BY THOMAS (TJ) HAMIL
Cracked Grass Handlebars
I used to ride my bicycle with my sister – before we fought
about things like who mom liked more, who’s doing right in life –
used to ride through the gaps between the houses like water between
the cracks in the grass-veins.
We would ride under clotheslines and phone lines –
we’d walk our bikes when we couldn’t ride them –
Crossing the imagined boundaries between neighborhood principalities,
Finding new nations hidden in little shops and – our favourite –
We were innocent enough to pay with money that wasn’t ours,
to love things like blue skies freely dreaming of futures that were never anything
But smoke rising into clouds, tasting the tops of the trains and plunging
Off of the rooftop of the Ritz-Carlton hotel, the Gateway Arch,
Innocent enough to believe we could – and would –
Always be young enough to put our quarrels aside and run and hide
Behind the freedom briefly granted by the winds stirred up and
Thrown into currents by our handlebars.
I long to have the gravel under my feet, the parallel iron trails beside me and the tumult of the rapids underneath. I want to walk under the trees and their canopies.
I can smell the Ozarks despite the snow, the fresh soil is clawing up from its grave, building itself
A mud-brick home to inhabit during the day.
At night, I carry it with me, in my pockets, putting it down,
building it, beside the quarries, the water towers, my
transient heart wanting to sink between the gravel and glass shards.
My pockets are grabbing at my legs, each day, tugging more, their blue denim rapids
pushing and pulling, their
mud-brick canopy claws dragging me south.
I think I will stay at my fresh-soil home, once I have escaped the snow, once I have clawed my way up and out of the grave.
I will build my own Ozarks, free of gravel and glass shards,
My own southwards empire.