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Velocipede Verses #2: The Bug Cave


I love to ride bicycles. Occasionally, when I'm atop my steed, an idea for a verse comes my way.



Edition two of the Velo Verses came directly to me during my afternoon bike ride one day when a bug flew into my mouth. My reaction to that less than pleasurable invasion elicited other reactions as I moved through a local neighborhood. And all of this reminded me of another insect mishap on the bike from years ago, when times were different.

Some Notes on the Structure of This Poem

As is often the case for me, this poem started with just a single line that popped into my head when a bug flew into my mouth. The line went like this:

A bug flew into my mouth

It didn't (and in looking at it now still doesn't) seem like much of a beginning, I guess, but it also triggered the memory of a bee stinging me on my tongue while I was on my Specialized Roubaix wearing my orange, yellow, black and white "Guam - Where America's Ride Begins" cycling kit, leaning into a left hand turn off of F Street onto Orchard Avenue back in 2011 or 2012. The specifics of the date are obviously much less memorable than the specifics of the incident. You don't ever forget when you see for only a nanosecond a slight blur coming at you in your peripheral vision and then suddenly your tongue feels like it's been struck with a branding iron, starts to swell and you have to maintain your balance on two wheels while concomitantly freaking out, spitting and hacking violently but also really still trying to remain collected in your Lycra and then looking around as you continue cruising through the neighborhood to see if anyone saw you and if you took any hits to your cool points.

When I sat down to tell the story in verse, I wrote the entire first stanza in very short order. It doesn't rhyme, as you can see, wasn't meant to rhyme, it just tells the quick story of events that occurred, that were witnessed by lots of people in the neighborhood because lots more people in the neighborhood are spending lots more time in their yard these days when there is not lots to do otherwise. The result of that fact is a greatly improved aesthetic in these parts, but also a more challenging environment in which to keep a stronghold on your cool points.

Years ago--in 2011 or 2012, I'd guess--yard work on a Saturday morning was not the nearly-universal neighborhood hot ticket item it is today.. Indeed, in those long ago days, almost everyone in town was heading out to or coming back from the Farmer's Market in downtown Moscow when I was out on my Saturday morning ride. On empty streets no one can hear you scream, so when a bee flies into your mouth, has its way with your tongue, it is an event you live alone without any witnesses to your audio, no one to see you nearly topple. My rule is that cool points remain firmly intact when there are no onlookers.

The second verse, then, took much longer to craft because I had two goals in mind, ridiculous as they may or may not seem: 1) tell the real story of real events in a (hopefully) mildly humorous way, and 2) match verse two to verse one with exactly the same number of syllables per line on every line. This self-imposed challenge made the writing of the piece even more fun, and gave to me several moments when the keyboard keys were clicking rapidly as I looked out the window in deep, concentrated thought. It also gave me some blank stare times when no coherent thought would enter and neither could one exit.

My favorite line in the whole work is the very last one. That one seems to me most like a piece of poetry. It also tells an entire story of an entirely different time...

The Bug Cave

A bug flew into my mouth


Small black dot, approaches so rapidly it becomes a big black dot

Then disappears just as quickly

Hits the back of my throat

Hack and cough and spit

Dislodge the now deceased insect

Send it tumbling down in slow motion freefall to the ground

Mindful of the times

And the horrified looks I’m getting

While cycling at speed through the neighborhood

Folks working the earth in their yard

Which looks nicer now than it has in many a year

A bee stung me in my mouth

Nine years gone

In the zone, tongue hanging out like MJ in the United Center

White hot dart hitting the bullseye

Screaming into the wind

Hack and cough and spit

Dislodge the small poison stinger

Send it hurtling unseen, imagine the bug’s slow demise

Mindful of the cars

Backing slowly out of their driveways

While cycling at speed through the neighborhood

Folks leaving their home for market

As dandelion parachutes lift off from their lawn

Farmer's Market, Moscow, Idaho, USA

© 2020 greg cain


greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on May 22, 2020:

Thanks again, John. Have a good weekend, my friend!

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on May 22, 2020:

Liz (@eurofile) - thanks for dropping by. I enjoyed putting this one together; sometimes they get built in less than a day, sometimes I agonize for weeks or longer, let them sit and marinate until the right path reveals itself. This one actually just took me along for the ride and was done in a morning. Be well, be safe, and have a good week.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on May 22, 2020:

Hi DreamerMeg - thanks for giving the poem a go, and also for the thoughtful comment. It never occurred to me that the unspecified bug might not have died. Honestly, the way it felt--as I was trying to position it to a point where I could eject it with a spit--was like a rolled up confused mass of unrecognizable matter. Now that you say this, though, it isn't like I actually chewed on it or crunched down or anything. It is possible that little guy lived. In the case of the stinging incident, though, I imagined--and here again I could be wrong--I imagined it as a bee who lost its stinger, whose entrails were slowly flowing out in the aftermath of the incident. Thing is, though, I guess it could have been a wasp or hornet, too. So that does suggest, depending on what it may also have lived to sting another day. And so it goes...

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on May 22, 2020:

Love it, love it. Yep, the last line does it for me too. Good work, Greg.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 19, 2020:

This is a creative poetic piece, based on experience. You take the reader on the bike ride with you. The nod to our obsession with coughs was quite humorous too.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on May 18, 2020:

What a great poem. I like both verses for different reasons. The first verse definitely reads as if it came crafted whole and polished from somewhere "above" The second verse has a great first 2 lines "A bee stung me in my mouth nine years gone" and it also has great visuality "white hot", "screaming", "poison stinger". Enjoyed reading that. Those insects may not necessarily have died, though, hitting a nice soft mouth, even at that speed night not have killed them, even if you have wished it did!

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on May 17, 2020:

Hi Shauna - I love the term wishies! While I definitely blew the seeds from the head of those fully mature dandelions, sometimes even tasted (probably on a dare) the very sour milk inside the stem of the plant, we never called them wishies. What a great word. And as for the riding: yes, indeed it is a small price to pay. I don't eat a ton of bugs out there, but on occasion things like this happen. Meanwhile, I mostly just enjoy the riding. It brings back to me the freedom I had as a kid on my bike. The other night when I was hacking and coughing and spitting as I rode through the neighborhood, though, I got fearful, frightened looks from folks as if I were popping off a loaded gun. I'm sure, given the state of the world, that's probably what it felt like to them. Anyway, once again, thanks for stopping by for a read!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 16, 2020:

Greg, I had to chuckle at this. Well, not really, because I feel your pain.

When I was a kid, I rode my bike all over town. Then, as a young adult I rode (on the back of) Harleys and know all too well of those unexpected palate invaders. I found sucking on Skittles not only kept my mouth closed to the elements, but eliminated that dry mouth feel riding in the wind creates.

I can relate. We were both on two wheels and subject to the elements. Small price to pay though, huh?

There's nothing like being in the wind.

We used to call the powdery remnants of dandelions "wishies". We'd make a wish as we blew the feathers into the wind. Did you ever do that?

Ann Carr from SW England on May 16, 2020:

Hope you have a great weekend too!

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on May 16, 2020:

Thanks Ann! Both are true vignettes, separated by nearly a decade and such changes in the world as we couldn’t have imagined even just a year ago. Good weekend to you, and thanks again for stopping by for a read!

Ann Carr from SW England on May 16, 2020:

Love 'dandelion parachutes lift off from their lawn'! Great imagery.

This is fun. I love cycling and I can imagine you 'hurtling' along and all these things happening. You made me smile, thank you.


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