Monday, April 27, 2009

Tweed Run

From the London Fixed gear/single speed forum comes this.
I think Portland is definitely ready for one of these.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Cycle of their Lives

by Eamon Grennan

All day, now that summer's come, the children
Drift by my window on their bicycles. houur
After aimless hour a small bright school of them
Circles the block, nonchalant as exotic fish
That barely ruffle the avocado depths
Of a home aquarium. For the most part
Their pace is regular - pedalling the rise,
Cresting the turn, then floating dreamy-eyed
Back down. Without warning, one will break
The circle, flash off on his own, on her own,
The way they'll leave at last the homes
They'll home to. If they see me staring
Out at them from behind the glass
They wave in passing - one hand jerky in air,
Eyes colliding with mine an instant - then
Steadying a slight wobble they resume their
Instinct's occupation, drawing order from
The tangle of their lives. Morning to night
They're at it, while the gold-spoked sun
Rides the blue rim of the sky, and light sifts
Through the hushed underwater web
Of leaves, altering the air they swim in
- Silvergreen, oriole, buttercup, verdigris-yellow
Come mealtimes, their dreaming spell
Is snapped by the cries of mothers: names
Ring round the neighbourhood like bells, bringing
Each one headlong home. Indoors they fret over
Vegetables, their propped bikes glittering
Against steps and porches, the road
A pool of light and silence. The spangled
Green crosshatch of leaves hangs still. Soon
They are back in their scented kingdom, lords
Of all its lit dimensions, circling perpetually
The square. Given our condition, they fashion
A provisional perfect freedom, beautifully doing
Nothing, unravelling and ravelling themselves
In time, being only motion alone, savoring
The sweet empty presence of themselves
In sunlight. My own son is among them
Until lingering grey traces of air and muffled light
Cling to his white t-shirt and he glows
Almost chromium or wild white rose. When I
Call him in at last, he glimmers away for one
More turn in watery dusklight, then freewheels
Slowly towards the garage dark, dismounts, lays
His bike aside. Grounded, he trudges through
Ankle-deep grass, talking in low tones
To his friends who know their own time is
Almost come and cycle on, flickering
The way I've seen seagulls flicker, who call out
To one another as they wheel round the infinite
High reaches of the evening sky.

From What Light There Is & Other Poems

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Church Going

Just a small cycling image in the first stanza, but a really beautiful poem.

by Philip Larkin

Once I am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
"Here endeth" much more loudly than I'd meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation - marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these - for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.