Three of My poems, “Hitchiing Tales, Back of the Bus and Cross Country Travels ” are included in this excellent collection.



In Search of America 1975 – Hitchhiking Tales by Jake Cosmos Aller



April 30

In Search of America 1975 – Hitch hiking Tales

When I was young and foolish
Broke and stubborn
I hitchhiked across the USA

Started in Salt Lake City
Where my greyhound bus pass
Was stolen

The station manager
Could have helped me
But refused to do so

Threaten to call the cops
When I grabbed my bags
Without the stolen tags

I said
Go ahead
But I am
so out of here

Wondered about Salt Lake City
Went to a bar
Found I had to buy my booze
Next door

And they would
mix it for me

Had to order food too
After a bloody Mary
And a burger

I walked about town
Saw the Mormon Temple

Finally about 3 pm
It was time
to hit the road

Did not look back
Ended up in Cody Wyoming
Got a room shower
Steak beer
Using my rapidly
depleted cash

Spent 25 dollars
Money really went far
Back in those days

A band of professional
Communist agitators
Gave me a ride

To Des Moines
Lots of weed, booze
And politics later
Got off the road

Slept outside

Next day
A beautiful woman

Drove me to near Chicago
In a red mustang

Might have been
The girl in the song

Took it easy
Digging her vibe

She invited home
But was not sure

If her estranged husband
Would welcome me

So I being foolish
And inexperienced with women
Did not go to her place

And always regretted
That I had lost
My chance that day

Then on to Chicago
Several rides later
Visited friends

Hit the road again
A series of uneventful rides
With truckers
And others

And a week later
I ended in New York City

Slept along the way
In cars
In truck stops
In high way rest stops

Always moving
Always going

None stop talking
And lots of free weed

And beer
And conversation

One more memorable ride
Occurred outside Albany
On my return to Chicago

A middle age
creepy looking man
Picked me up

In a brand new Cadillac

He was
he said
a dynamite deliverer

For the Mafia
Went to various places
To blow up shit

He hated a lot of people
Particularly hippies
from California
And Jewish people

Looking at me to confirm
That I was both

I told him
that I lived in New York

And had never been
to California

And although
I might looked Jewish

As I had
what was called
back in the day

A “Jewfro”

I was not Jewish

Many years later I discovered
That I am indeed part Jewish

But then I did not know
And I felt a bit of
strategic misinformation
Might keep me alive

Then I realized
that he was just
jiving with me

And we relaxed
And he pulled
out some weed

And beer
And we mellowed out

But I believe
that he really
was with the mob

Perhaps not a dynamite dealer
A real made Italian
made mafia member

By Chicago
I had enough
I called my Dad

Told him what had happened

Wanted a ticket home
And he sent me a ticket

And 500 dollars
And I went home

I told him I would tell him
My tales some day

But never did

I learned so much
About my fellow Americans
And the strange vibe
That was 1975

And now it is too late
But I wanted to finally

Tell the world

Of my hitchhiking tales
In search of America 1975




In the summer of 2016   

We drove across the country   

Just the wife and me   


10,000 miles   

31 states   

Three months on the road   


I now know 

why people don’t live    

In South Dakota   


Hot, dry dusty   

Windy as hell   

Black Hills are nice   

But after seeing Mt. Rushmore   

There is not much left to do   


Rapid City did not impress me   

Nor did Sioux Falls   

Lost money in Deadwood


And wall drugs   

Well the free water was nice   

But it is a nothing town   

In a nothing state   

On the edge of the badlands   

And the Sioux reservation   

There is a reason the Indians live there   

No one else wanted the land   

And they are warehoused there   


So I drove through Rapid City   

And thought that it is the heart of Trump Land   

The land of the forgotten   


The left behind   

Just another nothing burger of a State   

In the middle of nowhere   

Truly flyover country     

Wagontire, Oregon    





April 6 Wagontire

In 1973, I went on a road trip
With my father
We left Berkeley to go to Yakima
Where my father had a summer cabin
He was a college professor
And had July and August off

And we spent the summers
Every summer from 1968 to 1978
Our whole dysfunctional family
Our annual road trip to hell and back
As we did not get along at all

We decided to drive through Eastern Oregon
Just my father and me
Just for the hell of it
The rest of the family was already there
My father and I shared a travel lust
One of the few things we shared

This was one of our best trips
We got along
Which was unusual

Normally our relationship
Was fraught
As we were so different
We left Klamath Falls
A real nothing burg in those days

