• On the Road to Satori – Westfalia


    On the Way Back to Wolfsburg by DocSonian





    she was a congressman’s ex-wife
    rambling in a Volkswagen Westfalia with her two kids
    she offered to take me further down the road
    said she sensed I had a greater motive
    for all of this journeying “Seattle\Northwest
    you’re bound” she told me nodding with certainty
    over a cook fire on the road north to Flagstaff

    at the ruins of Montezuma’s Castle
    stripping off my jeans and
    red flannel road-shirt
    I lay in a narrow canal
    letting the cool water course my skin
    cleaning me up spit shine and polished
    hair smoothed back and grinning like a lark

    I whistled as I returned to the campsite
    and told her about the refreshing spot just up the trail
    she gasped as I described my naked exposure
    the solitude of the wild Sedona autumn
    I was just young enough to not
    make the connection; she
    was at least sixty
    I thought
    back then
    now realize
    as I’m older
    she was probably not

    she later speculated she must
    remind me of my Mom not
    at all,
    I replied
    —I still didn’t get it

  • On the Road to Satori – Flagstaff





    we drove north from Sedona
    amazed at the crystal clear air of the night
    Elizabeth explained that the crackle of bonfires
    were actually in people’s back yards
    not the National Park

    we spent the night
    with a family in the process
    of converting their mobile home
    into a mountain lodge; the framework
    and plywood sheathing visible
    as we sat to dinner

    I marveled at the ingenuity
    of people who engage in such effort
    having lived my whole life in apartments
    never knowing what it’s like
    to own a house
    you can convert
    and add to
    at will

    Ralph and his family were ok
    they all got along fine with Elizabeth’s two kids
    and their dog; who later ate the scraps from our plates
    (I think we probably ate venison)

    we had breakfast the next morning
    at a coffee shop on San Francisco Street
    train tracks ran East-West through town
    I walked along them for a half mile or so with Jack
    a fellow we’d met in the café

    Jack told me of his dreams of traveling
    cross-country; riding the rails and bumming it
    how he envied me his job and bills
    reminding me that, yeah
    I was pretty lucky
    out here rambling
    no worries—no dough

    back at the diner
    Elizabeth waited
    to take me to the Interstate
    where I would (hopefully)
    make my next connection
    to the Coast

    she let me off at the crossroads
    and I waited there for a ride
    she stayed in the micro bus
    guarding my journey
    like the angel of
    my mother’s prayers

    a pretty girl
    driving a flatbed truck
    stopped to give me a ride

    I ran jumped up into the cab thinking:

    I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,
    It’s such a fine sight to see
    It’s a girl, my lord, in a flatbed Ford
    Slowin’ down to take a look at me
    . . . take it easy. . .*

    I waved at Elizabeth and the kids
    —I was on my way

    *Take It Easy—Eagles, 1972

  • On the Road to Satori – Oakland Rail Yard


    hobo-john by Roger Hoover


    Oakland Rail Yard


    at the Oakland rail yard
    I listened to the sound of the train whistles’
    rasp and moan—engines chugging slowly through the switch yard
    the air horns barely picking up enough wind to howl
    making sounds like harmonicas

    the crackle of the dispatcher’s voice
    over the PA system distorted by the noise of the rails
    created a sound like the early bluesmen
    on the 78 RPM records
    the sound of hobos
    hitching the rails

    I just discovered
    the birth of the blues!

    I thought as I hopped a parked boxcar
    hoping for L.A. southbound

    in the middle of the night
    the banging of cars’ hook up
    lurch to a get-go—
    back to sleep
    ‘til daybreak

    Snow—I’m headed
    east—over the Sierra Nevada
    —Denver for sure by tomorrow!

    but it was getting colder and colder
    as the train rose to greater altitudes
    until just above the tree line
    I figured it was so high
    the snow couldn’t fall

    my leather bomber jacket and
    my military down sleeping bag
    of no use against the cold
    I sat cross-legged in the
    open door of the car
    to stare at the Void

    Mount Shasta appeared
    —bald on top with snow at the base
    framed in the picture window
    of the open freight car door
    like the Vision of Death

    I could die in this boxcar
    be gone without a trace and
    no one to tell my story
    —I thought

    a sudden vision of death
    engulfed me—
    filled me with awe

    if I’m to die today
    am I afraid?
    no—I thought
    I will die in peace

    staring in the face of
    sparse cold and certain death
    I felt a sense of calm

    bring it on you
    Old Angel Death
    let it come quickly
    for I am but a man
    in the grips of death
    subtly surprised by
    my lack of

  • On the Road to Satori – Coos Bay


    arago sunset near coos bay oregon by michaelatman


    Coos Bay


    I was getting tired of hanging around Coos Bay
    hitchhiking up and down the Oregon coast getting
    rides from rich kids in their vintage sedans
    construction crewmen in pick-up trucks
    who’d share their last six-pack as long
    as you promise to save the empties
    for their Oregon five-cent deposit

    I was getting tired
    of partying at The Sea Drift Tavern
    the ex-bikers and their Motorcycle Irenes

    it was time to split the fishing burg
    the taste of middle-America
    the decent people I’d met
    worked with

    the girl from Sonora
    who said “I never met a
    Porto Rícan before!” then took
    me in like a long-lost husband home
    to her corn tortillas and green chili salsa

    Coos Bay
    was starting
    to wear on me
    it was time to go

    I would head South
    to the Frisco Bay
    the Golden Gate
    stop in on the Redwoods along the way
    check out the giant trees for the night
    start a campfire

    I’d stay in Berkeley
    with the help of one of those Room Exchanges
    maybe sleep in the bushes on the campus grounds
    walk the Botanical Gardens
    meet the local crazies

    I might even feed runaway kids
    like I was feeding pigeons
    their little hands reaching
    for my slices of white bread
    like babies reaching for the bottle
    eyes full of hope and sadness all
    mixed in at the same time
    homeless and lost

    that’s what I’d do…
    I’d head down the coast
    leave those rain-soaked nights behind
    leave the fishing boats and the sea behind me
    I needed to go where the air was dry
    at least some of the time
    I had to get away
    from days spent
    in eternal twilight

  • On the Road to Satori – Portland


    1949 Packard Super 8 sedan by quintmckown




    I got the last ride I planned to get
    from those Portland rich kids
    in their vintage Packard  cars
    with big white-walled tires
    small windows and shiny
    chrome bumpers

    dressed in deep purple like dolls
    from the velvet underground
    they stopped
    ope’d the door
    and let me in
    said not a word
    they left me at the state line
    as if it were their duty; their
    bit for the cause—helping
    this fellow bohemian
    take it to the road

    a new breed of hobo—not poor
    looking for a piece of the American Pie served
    up  raw uncut without the cushion
    of middle-American security
    they helped this boho
    make it to California
    through the back door

    I stuck out my thumb
    whoosh! one car goes by
    whoosh! there goes another

  • On the Road to Satori – los Blues


    Abandoned Underpass by ModalMechanica


    los 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 moustached
    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 café

    “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

%d bloggers like this: