Tag Archives: cycling

On a skidding bike

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This is it: front wheel locked,
rear one rolling, 
tail whipping out from behind.
Grip frozen, 
heart pounding—the noise,
the road rash, the 
bleeding and the scaring
all but certain now.

And there she hangs, neither up nor down
but placid, serene even, as the memories
pull pace and flicker by:
nobody believed her, nobody stopped him,
nobody came, nobody does, nobody will.

So, why not? she thinks, looking down.
It’s an embrace of a sort and she’s certain
she’s due, and it means, at least,
landing somewhere and having something to cling to.
Sometimes any kiss is worth the price,
if you don’t have to hold yourself upright
to receive it.

After that, don’t ask me how it went,
I don’t know, I wasn’t there.

up

Anyone who has ridden a bike in a group setting knows the danger of a sudden fall. For those who have come close (guilty) or actually fallen (ditto), we know that there is a point, just before it happens, when it can go either way. It is a moment of total clarity, where everything freezes and you think, “Will I, or won’t I?” It’s like a full life in a moment.

Thank you for reading On a skidding bike. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken during a day walk in Boston, Massachusetts. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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Cycling

choiceBy the time we hit the first hills
my hands were so cold I could feel
each tendon pull and hold. Come on,
I thought, you’ve too much meat on
the pedals to let them break you now!

Later, riding along the edge of
the valley in the golden light
of the setting sun—the barns red
on the green below, the horses dark
and lithe behind their white fences—
I felt the blood running down my back
and dripping from the saddle. Looking
down at the chain, it was not, I mused,
the lubricant I personally would have
chosen, but there was a certain delicate
voice to it, there was no denying that.

up

Thank you for reading Cycling, and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken in the Berkshires in upper New York state—an area otherwise known as the Poconos in Pennsylvania. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.

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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,
left/right,
left/right,
on,
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.

john

© 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.

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Filed under Poetry