And headed east along highway 395
As we entered the desert of eastern Oregon
We entered a different world
High mountain dessert
Almost no one on the road

Then we saw the sign   


Wagontire Oregon    

100 miles ahead   

99 miles ahead   

98 miles ahead   




We counted down the signs    


93   92   





86   85   




81   80   





75   74   






Miles after miles   


69   68   67   

66   65   





60   59   





53   52   





47   46   




42   41   





36   35   






As we drove into the gathering dusk   

We speculated that Wagontire   

Must be a giant truck stop   

In the middle of no where   











21   20   




16   15   








Gas up ahead   

Next gas 150 miles ahead   


Dad made an executive decision   

We are spending the night   

It was about 8 pm   

We had been on the road    

Since 9 am that morning   







Welcome to Wagontire   

Population 2 ½ humans   


20 thousand sheep   


We pulled into the town  Nothing there but a gas station   

Motel and cafe   


In the morning   

We chatted with the owner   

Joe Wilson who was my father’s age   


My father had the natural ability   

Of a politician to talk to almost anyone He was the sheriff, the fire chief   

The owner of the motel, gas station The only business in town and the owner of a ranch as well Which was his real business he said   


In  any event it was only place open  for over 100 miles   I asked the Sherriff Say who is the ½ human?   

My idiot son!   


 and we left.   


200 miles later    

We finally left Eastern Oregon   




In 2016 my wife and I drove through Eastern Oregon   

As part of our epic cross country trip   

10,000 miles   

31 states in three months   

On the way from Medford to Yellowstone   

We drove along highway 395    


The signs 

for Wagon Tire was gone   

And we drove through the town   


The motel was abandoned   

Nothing there at all   

And that sign was gone too    


The town had turned 

 into one of Oregon’s ghost towns 

and Oregon has more ghost towns

 than any other state in the country   

mostly in Eastern Oregon desert 

which has one of the lowest 

population densities 

 in the entire world  

1 person per square mile   

I said I suppose the idiot son   

Never took over the business   


And we speculated about Wagon Tire   

And all other nothing burgs    

We drove through that summer   


Heart of Trump’s America    

True fly over country   

Back of the Bus

Many years ago

When I was a foolish young man

I took a greyhound bus trip

Just to see the country

I was trapped 

In the back of the bus

Where the young 

And restless souls

Gathered together

And drank illegally

And smoked weed 

Also illegally

We stayed there 

Until Winnemucca

Where I got off 

And found my bus pass

Had found another owner

And I went to Salt Lake City

Still trapped in the back of the bus

the Bus – Travels Through America’s Underbelly 

I am a bus rider

That makes me unusual

For a white male

From an upper middle class family

Our people are not bus riders

Though some are subway riders

Bus riders are other people

The poor, minorities, immigrants

People who don’t drive

Because they are blind

Or have a DUI

And in my case

I don’t drive

Because I have bad vision

And bad coordination

Just never got the hang

Of the whole driving thing

Fortunately for me

My wife does the driving

But I still take the bus

From time to time

I rode the AC buses in Berkeley

As a child

Line 67, line 51, line 43 F bus

Rode them long before BART came along

And afterwards as well

As an adult seldom rode the bus

But when I did so

I was always impressed

By the sheer diversity

Of the bus riding property

Hundreds of languages

All sorts of sexual orientation

Some were white

Most were not 

Most of my fellow passengers

Were nice enough

Some were friendly

And some were lost

In their own thoughts

And a few

Were scary looking dudes

With the look

Of someone who had done time

And were capable of more violence

I also rode the bus

In Seattle as a graduate student

A lot of fellow UW students

And the usual immigrants

Minorities etc

And some white people commuting

And in DC

Over the years

I rode a lot of buses

Mostly to and from the metro

But I got to know

And love the DC buses as well

I also took the greyhound bus 

Across the country
Several times over the years 

All over the U.S. 

