Velocipede

[Being an excerpt from the poetry collection Not Quite the Man for the Job, on sale at Tomely for only 99c until 23 June 2014]

Some say it’s unnecessary,
even extravagant.
But to properly experience
every nuance of bike riding,
you need all fifteen gears.

First Gear
(Hill-eater)

Along the Merri Creek
there’s a hill I swear
was created
with first gear in mind.
Only those strong of thigh
and heart
can make it to the top
without dismounting.

Second Gear

almost nothing
a feather on the pedals

Third Gear

I watch the cross-light
shift from amber to red.
My leg muscles tense.
I shift my grip,
release the brakes
and go.

Fourth Gear
(Wind-fighter)

Ten knots if it’s a breeze,
it bites my ears and pulls my hair.
I squint through watery eyes,
ignore the cold and pedal on.

Fifth Gear

a slight drop
for slowing as you
move through the
roundabout

Sixth Gear
(cruising speed)

dodging potholes
and car doors
gone before their
apologies reach my ears

Seventh Gear

Regular oiling of the chain
will allow a smoother, quieter ride,
while ensuring that its fit
to the cogs is as close as possible.

Eighth Gear

Friday morning after bin night,
the sloppy garbage-men
have turned the footpath
into a slalom course.

Ninth Gear

Angle of ascent equals thirty-eight degrees.
Gravitational force equals nine point eight
metres per second per second.
Given that force equals mass by acceleration,
calculate the maximum velocity possible
for a rider weighing seventy-five kilograms.

Tenth Gear

Split the puddle
Neatly in half
Then curse the
Lack of mudguards

Eleventh Gear
(tram racing)

I play chasey with the number 86
all the way along High Street.
It passes me then I pass it
as passengers blankly stare
out of dusty windows.

Twelfth Gear

the only sounds are
my breath and the wind

Thirteenth Gear

The wind behind me
A downward slope
Thirteenth gear
All my weight
On the pedals

How close to escape velocity?

Fourteenth Gear
(seven-league boots)

I straighten my leg and travel five blocks.
Once more and another five.
Ten times my legs have bent and unbent
and I’m on the other side of town.

Fifteenth Gear

Sometimes it’s fun
to choose the path
of most resistance.

***

Some say it’s unnecessary,
Even extravagant,
But every click,
Every tick,
Every ker-chunk of the derailer
means something.

In the art of bike riding,
nothing is wasted.

Read more poems from Not Quite the Man for the Job – buy it now on Tomely for the mere price of 99c!

 

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About

Poet. Author. Beard. Husband. Dad. Four chickens. Dog. Cat. I can sometimes fix my lawnmower.

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2 comments on “Velocipede
  1. Really enjoyed this. Love the title too.

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About Adam

I'm the author of the poetry collections The Third Fruit is a Bird and Not Quite the Man for the Job, the novel Man Bites Dog and the short story collection Heroes and Civilians.
contact: adamatsya@gmail.com
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