Getting Started

Summer, 2004 / No. 12

Equal parts driven by ambition

and piledriven by alcohol,

the Drunken Cyclist

performs all his stunts—

from oblique to bleak—

smoking cigarettes.

“It’ll be O.K.,”

goes his mantra,

“if I get started.”

The Drunken Cyclist

goes like this:

Ten, twenty yards.

Slams the curb.

Takes a header. Swears.

Picks himself up.

Picks hisbike up.

Off balance—plainly,

visibly; succumbing to a far

stronger foe. Managing

gravity. Not managing gravity.

Briefly (barely satisfying

the Weightlifting Judges)

holds the bike over his head

like King Kong.

Throws it down. Disgusted. Swears.

Stumbles over to the pile of rubber,

paint-chipped steel,

chain and spokes, forgiving

this heap on the sidewalk—

close to tears now—

Picks hisbike up

(tough love)…

Slams it onto its wheels.

Drags it master-slave-like to the curb.

Again mounts up.


takes a flying leap worthy of

cable TV off the sidewalk

into traffic.

How many drivers

on a Saturday night

outside the Horseshoe Tavern

are behind the wheel

stone cold sober?

One every five minutes?

And yet they manage to swerve around him,

to not run over the mess—

the Drunken Cyclist plus bike,

splayed, smoking & cussing in the road.

Glorious city!

Picks hisbike up. Returns to safety,

the sidewalk—pickle-strewn

from the hot dog vendor

who sells refreshments

at shows like these on this corner.

The Drunken Cyclist rests.

Lights a cigarette. Sighs.

Unbeaten. Crumples into his bike.

The Drunken Cyclist pauses.

The Drunken Cyclist naps.

Good night, Drunken Cyclist.