On the Road to Satori – Alice Texas

the hitchhiker by christiano bill

the hitchhiker by christiano bill

Each one of these stories is like a small window—a motion picture into observations made during a period of travel during the early 1970’s. I hitchhiked the roads of America and spent the years that followed in reflection. These poems are what grew from that soil.

They are to be enjoyed, read as rhythmic rolling narrative. They need no explanation except that, with a few exceptions, they tell a story that follows—one title to the next.

Pablo Cuzco


Alice Texas

in the wee hours
of a pitch black Texas night
in Alice bound for Nuevo Laredo

the road deserted
not even a gun-rack pistol-packing
Texas Truck in sight

no drivers dusted
from too many hours
entertaining the yellow line
looking for a rider to take the wheel

the rattlesnakes chattered
the coyotes yip-yip-yip-aye-ayed
into the pitch-black prelude
to the dawn

a thousand miles from nowhere
with nowhere left to go
a lost and lonesome
highway vagabond

the rumble down ten-wheeler
that eventually picked me up
was headed for Freer

blaring rhythm and blues
on the AM band cracking
and squawking like a CB radio

left little room for conversation
yelling over the noise
grinding gears and rattling truck parts

“Leroy Simmons—glad to meet you
Headin’ far?” Nuevo Laredo
“I can take you part of the way”

the Sonoran Desert
a desolate stretch of highway
Mexico—twenty-five miles to the south

Originally published on November 12, 2014


On the Road to Satori – The Baby Blue Peugeot


peugeot 404 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

On the Road to Satori – Tucumcari

it’s a lovely day tomorrow by BWS




just outside Tucumcari
at a gas station
bar and grill

the attendant
in Levi jacket and jeans
pulls a lid from behind the counter
says twenty bucks

reminds me of workers
I met in New York
who were from Chile
wore cowboy boots
and red bandannas
and spoke so colloquial
they could barely understand
when I spoke Nuyorican

I listen to the jukebox
soft guitars and fiddles
old 30’s western sound of
hobos travelin’ singin’
songs in Spanish!
“Is this what you guys
listen to out here?”
the guy says “Yeah

he doesn’t get it
this stuff is not
on the radio
back East
this stuff
is precious

as I write I realize
I never got to hear
that music again

On the Road to Satori – State Trooper Blues


State Trooper Blues


we see the trooper’s 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 – Tempe





Tempe was not the haven I expected
a roadside rest park just off the bridge from Mesa
substituted for the hobo jungle of my hitchhiking dreams

campers and tents strewn around
smoke rising from campfires and alcohol stoves
people waking up early every morning
after staying up all night drinking
spinning yarns

Buckhorn Bob taught me
how to make cowboy coffee:
“You sprinkle some grounds in the pot
bring the water to boil let the grounds
settle and pour it off the top—ya got your
cowboy coffee” he instructed me

I hungrily accepted his kind offer of a cup
as by now I was pretty much broke
hungry; no direction

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

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