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“Why I Walk With a Cane”


Flipped Helix left little doubt:
his days as an easyrider were over.
Gestures to passing cars seemed futile.
Carrying the scratched-up, dented-in helmet,
he footed it to the nearest rest area—
stepping over lilies and on maple leaves along the way.

Thankful for feet to stand on.

Previously, he had no worries about the dangers
inherent in such freedom-riding activities.
Yes, she had expressed concern about how
she may one day be a grief-stricken bride,
but hobbies are for enjoying and exploring,
even if, sooner or later, the crash is inevitable.

written for Sunday Whirl and Monday Melting; linked to Open Link Night at dverse poets

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44 responses »

  1. Sounds like it was worth it. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Thanks for the visit and comment Brenda…there’s much fun in feeling the wind blow against your entire body, and the “freedom” found in such travels, but I think the speaker is still trying to figure out if it was worth all the pain πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Like I said in person, I love the title and your creative use of “Helix.” I had totally forgotten that was the name of your bike.

    Really good sound in this first line (alliteration, gentle internal rhyme): “Flipped Helix left little doubt”

    A lot of change expressed in this, metaphorically speaking. Life flipped, things getting harder, not taking it easy but putting in the work.

    “he footed it to the nearest rest area” … a time of restoration and renewal, rebirth with new feet, altered function perhaps … assistance necessary (cane)

    “stepping over lilies and on maple leaves along the way” … this line is so interesting and out of place, so it must mean something really important. I’m looking up symbolism of the lily, and I’ve found an interesting contrast:

    the Greeks held the lily as a symbol of high eroticism and sexuality; Christians hold the lily as a symbol of chastity, innocence, purity and piety … I wonder which one the speaker was “stepping over,” in an attempt at preservation or shuffling quickly past/ignoring

    The maple leaf is a symbol of Canada, so maybe that’s where this story takes place. The maple leaf is also a symbol of endurance and strength. And they’re being stepped on in this story. Hmmmm. That is fitting after his crash.

    I love the central, independent line: “Thankful for feet to stand on.” It’s the crux of the piece. Every catastrophe can go in one direction or the opposite regarding attitude and forward momentum: thankful for what is left or angry about what is lost. This reminds me of the videos you’ve been watching about the guy with no limbs.

    In the final stanza, you switch to more general terminology, making his situation applicable to broader topics, vague concepts of worry, danger, hobbies, loss, and disaster. This takes a personal experience and allows outsiders to internalize the message, even if they haven’t had a motorcycle crash. They’ve likely had other types of crashes because of carelessness, overindulgence, not heeding advice, etc.

    This is an excellent poem; I’m highly impressed. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • I’m glad you liked the poem and took the time to give it such detailed analysis. You nailed many of the metaphors I had in mind, and added so much more (like the lilies….those were just there because of the prompt…but you made it sound “deep,” so I’ll go with it!) πŸ™‚

      Thanks again for all your encouragement with my writing.

      Reply
    • “They’ve likely had other types of crashes because of carelessness, overindulgence, not heeding advice, etc.”

      You are so perceptive…this is indeed the central theme in my mind. All of us become consumed with hobbies/passions/pursuits that *can* become too consuming, ultimately leading to some form of “accident,” leaving us “wounded for life” even if we can still walk.

      Reply
      • So what you’re saying is all things in moderation, like poetry, reading, TV, X-Box, and Mountain Dew? πŸ™‚

        Reply
        • essentially πŸ™‚ except the mountain dew…I’m pretty sure that isn’t even needed in moderation! (though it remains one of my greatest guilty pleasures!)

          Reply
          • I was actually referring to the bottle caps not the soda itself. Surely you remember that hobby. I don’t recall moderation being part of the equation in that case … or with any other hobbies, in fact. πŸ™‚

          • Well that wasn’t actually mountain dew…that was 7up, and some orange soda πŸ™‚

            And, you are right, moderation has not been a strength of mine when it comes to hobbies…I know the consequences first hand…

          • Oh yeah, how could I forget that amazing orange crush! That stuff, in overflowing abundance, was delicious. It was a sad day when we ran out. πŸ™‚

  3. These are my favorite lines:

    “Flipped Helix left little doubt”
    “Gestures to passing cars seemed futile”
    “stepping over lilies and on maple leaves along the way”
    “Thankful for feet to stand on”
    “even if, sooner or later, the crash is inevitable”

    Reply
  4. We all crash, even after repeated warnings–it is inevitable–having feet to stand on however, that doesn’t happen everyday–Great write!

    Reply
  5. I agree, the crash is always inevitable. To go through life unaware of the dangers can be blissful, but always leads to a crash

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  6. The crash will come whether we expect it too or not, the fun can be getting there and the test can be what happens after it comes. nice one!

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  7. i guess in some sense we all have to figure out if the risk is worth the freedom…and i guess that is where wisdom comes in…unfortunately after the fact is not the best way to gain it…

    Reply
  8. Reminds me of Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

    There’s always bumps and tumbles along the way, it’s just the way it is. And if you ride them through, you’ll get to those better things, those unconquerable heights.

    Great work here. Reads in so many ways.

    Reply
  9. I am a motorbike enthusiast – but had a spill once, almost run over by a truck. Quit then, as my family and children took precedence…

    Reply
  10. It’s one of those things that you ponder is it worth the trade-off? Great poem and very thoughtful,

    Reply
  11. Some hobbies are like that. some professions, too. It’s a matter of personal choice both for the person who takes the hobbi, and to those who choose to mix their fates with him/her.
    Nice and thought-provoking!

    Reply
    • Thanks Mariya…I’ve been guilty far too many times of letting work & hobbies become *too* important…I’m learning quickly though to invest in the things that really matter in life….

      Your thoughts are so greatly appreciated!

      Reply
  12. I’ve not been on a motorcycle since I was 17. Too dangerous.

    You said it all here.

    I like the bit about the lilies and maple leaves he stepped over. his dented helmet.

    Reply
  13. Seems we seldom heed the warnings, yet recall them clearly afterward. I wish I’d known then…

    http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/a-promis-comes/

    Reply
    • You have nailed it Charles….how much trouble and heartache we would save ourselves (and our loved ones) if only we would “heed the warnings”

      Look forward to checking out your blog soon!

      Reply
  14. Ah gee.. good thing Shawna shed some light on this… I understand it much better now. BTW, you two need to get a room….

    I quickly scanned the comments, did anyone adress NOT taking the chance…(oh, skyraftwanderer did sort of touch on it…). There’s been plenty of chances I never took in life, and then the ones I did, soooo glad (oh, actually some of those turned out bad too.) However, I still cringe when I see someone wearing shorts on a motorcycle–eeeeyowwww–no skin left on your body if you wreck! 😦

    Reply
    • LOL…you just cracked me up with the start of your comment…thanks for the laugh πŸ™‚

      Also “lol’d” at your parenthetical comment…sometimes we definitely need to take those chances.

      You know, I never even considered the danger of riding in shorts until my getting my most recent bike…now that I’m a daddy, those things do cross my mind much more frequently.

      Great comment…always delighted to see you here!

      Reply
  15. There must be some advantages to ‘bike’ riding – the freedom felt. There are just so many ‘inherent’ dangers. My own hubby gave up his when a rock was spit up by the back wheel of a big rig and if he wasn’t wearing his helmet he would have been blinded. Good luck on that being a ‘Daddy’ thing. I’m now in the grateful grand-parenting stage. I enjoyed your verse!

    Reply

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