Looking down

The road is not a metaphor
and I am no example.
I do not ride to learn or be anything,
or to meet anyone’s approval or goal,
not even—most especially—my own.

I ride for the rhythm,
the flow, the doing,
the hours-on heat glide of it:
the pedal stroke of a boy
who never lost sight of
doing just that, riding away…
not sweating it,
riding away,
looking down.

The start of this poem was inspired by the opening sentence of It All Becomes Us by Bill Strickland in the August 2013 issue of Bicycling magazine: “The road is not an allegory.”

Every amateur cyclist loves to cycle; it’s too painful a process to repeat to the level where you are comfortable with it, if you don’t love it. But what is there to love?

Thank you for reading Looking down. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.


Filed under Poetry

4 responses to “Looking down

  1. Oh this one took me back to my teens when a couple of friends and I loved nothing better than to ride our bikes for mile and miles just for the pure joy of feeling the wind at our back (ha, sometimes riding into the wind). We had no particular destination and sometimes rode to the beach, sometimes inland, wherever the mood took us. Of course, the roads were much safer then.

    • So glad that you liked it! That ‘pure joy’, yes it is something. For some odd reason I do not write poetry about cycling, which is odd; riding is such a part of my life…I am not sure what I would do, or how I would get on, without it. So sorry to hear that you cannot do more of it now!

  2. John, this is a beauty my friend, I read it to my daughter (eleven – almost) and she said that hearing that poem makes her want to write! You have a gift of sending out little thought provoking messages, and I am sure I will be meditating on this one well into tomorrow! Kim.

    • Kim,

      Ted Kooser, the US Poet Laureate, wrote that there is no finer compliment that can be paid to a poet than that a poem changed the way someone looks at the world. In fact, he even states that this is one of the definitions of what poetry is. Thank your daughter for me and tell her that I am humbled that any words of mine can inspire her. I hope she writes a great deal of poetry in the years ahead and that she gets from, and gives with, great joy in it. In fact, I would love to see her first poems.