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Inman Majors

First Bike Ride


Memory is dusk declining,

the moment in a darkened theatre

before the screen is lit.

Memory is strange infinity,

the rolling stasis of the rolling bike,

my father's breath and hard shoe-soles behind—

my young father, my strong father,

work shoes slapping the road

and this is the day,

my father with his hand on the seat,

and in the soft and strange dusk

which is settling like an easy winter

in front of our house

my father running fast in his hard shoes,

his breath behind, his shoes,

and the birthday bike, the mid-March night

and nothing bad has ever happened

and whatever bad might happen

is not the end

—and my young father's hand has gone

the shoes have gone

the bike with a wobbly rhythm of its own.






By definition

birddogs should be able to fly.

Perhaps that's how Queen evades me.

I can't find the puppies

I know she had.

She travels at night,

makes quick, cursory visits

to the dog house during the day.

She's too fast.

I've tried to follow.

I spend my days on stakeout,

wearing childhood

like a fake moustache.

When I'm older

I'll probably not love dogs.

I mean love them.

I'll forget my parents—

forget the memory of my parents.

Did I sleep outside most nights?

I remember our yard perfectly,

our dark brick house

with the blue shutters,

my window upstairs so high

I am amazed I live there.



Bus Stops



Before we get Steven to sing on the bus,

we have walked in fog cold and asleep,

past apparitions of houses fading, blending

into trees unseen. Water without color,

from a forgotten rain or a future snow,

runs along the curb. Huddled talking,

quiet, throats raw still with morning.

When our fourth glides down the hill

—appears from the fog—we have a game.

Hard passes hurt purple hands,

gloves fall out of pockets onto the court

—we kick them out of the way.

Blocked, the ball skims on the grass spraying dew.

Contested call. Get it then. You get it.

Unseen, the bus groans to a stop at the curb.

Rush for gym bags, down-jacket jostle,

kicking at heels in front.

Albert opens the door—whooosshhh—

We walk up and past, heat palpable, thick,

green vinyl seats cold.

Window fog cleared by hand.

Half a mile down the road

the Dunns look poorer in the cold, colder.

Steven Stone, hyperactive, shivers his shoulders,

tries to coax Donny Dunn into boxing his ears.

All the pants at this bus stop are too short,

all the haircuts wrong. Albert greets them:

Hey there Donny, Chick, what say Democrat

—Steven, you sit up here with me buddy.

Chick Dunn dumps his brothers at the front,

they look less poor split up,

and sits in the back with us.

It ain't even cold, he smiles,

then screams at Donny to sit down and quit whining.

The bus starts again.

Soon we will all be warm.

Wet shoe tracks will steam in the aisle.

Too soon we'll get Steven to sing Delta Dawn.

His older brother Dave, small, will look nervously

from front to back, and laugh nervously with us.

Albert's eyes in the big rearview won't smile.

Inman Majors's poetry has appeared in the Antioch Review, Crazyhorse, Laurel Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of two novels, Wonderdog (St. Martins Press 2004) and Swimming in Sky (SMU Press 2000). He currently teaches fiction writing at James Madison University.

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