My Bike on the Bridge

“People will pay any price for motion. They will even work for it. Look at bicycles.”
― William Faulkner, The Reivers

My bike – Vintage 1987 Cannondale ST600 Touring Bike.

On the Margaret McDermott bridge bike/pedestrian path, over the Trinity River, Dallas, Texas

Cannondale 1987 brochure

Sunday Snippet, Red Line Scofflaw by Bill Chance

“My heart is warm with the friends I make,

And better friends I’ll not be knowing,

Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,

No matter where it’s going.”

― Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Selected Poetry

(click to enlarge)

Red Line Scofflaw

As I was standing at the kiosk

(I had had to walk back to the car to get four quarters from the little holder thing that folds down between the front bucket seats as I only had a single dollar bill plus two tens – and I didn’t want to shove a ten in the machine – who knows what would happen then)

with my dollar bill and four quarters

trying to figure which buttons to push

and where the coins slot was

the train pulled up.

It was Sunday and who knows when the next train will come

So I boarded quickly, without my ticket

I’m a scofflaw

They warn you never to ride the trains without a ticket

one hundred fifty dollar fine.

I clutched my dollar and my four quarters in my hand

So I would have an excuse for the

transit police

if they came down the aisle checking

for tickets

I’ve ridden the train a lot

and never seen the transit police

check for tickets

Though I’ve seen their cars

leaving donut shops

parked in the parking lots

sleeping man in the front

There is a kid

sitting across from me

working on his very short hair

with a big comb

looking at

his reflection in the window

above his head is a poster

bright purple with white letters

it says:

Poetry in Motion

The poem on the poster is:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

William Carlos Williams (1963)

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, A Lake Upon a Lake by Benjamin Niespodziany

“The lake of my mind, unbroken by oars, heaves placidly and soon sinks into an oily somnolence.’ That will be useful.”

― Virginia Woolf, The Waves

The ponds at the end of my block, Richardson, Texas

And today’s flash fiction:

A Lake Upon a Lake by Benjamin Niespodziany

from Claw & Blossom

Benjamin Niespodziany Twitter

Benjamin Niespodziany Blog

What I learned this week, Jun 18, 2021

Car fire just north of downtown, Dallas.

What We Really Lose When Highways Destroy Historic Neighborhoods

A few old news reports about Deep Ellum in the late 1960s unintentionally document the huge costs of highway-driven demolition.


Employees/Artists from Orr-Reed Wrecking. Her T-Shirt says, “Show Us Your Junk,” which is their motto.

4 Ways to Cut Dow Your Stuff Without Going Insane

You may not be a capital-H hoarder, but chances are you’ve got more stuff packed away than you really know what to do with. If it’s time to reduce the clutter, start here.


Running of the Bulls, New Orleans, Louisiana

Trying to Lose Weight? Here’s Why Strength Training Is as Important as Cardio

Don’t spend all your energy on the treadmill if you’re trying to drop a pants size. Strength training is an important way to boost your weight loss. Here’s why—and how.


Resistance training: here’s why it’s so effective for weight loss


The perfect number of hours to work every day? Five

Research shows that five work hours a day can improve productivity and bolster wellbeing. There’s only one thing holding companies back


Future Generations, by William Zorach, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden

How Low Can America’s Birth Rate Go Before It’s A Problem?


Earth’s core is growing ‘lopsided’ and scientists don’t know why

Walker

“If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish.”
― Charles Dickens

Near Main Street Garden Park, Dallas, Texas

I was starting off on my drive to work, having made one turn… my drive crossed the walking path that runs along the creek behind my house. This trail is crowded at dawn, mostly dog-walkers but quite a few exercisers, some wanderers, skateboards, unicycles, cyclists, and stray coyotes returning to their lairs. All are out trying to get in some perambulation in the relative cool of the morning before the killer Texas sun rises too high in the sky.

A little bit past the trail crossing I slowed to let a man cross in front of me. He had a leash in one hand and a plastic poop bag in the other – the bag swung to and fro, indicating its possession of a cargo of (presumably canine) shit.

But he had no dog. A leash and a bag of poop, but no pet. What the hell?

Maybe his long term pet had passed away and he still went out every morning for a walk, carrying a leash and a precious, saved crappy souvenir to remind him of his dear departed pooch. Maybe not.

I didn’t stop and ask.

Short Story of the Day, Flash Fiction, Zombies in the Bosque by Becca Yenser

“Things like that happen all the time in this great big world of ours. It’s like taking a boat out on a beautiful lake on a beautiful day and thinking both the sky and the lake are beautiful. So stop eating yourself up alive. Things will go where they’re supposed to go if you just let them take their natural course.”

― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.

From my old journal, The Daily Epiphany, June 16, 2001 – 20 years ago to the day:

Breeze on the Water

I overslept something terrible today. Actually, I set my alarm for eight; late enough as it is, woke up and puttered around, but then fell back asleep.

