by Michael Yaworsky
There’s a bike path In my neighborhood that runs along the Genesee River. Because it’s paved and has some nice straightaways, it’s ideal for getting up speed and flying like the wind, especially on the downgrades — provided there’s no one there blocking your way.
One fine day as I was zipping along this trail, happy as a clam and thoroughly enjoying my ride home from work, a pedestrian appeared out of nowhere, monopolizing the path and requiring me to slow down to an exasperating crawl. As annoying as this is under any circumstances (and yes, I do acknowledge that pedestrians, including pokey ones, have as much right to the trail as I do), it’s particularly frustrating when it happens just as I’m coming to one of those stretches just made for coasting. I mean, if someone’s going to bring me to a virtual halt why can’t it be when I’m already going slowly, like laboring up a hill or braking for a sharp curve? You see, I had just gotten my first truly good bike and I relished the effortless acceleration brought about by the action of gravity on well–lubricated, large radius wheels over a decline in elevation, and it was frustrating not to be able to get the full effect because some Clueless Clem chose that moment to saunter lazily up the middle of the path.
Anyway there I’d been, picking up speed, wind in my hair (as much as possible through those little helmet holes), happy as the aforementioned clam, when the aforementioned guy materialized out of the aforementioned nowhere, with his head (not aforementioned, but I figured you’d assume he had one) down so he couldn’t see me, and wearing headphones (also not aforementioned, but hey) so he couldn’t hear either.
Dude, I thought, don’t do this! Don’t break my glide! I’d paid my dues stopping for street crossings and sidewalks and now it was time for the payoff: a carefree coast down a long, unobstructed stretch, reveling in the speed and watching the river flow by.
But he apparently didn’t share my vision.
Or any vision.
I tried telepathy: Come on come on come on come on / look up look up look up look up –but that didn’t work. (It never does.) If he didn’t hurry up and slide over there wouldn’t be room for me to shoot past him and I would once again miss out on the sublime pleasure of the glide. But he didn’t… and there wasn’t… so, yeah, I missed out.
Aw, man! I whined (out loud? I don’t remember, but probably), why’d you have to break my glide?!
I got home and vented by writing this
So I’m out for a ride, hitting my stride
when here you come, preoccupied
and even though the trail is wide
you won’t slide over to the other side.
Just won’t scootch over. What is it, pride?
Or has your shoelace come untied?
Hey, it’s not like it’d be Jekyll–and–Hyde
to let speed and safety coincide.
So I’m asking you dude, don’t break my glide.
I could hog the middle if I decide
and threaten to make us both collide.
But the very idea has my nerves all fried;
playing chicken would be suicide,
a thought that has me petrified,
out of my wits I must confide,
more worried than a nervous bride.
Oh yeah, that fear is bona fide.
So come on Clyde, don’t break my glide.
When I saw you there I could have cried
to see my lane had been shanghaied.
My frustration was only amplified
by the fact that as you came astride
we both could fit – can’t be denied –
and all’d be neatly rectified
if reason had only been applied.
But with no referee to “call offside”
you were all but sure to break my glide.
Should I shout at you? Say something snide?
Or stare and leave it all implied?
No, my resolve is firm, solidified,
to show good form and not deride.
Surely I’d be mortified
if I acted so undignified.
So I will not mock, I will not chide.
But won’t you let common sense preside,
get off the schneid, and not break my glide?
Now the thing is cut and dried:
you’ve pushed me to the pathwayside.
Not the prime location I’d
prefer to be, and cramped beside.
Frustration comes where these things reside,
a vexation that I can’t abide.
Couldn’t the standard be your guide
to stay on your side of the great divide?
But noooo, you had to break my glide.
Okay, it’s now been verified:
you broke my heart. Are you satisfied?
Wherefore, how come, and why oh why’d
you use me so? I’m stupefied!
It’s like you never even tried!
The coast was clear ’til you were spied.
I was optimistic, misty-eyed,
on a roll – but you turned the tide.
Yes, though promising, the dream has died.
Gosh darn your confounded hide:
why’d you have to break my glide?!
Utterances, In the Nature of Vespers, Whispered to an Infant, Cribside
all the grains of sand on all the strands and beaches
in the great vast boundless world
all the rocks on seashores and every briny wave
that o’er them has ever drenched and swirled
all the blades of grass, leaf and needle of every tree, branch,
stem or twig that ever grew
every infant born since time began, and all their precious toes and fingers
God or angels ever knew
the pits and facets on the flinty granite face of every peak
and towering mountain mass
every proton, neutron, and electron infusing every creature that dwells
in forest grove or prairie grass
each drop of rain, every fog, hurricane, storm and spray
dousing the tempestuous seas the world over
all the shapes and shadows ever a curious eye did spy
and seek in wonder to discover
every tender gaze mothers have their infants given
each fatherly caress bestowed in love
every musing entertained when finding shapes in billowing clouds
or straining to count the pinprick stars above
every chirp, cry, utterance, sound or note that any melodious bird
has lifted up in song
all the breaths breathed in and out by every beast from time’s beginning
all the eons long
these, the reckonings and reveries I whisper as I watch you sleep
and which tonight and every night I’ll say again
these preposterously puny words I draw upon to convey the vastness
of my feelings for you, are all in vain
I despair of there being things enough in all the universe
how much I love you, and all the things about you
and how well
the sum of nanoseconds since time began, squared and trebled
ten billion trillion times and then again
come not close to approaching a suggestion of a fraction of the sum
at which I feel I must begin
….and so I start anew:
all the grains of sand on all the beaches
in the great vast boundless world
and all the rocks on seashores and every briny wave
that o’er them has ever drenched and swirled…
Michael Yaworsky is a retired attorney and legal editor. He and his family live in Rochester’s 19th Ward neighborhood.