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Richard Long

Night Biking

Oh Brightening Glance

Night Biking

He bikes now across the desert,
rolling into Texas, a bend of hills, and over
a creek of sagebrush. Later he will chance
upon a shack of flatbread and brisket,
but at the moment he's tuned
to the bluebonnets, he's chatting it up
with rabbits hopping through his spokes,
his eyes are bloody lines of near disaster.

Do you know his ruin in the rocks--
an alien, a helicopter, a gargoyle--
could smash his bike the way a comet
would? Or God's foot? A boot? Praise
the rumble strip that keeps him
from drifting too far into a brain of buzz--
the glass sparked moons of roadkill.
Praise the white-striped highway of skunk.

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Oh Brightening Glance

The golden boy is now a fat man.
His wife left him long ago, his daughter
is already forgetting her father.

All around him life has collapsed:
Look at how he holds the pistol
to his lips, like a french horn.

A world away, a man shelters in his tent,
listening to the wind, to how it sashays
through the woods like a love song.

He thinks of a girl he used to date,
of how he had held her so tight
the lovers were the dance.

He doesn’t hear the dead wood
clicking, like a trigger, or the rain
tapping for him to open the fly.

He has finished looking into the clear
of everything that is. To welcome sleep
he pulls the mummy bag over his head.

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Richard Long is an associate professor of English at St. Louis Community College--Meramec, where he teaches creative writing, poetry, and environmental literature. He is also the editor of 2River, quarterly publishing The 2River View and occasionally publishing individual authors in the 2River Chapbook Series.

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