Friday, November 18, 2011

Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

I just don’t know
What gets into me

Most recently
I got it into my head
To buy a new bicycle

Maybe I was
Just trying to remember
Trying to recapture
A happier time
A time
Way back when
When I was a kid
And owning my own bike
Made me feel
Like I was the king
Of the world

I loved my old bike
And I lavished it
With loving care
Day in and
Day out

I loved the trips
To the bike shop
In Sheepshead Bay
I relished the smell
Of all that new rubber
The sight of all those
Shiny brand new bikes
Stacked on the racks
Waiting for some
Lucky kid to own them

For me
And for a lot of kids my age
The bike shop
Was our private and
Privileged domain
It was where
We spent
All of our saved up pennies
On bike accessories
Like new mirrors and
New reflectors and
Colorful handle bar streamers and
Flashing lights
And bells and whistles
And on lots of new chrome fenders
And on gizmos and gadgets
Of every size, shape and variety
All in the name of
Trying to make our bikes
A bit more
A bit more
Fancy and
A tad more beautiful

My bike
Was my very own pony
My very own
Painted palomino
My bike gave me
A sense of freedom
It made me feel grown up
It gave me control
Of my own destiny
I knew that I could go as far
And ride for as long
As my legs could carry me
Or until it got too dark to see

When I rode my bike
I could feel the wind
In my hair and
I loved to feel
The rain pellets
Stinging my face
I never felt
More alive
Or more energized
Than when I was
Riding my bike
At break neck speed
Down the bike trail
That followed
Ocean Parkway
From Prospect Park
Straight as the crow flies
All the way
To the Mecca of
The boardwalk at
Brighton Beach

Beep beep
Honk honk
Get out of my way
You miserable pedestrians
Make way you flock of pigeons
I defy your
Rain filled puddles
I defy your
Neat piles of freshly raked leaves
(Those piles weren’t nearly so neat
After I got through with them!)

Like an hombre
Like a cowboy
Like a dude
I would park my bike
Outside the knish store
On Coney Island Avenue
Under the shadows
Of the Brighton Beach El
Where the trolley cars once rolled
(Before GM put them out of business
In favor of smoke belching
Pollution spewing
Diesel fueled buses
All manufactured by GM
Of course)

I want to ride my new bike
(Or at least take it for a long walk
Now and again)
Because I need the exercise
And because
I want to have
My old friend and companion back
To listen to the click, click, click
Of the synchronized gears
To retrace the footsteps
Of my lost youth

I want to once again
Go strolling along
(Or, God willing)
Riding along
At a leisurely pace
Along paths of my own choosing
To be able to once again
Get lost in a world of
My own daydreams and of
My own musings
Oblivious to the pressures of time
Oblivious to the long list
Of tasks and projects
That I have yet to do

Call me foolish
Say that I am
Regressing back
To the days of my childhood
That there is no way to
Recapture the lost innocence
Of days gone by

You’ll get no argument from me
It may all be true

Just be careful
When next you go out
Of your house
To do your daily chores
Or to take your daily stroll
That bicycle bell
You hear
Ringing loudly behind you
So rudely urging you
To get out of the rider’s way
May just be
This foolish old man
On his shiny new bike
Tying to recapture
The best halcyon days
Of his preciously lived
Yet mostly
Misspent youth

Philadelphia, Pa. 2011

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