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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

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