Archives for category: STARTING TO RIDE

Training Wheels
by Shawn Aveningo

The old adage
rattled in her head,
her friend’s words
of supposed comfort—
Don’t worry;
It’s just like riding a bike.

But the last bicycle
she remembered riding
had streamers on the handle bars,
clickity-clack straws on the spokes
and a hot pink banana seat.

One more look in the mirror,
before stepping out
onto the new playing field,
which now didn’t seem quite so green.

She wished for
a pair of training wheels …

… and a padded, push-up bra.

IMAGE:  “Bikes and birds” by dinarachemaya, used by permission.

shawn (2)

Shawn Aveningo
is an award-winning, globally published poet whose work has appeared in over 90 literary journals and anthologies, including LA’s poeticdiversity, which nominated her poetry for a Pushcart Prize. She is cofounder of The Poetry Box®, managing editor of The Poeming Pigeon, and journal designer for VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices and visions. Shawn is a proud mother of three and shares the creative life with her husband in Beaverton, Oregon. Visit her at

BMX biker
It Comes in Cycles
by Abel Fernandez

She learned so fast.
Riding fast across the sidewalk
of a fenced park.
Her body moves the wrong way
and the wheel went towards the other.
Her thumb got stuck on the fence,
the first knuckle pulled and pulled
until her thumb was hanging

so I learned to ride it too.
On the roof of an abandoned
public bathroom I prepared myself
to take a leap of faith.
The pressure gauges
were screaming so loud
I could feel them touching me

so I jumped
and the wheel hit the fence again
and my skull hit the floor again
and the sidewalk had blood

IMAGE: “Bike rider” by zeber, used by permission.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Abel Fernandez is a senior studying at the creative writing department of Miami Arts Charter High School. He has been published in various journals such as the Youth Poetry Digest and has won a number of awards for poetry, fiction, and research papers in the Youth Fair. He was born in Cuba (1998) and moved to Miami in 2008. He hopes to study writing in New York and hopefully become a widely published author.

Bike silhouette pop art style

Learning to Ride a Bike
by Lorna Pominville

“No you are not going to learn to ride a bicycle. They’re just for boys. You always want to do something unladylike. Why can’t you act like a girl?”

I was used to having my mother refuse my requests, so, undaunted, I asked my bestie if I could learn to ride her bike. She did not disappoint. After checking with her mother, I got the OK.

Doreen took me out to practice on the back roads near where we lived so that my mother wouldn’t see me. Some of the roads were gravel. When I fell off (as I often did) I sustained many a bloody knee.

“Just look at your knees!” my mother would comment. “Whatever do you do? You should have been a boy.”

One time I was going a little too fast and really took a “flip” I scraped not only my knee, but my whole leg. I had to sneak into the house to change out of my shorts into jeans so that my mother wouldn’t see. Despite the hot weather, I wore my jeans for weeks until my leg healed.

“How can you stand those heavy jeans in this weather?” asked my mother. “In the spring you couldn’t wait to get into your shorts, now that it’s hot you’re wearing jeans.” She just shook her head.

I just smiled and continued practicing riding Doreen’s bike.

Soon I was a pro!

PHOTO: “Bike rider” by sneslvan, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lorna Pominville is a retired registered nurse, living in Sarnia, Ontario. While working as a cruise ship nurse, she wrote monthly travel articles for the on-line magazine, Singles, for 18 months. Upon retiring in 2005, she has self-published a book of short stories pertaining to her 10 years working on ships, titled: Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! Tales of a Cruise Ship Nurse. She has also had several poems printed in Halcyon Magazine and had a poem selected for reading in London, Ontario. She is a member of the Writers Association and Writers International Through Sarnia (WITS) and attends a writers critiquing group (WHW).

