After the Harleys Roared

After the Harleys Roared
Fred Kirchner

I pedal my ride into town,
passing toughs parked outside the bar,
chrome and leather clones,
each front wheel turned alike.

When did they take over Milford Center?
These rowdy cousins of my road bike,
fossil fuel junkies cruising
for their next dose.

I buy lunch at their gas station
and leave town before they do,
knowing they will catch me,
knowing I have no chance

to get away, that my 21 speeds
cannot outrun their 5, that my engine—
two spindly pistons fueled by
turkey & Swiss on wheat, a sweet banana—

cannot escape the blistering V-twin rockets
they straddle. Just past the cemetery
on Middleburg-Plain City Rd. I hear them
rumbling behind me. Will they hurt me

as they pass, perhaps burning me
when that woman flicks her butt
cuffed against the wind, or bouncing
a Miller Lite off my shoulder blades?

The flaming bandanas ripple, the black
jackets gleam, beards part in the wind.
Women hold men with their arms;
throbbing steel beasts with their legs.

It’s easy to label them: Southern rock fans,
skull tattoos, PBR-drinkin’ hellraisers.
But they could be fellow suburbanites
I’ve stood behind in grocery store lines.

They swerve around me and accelerate,
their wind and noise following them
like voracious rabble trailing an Army
marching on the enemy’s capital.

I fear their deafening wake
will draw the remaining air
holding that fragile barn upright,
the one with parenthetical walls

supporting a convex roof,
impossible shell waiting for
one more huff before crashing
down on its enclosed beams

piled in the remaining shelter
like weathered pick-up sticks
buried at the dark bottom
of a farm boy’s toy box.

about the author
Fred Kirchner is the Pedalin’ Poet’s (not so) mild-mannered secret identity. Fred works with teens at the Dayton Metro Library, but The Pedalin’ Poet rides to open mics, reads his biking poems, and believes if we made the most powerful men in the world leave town on a lengthy, unsupported cycling tour there would be no more war, hunger, or reality TV. The Pedalin’ Poet’s chapbook, Platform of an Unacknowledged World Legislator, won the 2005 Main Street Rag Chapbook Contest. His poetry has also appeared in two anthologies: The Art of Bicycling: A Treasury of Verse (Breakaway Books, 2005) and Cap City Poets: Columbus and Central Ohio’s Best Known, Read, and Requested Poets (Puddinghouse, 2008).