Explaining the road rash on my forearm while working the register at Barnes & Noble

via Daily Prompt: Permit

Word Count = 587 / Reading time = 2 minutes, 40 seconds

SeventhCard 300

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,

 in fact,

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,

you know.

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?

Thank you!

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

steering one-handed,

lost control,

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,

remembered momentarily

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.

You see,

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.  

SeventhCard 301

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.

15 thoughts on “Explaining the road rash on my forearm while working the register at Barnes & Noble

  1. If you want your lines single-spaced, hit shift return at the end of each line. Otherwise, they will be double-spaced. I’ve gotten so I automatically do this in all my poetry files as I write them, otherwise it is necessary to reformat every time I post them. There is also a place on the formatting bar where you can indent single lines by increments. Look for it. If you can’t find it, write me and I’ll give more instructions. I can’t go to editing without losing this message.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It can be maddening if you are doing poetry. If my form is especially complicated, I put it on my desktop, take a screenshot, and put it as an image on my blog. Or you can take a photo of it and put it on your media file and publish as a jpeg. Lots of tricks.
        I’ll try to find examples for you to see.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, sure. When I was very young, I wanted to be: a cowboy; a fireman; a police officer; a bulldozer operator; an astronaut. For a while I thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher. Then I thought I wanted to be a college English professor. What about you?

        Liked by 1 person

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