Little girl cycling
The First Ride to Freedom
by Nabanita Sengupta

My feet took to pedals
Gravel no longer scary
Tar roads with open arms
Told me not to tarry.
But mom was scared she didn’t want me to go alone.
So I waited for a chaperone.
Then there came the neighbour’s son
Ah for me, the battle was won
So my foot on the pedal and he on foot
Straight from our doors, the road we took
Hours passed, sweat soaked his shirt
Cycling breeze added to my spur
My preteen spirit in unspoken joy
But he poor thing  — caught in my ploy.
My mom was scared and she didn’t want me to go alone
So I got our neighbour’s son as my chaperone
Twice the hour hand circled the clock
Mom at door pounced on me
My cycle since then up in loft
Neighbour’s son clapped in glee!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I learned to ride a bicycle when I was around 12, but my mother was initially too scared to let me ride through the lanes alone. So one day I asked my neighbour’s son to accompany me, and, in my over-enthusiasm to ride, I made the poor fellow walk behind my cycle for two long hours under the afternoon sun. Though a prolonged scolding and a temporary ban on my cycling followed, after that I was never asked to take someone along with me during my cycling sprees.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nabanita Sengupta is Assistant Professor of English at Sarsuna College, affiliated with the University of Calcutta. She has recently submitted her doctoral thesis and is waiting to defend that. Her area of research is translation, with translations that include published Bengali short stories.

From Three to Two Wheels
by Paul Nebenzahl

First riding part of a swirl of late 1950s
Memories in my Chicago jewel box
Riding a three-wheeler down
Concrete steps into a lower gangway
Trying to reconcile what my eyes saw,
With the blind of thinking
Thoughts, remembering the
Aftermath more than the plunge.

When the world was one block long
I could bisect it
Alley to corner, block around,
Back alley to gate. Out the front,
’round the school side and back
Through the rear gate.
I drive there now/breathe in my car,
Tracing the seemingly miniature block,
Which presents itself today to me
A sunken treasure map of underwater feelings.

In a sink or swim family there is no
Steady hand poised at mid-spine when
First testing two wheels from three. Stay
Away from the sharp cheap front fence
Pushing against the wooden tops meant
Falling left, toward the automobiles,
Big Buicks and Fords in candy colors against the curb,
Soft grass and in between
Tree beds almost felt like living trampolines
With dirt, and clean summer smells a dream
My early bike falls had me back on my steady
In no time flat, while with certainty the
Comparison of the real fall is bent
By time/and by man’s cruel vanity

Tearing the air from the empty sky in front
Of me, finding the second and third and fourth
Block from home, a raggy street of grime in either
Direction that set the second boundary
Of street and time, the one I set myself
The pounding of my own heart when I raced
Back, to my paternal middle earth, where
Forgiveness was always replaced by
Overturned cups on a hot collapsible table
In our own tangly backyard box.

Riding, my escape wind, connecting yesterday’s
Comfort with the promise of tomorrow’s sin
Rain riding, night riding, slump riding,
All hands, all arms, down, Cervantes on wheels.
Bouncing while falling became a middle
Mantra that had its origins in
Heady cliff wagging days when steep hills
A hand brake’s grab, and a burst of
Gravel still bravely rode me home

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Between my sister and brother, Rogers Park, Chicago, 1959. On Greenview Street, directly across from Kilmer School, I learned to ride a bike on this block.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Riding a bike was a big deal to me. I have memories of riding all night long, riding until lost, riding in the rain. When I was supposed to go to summer school, I would instead ride my bike aimlessly for hours. All summer. Sometimes I can dream myself back to this time when everything and nothing happened at once.

paul nebenzahl

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Nebenzahl is a writer, painter, and musician who lives in Evanston, Illinois. Paul’s collection of 50 poems, Black Shroud With Rainbow Fringes, was published by Silver Birch Press in May 2014. Paul’s poem “Gusen Station” was published in English, Italian, and German in 2012 by the International Committee for Mauthausen and Gusen. As a performing multi-instrumentalist and composer, Paul has created Emmy-nominated works for film and television, and has performed extensively in theater, stage, and club settings, most recently as Karen Finley’s musical director. Nebenzahl and Finley have recently performed at the Barbican Centre in London, the Museum of Modern Art and The Laurie Beechman Theater in New York City, the Richard and Karen Carpenter Theater in Long Beach, California, and the Kelly Writer’s House at U. Penn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mountain bike jump
It’s never too late
by Prerna Bakshi

At the age of 30,
after having witnessed the men in my society
claiming sole rights on wheels by denying women
from their right to freedom and self-reliance,
I decided to take the handlebar
into my own hands.
I decided to learn to ride a bicycle, on my own.

Excited yet overwhelmed;
nervous yet confident;
I sat on my bicycle
riding, under the stars late at night,
feeling the wind blowing into my face,
peddling away from patriarchy, savoring
every single ounce of that freedom,
I pedaled and pedaled
but not for too long
(all good things don’t last for too long as they say).

