Used One Speed, Princeton
I painted my bike purple,
it’s finding a brown to fade to.
Along the long slow curve of streets
gelato-colored houses change in dusk
to colors of dove. On my one speed, life is plain.
Here the mudflats are called a river. I am feeling
new muscles in my thighs. My fat fenders
guard me from mud-splat. Look at these tires:
wide as trenches. My second-grade teacher said
“sit up straight.” My ex-fiance used to
put his hand through his hair,
make a fist, say “that’s just them
trying to keep the working class docile.”
The houses dim, colors of soap, the shaped kind
put in little dishes, that shrink and melt
to goo. I sometimes feel rather shaky
but that’s OK. I guard against regret,
disapproval, those middle-aged emotions.
I am still young, I feel I am. If I wanted I could
ride no-hands, my bike so steady, arms out
like that guy in Goya’s Third of May, 1808,
with the white shirt, his eyes wide open,
facing death. I don’t. I squint my eyes
against gnats. And so, and so, I was saying,
when a certain feeling comes over me,
something that feels like foolish bravery,
I glide, concede, I sit straight up.
(can’t wait to see this!)
“Go to your room” also by Daisy Fried
In her observatory, her little red room,
the daughter sings “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”
into her hairbrush. It’s not true
what they’re thinking about her. She’s lying
across her bed, laughing at her mother
clanking something downstairs
to let everyone know who’s angry
and right. Turn down the music! The daughter
fills her mouth with 17 Big Red sticks
from a 24-pack, eats pretzels too, mixing in
salt and crumbs. Turn down the music!
Sunlight gapes into the room.
The daughter belly down, stomach
muscles tight, head hanging
off the bed-edge, arms straight out
before her. Turn down the music!
Eight blue glass marbles between
her prehensile toes, one
marble between each two. She
claps her foot-soles, clicking
the marbles, little worlds,
together. She turns down
the music, writes “lassitude” in
the dust on the radio.
The daughter eats icing with her
finger from a bowl on her lap:
Powdered sugar, margarine, vanilla.
She made it herself from a
recipe on the box. There are escapes and
they are true things.
Mother, that ass, doesn’t know.
blasts the curtains open like legs.