the white bicycle part II

5 05 2012

POETRY DISPATCH No. 371 | May 5, 2012


The Best Prose Piece plus Selections from the Second Wave of Poems

EDITOR’S NOTE: I neglected to include the best “White Bicycle” prose piece in Friday’s posting which featured the three poems which best captured the image.

Part II leads off with the story by Jean Casey, followed by an at random selection of good poems which fell into a category the other judge and I saw as ‘the second wave.’ None of these selections are in any kind of order, they’re just good poems—which didn’t quite make the final three for reasons I previously mentioned. (And there are more, which I may or may not get around to featuring sometime.)

I would add one thing to the poetry finalists who were chosen and the prose writer. The other judge is an excellent reader, writer, editor who resides some distance from Wisconsin and would not have known any of the writers had I included their names—which I did not. I certainly expected there would be some disagreement over our choices, and we would have to work this out.

Once the noon deadline was reached, I made my final choices, in no particular order, just three poems and the one story I liked best, then awaited an e-mail from the other judge. There were no phone calls, no e-mail discussion between us. When the e-mail from the other judge arrived later in the day, I was beyond astounded to discover we both picked the exact same works! This almost never happens. —Norbert Bleib

The White Bicycle

Jean Casey

He had never won anything before, not a single thing, and now he had this amazing jackknife with all sorts of important attachments which made an important and heavy weight in his pocket. And all because of the Old Ellison Days parade. Oh, he knew it wasn’t a grand thing, but it was a yearly event with fire engines, some folks on horseback, an honor guard of veterans, a few simple floats, and a bunch of kids on decorated bikes and some politicians in shiny cars. This year they announced prizes to include the bikes. He didn’t give it much thought, because he was never a part of anything like that. Fat and slow with a hampering stammer, he hung around the edges of life. His 6th grade teacher tried, because she knew he was bright inside, but he avoided her help.

But this year, before the parade, he felt an urge to enter, especially knowing about the grand prize for bikes, that knife! It came to him one moonlit night when he lay in his bed before sleep that he could avoid somehow being seen as his lumpy self if he…yes! If he went covered up…yes, indeed! As a ghost! Everything must be white! His old bike was a dark maroon, rusty, tired. But, if he painted it…!

No way could he get by with this unless he consulted his mother. In the morning he found her with her mouth filled with clothes pins hanging a wash on the outside lines. She listened, fastening some socks with the stored pins. “The only white we got around here is flat wall paint left over from the living room, but you can use it, and you’ll need an old sheet to wear. I have one. We’ll have to cut eye holes in it, but that’s okay. I’ve got a chain link belt, come to think of it, that ought to help you cinch it in.”

He said, excited, “I think I’ll ask dad for his old straw hat! If he let me, I could paint it white too! I think a ghost should have a hat!” He didn’t stammer, she noticed.

Parade day, he said not a word to anyone, played his part, accepted his prize from the puzzled judge who asked for and didn’t get his name, because this ghost never talked. And now, the bike was propped up in back of the barn, and he would redo it bright red. His dad gave him money for the paint. The prize would stay in his pocket, unless he was at home whittling.

…remember the rides
all the bikes in my life
now white as ghost shadows.

Bonnie Hartmann


by Sharon Auberle

when everything is falling apart
my friend, when you’re stuck
in the horse latitudes
mired in a dark
night of the soul
when you’re no longer sleek
sexy and smooth

find the white bicycle
climb on that
fat-tired slow beast
pedal and huff and
laugh like you mean it
whistle sing shout
and cuss use words
your mama told you never to

push that bike up a mountain
when you get to the top
when you’re near
to over the hill
when night is falling fast
jump on whoop and holler

ride that old bicycle down
no brakes allowed
fireflies and stars
your only light
and when you wipe out
(and yes, honey, you will)
darkness like a big pillowy woman
will come along and wrap you up
whisper everything’s gonna be allright…

no worries, baby,
she’ll carry all
your broken pieces home…


by Chris Halla

Parked here by an old man
shaped like a question mark

Hoping a young girl in a yellow dress
would eventually steal

his white bicycle away
on a green, spring afternoon

The White Bicycle

by Alice D’Alessio

I dreamt I saw it standing all alone
beside the blue barn wall.
Ghost, what are you doing here?
I asked, recognizing every
feature – the torn seat, the gash
in the front tire from the time
we hit the tree; the dented fenders,
handlebars minus their grips
minus the bell that Mickey Loman stole;
and best of all, the fancy chain guard –
to keep my pants from catching on the chain
and getting greasy. My first bike,
bright and shiny blue it was
and trimmed in red.
It meant the war was over.

The shadowy background
made the bike seem luminous.
You’re lookin’ pretty good, I said,
for an old guy. And then I thought
I heard it whisper, You too.
Let’s go race down Kaiser Hill,
shall we? There’s still time.

The White Bicycle

By Don Fraker

Nearly an albino,
But for her leathery dark barnacle of a seat,
Tattered, betraying her age —
Paint no cure for that condition.

Mobya was my vessel,
Her now-departed basket ferrying books
From their orderly, patient moorings at the library
To the needy harbor of their offloading.

Got her in junior high,
Whitened her in unspoken tribute to the first teacher who credited me with adult capacities,
His brine-soaked incantations of albatross, and mutiny, and whale,
Setting me a-sail on new-seen old adventures.