All of a sudden, I fell off my bicycle.
Found myself in tremendous pain.
At a nearby hospital at 2 am
in the emergency ward
bleeding, with a left fractured arm and
a broken bone, that won’t be healed
for a good few months, wounds
all over my body, especially this big one
that stood out, of red-purplish color on the calf of my right leg;
like a scar of my independence
staring right back at me
and to it, I just had this to say:
          What took you so long?

SOURCE: A version of this poem first appeared in Red Fez.

PHOTO: “Bike danger” by UBE, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem once my arm was healed. It took me a few months to recover but soon after my recovery, this poem was born.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A Pushcart Prize nominee, Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet, and activist of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. She is the author of the recently released full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK. Her work has been published widely, most recently in The Ofi Press MagazineRed Wedge Magazine, Off the Coast, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism, and Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture, as well as anthologized in several collections. Find out more at

The Lesson
by Anita S. Pulier

I tilt my small frame from side to side
hunting for smooth air,
searching for balance.
I feel my father’s steady support
as he grips the seat and runs alongside.
Then inexplicably something clicks
and Dad, once a fatherless child
who grew up without a bike, releases his grip.
I am on my own.
Later, in triumph, he confesses:
never learned to ride a bike,
never been on one.
I file this information
for future processing
allowing that small girl
to stay focused on adoration
of an omnipotent father who repeatedly
ignored fear of the unknown.
Now, Dad long gone,
I risk awakening dormant grief to recall
learning to ride the beloved Schwinn,
the colored streamers on the handlebars,
the lessons learned
far beyond the task at hand.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Mom on a bike in Alley Pond Park, Queens, New York (1940).  Photos of me were lost to a flood in our Forest Hills basement.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: After retiring from her law practice, Anita S. Pulier traded legal writing for poetry. Her chapbooks Perfect Diet and The Lovely Mundane were both published by Finishing Line Press. Anita’s poems have appeared online and in print in many journals.

To Ride a Bike
by Martina R. Gallegos

I never saw one as a child.
The first tricycle I saw was at fourteen;
I was already in the USA, waiting for siblings.
When they arrived, they were a whole bunch;
they reminded me of The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
We’d go through neighbors’ dumpsters weekly,
looking for treasures, bikes, really.
Since we found no bikes and billy goats
needed something to busy themselves with,
we opted for the neighbor’s persimmon tree;
I’d never seen or eaten the fruit before.
My brothers climbed for persimmons daily.
That enthusiasm lasted only until the owner’s
patience, and persimmons, ran out.
We were invited to a friend’s home;
the family had bicycles, tricycles, and dirt bikes galore!
My brothers pushed me around on the tricycle first;
other times they simply pushed me around.
After they learned to ride the bicycle,
it was my time for torture; they enjoyed it,
and I learned to ride bike.
Who would’ve thought that one day I’d go to
work and college on a very tall, ten-speed man’s bike.
Now I look back and am amazed at the courage I
displayed riding that bike around town.
I forgot to ride after a stroke many years later.
My daughter encouraged me to ride bike again.
I never would’ve learned to ride a bike
hadn’t it been for those loyal Billy Goats Gruff.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The photo is of bike I learned to ride after my stroke. I’d bought it about a month before a work injury, a ruptured Achilles tendon.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’d written a narrative about my bike riding experience, but I’d forgotten many details, so I basically took an excerpt from that to write my poetry piece.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martina R. Gallegos came from Mexico and attended Pasadena High school, Oxnard College, and California State University, Northridge. She got a Master’s from Grand Canyon University after a massive stroke. She published Grab the Bull by the Horns (Outskirts Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in Hometown Pasadena, Allpoetry, Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015, and Spectrum 4. She lives in Oxnard, California.

old vintage bicycle in india
Riding the wind
by Sunil Sharma

The bicycle was rented from a cycle shop in a small north Indian town circa 1970.

Then such cycle shops were plentiful across the country.

That was an innocent era; idealism was a virtue in a nation recovering from the British Raj. Simplicity and honesty were the cherished values governing lifestyles.

Most folks and towns were middle class and people either walked to work or home; the preferred mode of transport was a humble bicycle that carried you, friends, or even little families, and nobody questioned your status by the size of your vehicle.

I was then an eighth grader: Lean-thin; wide-eyed; gawking at the speeding figure on the two wheels, waiting an initiation ceremony involving a sibling or a cousin — sometimes, a helpful friend telling the secrets of handling a bicycle, a prized possession.

