“Abandoned Bicycle” by George Bilgere

George Bilgere


A bicycle—a nice one—
has been locked to the lamp post
all summer and fall.
Tires gone flat.
A congregation of leaves
worshipping the wheels.
And on the brake levers
and the tiny bolts
that held the seat exactly
where someone wanted it to be,
rust is constructing
its sprawling embassies.
Maybe a drunk drifted
over yellow lines. A clot
formed in the thigh
and moved north.
Or somebody just got
sick and tired.
Anyway, the bike is waiting.
Its metals gleam urgently.
Soon the scavengers will come.
The pedals—unable to live
without each other—will vanish
into a fresh new marriage.
The seat will disappear
into a seat-shaped abyss.
One night, someone
will help himself to a wheel.
Not quite a bicycle,
but a start.
And the bike,
like an abandoned person,
will become a clock,
calibrated to measure
the precise duration
of loneliness.

from Cheap Motels of My Youth
2023 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner


George Bilgere: “When I was eight years old my parents got divorced. My mother packed her three kids into an old Chevy station wagon and drove us from St. Louis to Riverside, California, looking for a fresh start. She had visited there when she was an Army nurse stationed in LA during the war and fell in love with the place. That cross-country car trip, full of cheap diners, cheap hotels, and desperation, changed my life. I fell in love with the vastness and beauty, the glamor and tawdriness, of America. I’ve travelled all over the country since then, on that ancient and deeply American quest, the search for home.” (web)

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