Image by Manolo Franco from Pixabay

The Names of Ghost Bikers

There we are, we rise from asphalt roads,
and cars rush away, leaving us for dead.

And we are the dead, sprawled on the shoulder,
our necks snapped like the seat posts of our bikes.

Our gear is scattered—a tent flutters above the fields
of Kansas, a butane stove glows in the Great Basin,

a taillight blinks over the summit of Tioga Pass,
a bicycle map drops like a hawk from Big Sur.

Still, suddenly light, we rise, the mangled frames
of ghost bikes wobbling along the heaven of roads.

Marantha, Rāfe, ‘Anders—we ghost bikers—come
at you in your mirrors to ride with you face to face.

First Sighting

I confess to lifting Alexa from her stroller,
throwing her up, and catching her as gravity
delivered her back. But what I remember is she
must have gained something during her time
aloft, and what matters is she was pointing
to nothing up there, mouthing Ghost moon.

She likely remembers little of that, much less of me,
for having passed from the language of the living—
words diminish, what love could have mattered
means less than the specter in a faded photograph.
What matters is I passed from language into—
some nights a knock. A shuffle. Of course, a moan.

I confess I’ll ride my bike humming out of the fog.
I’ll remember Alexa is now grown, she is at
a window, seeing through the fog only as far
as Boy ‘Anders crossing the road. She’ll wonder
why in the world does he stop on the shoulder
and wave as if someone is looking at him.

An Assembly of Animals

How could they have forgotten me?
The dog that froze to death under the house?
The frog I razored open to watch the heart
beat? The goat I hauled to the creek?

Yesterday when I was broken
on the shoulder of the road, all the roadkill
came running with them down
oblivion. They assembled by my side

and waited for the three horses
of kindness to pass over. Concern
like a breath and silent as a ghost
bike moving to nowhere important.

Richard Long is a Professor of English in St. Louis, Missouri, where he also edits 2River, quarterly publishing The 2River View and occasionally publishing individual authors in the 2River Chapbook Series. Poems of his have appeared recently in Black Coffee Review, Parhelion, Red Wheelbarrow, Travel Artists Hub, and UCity Review.

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