portion of the artwork for William Doreski's poem

How Little Horsepower Required
William Doreski

My motorbike earns a hundred
miles per gallon, but has burned
that gallon, so I have to wheel it
to the gas station where thugs
in pickups laugh at me. The day
burns like the midnight lantern
in the brakeman’s hand. May
has brought its graces to bear
on everyone, even the toughs
with their big surly trucks.
I pump my gallon and putter
into dimensions too specific
for large vehicles to enter.
The road narrows to a path
in the woods. Smooth, graveled,
it leads past witch hovels
and shacks featuring incest
among pale hairless families.
It leads to a scraggy orchard
where deer strip the blossoms
every spring. I park and lie down
in tick-littered grass and dream
of surf breaking on lonely beaches
the famous nudes avoid. The creak
of old trees in the breeze suggests
how far from home this dead-end
has taken me. A hundred miles
per gallon, and I’ve used up thirty.
Hope I’m not lost. A thrush song
more vivid than any I’ve heard
in years soars over the orchard.
I stagger to my feet and mount
my bike and rev the tiny engine.
Thirty miles here, thirty back,
refill the tank and dawdle home
without a story to tell, the gloom
of the forest still heavy on me;
the forty miles left in the tank
the ones that would’ve taken me
wherever desperation belongs.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 46 | Fall 2015