I wanted to get some exercise and have been enjoying loading up my new pack and going for walks. By the time I was able to get my shit together it was three in the afternoon and brutal hot. Hiking on a hot summer day is good exercise anyway, so I decided to give it a go.

I drove over to White Rock Lake and since there is all new construction going in around the dam area, went farther north and entered at Emerald Isle, intending to hike down to the dam and back.

My pack was stuffed with as much weight as I could get in there, camera, books, and water bottles mostly. I had my sun hat and safety-glasses style sunglasses on, shorts and hiking boots – I looked plenty stupid and felt it.

They are working on the old road on the entire southeast sector of the lake, building a new, wide asphalt bike and jogging trail. For now, though, it is all torn up. The afternoon was killer hot and the sun scorching. There were very few people out, two women hiking with hydration packs and a scattering of sweating bicyclists, mostly guys, mostly shirtless.

I walked down to the area close to the dam, then walked out on to one of the old wooden piers to sit and rest for a bit. I’m terribly out of shape and the easy walk wasn’t so easy for me. I hesitated for a minute, the jutting, T-shaped dock doesn’t afford any shade and I wondered if I would be better off finding a tree. The green water looked inviting though, and I decided to sit on the end hanging my legs over. The pier is old – the wood gray and weathered, broad, brown nail-heads stick up on little pimples of wood, the area around worn away by sun and water.

It was dead calm but comfortable out there so I sat and read for a while. A fish roiled the surface, going after a bug or something, showing a flash of tan fin and a splash. A duck paraded back and forth. Two soft-shell turtles splashed off their nearby log and floated around, their dark necks and thin heads sticking out of the water, wondering when I would leave so they could get back to their basking spot.

I sat looking lakeward with the sounds of the traffic on Garland road behind me. The roar of rubber on tarmac, the occasional horn, thumping of untuned engines, and the treble chatter of car radios out of open windows. When the traffic let up I could hear the roar of water going over the spillway to my left. The waterfall gave the odd illusion, sitting on the dock above it, that the lake existed as a shelf above the ground; I was looking into the tops of trees and buildings sticking up above the water. In the distance were the geometric towers of downtown.

The water around me was calm, flat, green, and smooth, but looking toward the dam I could see patch of wavelets, glittering, jewel-like. As I watched the patch began to grow and move toward me. Soon, little ripples passed by where I was sitting and then a gust of cooling breeze. The water was then covered with little silver-blue waves, the sun glinting in thousands of fast moving stars off the sides of the water.

The burst of breeze moved on, the water calmed, but for a moment, it was beautiful.

And today’s flash fiction:

Zombies in the Bosque by Becca Yenser

from Lost Balloon

Becca Yenser Twitter

Becca Yenser Home Page

Pink Moon

Saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on its way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get ye all

—-Nick Drake Pink Moon

The moon rising over the Dallas skyline and the pond at Trammell Crow Park. From the October Full Moon Ride.

I was driving in to work, the morning sun still a burning ball stuck to the horizon, listening to the local eclectic FM radio station. I wasn’t paying much attention until a song I don’t think I had heard before came on – the speakers let loose with some amazing excellent guitar finger picking. For a second, I though maybe Trace Bundy or Nils Lofgren… but then the singing started. The voice was delicate and unique – the lyrics mysterious and elegiac. The arrangement was simple – guitar, bass, congas. Perfect. An amazing song.

That’s why I listed to that station in the car (or Radio Paradise at home) – to discover something that I had missed before… a new rabbit hole to fall down. At the next red light I grabbed my phone and checked the station’s playlist. It was a song called Three Hours, by Nick Drake.

That evening I sat down and listened to all of Nick Drake’s discography (only three albums). I read all I could find about his heartbreaking story – he struggled with depression and died at 26 of an overdose of anti-depressants (maybe suicide, maybe not).

As his depression worsened he moved back in with his parents. He could not perform live (he was always shy and remote on stage – even at his best). There are no films or live recordings, no nothing other than the three strange and wonderful albums he cranked out – plus a few outtakes and oddities.

His last album, Pink Moon, spoke to me particularly. He was the only performer on the album, singing and playing acoustic guitar with a single piano overdub on the title track.

Nick Drake was almost completely unknown during his life. His music was liked by those in the know but it didn’t fit any category (too jazzy for folk, too folky for jazz, too unique for anything else). But after his death, his popularity began to slowly grow. He gained a bit of posthumous fame when Volkswagen used Pink Moon in one of their commercials for the Cabriolet. Sales in the U.S. of the album grew from a measly 6,000 copies, to 74,000 copies in 2000. As of 2004 it had sold 329,000 copies in the United States.

The music sounds familiar to me, though I don’t remember the commercial:

I’ve been listening to this song over and over.

