Pedal Power Joy McDowell Poetry

local_library Pedal Power

by Joy McDowell

Published in Issue No. 274 ~ March, 2020

Don’t talk to me about E bikes.

None of them accommodate

my extremely short legs, not short

for a Scottish Pict, but too short for the E bike.

I’m assigned the kid’s bike and advice to keep

my power setting at “turbo.” Thirty-eight kilometers

to the Black Forest, along river trails, through suburbs,

across asparagus fields, up quaint mountain lanes.


I pedal like the old witch in The Wizard of Oz,

fast, leaning over handlebars that

keep sliding downward into their shaft.

I pedal like the fierce Pict that I am.

I ride to the top of the ruin, to the bistro

for a birthday lunch, to the farm for schnapps.

The humid heat climbs into the nineties.

I am now seventy-two, but I keep pedaling.


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Joy McDowell is a graduate of the University of Oregon. She writes from her home on Sky Mountain overlooking the McKenzie River. She has produced three chapbooks and is under contract for a fourth. Recent work appeared in Poeming Pigeons and Willawaw.