Sunday, January 8, 2017

Biking To The George Washington Bridge

by Alicia Ostriker

It sweeps away depression and today
you can’t tell the heaped pin-white
cherry blossoms abloom along
Riverside Drive from the clouds above
it is all kerfluffle, all moisture and light and so
into the wind I go
past Riverside Church and the Fairway
Market, past the water treatment plant
and in the dusky triangle below
a hulk of rusted railroad bed
a single hooded boy is shooting hoops

It’s ten minutes from here to the giant bridge
men’s engineering astride the sky heroic
an animal roar of motors on it
the little red lighthouse at its foot
big brother befriending little brother
in the famous children’s story
eight minutes back with the wind behind me
passing the boy there alone shooting
his hoops in the gloom

A neighborhood committee
must have said that space
should be used for something recreational
a mayor’s aide must have said okay
so they put up basketball and handball courts
and if it were a painting or a photo
you would call it American loneliness

This was the Poem-a-Day for January 2, 2017, hosted by
About the poem, the author said this:
“Biking to the bridge is one of my favorite activities since becoming a permanent New York City resident for the first time since I was eighteen. The bike path has the Hudson River on one side, traffic on the other, and I can do the ride in an hour door to door.  If the poem captures both the energy of the city and the sorrow and loneliness threading through it, I’ll be satisfied.”

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lament by Gregory Orr


by Gregory Orr

I thought of you
as I drove past
the girl kneeling
on the verge
by her upside-down

       I know
she was only
fixing the chain
but for one moment
I saw her playing
a round harp
(and I thought of you
as I drove past).

There on the highway's
edge where gusts
from passing cars
whipped the grass
like wind off the sea
and she was kneeling,
her arms moving
among the metal spokes
plucking from them
a music lost
in the louder
impersonal sound
of traffic (and I thought
of you
as I drove past).

The girl kneeling
on the verge,
adjusting the loop
of metal links
that would propel her
into the future,
but also playing
(and I thought of you
as I drove past)
a round harp
on a desolate coast.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Two by Grace Paley

Before reading this collection I was mostly unfamiliar with Grace Paley's poetry. There's a lot of hard-earned wisdom in her work. The bike is at the periphery in these two poems, as a fit metaphor in the first and a point of perspective in the second.

A woman invented fire

A woman invented fire and called it
                                        the wheel
Was it because the sun is round
              I saw the round sun bleeding to sky
And fire rolls across the field
              from forest to treetop
It leaps like a bike with a wild boy riding it

oh    she said
              see the orange wheel of heat
light that took me from the
             window of my mother's home
to home in the evening

Having Arrived by Bike at Battery Park

I thought I would
sit down at one of those park department tables
and write a poem honoring 
the occasion which is May 25th
Evelyn   my best friend's birthday
and Willy Langbauer's birthday

Day! I love you for your delicacy
in appearing after so many years 
as an afternoon in Battery Park right
on the curved water
where Manhattan was beached

At once arrows
straight as Broadway were driven
into the great Indian heart

Then we came from the east
seasick and safe the
white tormented people
grew fat in the 
blood of that wound

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Two by Billy Collins

January In Paris

Poems are never completed - they are
only abandoned
   - Paul Valéry

That winter I had nothing to do
but tend the kettle in my shuttered room
on the top floor of a pensione near a cemetery,

but I would sometimes descend the stairs,
unlock my bicycle, and pedal along the cold city streets
often turning from a wide boulevard
down a narrow side street
bearing the name of an obscure patriot.

I followed a few private rules,
never crossing a bridge without stopping
mid-point to lean my bike on the railing
and observe the flow of the river below
as I tried to better understand the French.

In my pale coat and my Basque cap
I pedaled past the windows of a patisserie
or sat up tall in the seat, arms folded,
and clicked downhill filling my nose with winter air.

I would see beggars and street cleaners
in their bright uniforms, and sometimes
I would see the poems of Valéry,
the ones he never finished but abandoned,
wandering the streets of the city half-clothed.

Most of them needed only a final line
or two, a little verbal flourish at the end,
but whenever I approached,
they would retreat from their ashcan fires
into the shadows - thin specters of incompletion.

forsaken for so many long decades
how could they ever trust another man with a pen?

