Prayer for a Harley Rider

by Lisa Martinovic

So here I am gawking at this brand new, beefed-up
and all full of itself Harley-Davidson
Big
Black
Menacing
A veritable Rottweiler of the motorcycle world

I walk the length of this behemoth
admiring its sheer bulk
its shiny newness
Then I spy the sticker
applied somewhere above the headlight
centered just so, the sticker sneers:
If it’s too loud
You’re too old


and I am stunned, tripped up in my anger I snort
why you arrogant snot nosed punk
I fume at the bike as if it had a choice
as to its master’s incivility
When this approach proves futile
I ratchet my rage down I try
to cultivate some compassion I try
to think of something helpful to tell this poor child
who is not old enough to know any better
I want to do this before I and others of my wizened ilk
are herded off by brutes like him
to grimy nursing homes
where our hypersensitivity won’t infringe
on their right to break the sound barrier

Son, I want to tell him
maybe someday, God willing
you too will reach the advanced age of…whatever
with one foot in the grave and the other on a driveway oil slick
and your hearing aid will be cranked up too loud
so that the muscular roar of a Harley
disrupts your comfort
intrudes on your peace of mind
and so you’ll squawk about kids
these days having no respect for their elders and
other cliches as stale and feeble as you are
and you won’t remember taunting the innocent and
the thoughtless insolence of your youth–NO

Or maybe for you it will be different
maybe 30 years from now
you’ll still party hearty and snort coke at Limp Bizkit concerts
maybe you’ll still be showing off that withered barbed wire
tattoo on a bicep sagging under the weight of maintaining your image
maybe you’ll still have a full head of hair
several lovers
and a pierced scrotum for their entertainment

maybe you won’t have moved to a quiet home in the suburbs
where you enjoy tending a garden and
sitting on the porch with friends
sipping iced tea on long summer evenings
maybe you’ll be just tickled on those rare nights
when a motorcycle screams past your house at three AM and
opens up the throttle full bore
rattling teacups and teeth
making babies cry and dogs howl
maybe you won’t mind one bit
maybe it won’t be to loud maybe
you’ll never be
too old

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