded stoned
smoking a cigarette
tempting the edge
of the stage
tuned in
turned on
and dropped out
from the British Invasion

the yellow corn-cob pipe
and the nickel bag of Vietnamese
smuggled on the plane. I closed my eyes to
Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream my thoughts a stream
of moving pictures eyes closed
in an instant opened
to a new sense
of time and

On the Road to Satori – State Trooper Blues

we see the troopers lights
and hear the blip of the siren
turn to each other with a “we’ve been
narced by the guy at the Bodega!” look on our faces

the trooper snoops around
looking mean in his Smokey Bear hat
black Gestapo boots and a forty-five pistol

his ’69 Plymouth Road Runner
hemi-head dual exhaust
going varoom! varoom! shaking
like a dragster disguised in cop lights
and a New Mexico State Trooper emblem
so that we’re quite impressed!
despite the circumstances

he let us go
must have figured we were just
a bunch of wide-eyed college kids
on their way to see America
why toss ‘em in the clink
and ruin their lives forever?
let ‘em find out for themselves
when they end up
on the street

“your brake light’s out,
thought I’d give ya a warning”
we slide back on to the road

welcome to New Mexico

On the Road to Satori – la Blues


Abandoned Underpass by ModalMechanica

la Blues

what a screwed up mess I made for myself
I’m thinking as I stand on the ramp looking out
over the industrial flat-top yellow chalk
blues of this city of modern-cheap

the rain barreling from the north
like winter’s solstice gone berserk
and this is California
it never rains etc.
—well, it’s raining
and freezing cold!

“here go buddy
you need this more than me” 
chicano compadre at the Circle-K
in drunken angelic slobber
round-faced mustached
yellow kind-toothed smile
handed me his grey stretch ski cap

I thanked him and put it over my dripping head
and went out into the forlorn ravages of
the extended trip home from Seattle
—by way of Coos Bay
San Francisco
and the Golden Gate

I stood on the clover leaf of the 10
just outside LA wondering
when is any of all this
ever going to stop?

I got a ride to Barstow with a truck driver who told me, “They just don’t
treat a man like a human being out here,” he shook his head
and confided in me his deep secret fears and insecurities
“No sir,” I agreed

Cale brought me to a truck stop
where he fed me coffee and a hamburger
and continued philosophizing the inhumanity
and indecency of life in these United States
“That’s how I figure it” he went on

“No matter how you look at it
this country, taken by right or might
has been laid claim to by the white man and
no one has been able to wrestle it back from him, you see?”
I nodded pleasantly as Cale ran a long dark hand across his glistening
forehead with a sigh “It’s like that ALL over” he shook his head and paid the bill
and walked with me out the door of the cafe

“The rest of us I guess
we’re all just guests! Whether welcome or not
but they sure don’t treat us like guests
more like invaders,” he continued
giving me a ready lecture
on the meaning of life
according to Cale

“But, I think you’re gone be doin’ all right by yourself
just keep on truckin’,” he grinned and raised his fist in the air from the cab
as he tooled his truck out of the rainy parking lot heading North
I was heading East, homeward bound, I hoped
for the road was a tired place for me by now

back then Barstow looked like a movie set
with wooden sidewalks along an area that
sat on a hill overlooking the high desert
and a big sky full of wispy thunderheads

things change so much
today I don’t even recognize the place
with its wide boulevards and row upon row
of tract homes unusual

there was a time
when all of this would have made
a lot more sense

On the Road to Satori – The Baby Blue Peugeot


peugeot 404 drawn by zarkwebic

The Baby Blue Peugeot

winter was heading my way
the eternal summer
of the Southwest calling
I hooked up with two guys
and an old ’63 Peugeot
headed for Arizona

we kept the baby blue sedan running
twenty-five hundred miles
across Pennsylvania
along old Route 66
through Ozark hills
to the Oklahoma Panhandle

we cooked refried beans
over an alcohol stove
and popped cans of Coors
—you can only buy them
West of Tulsa—

they said

on rolling plains dotted
with clusters of trees
near a winding brook
on a night blistered with stars
we drank Rocky Mountain water
from a flip-top can

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