Late ride through Chicago

The moon should wear a helmet during late rides.
There are those who do more than steal away night;
they become it.

In darkness, we press our feet
onto metal platforms,
swivel on circles to see
strands of lights woven
into wheel spokes
like cobwebs.

Miniature disco balls,
Styrofoam sticks,
and plastic wristlets
burst with LED bulbs
Greens and reds
glow like coal
in their containers’ bellies,
grow dull like clouds
pregnant with fireworks.

All this so onlookers may see
our neon silhouettes
rotate on flashy machinery.

There’s a man with music
blaring from a pair of speakers
crackling on inconsistent cement;
another man carting a wagon of PBR
cans he cracks open with his teeth—
“One for the road,” he cheers
to bystanders outside bars.

We plot the right lane
like dots on a scatter graph,
staggering along an unknown line.

It’s not a race as the countdown begins.
At the finish, first and last won’t matter.

We sprout wings over Chicago.
Our reach spans the tips of towns,
topples into China, Old, and West.
We coo pigeon calls in tunnels—
voices bounce like graffiti
on brick walls, billboards,
rusty pipes, and road signs.

“Can you hear us?” ask the curled letters, furled like lips.
“Can you see us?” the neon lights swim with bioluminescence.

Our merriment meets resistance:

In Humboldt Park,
A van cuts into the sidewalk.
It collides with bikers busy
with daydreams in the dark,
ignorant of anger sitting
behind a sliding door.

“Move out of the way.”
“Run them over,” a woman
tolls like a church bell
rusted by premonition.

It’s not a race as the countdown begins.
At the finish, first and last won’t matter.

The driver inches, plows forward
as one rider bends like a blade
of grass under the car’s weight.
Once hit, he begins to shake his fists
at faces muffled by tinted windows.

The rider’s crowd jeers for vengeance,
hovers like crows over cornered meat.

But the van claims its territory.
It steals away with the bike,
screaming metal onto the street.

The undercarriage is on fire.
Sparks fly and morph
into orange nightmares,
close encounters
with our own kind.

2 thoughts on “Late ride through Chicago

  1. Alexa

    “‘Move out of the way.’
    ‘Run them over,’ a woman
    tolls like a church bell
    rusted by premonition.”

    Nice sound, Sarah.
    Don’t forget about betwixt, though.


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