g r a v e l
A L I T E R A R Y J O U R N A L
We ride our bikes out of June, far away from May. Summer days stick in our
spokes: a ninety-five degree record of our travels and soundtrack to seasonal
heat. Even better than baseball cards. We pedal down the boulevard; hot
wind is neither reminder of hope nor remnants of sin. But our legs are
devout faith--grinding away, not having a choice but to put our lives in the
hands of humanity. Still, drivers never stop to look right. Two tons of metal
makes a man feel invincible. Though the most violent deaths are the result of
car crashes. The forecast called for record highs; our singed skin can’t deny
that. But we look so pretty. So glistening, red, searing. Yet weather didn’t
dictate how long we stayed outside as kids, how much effort we exerted in
the name of fun. Nor should it now. We understand these are not the streets
we grew up in. The streets that raised us. Where we rode in the back of our
grandfathers’ pickups and waved to strangers we passed (when seatbelt laws
were less stringent). New paint and bigger buildings have replaced quaint
visions. Some of the businesses with Grand Openings just last year have
disappeared. Mom and Pops that lined the street can’t compete with major
chains. Vacant windows call for help, but a man’s dream is not sufficient
enough to pay bills. Freshly-painted bike lanes promote intimate travel,
however where is the incentive to ride between the lines when nothing is
ever familiar? But we are die-hards, and will continue to ride even when our
September fades, and we are too tired to remember the sound of the ticking
of our youth.
Man gets life for stealing tube socks. - FOX News
I want to believe it was a quality striped pair
sporting character and flair,
rather than an all-black accessory
that conveys uniform necessity.
I’m hoping he swiped the socks
and sped through the mall,
tucked the bag under his arm like a football
he was determined not to fumble,
while he jutted and juked though the food court
until he tired and a team of police
tackled him to the ground,
rather than him simply stashing them in his waistband
and being caught on camera
by an overzealous store manager
looking to score a promotion.
I’m unsure what crimes he committed
those other two times,
or why he risked freedom for
a common, cotton product.
But who hasn’t done foolish things
for the chance to feel something soft, new,
and smooth so close to their skin?
There are times when we live our lives
according to our own laws,
when we give in to sin to see if
what we didn’t have is worth being
imprisoned in a personal jail
and only our conscience can make bail.
I picture the man sitting on the edge of his cell’s mattress.
Leg crossed over the other, foot dangling,
swaying from side-to-side like a
white socks glowing under prison garb
like shining informants
that will never tell.
Daniel Romo is the author of Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013) and When Kerosene's Involved (Black Coffee Press, 2013). His poetry can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, MiPOesias, Hobart, and elsewhere. He teaches English and creative writing, and accepts and rejects prose poems as the Poetry Editor for Cease, Cows. He lives in Long Beach, CA and at danielromo.net.