by Mark Levine

Mark Levine

When I see a man moving
on a bicycle, I wish to
be on a bicycle, myself.
But my machine, simplicity
itself, is ailing and cannot be
flagged down.

Bi-directional, you see, it
turns on one axis while entering
in the same turn a steep
reversing beyond.

Or strafing sideways, it catches
its rib in a furrow, bucking twice
then discharging its

When I see a man seated in correct
formation on an uninviting wedge atop
an irregular triangle
of coarsely sutured steel tube,
my sight moves with him
towards the dusky pollen-choked periphery
while my body, rider, stays put.

I do not stray from my stall, nor may I rest
among the bent and ill-shaped
brackets, riddles of transmission,
tapering time-worn steering apparatus.

For despite my efforts to constrain
the front-facing wheel’s vaguely
warped forward rotation
(more out of true than not)
my bicycle is removing
its man from sight.

I would have thought I would have been
a bicyclist among men,
climbing on in a leaping start
and heaving along sodden banks
into the shallow swift-flowing stream,
nearly perfectly weightless, fully
at liberty to get on with my
hesitating ride, even in the long years
I had no bicycle, even
when my legs and other elements
were most curbed.

And as I rode,
stupid infant pleasure returned me
to my body’s bicycle;
and I rode until pain made
my bicycle invisible.

Last updated February 19, 2023