#6: Lockdown poem: Like riding a bike

After a long absence due to apathy and sunbathing I will be posting an anecdotal travel guide to Switzerland later this week (because everyone is crying out for that!), but until then just a short blog to welcome loyal readers of mine, all fifteen of you, back into the fray. I'm going to leave the long-form behind for now and let some recently penned couplets and stanzas do the talking. Coming up below is a recently published poem; I've had some time away from the realm of sparse black typeset on an off-white background to focus on journalistic ventures, copywriting, criticism and some fiction fragments. But, spare time to ponder and mind-wander has inevitably meant dipping my quill into the lyrical ink once again and a flurry of aphorisms and longer pieces have flowed. From there, it's a case of taking the ones you have learnt to tolerate, sending them out to a wider audience, and specifically the small presses and pamphleteers amongst us.

I was eager to place this particular poem in a local magazine or indie-press because it was written quite suddenly, after an early lockdown walk in one of our many local parks here in East Sussex. Luckily enough, the new editor over at The Whistler in Seven Dials obliged. Take what you will from the words, or nothing at all, the only notion that lodged in my brain and wouldn't budge was the thought that the children I had witnessed every day on round-the-block strolls seemed to have adapted to this glut of new routines with poise, agility and resolve - to my surprise and delight. Their quick uptake of a change to the norm seemed to suggest a wider hope for us all - young and old. I've said enough about the mechanics. Please see for yourself: a link to the website version is here, the print version will be available soon and the original version is below as a standalone.

Like riding a bike

We do half-moons around each other’s

personal safety circles,

past carbuncled stumps, potholed

pavements, car bonnets.

Yet, pure-as-glass children

still shout out to strangers,

amidst an absence of playful

passing bys and high-fives.

We have to shrug it off,

this yearning for touch.

Back and forths across park fields -

must postpone hugs.

Where does it end?

Where is the line crossed?

If a learning-to-ride child

wobbled and then flopped

off their bike -

knees all scuffed -

would we stop and pick them up?

They’re learning too,

all these new rules,

the sliding scale of age,

teachings of temporary measures.

Would exuberant youth

stick up a palm to

the two-metre long

reach of help and refuse?

Pick up their bikes,

no shrieks, return to size-four feet

to hop back on the seat

and go again.

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