4.06.2006

poem from a stranger

wonder if I can recall the whole story...
well, the whole story is not vital
so here is the poem and an introduction to who the author was...

over a decade ago, in the early 90's
I had graduated from college, without honors
was living in a group house in Columbia Heights Washington DC
not sure what I wanted to do with my life

seeing my 22nd birthday rapidly approaching I knew I had to decide fast
was earning cash as a bicycle messenger, but knew that I needed to do more
so I packed up some stuff and rode my motorcycle cross country

it was an amazing trip that had me zig zagging across the country seeing things I had never seen before and many things I have not seen since
the roads took me from Washington to Washington then down the coast to San Francisco
staying with friends
camping in national parks
sleeping on the side of the road
once in california
I migrated from couch to floor to couch to hamock in someone's back yard
all in various parts of the bay area

okay... the poem
I will get to the poem


short into my stay in the Bay area I found myself working doing construction for Smith and Hawkins
sleeping in a hammock at the base of Mount Tam in a new friend's back yard
before leaving I had the foresight to have a Cannondale frame that was being warrantied to be sent to a shop in Berkley rather than a shop back east
a frame I had never seen was built at the Square Wheel by a friend who wrenched there
so I arrived on motorcycle only to be greeted by a new bike with new parts

okay.... the poem
I will give you the poem

one night I was at the 2AM Club (The Duece as locals called it)
most nights I was at the 2AM Club
this little hole in the wall bar was at the base of the road that mountainbike greats like Gary Fisher used to hitch hike up so that they could ride their home made mountainbikes down dirt rather than going to school
it was a good little bar with a pool table and a regular clientle
I played pool, wrote in my journal, rubbed elbows with old cowboys, and killed some time before going to bed

one night I met up with a guy on a BMW who was doing some touring
we got to drinking... escessive drinking
like fools we got to some riding on our motorcycles
I never rode my motorcycle after drinking
well, almost never
then we got back to drinking
when back at the bar a third man joined us for some drinks and some companionship
he had just been released from prison and was making his way down to Southern California
in our talk he shared with me a poem from prison
I am not sure if the words were his or common words to prisoners looking out the window through those thick metal bars

lets see what I can recall
I think in ways of yesterday
with nothing better to do
than ride my bike... and something and something.... and drink a couple of brews

okay.... I forgot the rest
to a cyclist it was poinant
freedom
the greatest freedom there is... riding a bike
for commiting his crime this man was robbed of his freedom
his freedom to live and do as he chose
he lost a freedom to experience the freedom of riding a bike
those words and that notion is enough to keep a man honest

I will see if I can find my journal from that moment
paper journal
as the world was pre-Internet therefore pre-Blog
there was more to the poem then that

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