by Jeremiah Henry
Cobwebs on my extra helmet lofted in drafts from my squeaky ceiling fan and streaked shadows on the wall beside the bay windows where light came in from dusk. The spider’s silk made a small sheet keeping the helmet stuck to the wall, and I felt the fibers stretch and tear when I pulled it away from my bookcase. Dusty from disuse, I wiped it down then felt a spider scuttle across my fingers, sending shockwaves up my arms that made my spine reverberate from an echo of Aracnae’s curse. In a moment of pure instinct, I smashed the critter against my wall and left it there.
A parallel twin engine powered my bike when I left to find my date for the night. The more familiar vibrations from the handlebars resonated my bones back into shape while the throaty baritone from the tailpipes sped me to courage in a series of sforzando crescendos as I shifted from first to second, from fourth to fifth. My Ninja’s whine announced my arrival in advance while my date waited; she pretended not to see me at first, yet it did not take her long to mount my ride. This was her first time, but I told her not to worry as she situated the helmet’s straps. Under this ninja guise where through tinted visors you can see only eyes, I assured her with careful words: “Don’t worry: I lost the need for speed a long time ago—we’ll be safe and take it slow.”
She straddled the seat and rested her breasts against my back as I started my bike back to life, and we were already connected with sweat from the heat of a Fresno spring evening. We leaned together and swam through traffic while her nails tore at my chest, and I twisted my throttle to the lawful limits of Shaw Avenue’s lanes. The parallel twin’s four strokes hummed between my knees, and her thighs were snug around my hips. Those pistons and their carefully calculated explosions drove shivers along the shafts of our backs, wrenching each breath, leaded with thrills while blurred street lights caught reflections on our masks.
After dinner we stopped to share coffee in paper cups before saying good night. This time with her breasts resting against my chest, we parted ways after a quaint embrace, and I’d never even feel a kiss from those coveted lips—it was one of those frozen-frame moments that menace the mind like a blurry photograph, knowing that something must have gone wrong but you cannot fathom where the focus was off.
It’s all but natural in Fresno not to find the stars through the smog unless you try, but I could see the moon struggling to rise above the horizon on my ride back home. The diminuendo of my exhaust thickened the air around my neighborhood streets as I came to a stop. Just then, earth and ozone bonded in the first moments of a spring shower and brought the water beetles out. Something of an Afro-Cuban rhythm came of droplets that fizzled and sizzled on the pipes of my bike. I watched the beetles from my porch and listened to the rain’s music in a splintery chair, and after a while I noted how the quiet ticking from the cooling engine was a metronome for the rain, for the beetles: their primordial errands in scavenging for food and sex was like a dance where the spider parts twitching on my bedroom wall in the darkness kept the beat. I sat until my bike was silhouetted by the moon that had finally won the sky—a rusty, crescent thing hanging beneath Venus, a frozen pendulum on a stopped grandfather clock in an otherwise blank nightscape save for a thin spider-web sheet of rainclouds receding from the horizon like the ebb of tides and my hairline. The antiquity of the thing—of the beetles and the earth and the rain—made me think of the cosmological impotence of us all and how foolish we are to hate instead of love before our time is done.
If you enjoyed this poem, please like it, [dcssb-link] it, and please respect my creative works by not plagiarizing. This and several other [prose] poems will be formally released in a chapbook hopefully by early 2013, and this certainly won’t be the only motorcycle poem to appear. Thank you for reading!