Archives for posts with tag: childhood

Bisikletlerle gezinti
by Charlotte Lynch

I cycle quietly through the trees
It rained this morning, so
Falling will only inconvenience my mother
I can hear her now, sighing
“Stand in the kitchen and leave your clothes on the floor.
Do not step on the carpet”
Wobbling slowly over leaves and twigs
I focus on arms outstretched
Ahead, my brother, younger, laughing
You’ve all this yet to come, brother dearest

I’m almost there, almost made it
Into the arms of what is these days a stranger

Finally, come to a stop
Feet squelch as they hit the ground
No trace of the white, rubber soles I left with
Smiling, you lean in
And I recoil a touch, a gentle shoulder rub
“Shall we take you back to your mum, then?”

We don’t talk on the journey home
But my brother keeps you occupied
Stabilisers on our bikes
He dreams of one day racing through puddles
Like the motorbike gangs tearing up the field
I pedal and pedal these four wheels
You don’t say home, because it’s not what it used to be

IMAGE: “Blue bike family” by Aslan Topcu, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem started off being about learning to ride my bike in the woods as a child, on a muddy clearing in the trees, but ended up being partly about the breakup of my parents and the effect it had on my relationship with my father as I delved deeper into the memory. I remember it very clearly, though I feel like my brain has probably taken some artistic license with it! I titled this poem “Learning,” as I feel as though there is more to be learned from this experience than just how to ride a bike, despite that being the main focus.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charlotte Lynch is a writer and musician who has done both of these things her whole life, regardless of having an audience or not. After obtaining a BA(1st) in Creative Musicianship in London, Charlotte has gone on to write, sing, love, and be happy. She is quite the walking cliché.

bala photo1
Learning to Ride a Bike
by Daisy Bala

Wikipedia defines bicycle as a single-track vehicle with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. I was also always behind my brother, coping with teeny weeny challenges while he mentored me in cycling. He usually was better at grasping everything — advanced or mundane — while I was a laggard and a little gullible too.

When he learned to ride, his example sparked my desire to learn. So began my learning to the balance between the wheels. It was not long before my brother was handholding me during a dedicated daily schedule while I attempted various maneuvers.

I was his project and he worked me hard in the days that followed. Scorching my juvenile skin under the cacophony sun, barging into dead-ends, and colliding head on! He ran alongside me, straining his back and holding the handle to keep me upright as I slowly gained momentum on my unisex bike with a carrier, flashing headlight, scarlet chassis, and flashy stickers.

I never auditioned with training wheels, nevertheless managed well with pedaling, soon balancing and cycling with ease. Initially it felt weird forge ahead fast in untamed lanes but eventually I caught the spirit of self-transportation and the wind in the hair.

From wandering to staying focused, getting scratches to healing scabs, driving alone to double-seating, I did it all. My brother was relieved when I became a Miss Cycling Know-It-All. Ours was never a sibling rivalry, it was always sibling reverie and I cherish the hand holdings.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION:  This picture was taken at Mackinac Island [Michigan] last year summer when I shared double seat with my hubby dearest. Though the cycles were a little broad-boned for me, I revived my interest and memories.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A bicycle was the first thing that made me feel independent and flying. I have fond memories of my sibling helping me learn to ride. I was thrilled when I heard about this writing prompt so I could commit my memories to words.


Daisy Bala
lives in Wisconsin and maintains a blog at Her writings have been published with Silver Birch Press, Poetry Soup, and Creative Talents Unleashed.

Never Learned to Ride
by Mary McCarthy

Because one summer afternoon
the peace was broken
by a crash
followed by the wail of sirens
police and ambulance
already too late
keeping the crowd back
still close enough to see
white tennis shoes
and red blood
in the gutter —
Dad counting heads
making sure
we were all here
standing just outside
the front door
staring at the small
details of death
blood and white tennis shoes
and a broken bike
all we could see
of the collision
between our paperboy
and the truck turning the corner
too fast to stop —
So Mama saw to it
none of us ever
owned a bike
or learned to ride
not even something
we could imagine asking for
as long as anyone remembered
that unquiet afternoon

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The event described in the poem had quite an effect on all of us—I remember my dad counting heads—after all, we all wore tennis shoes, and that’s what he saw, tennis shoes and blood. Although we fought Mama’s overprotectiveness like any kids would, the bike-riding thing was something we didn’t question. The photo is of mom, dad, and all seven of us. I am in the far left, probably about 13 years old here.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Mama always thought she could protect us, even at the same time she knew she couldn’t. Her efforts to keep us out of danger went unappreciated, and were the first things we had to rebel against — although in this particular instance it worked — I think only one of my sisters and brothers ever learned to ride a bike, and that was as an adult.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband and her chocolate lab — who make sure she remembers how to enjoy each day, whatever it may bring. Always a writer, she spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse — and now devotes her energies to poetry and art.

White Bicycle icon on red stop sign web app
I Survived…(A head on collision with a stop sign)
by Kate Hodges

There was a lot of blood. I had just mastered riding without training wheels. My sister and her friend were riding their bikes. I tagged along. She was thrilled to be saddled with me, so she adjusted the speed on her 10-speed and took off. She ended up about a block-length ahead of me.

My bike was purple and turquoise and had teddy bears. It wasn’t a hand-me-down! Around the block from our house, there was a bar on the corner with a stop sign right in front. The curb had a deep slope downward. If you built up enough speed and turned your bike at just the right angle, you would fly off the pavement for a few seconds. We spent hours doing that. If you missed…well you didn’t miss.

I pedaled, furiously pumping my legs. My sister was already so far ahead, and I didn’t know which way she would turn next. My bike couldn’t go any faster. The wheel wobbled as I took the curb. Crash-Smash. A head-on collision with a Stop Sign. My mouth was bleeding. I was missing a tooth. My sister heard me crying and slowed down. When she turned to look at me, her mouth formed an “O.” A man came out of the bar and searched the ground for my tooth. He was a stranger, though. I was sure I’d be in trouble.

I don’t remember how my bike made it back to the house. I do remember the dentist giving me extra stickers from the prize box. All of my meals were made in a blender for a week. I still remember the look of veal scaloppini liquefied. What I remember most: my dad fixed my bike, and I knew then that he could fix anything.

IMAGE: “Bike stop sign” by Image Vector, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Hodges is a teacher turned writer. She has traded the Middle School Science Lab for the Uni Library while studying in Scotland. Growing up, she dreamed of being Ramona Quimby, Dawn Schafer, and Sarah, Plain and Tall. She still believes that you can tell a lot about someone based on the a person’s favourite Wakefield Twin. She has fallen in deep like with Heathcliff, Laurie, and Moriarty. She has fallen in deep love with Gilbert Blythe. You can find her on twitter @kateyfacewrites.

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.