On Their Bikes

a poem by
CARL BOON | Professor + Poet 

Although I live abroad in Turkey, I spend a month every summer in Ohio in the small town where I grew up. I wrote “On Their Bikes” in Ohio while contemplating the idea that certain spaces belong to children–to me and my friends thirty-five years ago, and to the children who play on the same streets and driveways nowadays. In many ways, this poem explores the notion that a small town like Barberton, Ohio never really changes.

Photo by Jordan Whitt

ANITA and Tristan and Austin and Leah
Begin just after cereal, riding down
Third Street, and if there are cars
Or men with empty bags walking home
From 3rd shift at the plant, they pull up,
A little blinded by notions of the “real world,”
A little marred by frustration—for they are
What matters, children skidding, children
Owning Baird Avenue in the sun. Nothing
Can dissuade them from the loops they make,
Minor poets repeating until even the sky
Is theirs. When I was a boy we made
The street a baseball diamond, gauging
Homers above the Armbrusters’ roof,
Denying doubles if the ball hit Larsen’s
Railroad ties and settled in his evergreen.
I sit with coffee on the porch and envy
Their uncaring, if Mr. Castanero’s dogwood
Cracks, if all the things we need were gone
Tomorrow. At dinnertime they leave
Their bikes on the hillside, certain
The night won’t move them, certain
They’ll return, unencumbered, tomorrow.





Professor + Poet

Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently The Maine Review and The Hawaii Review. A 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee, Boon is currently editing a volume on the sublime in American cultural studies.