Installment 38 spans two different eras of the American road.
EUGENE TO BERKELEY
I can’t even remember his name,
that self-proclaimed guru, shit-talking man.
Me, being all infected with a bad case
of chronic, wild-hare-up-my-ass,
a hankering, a yearnin’, a yen,
thought hiking down to Mexico on the back of a thumb
sounded, really, like a whole bunch of fun.
We got from Eugene to Berkeley alright.
And I knew people, so we stopped for a night.
But plans could change on a dime back then,
and for less than a dime I was given a gift
free love, free drugs, you know the riff.
Blotter acid, as pure as it comes,
and, if there was any doubt
Mr. Natural was truckin’ across
each and every square.
That stamp proved it,
that kind of purity was rare.
We decided not to go forward
but headed on back to from where we had come.
We each popped a tab
and let it melt on our tongues
as we climbed into the back of a VW bug
speeding up highway number one.
Around Marin County the shit kicked in.
I was so high I couldn’t say a word,
and at that moment,
talking would have been absurd.
I might have howled,
if I had been able to open my mouth.
I was loping over the hills running
from north to south,
a wolf in sheep’s clothing
I guess you could say,
but the inability to talk was
seriously getting in the way
when the driver kept saying, “Hey,
you guys back there.”
notified me, telepathically,
that things would
be okay. Don’t panic.
So, I didn’t and after a while
I could speak. The driver proclaimed
that she was in the same state
of being so high she was starting
to wonder if she was sane.
We laughed, and laughter became color dripping,
running over my brain
and bleeding down around my heart.
Other words, too, like love
seemed to melt and saturate the hills
of golden wheat, rolling by,
flashing light, photons dancing, like technicolor
dreams appearing all along the road
through the wine country
where we didn’t stop for a drink.
But when we got to the Redwoods
we decided to get out
and stay for the night under
the giant trees like umbrellas
between us and the stars.
I can’t remember his name
but I remember the night.
The tenderness of the moon’s
light in the forest and how
we ran wild and free and swam
in the cold, rushing stream
emerging wet and naked,
shaking with wonder. We grew
leaves and our fingers were twigs,
we entwined our tendrils and clawed
at the dirt as we became no more
than an integral part of the earth.
I never knew a man and a woman
could feel exactly the same way
at the same time, screaming like animals
where no one could hear.
I still can’t remember his name,
but that was a good trip and I ended up
back in Eugene, though I wasn’t the same.
And that shit-talking, self-proclaimed
guru man, who I can still see today,
though I can’t, for the life of me
remember his name, just kept
right on going, rolling with
the northerly wind.
On a wing and a prayer; or on a bench on my derriere
everyday I’m winging it, the hucksters are out slinging it
and I’m singing Auld Lang Syne knowing that
shit rolls downhill and covers the low-flyers
Second Chance Rentals is the website du jour
painted large on the bus’s flank with colors that blur
as it slides into the stop and swooshes open the door
for all the rank and file and pensioner’s second class
Hierarchies arrange themselves ordinally
like stairs up to heaven, but even ordinary people
can see those things that aren’t there
like fairness or compassion or opportunity
woe is me.
My eldest child dubbed me Mary the Martyr
I had a ‘persecution complex’ my father complained
he thought it clever to use the buzz words of his day
so, thank you, Dr. Freud for your insight in
I’m not all that different or extraordinary or unique
just one of the herd, with a heightened sensitivity
to these subtle humilities, the ground floor realities
of noxious petroleum exhaust fumes swirling
This is my universe, my bus, my darkened street,
my vision, my words, my holiday, my thoughts
but not my choice: this plutocracy,
not my war: on drugs, on crime, on poverty, on refugees
not my tax dollar: scurrilous schisms and hatred and blame
the top rung gets no contribution for these things
That’s the lie I must tell myself for the privilege
of living in the land of the free. I know that
the Bank of America speculates with my money
without asking, without disclosing a damn thing