Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Bike Nazi Poetry Corner

I'm not that big on poetry. (My loss.) If it's not a limerick with the word "Nantucket" in it (nudge-nudge, wink-wink), it's usually too cerebral for my simple tastes in literature.

But - I found this poem in the bus this morning, and it provoked some thought.

Traditional Realism
By Julie Erb

After I’ve been painting a while
and stop to walk the dog,
I see everything in brushmarks –
foothills, trees, buildings, people.

A stroke of color placed here,
a darkest dark daubed there,
the final brushwork evident
in the tiniest details of things.

The view a panorama of paint
laid side by side and blending
just so, making everything look
stunningly, surprisingly real.

I identified.

Julie sees the world through a painter's eye.

I do something similar, at times.

When I go on my annual "motorcycle adventure," on which I typically snap 500 or 600 photos (thank goodness for digital cameras!), I start seeing everything as if through the viewfinder. Riding along trying to anticipate how a photo would compose. Occasionally I'll even ride down the road a mile or two, thinking about a "Kodak moment" behind me, only to eventually do a U-turn and ride back to try to capture it.

I know what you're thinking at about this point... "Poetry? I didn't realize the Bike Nazi was gay..."

Nah... just funnin'. You're probably thinking, "So, what does any of this have to do with bicycling?"

Bicyclists (and pedestrians, like Poet Julie) are lucky!

They have the least-distorted, least-filtered, "surprisingly real" perspective on the world!

Even on the motorcycle, it all goes by so quickly! And although one can notice the smells and temperature changes, I find myself missing out on the whisper of the wind blowing through the trees, or a meadowlark's lyrical call. (Meadowlarks in the springtime... truly one of the most wonderful sounds to ever carry over the airwaves.)

There's an old truck-driver song: "I'm lookin' at the world thru a windshield..."

People in their MSDS's (Mobile Sensory-Deprivation Chambers) do the same thing. They miss out on a large portion of the amazing sensory palette. Particularly when the "view" is the back end of the car just in front of 'em in the stop-and-go traffic.

(In the interest of "full disclosure," the breeze-in-the-trees and birds-chirping is largely absent, even on a bicycle, when you're hammerin' along in rush hour traffic.)

(NOTE: The Valleyride has a "poetry in motion" program, in which poems are posted in the transit buses. Very nice. I hope Julie Erb would approve of my "lifting" her fine poem and commenting on it.)

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