The Book(s)

Two books that changed everything for me — “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac,

and “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe.

I was a disenchanted-college-student-rock-musician and had just been awakened by the ’67 Summer of Love, when I came upon both of these books in the Spring of 1968 in a bookstore in Clifton, Ohio, just down from the Ludlow Garage, where my band, Stone Fox, had just opened for the Allman Brothers and Santana.

These books fueled my frustration with “the system”, sparked my wanderlust, and eventually found me and my three best friends, astride internal combustion iron horses, young men heading west — and thus began the rest of my life.

What these books represented was not a map for the rest of my life, I’m well beyond that angst. Rather, they’re important to me because they were the catalyst that first ignited my genuine independent thought, and empowered me to act on that thinking.

Following here is a poem I wrote which reflects, quite well, where my head was during that period. You can also click on the highlighted passage young men heading west in the previous paragraph to read a poem I wrote about the motorcycle journey.


Bohemian Nightfall


when night fell on bohemia
the streets were set ablaze
in black light
in strobe light

it was tie-dyed psychedelia
when night fell on bohemia

jack and neal were on the road
ridin’ with the fire-whores
of angst and indignation
like combustin’ carnal fireballs
when night fell on bohemia

allen was howlin’
pal’n with corso
and long’n for peter

hunter, groin deep
in the brain-drug flesh festival
…hunter was fearful
and loathing it all
when night fell on bohemia

bill, stark naked
was lunchin’ with the devil
jelly-rollin’ in a hell fire
when night fell on bohemia

gary headed for cold mountain
to watch it all from sourdough
electric bob went subterranean

me – stung by disenchantment
the swollen outlaw bastard
coming fast
hard as holy hell
cresting and crashing in
just as night fell on Bohemia

I was on my way
howling mad
and mind-expanded
in a rolling demon’s fire,
lighting the night
dancing with beelzebub
raving and blazing
lusting and longing to gorge
every forbidden morsel and crumb –

the smorgasborgadelic mindfeast

when night fell on bohemia
ken and tim
gathered up the faithful
on the magic bus
and stole off with the future

like pranksters

ever further

• • •
rob kistner © 2008

…this post was inspired by sunday scribblings

15 thoughts on “The Book(s)”

  1. Hi Lilibeth –

    After I read your comment here I went back and added the 3rd paragraph above.

    Thank you for the inquiry, and for visiting Image & Verse.

    …rob 😉

  2. Rob:

    “Life can only be understood by looking backwards” Kierkegaard-
    Looking backwards your poem is quite interesting to see the transformation in your journey through your poetry.
    We travel so swiftly through life– knowing only what we know at the time and never more, we forge ahead with all the energy and power of our youthfulness to be softened by life’s lesson’s forged in our youthful folly.

    enjoyed reading about your journey

  3. Rob,

    I have been away from Sunday Scribblings for some time. You always amaze with your beautiful verse. I was born in 1969 and always wished that I could have experienced this era. Both of these books a a must read for anyone who loves books.

  4. Sadly I missed out on the summer of love and all that having settled down to married life 10 years earlier. That is not to say I didn’t lust after it!

    Now sadly it seems to be an age which promised a new freedom only to be denied by greed, corruption, war and big business.

    Great thought provoking post.

  5. I loved this — excellent food for thought about the directions society moves. Love the repetition of “night fell on Bohemia.” Sad, heart-tugging. Where did all the flowers go, where did the idealism go? Also fantastic word “smorgasborgadelic.” 🙂 You have a wonderful gift for words.

  6. I loved this walk through bohemia! I think we should all allow our minds to feast in this way at some point in our lives.
    Rob, you have such magic when I comes to words. Lovely!

  7. Beautiful words..and great book choices (I know it’s not strictly words related but I also loved the illustrations on the book jackets. They seemed to match..) Thanks for your visit..Jae

  8. Love the last bit about pranksters. It seems to me a lot of what we were spouting back then was more trickster than prankster. Coyote stole in and wove self in among all of the altruism and that my friend was out downfall. Loved this though some of your descriptions here seem like they would fit well with the motorcycles. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment at Thoughts Have Wings.

  9. Rob,
    I really felt the pulse of your anger and confusion in that poem. Beautifully written.

    Are you still in Ohio? I’ve been reading your blog for so long and now I just moved here!


  10. Like you read the first, not the second, in fact I still have a copy of “On the Road” on my bookshelf. I enjoyed your poem and I can only imagine what it was like to share the same stage as those two great bands.

  11. A musicians life in the 60’s opening for Santana; how happening! Your search began on that dream bus. We touch base with our past to remember the circle tour begins where we left off. Ideally we are where we want to be, it’s all in the dura mater. Your poem sounds like the 60’s ideals were too far out! Trade ya!

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