Featured Poem: Caroline Kessler’s “A Bicycle Without Brakes”

"New Orleans Bike" by Derek Skey

These really exist! I built one from a forgotten frame, a pillow cushion for a seat, wooden blocks for pedals. Why would you ever want to stop? If I could, I would cycle all the way from Pittsburgh to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where no one else is trying to go so the roads will be clear as the fall night smoked with bonfires, all the way through western Pennsylvania’s hills, into the flatness, not stopping for the impeccable silver Ohioan rest stops, not stopping under eastern Michigan’s sky, big and crowded with stars, not stopping for a midnight sandwich because I forget my hunger when my legs are open like wings and I’m coasting, refusing to stop as I blow through the typical cornfields, yellow silk catching in the spokes, I feel so very Midwestern, not attempting to stop until I get to Allendale, a sliver outside of Grand Rapids, and not until I make it to that deceptively circular planned manicured community development where your grandmother lives, and I make one lap around the man-made pond for good luck, trailing my hand through the chemical water and feel up the fat fake fish for kicks and not until I ride right through the back door and into your bedroom on the ground level and I catch the bike on the edge of the pool table and I catapult myself into your sky-size bed, where you are sprawled out, sinewy arms wide, waiting for me even though I never told you that I was coming.


Caroline KesslerCaroline Kessler, a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, was raised outside of Baltimore. Her poetry and prose has been published in The Susquehanna Review, Dossier, and Collision, among others. She currently lives (and bicycles!) in San Francisco.