Word Count = 587 / Reading time = 2 minutes, 40 seconds
I wrote this long poem in the summer of 2007, when my daughter was 18 months old and the circumstances of my life briefly allowed me to ride my bicycle, in conjunction with the city bus, back and forth to my day job as a State Probation Officer 3 days per week. While the events described in this story are true, I’ve taken some liberties with the timeline. But don’t worry; poetic license permits such artful wrangling!
Explaining the road rash on my forearm while working the register at Barnes & Noble
If you have time, I’ll
buy you a grande latte.
We’ll sit at a table in the café.
I’ll start at the beginning,
6 weeks ago.
I thought how beneficial
to bike and ride the MTA to work
one or two or three days per week,
less money for gas,
less miles piled on my truck,
cubic tons of carbon dioxide I’d
not spew into our ailing atmosphere,
pedaling my failing body into
better shape each day.
But of course you
don’t have time, how silly of me to think…
Let’s just say I decided it was time
to make my mark. Absent a can of spray
paint, I graffitied my flesh
on a concrete wall.
And your total is $8.73. Thank you;
come back and see us again.
No, I didn’t fall off my Harley.
I was on my bicycle,
and managed not to fall at all.
But the 4-foot wall on my left,
stubborn concrete construct,
refused to budge
when I nudged it with my
third knuckle and knobbly wrist,
not even after a prolonged push
from my ulna and elbow. That
makes your total $27.26 unless
you’d like to join our discount club
to save ten per cent.
Hi, how’re you this evening?
No, it didn’t hurt at the time.
Shock, surprise, endorphins,
But washing it felt like exfoliating
raw flesh with 60-grit sandpaper,
and all day I’ve felt like some
cruel sadist has been stubbing
his cigar out on my arm. May I
see a picture i.d. please?
Would you like your receipt
for your purse or in the bag?
Yes, it’s quite painful, but I’ve
only myself to blame. Tried to
straighten my poncho while
made the coward’s choice,
hugged the cemetery wall on the left
instead of charging the speeding cars
in the oncoming lanes to the right,
I’m not invincible.
Yes, Jane Austen is one of the finest authors
in the Western Canon, and if you
become a member today, you’ll save $2.50 each
on your copies of Pride and Prejudice and
Sense and Sensibility.
Yes ma’am, it is as painful as it looks.
If you want the truth,
I was distracted,
unable safely to navigate the narrow
sidewalk bounded on one side by a
four foot cement wall and on the
other by a busy highway.
my wife of thirteen years
called me at work today.
Ha ha, no ma’am,
the call wasn’t unusual, but her
message and delivery were.
Sultry, barely above a breathy whisper,
she told me what she was wearing,
what she wasn’t.
Told me she
couldn’t stop thinking of me, had to
have me now, was turgid and
touching herself. She didn’t stop there,
though, and I had to remain seated
for five minutes after she hung up.
Honestly, I wasn’t good for much
after that phone call
except speeding home
as quickly and recklessly as I could ride.
Special thanks to the awesome and amazing Judy Dykstra Brown, blogging at lifelessons, who gave me some helpful tips to make my poem look more like it’s supposed to look on WordPress. Y’all do yourselves a favor and check out her space! If you’re interested in seeing what my poem should look like on paper, you can click Explaining the road rash on my forearm while working the register at Barnes & Noble.