Traffic Stop

In the clumsy countryside
bicyclists fell at one of twenty four speeds.

Unaware of this I traveled cross-country
on my Trek manufactured in Waterloo, Wisconsin.

I got confused by the lack of street signs
and turned into a long silence.

This disorientation landed me in front
of a cafe where angels roosted on the roof.

One of them served me tea.
She spilled a few drops on the wing-swept floor.

Before I ordered eggs over easy
she reminded me when she flies high

all of us bicyclists look like insects
navigating asphalt ribbon.

She put her foot down for emphasis
and I decided not to think out loud.

The syrup amplified the hotcakes
to the point where I could not hear the bacon sizzle.

The angel followed me outside from the register
and jerked my handlebars up to a thirty degree angle

so I might clear the unexplained and inexplicable divide
filled with betrayals of love.

I pedal into the sky rising like a moth
thinking the sun is as close as a street lamp.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Pin Drop Bicycling

Pin-drop life spent among
transient sandhill cranes.

My legs struggle to keep up
on the migration north from Bosque del Apache.

This existence is beautiful
because I declare it so.

Not for the bird songs.
Not for the tourists viewing with binoculars.

So we cross the Platte
headed to marshes north of interstate ninety.

Minnesota’s ten thousand lakes.
Wisconsin’s Horicon.

Michigan’s upper peninsula.
And all over Canada.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

Broken Helmet

My blood left my body
without my leave.

Three powers acted against my good will:
my pumping heart

gravity’s pull on my unbalanced bicycle
and the gash in my broken nose.

Blood did not gush
but dripped dripped dripped like a leaky faucet.

My nose screamed endlessly.
My mouth did not cooperate to give my nose voice.

Exposed to the air
my blood became oxygen rich.

Exposed to the sun
while pooling on the ground

my blood separated
into plasma and cell platelets.

My blood clotted quicker on the ground
than on my broken nose.

The blood freed from the tyranny of my body
sang jubilee and liberation.

Its songs were so beautiful
I asked my blood to sing at my funeral.

The EMTs hearing my muttered request
assured me I was not going to die.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

On 14 May 2021 I had a bicycle mishap and broke my nose while the ground gashed my nose open. The first person to come toward me in aid, blanched upon seeing me and got others to help. I did not realize how much blood was on my face, arm and ground when I waved to get their attention. After 4 hours in the ER, I was sent home. Taking a Lyft ride home (during Covid) from the ER is surreal. Technically my nose is healed, but still tender where my glasses press on it. My broken bicycle helmet is replaced and I am bicycling again and past the jitters.

Pluck

A red-tailed hawk stood on a fence post
that separated a rural highway
from a cornfield.

Her head turned back and forth
as a hundred bicyclists
with numbers on their backs

blurred past not seeing
the statuesque bird
or the mice that searched for food

around the corn stalks.
One mouse dared to rush
to the sentinel post and back.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

In Absentia

There are so many white bicycles
adjacent to Albuquerque roads—
two-wheel descansos for the crumpled departed—
that I consider giving up
my favorite mode of transportation.

Regularly there are fresh flowers
posted in the spokes
or tied to the handlebars.
I never see anyone tending these memorials
as I glide by on my way from way down there
to way up there.

Is it family members or riding community members
who tend the memorials?

Is there a church of bicycling?

I often wonder, how much farther
did the riders have to go?

Often, I feel the need to complete their journeys.


copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

POSTSCRIPT

Descansos are roadside memorials. They are common in New Mexico to mark the scene of an auto accident that took the life of a love one. One that I pass by regularly in Albuquerque, has been tended for the twelve years I have lived here. The descansos for bicyclists are usually a bicycle frame painted white with flowers and special items attached to the frame. In my regular ten mile bicycle loop to Flying Star cafe, I pass two of them.