“The Bicycle Poem”

posted in: Poetry 0
Stereoptic card, 1900. Image: Wikipedia.
Stereoptic card, 1900. Image: Wikipedia.

I’m going to Iowa in the morning for just a couple of days. I’m not Jewish, but sitting shiva seems the only thing to do right now.

I ought to be in bed already, but I went to see the Moth Storyslam on the south side and instead of getting the ride I thought I was getting, I rode a Divvy bike all the way home. It took about 45 minutes and when I got home, I was wired and hungry. Now I am tired and full of ice cream.

So tonight, a poem about what it’s like to ride a bike on the lakefront path in Chicago. Oh, the hours and hours of my life I have spent doing this. There’s nothing like it. (If you’re in love, it’s even better, but tonight I’m living proof that you don’t have to be in love to enjoy it.)

This poem is very old. I still perform it. But it’s probably circa 2006. I don’t split my lines up like this anymore; I had a thing with slashes at the time.

See you in Winterset.

THE BICYCLE POEM

bicycles are universal/but they are made for girls/they fill the space

some rock the basket/some ring the bell/some race/some ditch the Schwinn for the 21 speed/gotta get there mama/playing the fuel/the engine and transmission on metal thoroughbreds wrapped ‘round with rubber/we learned this as kids but these days it’s better/coming up on your left side

I think/therefore/I ride.

and there is another dimension/where it is always July/and I am always 25/pedaling fast on the lakefront path/grass stains on my knees/handfuls of skirt at my waist/ribbons laced between my fingers and kissing potential lit up on my lips

this is how I would come to you/so many nights in summer/you would get me/panting/at your door/but you never saw what came before I rang your bell/that was mine darling/the stillness at high speeds/the breeze that blew through me/waves that licked the shores on my left/trees with leaves like so many fans formed a canopy/tanned skin and bleached bone moved my bicycle toward you/two hearts leapt when I arrived/but I fell in love on the journey/one rotation at a time.

girls/ride to lovers and pick your dimension
the night sky/the skyline/lampposts at attention
give of your mind/your heart and the like
but ladies/when you get there:

lock up the bike.

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