Thursday, October 14, 2021

Hitching into Frisco (#1976Club, #Poem)


Hitching into Frisco

Truck put me off on Fell.
I'll walk to Union Square.
And watch the homeless there
From jailhouse and hotel.

And liable to none.
I've heard the long freight trains,
The cars marked with home names.
Mom wouldn't know her son.

I was a gentle boy.
That dusty Texas town
Was good for settling down.
The girls were clean and coy.

Had everywhere to go,
And thumbed around the nation.
It's like improvisation
Inside a tune you know.

The highways in the bone
Phrase after phrase unwind.
For all I leave behind
There is a new song grown.

And everywhere to go.

Thom Gunn (1929-2004) was a British, then American poet, moving to the US when he was about 30, finally settling in San Franciso. Jack Straw's Castle was his volume of 1976. A few of the poems are set in New York City, but most in California. 'Hitching into Frisco' is one 'Three Songs' from that volume. 


  1. i hitch-hiked from SF to Cleveland once; the romance of the road is pretty much an illusion... it's dirty and dangerous... poem reminds me of Ken Kesey who i used to live around the corner from and some of his "friends", lol...

    1. Was he an Oregon neighbor?

      Our Texas wanderer's probably living pretty rough, too. That's got to be the Tenderloin he's walking through.

    2. no he lived on Perry Lane and we lived on Sandhill Road in Palo Alto... he lived next door to a bassoonist friend of mine... long days in the past... i'm noticing i reminisce more now than i used to...

    3. I was just thinking he was an Oregonian, and you're in Oregon, I think.

      Stories involving Ken Kesey & bassoonists are always welcome!

    4. Paul, the bassoonist, said sometimes he woke up at night hearing a strange clicking sound. investigating, he realized that K was writing on his typewriter in the middle of the night... shortly after "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" appeared...

    5. I suppose he must have been working on Sometimes A Great Notion then--I haven't read that one, but keep meaning to.

    6. My Mudpuddle has some interesting stories! You should post a memoir, lol!

      This poem reminded me of Kerouac but perhaps a sanitized version. Preferred it to Kerouac. Thanks, once again, for the poetry!!

    7. He does and he should!

      I'm not overly fond of Kerouac myself...

  2. I like the 'improvisation' simile: fits perfectly!

  3. I love the rhythm of the words in this one.

    1. Isn't it nice? It really does have a song feel.