I came across the one I wanted to tell you about
sitting with a glass of rosé at a café table -
beautiful, emaciated, unfinished,
cruelly abandoned with a flick of panache

by Monsieur Paul Valéry himself,
big fish in the school of Symbolism
and for as time president of the Committee of Arts and Letters
of the League of Nations if you please.

Never mind how I got her out of the café,
past the concierge and up the flight of stairs -
remember that Paris is the capital of public kissing.

And never mind the holding and the pressing.
It is enough to know that I moved my pen
in such a way as to bring her to completion,

a simple, final stanza, which ended,
as this poem will, with the image
of a gorgeous orphan lying on a rumpled bed,
her large eyes closed,
a painting of cows in a valley over her head,

and off to the side, me in a window seat
blowing smoke from a cigarette at dawn.

Billy Collins

from Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems
Isn't it best and right to explore every new lace by bike? And who hasn't dreamed of living for a time in the City of Light?

Cemetery Ride

My new copper-colored bicycle
is looking pretty fine under a blue sky
as I pedal along one of the sandy paths
in the Palm Cemetery here in Florida,

Wheeling past the headstones of the Lyons,
the Campbells, the Dunlaps, and the Davenports,
Arthur and Ethel, who outlived him by 11 years
I slow down even more to notice,

but not so much as to fall sideways on the ground.
And here's a guy named Happy Grant
next to his wife Jean in their endless bed.
Annie Sue Sims is right there and sounds

a lot more fun than Theodosia S. Hawley.
And good afternoon, Emily Polasek
and to you too, George and Jane Cooper,
facing each other in profile, two sides of a coin.

I wish I could take you all for a ride
in my wire basket on this glorious April day,
not a thing as simple as your name, Bill Smith,
even trickier than Clarence Augustus Coddington.

Then how about just you, Enid Parker?
Would you like to gather up your voluminous skirts
and ride side-saddle on the crossbar
and tell me what happened between 1863 and 1931?

I'll even let you ring the silver bell.
But if you're not ready, I can always ask
Mary Brennan to rise from her long sleep
beneath the swaying gray beards of Spanish moss

and ride with me along these halls of the dead
so I can listen to her strange laughter
as some crows flap overhead in the blue
and the spokes of my wheels catch the dazzling sun.

Billy Collins

from Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems

Again a cemetery. Billy Collins recently, like the poet Mary Oliver, relocated from the Northeast to Florida. It's good to know he also rides with a basket and a bell.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Own a Pegoretti!

Dario Pegoretti is widely acknowledged as one of the world's true master bicycle framebuilders. In a world where the "top" bike makers are increasingly turning to carbon, he continues to worship steel with the passion of an Italian lover. Watch this video to see what I mean.

I recently discovered the poster website postercabaret. Type in "bicycles" in the search bar and a bunch of cool posters come up, like this one by Will Bryant:

And this one by Diana Sudyka:

Most are limited editions. Some are sold out, like this one titled "Ghost Rider of the Paris-Roubaix, " also by Diana Sudyka.

At the top of the list is a poster by Dario Pegoretti.

I'd say $50 for a signed Dario Pegoretti is a bargain.

Thursday, March 17, 2011



Our last free summer we mooned about at odd hours
Pedalling slowly through country towns, stopping to eat
Chocolate and fruit, tracing our vagaries on the map.

At night we watched in the barn, to the lurch of melodeon music,
The crunching boots of countrymen -- huge and weightless
As their shadows -- twirling and leaping over the yellow concrete.

Sleeping too little or too much, we awoke at noon
And were received with womanly mockery into the kitchen,
Like calves poking our faces in with enormous hunger.

Daily we strapped our saddlebags and went to experience
A tolerance we shall never know again, confusing
For the last time, for example, the licit and the familiar.

Our instincts blurred with change; a strange wakefulness
Sapped our energies and dulled our slow-beating hearts
To the extremes of feeling; insensitive alike

To the unique succession of our youthful midnights,
When by a window ablaze softly with the virgin moon
Dry scones and jugs of milk awaited us in the dark,

Or to lasting horror: a wedding flight of ants
Spawning to its death, a mute perspiration
Glistening like drops of copper, agonized, in our path.

To hear and see Kinsella read some of his own poetry in that wonderful Irish voice, click here.