Thursday, August 27, 2009

News from the Poetic World

It would be simpler, I suppose,
to live in a world purely prose.

When I was younger I believed that everything could be explained, should be explained, in a purely rational and logical manner. Kurt Gödel, Lao Tzu and a universe that places duct tape where it needs to be, convinced me that the world is more complex than that. So I live and love in a world where I've learned some facts through fiction, where the real news comes from poets instead of pressmen and I've learned that there are some things I must constantly relearn, some things I must unlearn and many things I'll never know.

William Carlos Williams
tells us that "it is difficult to get the news from poetry" and Christopher Morley noted that "the bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets." And it is on my bicycle that I find the time to think, to explore, to see the world at a pace that suits me. For I am still an impatient man, an unreasonable man, whose not quite willing to accept the purely pedestrian pace and range given me by bipedal locomotion. I take both a lesson from and issue with Priestley as I ride my graceful gadget to the wild places, the roads less traveled by that make all the difference.

Every trip brings something to my attention, or removes something from my attention that I've been paying too much mind to. And I never know what lies around the next turn in the trail, even on trails I've been down dozens of times and that, perhaps, is why I keep returning to some familiar places, to see the changes in the world and in me. But other days, like this day, I'm drawn to some place old to the world yet new to me, where I can be at least a bit lost as I follow my wheels where they seem to want to go.

Today, this morning actually, it's the old roads up the west side of Rattlesnake Ridge. There are no rattlesnakes on this side of the Cascades but the name is more evocative than "rattling seed-pod ridge" so that is what's stuck to this chunk of rugged terrain.

My map, as always, is not the terrain, but it is enough to draw me here, to this wonderful network of old logging roads and powerline cuts and winding gravel tracks that lead up to towers that blink day and night and relay voices up and over the solid stone. I pass by the gate that bars the cars, pause by the rusting remains of a once-powerful machine slowly being returned to the earth it once moved. The blackberries are thick here and heavy with fruit. My second breakfast is free for the taking.

I'd told Christine this would be a three-hour tour, but possibly three hours in the Gilligan-sense, so I might not be back until noon. I'd left at seven, it's close to ten when I turn around with many trails left unexplored.

It is down and fast and the way home, like the way up, involves one exit's worth of freeway riding. One exit is enough for today's lesson.

And that lesson is one I've known and forgotten and of which, apparently, I need to be reminded. For when you live in a poetic world, a world of duct tape miracles and soul-freeing beauty right in your backyard, you must remember that there are certain rules, rules not of logic but of poetic justice, which should not be ignored.

"The first rule of flat club is that nobody talks about flat club." Or something like that. If Tyler Durden was a cyclist, I'm sure that's what he would have said.

What I said, stupidly, I said yesterday on this blog. I said (wrote actually) "
I hesitate to write this, lest I rouse the wrath of the tire gods, but I've had zero issues with these tires. None. No flats."

"Thwack, thump, thwack, thump." My dad would call the sound coming from my back tire "a hell of racket." A rationalist would call it the screw I'd just run over. I call it the universe sending me yet another wake-up call. I know how the world works, but I forget sometimes. I just have no idea why it works this way. But it does.

The screw keeps the air in until I make it off the freeway. At Preston I stop, fix the flat and take pictures. As soon as I remove the screw, the air wooshes out. I think this is the kind of flat that True Goo would do a good job of sealing but my two brand new True Goo tubes are on my kitchen table back at home.

And now I'm home, reminded again that I live in a strange and wonderful world. I have a tube to patch, some hail Remas to mutter, some balance to restore.

I get flats all the time. Remember that, you read it here.

Keep 'em rolling,


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