From Bay Area to Stockton

From Bay Area to Clear Lake

From Bay area to NYC


All over the USA

Taking the Greyhound

Was always an a adventure

Met a lot of interesting people

As people on long distant bus rides

Tend to open up and talk

To pass the time away

Overseas I took the bus

All over

In India, in Barbados

In Spain and in Korea

The Korean buses

For many years

Were difficult for foreign visitors

As the signs were all in Korean

Most have signs

Now in English, Chinese and Korean

And are much more foreigner friendly

Riding the bus

In America

Allows one access

To the underbelly of American society

The poor, the marginalized

The immigrant communities

That many middle-class 

white people

 Just never see 

And for that reason

I am glad

That I am a bus rider

Cross Country Road Trips  Part One 

I have driven across the country

Five times in my life

Most recently in the summer of 2016

My wife and I drove an epic 10,000 mile road trip

31 states in three months

To celebrate my retirement from the State Department 

We started in DC Drove to Florida, 

stopped in Virginia, and Georgia 

Staying at military bases Along the way

Finding food always a problem

As outside of the metro areas

Few people really knew 

How to serve gluten free food

And most of the food we ate

Was pretty ghastly indeed

Was pretty ghastly indeed 

Finally hitting Tampa 

Where we became a resident

And stayed a week

Checking it out

As a potential retirement destination

Finally it was time to move on

We drove through Florida

Seeing some real poor rural towns

In the outback of Florida

We saw a lot of rural poverty

Throughout our trip

As much of the country

We found resembled 

We found resembled 

A third world backwater

Shocking to see 

How far the country

Has declined 

Outside the big metro areas

We stayed in Tallahassee one night

Not that impressed

Then Birmingham, Alabama

Also not that impressed

Ended up in Hot Springs Arkansas 

Two nights 

Lost money gambling of course

Lost money gambling of course 

Then on to Little Rock 

And saw the Clinton Museum

Little Rock was a nice town 

But not a place for us 

And on we went

Arkansas, Mississippi

Missouri flew by

What we could see

From the freeway

Was nothing but rural poverty

Oklahoma welcomed us

With hundreds of Indian casinos

With Hundreds of Indian casinos 

But we drove on 

And stayed outside of Oklahoma city

Had some decent BBQ

Next day

Drove all day

Through Texas

Thinking of the country classic

Dear god drove 800 miles

Still stuck in Texas

And ended up 

In Armadillo Texas

Had great texmex there

Drove by the grand canyon

Of Texas but did not stop

But did not stop

And on to New Mexico

Where we enjoyed two nights

Checking out the sights

Made famous in Breaking Bad

Gambling of course

And eating at the oldest 

Restaurant in America

Tried New Mexican wine

Not for the faint of heart

Then on to Arizona

Stopped of in Winslow 

To take a picture

Of the guitar player

Of the guitar player 

And the red mustang 

Where the song take it easy

Plays all day long

24/7 tribute

Finally we went to Las Vegas

Stayed a few days

Visiting friends

Gambling a lot

Deciding that Las Vegas 

Also would not be

Our retirement destination

We then drove 

To Reno 

Spend the night

Lost more money

Not too impressed

Drove Through the Nevada desert

Drove through the Nevada desert

Right by area 51

Stopped by the area 51 alien brothel

Looked at all tourist alien things

Did not buy anything though

Saw by the edge of the road

Area 51 fencing and armed patrols 


Hiding whatever they are hiding 

Spend the night in Tonopah

Lost money

Snowing in the morning

The next day

The next day

We decided to drive

All the way to Medford Oregon

350 miles

Through some beautiful mountains

Worth a future trip to Lassen volcano

Then past Mt. Shasta

And on to Medford along I-5

We felt we were going home

And perhaps Medford 

Would be our final home

But we had to go back in two months

But that is another epic poem

Yet to be written

On the Road

Volumes 1& 2

With over 250 contributions, from 121 poets in 28 countries, and over two volumes, ON THE ROAD is probably one of the largest international anthologies of travel poetry every published! For further details go to OUR COLLECTIONS in the website’s menu, and click on the links. If you have contributed to this collection, you can download a free pdf copy by going to AUTHOR’S COPIES in the menu, using the password AuthorCopies

Our NEXT theme is: A NEW WORLD: Rethinking our lives post pandemic. You can write about anything and everything to do with living and life after the pandemic, real or imagined! Go to CONTRIBUTE at the website for full details, submission guidelines, deadline etc. Please also share this with your fellow poets, and give them an opportunity to have their words published too.

Further themes for 2020/21 will be announced shortly, but will include: Space, Bereavement & Loss and Addiction.

We would now like to add more interviews to the website. Recent interviews include…

  • An interview with Bahrain-based Bengali writer, journalist and poet Vaijayantee Bhattacharya.
  • Tales of the Exiles in One’s Own Nation: An Interview with Kashmir born novelist, storyteller, poet and filmmaker Siddhartha Gigoo.
  • A comprehensive interview with American poet Linda Imbler.
  • An interview with S’busiso Manqa, a South African born poet, author and film-maker.

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