But then I ventured into the rainy afternoon
And found myself on Massachusetts
Avenue and heading south into
Cambridge and not caring too much for
The morning I had
Spent with you sweating
In those wonderful new
Sheets and having
Magazines and quick dinners
And videos rather than mortgages
And Babies and Businesses and Real,
Honest, Large Work.
By 16 East/West (less than a mile)
I was again
Righteous, but hungry
Already and again trying to eat intelligently
For I was training to race,
But Di Mio is a half mile and
Pesto and foccacia and perhaps then
A stretch of slow riding.
The struggles of the racer are
Not well known but let it be
Said they are many and
Not as feminine as all that. One wants
To BE Beloki, who came back too
Early from his crash, to get
Back on the bike and struggle
Into town on broken rims (Beloki
Would never ride on broken rims)
And depleted systems, delirious
With dehydration and hypoglycemia
Only to suffer tendonitis, a bad
Contract and the burning desire
To remain still.
And still the water spraying up
The saddle onto my back.
Couldn’t I have gone to the beach, to
The water, to the sounds and achieved
The same maybe more?
Perhaps it helps to quell the
Warm sensation of disembowelment
That swarms through my depressions.
Having died, having wanted to die
Having planned for death I get
On a bike, climb as many hills as I can
Until I taste blood on your tongue:
If you want to follow me, man, this
Will not be easy.
And you want to be Kivilev in
A situation like that. Kivilev who
Chased the leaders across France
Until his body withered and the spirit
Of his mind withdrew from
His face. Who like the farmers, who like
Like the dust of the deep depression, until his
Skull lay still, crushed on the Tarmac
In France. There is no redemption. Unlike
Nozal, Ullrich, Armstrong, Cassagrande
Or Virenque who
Withdrew into their deepest kernel and could
Not resist. And I ride in
To town. The angry cars
Like the news, like the
Accretion of work.
I stop to eat,
Thinking in the rain I should really be
Reading poets from Chicago
Who speak nothing
Of the sport of cycling for what is
It? I tip the waitress
Too much and consider walking into one
Of those kitschy retro shops that
Have sprouted across town, perhaps
Buy back my affection for her
With an old clock, or
An enormous toy ring. But I am struck
In place by the thought
Of being a king.
As I stand breathing
In through the pane to the
Plastic record players,
Lunchboxes and cigarette cases,
I reach around my back - the pockets
Are stitched into the back of these jerseys -
Into my jersey pocket
And feel for my key chain and lock ring
Charm, my wallet and a little
Bit of money.
There’s an old dog tied to the parking meter
And he’s wet and probably blind by now and
We’re waiting there and
I tell him I’ve only four dollars.
His eyes are milky and he makes
A noise, more of a chuff than a
Bark, and he says to me over and
Over and over
You are a king.
You are a king. You are