A Sunday morning I was told to ride a bike by Father.

A hot summer morning when desert seemed to enter inside the cities and towns, scorching everything. The rite to passage had begun.

Merciless sun in a clear sky. A wide-open public ground as the arena of initiation.

And me, with my elder brother as my ad-hoc teacher.

Separated by few years but sanctified by the custom, an elder bro meant a boss-figure and an authority, not to be taken lightly, and respected.

I climbed the cycle; he was behind, pushing the steel contraption, yelling instructions I could never hear due to tension of being airborne; he asking me to look ahead, not below, as the general principle.

And then I was asked to go solo by pedaling furiously. I would try; ride the wind that would bite and sting — and Lo! I would slip and fall down few nanoseconds later, a defeated foot soldier of such a bloody urban expedition.

One hour we spent there on the dusty ground trying to dominate the beast that would not yield and throw me down, every few paces down.

Bro was breathless; angry; disgusted with my poor skills.

I fell down frequently, demoralized, hurt, unable to master the humble bike, while boys my age flew on it, taunting me nearby.

I understood the pain and humiliation of a fallen soldier at that time

The disappointment of a being a failure; the low spirits; the jeering crowds!


Mastering math and machine so difficult for poor mortals like me?

Would I die ordinary?

Or, God would be kind? I, too, will become a bright learner with superior skills?

Sadly, there were no oracles to guide.

My bro made the grim forecast, as brothers tend to do everywhere, all the time: You will never learn the delights of riding a bike. You lack that warrior spirit.

That finale was depressing, nay, crushing.

With swollen joints and grimy face I returned as a wounded hero for my Mother only

And as a hopeless novice for others in the family  —

Determined never to try any bike in my life!

PHOTO: “Vintage bicycle, India” by Kokhanchikov, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem revisits the family ritual of learning to ride a bike that was often traumatic for many young kids in the 70s-80s. This poem explores that typical Indian experience in the broader historical and personal contexts. Looking back, I find today’s generation very smart, riding fancy bikes. Bicycles are now like the Dodo in most mega-cities here in India, replaced by the 100 cc motorbikes. Kids no longer ride the traditional bicycles, but prefer the imported brands costing a lot of money. How times change!

Profile picture - Sunil Sharma

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Based in Mumbai, India, Sunil Sharma is a widely published Indian writerHe has published 14 books: four collections of poetry, two of short fiction, one novel, one a critical study of the novel and co-edited six anthologies on prose, poetry, and criticism. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award — 2012. Recently his poems were published in the UN project, Happiness: The Delight-Tree.

Beach at Hollywood Beach

How to ride a bike in South Florida
by Stephanie Casio

     1. Wrap your legs with four layers of sweatpants like bubble wrap. Don’t mind that your sweat from being outside so long has soaked through a pair and a half.
2. Try not to let the fresh sweat glazed onto your forehead bother you too much. Those two seconds of wind hitting you before you fall down will cool you off.
3. Make mom and dad proud by getting back up after having a heavy metal machine collapse onto your eight-year-old body, that’ll really make them proud.
4. Try, try, try.
5. Don’t give up when you feel like you’re having heat stroke.
6. But also drink some water every once in a while. Like holy crap kid don’t make mom go to the hospital for something as lame and preventable as heatstroke. Again.
7. Accept that the gravel bits in your driveway are now a part of your skin, that the lodged-in pieces belong in your system like water and blood and salt.
8. When you fall on the ground — because you will, multiple times — don’t twist your wrist or your ankle. You will cry, and then your parents will cry, and crying people aren’t really that coherent or good at making decisions.
9. Allow your mother to give you provisions as you tame the wild beast that is your bike. Orange slices, animal crackers, and Gatorade are a soldier’s food, they are the supplements of an Olympians.
10. Now that you are comfortable in your soggy sweatpants, have refilled your internal energy by eating food, and learned to break your fall — you have successfully completed the trials every bike rider has gone through. You have earned the ultimate ending of riding off into the sunset on your mighty steed and are now not the only kid in your class who can’t ride a bike. Hopefully.

PHOTO: “Hollywood Beach, South Florida” by tomato66, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I prefer prose to poems, but I like to do poems when I have a very simple idea that needs to be made, such as for this anthology. Working around or with a prompt is a big part of getting inspiration.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie Casio was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She is currently a junior at Miami Arts Charter school in the Creative Writing program.