Though now my daughter’s ark,
No more the carrier of tomes
Of late evanesced, ether-borne,
Her bleached carapace transports me still.


by Ralph Murre

the way she rode it
as much on clouds
as on concrete

as much from as toward
on a pavement of dream

the way I saw or didn’t see
the way it didn’t seem
she any longer needed me
to run along beside

the way the ride then
circled back in setting sun

the thing about a cycle
is the way it’ll repeat

her white bike may come back
may lean up
again against my shack

who knows when a cycle
or circle is complete?


by Paula Kosin

Even though it is not Easter
My mother hauled her old bike,
Tired, rusty but full
Of fond memories,
Out of the depths of the garage
And in the cool shade
Painted it white
The color of the Risen Lord
Of new life
And alleluias
And once she started
She just spray painted the whole damn
Tires, spokes, chain, pedals, handlebars
Every nook and cranny
Figuring that if a little paint made it look better
Then a lot would make it look wonderful
And the dirt and scratches and rust disappeared
Before our eyes
Like a miracle
And now it stands outside
Starkly propped against the blue sky garage
Drying and poised perhaps
For her ascension into Heaven

the white bicycle

3 05 2012

POETRY DISPATCH No. 370 | May 4, 2012


The White Bicycle

In the dream
of red balloons,

of circus tents,
pied clowns and

highwire artists;
a white bicycle

takes you there.

Alan Catlin

The White Bicycle

I’ve painted my old bicycle white.
It is the white of a childhood photograph,
the white of my sister’s first communion dress,
of an awkward smile missing front teeth
and ill-fitting gloves covering mudpie hands.
It is the white of my untucked shirt frozen in mid-laugh.

Now my bicycle is ready to receive the rain.

Peter Kron

The White Bicycle

It’s lurking there in the shadows
of a granary,
ghost of a gone era
when the first farm motors
arrived on tractors
and young girls still rode to town
on two wheels
to fetch supplies home in baskets.

Its basket long gone,
its handlebars like bleached longhorns
on a steer’s deserted skull,
it awaits the coolness of night
and its occasional riders,
dead writers.

Tonight it welcomes
its favorite,
the lady in white.

Come quietly after midnight,
watch Emily pedaling
straddling the worn saddle.

Ed Werstein

Editor’s Note: These were my original directions and suggestions:

Consider this another “Good Morning or Good Day Door County” photo… BUT for poets and writers out there (and others who may be interested), consider this a challenge, an opportunity, an invitation to write a poem (mainly) or prose piece (preferably short) titled: THE WHITE BICYCLE. Send it to me via e-mail only ASAP.  Deadline: Thursday morning (before noon) May, 3, 2012. I’ll print, not necessarily “the best” White Bicycle poems, but my three favorites on Poetry Dispatch, Friday, May 4, 2012 or this coming weekend. Now get on that white bike and ride!–if you have it in you, if the photo, the white bike, something speaks to you.Norbert Blei

This was a much more difficult than I imagined. And though many have asked me to do this more often, I just can’t. The time factor is enormous.

There were close to thirty entries. I made two sets of master copies of everything (deleting the name of each writer in a way even I unaware of the writer) and forwarded one master copy to a qualified writer-friend with instructions to pick three, only three, which caught what I was after: good writing, originality, brevity, etc. This was not easy for the guest reader/writer/friend/judge—or me.

Whatever failed to make the final three, failed… No, ‘failed’ is not the right word for the majority of entries since there were so many fine pieces if work BUT…some of the poems were too long…some of the poems were soaring, only to crash with a poor last line, a trite final stanza, a poor choice of words from the beginning or image…or no image(s) at all, falling into heavy-handed prose. Some need just a little final tuning to make them hum. Some need to be re-worked, re-envisioned entirely. Many of these (with a little more thought and a bit of rewriting) would certainly find a home in various publications.

For the last 12 hours or more I kept trying to bend the rules a bit: Why not six favorites instead of three…for certainly another three…no four, are right on the edge?

Maybe a list (long) of Honorable Mentions…?

Or how about a category which, for want of a better term, I would call “The Second Wave”? I have close to nine pieces that would easily slide in there. ALL of them SO GOOD! But this would go on for pages and pages…

What about separating the prose pieces from the poetry, place them by themselves?

And what to do with these illustrated works that came in out of nowhere???

After driving myself crazy with trying to make almost everyone happy, including myself, I decided to stick with the original idea of printing the three favorites. Plus only one prose piece. And wrap it up with the three illustrated submissions because…because I wish to share them.

I also promise to print some of the works online in the not too distant future.

Thank you all.

I have attached the poem and a photo of a “white bicycle” that is a few miles from my studio. Here in NM they call the roadside memorials markers to people killed in car accidents “descansos.” I don’t know what they are called elsewhere. But families or friends put up white crosses for pedestrians or car drivers who have been killed, or white bicycles for bicyclists who have been killed on the roadside near the scene of the accident. They remind you to slow down and take care. I do not know where they are made but they are well cared for and decorated with plastic flowers. Some are even decorated especially for Christmas and other holidays! -Kris Thacher


No one depends

The white bi-

Parked in the

Behind the Descansos

Kris Thacher

The White Bicycle | Photo by Daniel Anderson