The following is transcribed direct from tape; I recorded it while riding my bike to a janitorial night job – No hands!
3:45 AM 9/9/86
(singing) Oh … sirens in the tranquil mix … When will you come to fix the throb? Stuck between the stars and swing, lovely birds and everything .. Oh why did the air have to tear, why was the beauty wrent?
I wake into a Remington blue silver-night sky; full moon – with a purple velvet ring around. I mount my Voyager and ride into the triple dot (Orion). There is a flush of stars besides, though the weaker made obscure by the brightness of the moon. It is a night to read print. And I would on my bike if it weren’t for the chug holes. A night of wind and middle-warm and short sleeve shirt and black silhouette of tree throb. I’m riding down an old familiar alley with the tambourines (crickets) ablaze, though I do not think they are quite the tambourines they were a month or two ago. Oh, how I love the toss and tear of tree form by night. When the moon is pressed flat and firm behind the shaking mass, and I ride by and under fast, looking up …like a car speeding past a picket fence. I see the shimmering of grass skirts – leaping hay bails, I hear clacking rhythm of the train within my head, something kike a kddddd- shhh kdkdkkkkddd … shaking shimmer. I think of the two subways passing (Chicago) and the blinking flash of people that you see but don’t and ghost and strobe and gasp) passing under the moon-flowing under it, I find one lone leaf – etched clear and held crisp for a millisecond then swept into a shimmering blur, a shattering, a “pdd tchtch” rhythm of trains. Almost so that it becomes …. (Continues into incoherence.)
Tonight I ride my bike up the cliff of the world. It isn’t such a hard thing, though it did take some getting used to as a kid. I remember when I learned that our world is a ball; I thought of people sticking out from it like pins in a cushion. It was hard to grasp that we should not slide off the sides, sticking out and unsupported as we were. They told me that gravity created the sensation of a perpetual down, no matter where you were on the globe. Even so, I find it find it great fun to forget gravity for the time and consider my standing in relationship to space. So now I’m riding north. With a mental kick, I “lay” on my back and ride upward and straight. The idea works pretty well except for the things coming at me. I quite expect them to loose their grip and come smashing down on me.
Given the terror, I turn my bike. Now I ride on the side of the world. I remember some man at fair who rode a motorcycle on the inside walls of a high-walled bowl. I feel like that man, except that I have no centrifuge to pull me out and against the sides. One big pebble under the tire and I might lose my grip and slide side wards and off in to space. Turning south I ride straight down. I’m thankful for the wind in my face, good brakes, and a little friction. Even so, I worry that the back end of my bike might just flip over my head.
Now I ride upside down on the world. I know I can’t achieve full upsidedowness if I see North as the top; I would need to be riding my bike on the South Pole… but why should the thing we call North be considered the top. Is it some kind of European chauvinism that made us first think of North as the top of the world? Couldn’t all our maps and models make just as much sense if South were the top and the sun rose on the west? This is funny. How, even given space, we think top, bottom, and sides – right, left as if the thing were a box. And couldn’t we just as readily envision our planet rolling like a tire, and on a track like a Ferris wheel. Why not see our solar system as a rip saw, slicing space with a vertical cut.
Riding upside down is the most fun of all. I think of myself as a stunt pilot, skimming the world close and upside down. Last night I achieved the sensation for near ten minutes. When I flipped back to normal I felt like you do when to take off roller-skates and put on street shoes, the normal thing feels wrong.
Fun with bikes and imagination, part 2:
Another night of zoom and swoosh. Rapid race around like a bobsled over asphalt … Oh how I love these streets by night, steeling under stars and riding like a hawk through the valley of homes, bodies shelved and slow, while I go like a ghost between their lives. Forget the place by day. …
And I’ve gotten quite used to this riding upside down. In fact, I’m on the next step; I see myself this way while walking, or riding in the car. The car thing is a special rush. High speed lane change as I wave to other inverted folks.
Then there’s the flips. I start in normal (ground at the bottom) than roll to the left. The ground goes to wall, and then to ceiling and over to the other wall. I do a log roll, ever seated in my seat. And now, today …a new sensation. No longer will I ride my bike to work zooming past the trees and homes. Now the trees and homes zoom at me as I, like an arcade game, see myself as the fixed point in the cosmos. With muscles crunched and pushing hard -- I churn the world beneath my wheels.
Key to my poem life
Riding to the rhythm of the right brain takes:
an old clunky bike
a “C” in math,
and, a job cleaning urinals
So if you see some monk
spouting visions of
Don’t check the ardor of his prayer,
Check beneath his eyes