Zen, Quality and Rear Tires

I’m riding the motorcycle to work on a ordinary day–I go around a corner and the world starts to twist and to veer. Nothing is as it should be. The bike starts to stumble and show nervy signs of wanting to lie down.

It’s all I can do to stay up. I somehow wrestle it to a stop and push it to the curb.

It’s raining now. Cell phone works though. Tow truck here in thirty minutes.

I look down and the back tire is flat and half way off the rim. Crap. My bad. I know the back tire tends to slowly lose pressure in cold weather and I forgot to check it. My faithful motorcycle that always does what I ask, did indeed do what I asked, but I failed my part of the bargain.

I thank all the saints of Ducati and Moto and the big G himself this didn’t happen at high speed.

Then I look up at the house next to me. The sign on the post says free poetry–take one.

Of all the poems to run into that day, it was Walt Whitman’s “To a Locomotive in Winter:”

THEE for my recitative,
Thee in the driving storm even as now, the snow, the winter-day declining…

Thy black cylindric body, golden brass and silvery steel,
Thy ponderous side-bars, parallel and connecting rods, gyrating, shuttling at thy sides,
Thy metrical, now swelling pant and roar, now tapering in the distance…

Thy knitted frame, thy springs and valves, the tremulous twinkle of thy wheels…

Through gale or calm, now swift, now slack, yet steadily careening…

For once come serve the Muse and and merge in verse, even as here I see thee,
With storm and buffeting gusts of wind and falling snow,
By day thy warning ringing bell to sound its notes,
By night thy silent signal lamps to swing.
Fierce-throated beauty!

Roll through my chant with all thy lawless music, thy swinging lamps at night,
Thy madly-whistled laughter, echoing, rumbling like an earthquake, rousing all,
Law of thyself complete, thine old track firmly holding…

Launch’d o’er the praries wide, across the lakes,
To the free skies unpent and glad and strong.

2 responses to “Zen, Quality and Rear Tires

  1. ‘a special providence…’ try thinking of your motorcycle as a plane, and yourself as its pilot, and when you’re riding the ground is a long fall away….
    pilots check their vehicles very thoroughly before taking off…


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