Just past sunup I wake up when I have to pee,
But I get to the bathroom in time, thankfully.
If I feel a bit peckish, the next thing I do
Is to look thru the fridge and my cabinets, too.
Though it's always slim pickin's, a small dogeared box
Holds some stuff that looks like tiny white ground-up rocks.
After hot water softens those quick cooking grits,
I consume my bland breakfast and read the obits.
Since my name isn't listed, like Pete Seeger said,
I get up from the table and go back to bed.

Then along about noonish, again I arise,
Wipe the drool off my chin and the sleep from my eyes,
And then once or twice monthly I sometimes decide
I should take my old tricycle out for a ride.
With its battery charged and its tires full of air,
I plop down on the seat, and start questioning: 'Where?"
It is hard to remember what some old routes are,
But somewhere not too hilly and not very far
Gets my vote and I start rolling down to the street,
Making sure that the pedals retain both my feet.

When I push with my thumb I can hear my tadpole
Give a small whining moan as its wheels start to roll.
There's no traffic in sight as I make a right turn.
Once I get to a speed that I didn't quite earn,
I self-consciously squirm in my seat and begin
Alternating left-right as my cranks start to spin...
And by 'spin', what I mean is fifteen RPM;
If the neighbors are watching me that should fool them
Into thinking I'm stroking with consummate ease
Just as long as they can't hear me pant, gasp and wheeze.

I just ride in high gear 'cause my shifting's not right;
The indexing's gone hokey. Next weekend I might
Get up early to meet some old trikeys I know;
There's a guy we rely on who never says 'No'.
He'll adjust my derailleur and check my right brake.
That durn cable's too loose; I just hope I can wake
Up in time; my alarm clock's confusing to set
And I haven't quite mastered my damn cell phone yet.
Now those thoughts have distracted me; I've missed a turn.
It's just SO hard to focus now; when will I learn?

I get back on the track, but I feel a dull ache
In my tailbone, and any adjustments I make
Are a waste of time – there's no relief for my bum.
Plus my pulse rate's increasing, my right foot feels numb...
And my ring finger clicks when I brake to a stop.
It's not subtle; it hurts and it makes a loud pop.
Then a huge SUV with a roaring tailpipe
Very nearly hits me with a nasty sideswipe.
But I've ridden four miles now, just one more to go
To my lunch stop; my blood sugar feels pretty low.

So I finally pull into Main Street Cafe.
There's a place I can park my trike out of the way,
With a fence post I use to get up from the seat.
I go inside for coffee and something to eat.
If I get the cute waitress I tip ten percent
But the tax rate's increased since the last time I went
There, and that really bugs me; it's such a raw deal.
Not too long ago, that would have bought the whole meal!
I get back on my trike, after tripping – CLOSE CALL!
Then remember that I need to heed nature's call..

When I'm once again seated, I choose my route back
To rack up some more miles on a bit longer track.
At a few intersections I frankly just guessed
How to go, but I luckily passed ev'ry test.
I detour thru a park with a long swooping path,
Deftly dodging 'unhoused persons' due for a bath.
In a foul cloud of pot smoke my asthma acts up,
And I'm almost attacked by a loud yapping pup.
The chihuahua runs wild on its ten-foot long leash
Stretched across where I'm headed; I brake and shout, "SHEESH!".

Then I feel dehyrated and take a big gulp
Almost gagging on foul tasting slimy green pulp
In an old water bottle that I meant to scrap.
I try pouring it out, but some spills in my lap.
While remounting the bottle it bumps my left knee
And it feels like a hot needle puncturing me.
That's the knee that my doctor says should be replaced;
I've refused because surgery seems like a waste.
Undergoing it would make me feel pretty dumb
If I caught an infection to which I'd succumb.

Setting out I had hopes for a twenty-mile ride;
Now I balance discomfort and pain versus pride.
With a grimace that's not even close to a grin,
I've been bearing this chaos I'm wallowing in.
But at last I decide that I've suffered enough.
Once again Mother Nature wins, calling my bluff.
A pedestrian tells me my rear tire looks low;
Though I knew that it leaked, I'd assumed it was slow.
With the threat of a flat needing roadside repair,
I ride home just as fast as I can to get there.

After riding twelve miles (which I'll log as eighteen)
I can barely get up from my low-slung machine,
But I stash my old trike, stumble into the den,
Grab a beer and feel happy that I've once again
Shown I've got a few weeks yet before I'm consigned
To a resthome; although I'm almost deaf and blind –
Plus as Pete said: My youth has quite clearly been spent,
And my 'Get Up And Go' mostly got up and went –
Even though I'm past 80 now I'm doing fine
And still riding my tadpole – at PAS Level Nine...

POW Index
by Wayne
December 2023