Sunday Snippet, Boca Diablo (part 5 – El Tiburón) by Bill Chance

“Sharks have everything a scientist dreams of. They’re beautiful―God, how beautiful they are! They’re like an impossibly perfect piece of machinery. They’re as graceful as any bird. They’re as mysterious as any animal on earth. No one knows for sure how long they live or what impulses―except for hunger―they respond to. There are more than two hundred and fifty species of shark, and everyone is different from every other one.”

― Peter Benchley, Jaws

(click to enlarge)

Boca Diablo (part 5 – El Tiburón)

Read Part 1 Here

Read Part 2 Here

Read Part 3 Here

Read Part 4 Here

Dwayne never imagined how difficult it would be to get to Boca Diablo and see the butterflies again. After all these years the orange swarm he had seen as a child had grown in his mind. Now, after Flynn had brought him information, probably only a myth, that indicated that the insects were used by the ancient indigenous royalty for supernatural powers, the idea of the butterflies had grown in his mind until they had pushed out almost everything else. With Flynn’s support, he assumed that gaining approval from the university would be a cakewalk, and funding would surely follow.

But there was violent political unrest in the Boca Diablo area and the State Department was restricting travel. A shadowy figure, El Tiburón had raised a ragtag peasant army which, somehow, had driven the government forces out of the area. The central command didn’t seem too keen on spilling the necessary blood on getting it back.

“It has always been a backwater,” the embassy official had told him, “It will always be a backwater – bloody and dangerous. And useless. I recommend you abandon concern for that godforsaken place. Forget about it completely. I know I have. At least until you came in and started bothering me about it.”

One night, he received a phone call from someone asking to meet him down at his university office. The person on the other end refused to give his name, but said, “You need to meet me there, you won’t regret it.”

“Are you sure I won’t?” he asked.

“Well, I am absolutely sure you’ll regret not showing up,” was the answer. And it sounded convincing.

After carding into the dark research building and walking down the eerie empty echoing hallways Dwayne was startled to see his office door open, and the lights on. When he entered he saw a tall man wearing an expensive suit, smoking a cigar, sitting at his own desk.

“Have a seat,” the man said in a slight accent. He gestured at a chair in front of the desk.

“Ummm,” Dwayne stammered, “That’s my desk, and my chair, and there is no smoking allowed in the building.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, so true,” the man said in a calm voice. But he made no attempt to move or to extinguish his cigar. He simply made a generous puff and repeated his hand gesture toward the chair. Dwayne sat down.

“How did you get in here?” Dwayne said.

“I’m Mr. Albert, I work for the CIA,” was the answer. Dwayne supposed that answered his question, even if indirectly.

“Why are you here, what does anything have to do with me?” Dwayne said.

“Anything of what?”

“That’s what I need to know.”

“Well, Dwayne, can I call you Dwayne? Here’s the thing. We understand you have been trying to get permission and funding to reach Boca Negro. Is that true?”

“Of course, I want… I need to get back and study a sighting of rare… of unique butterflies I saw when I was there as a….”

Albert interrupted him. “Now Dwayne, we have no interest in the reason you want to reach Boca Diablo. Why is not important to us. What we want to know is if you are able to help us.”

“But how can I help you, I can’t even get there.”

“Those are difficulties that we can make go away… like that,” and Arnold made a simple wave through the air.

Dwayne’s eyes grew large. He hoped that Arnold wouldn’t sense his eagerness, though he was pretty sure that was not possible. As cool as possible he replied, “I suppose with help with a visa and research funding I could make a trip. But what is it that you need… what could I possibly help you with?”

Albert sat silent, staring at Dwayne as if he were sizing up an opponent – or a lion staring at a limping deer.

“You know the area has been overrun by forces of a man that calls himself El Tiburón – that means The Shark, you know.”

Dwayne nodded.

“If you get into the area, you will certainly be brought before El Tiburón and we need information about him. You would be expected to get this information and return it to us, either by returning alive, or other means.”

Dwayne didn’t like the term, “by other means,” but he had been so obsessed with getting back to the butterflies, he was willing to march through hell on the way, which wasn’t far off from what he was being presented.

“How do you know he will want to see me?”

“Oh he will. We guarantee that, at least.”

Albert paused again. Then he opened a folder that had been sitting in front of him and extracted an eight by ten glossy photo.

“We have managed, at great cost, to obtain a photograph of El Tiburón.”

He turned it toward Dwayne. “I think you might know this man.”

Dwayne gasped. The man was older, streaks of grey ran through the thick hair that poked out from beneath the military cap he wore, and the face was furrowed by years of tough living… but there was no doubt about who the man was.

“Chaix,” Dwayne mumbled.

“Yes! Chaix!” Albert replied, with too much enthusiasm… bordering on glee.

Pedestrian

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
― John Muir, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

Margaret McDermott bridge, pedestrian path, Dallas, Texas