sky blue bells ringing

As far as these children are concerned,
It is the sky itself that is ringing;
They probably do not know
That on a very still day such as this,
The moraines and drumlins
Will play catch with the sound of the bells
Emanating from the tiny old church over in Peruville
(Indeed, they are likely unaware the chapel’s existence)
Nor would they give the matter a second thought,
For they have mounted their bicycles,
Pointing the spoke-wheeled steeds
Toward the small single-block downtown of their hamlet,
A journey of epic proportions requiring all due haste
(Though, unlike in our day, there is no long hair
Flying unkempt in the breeze,
As we have imposed the sensibilities of helmets upon them)
Though we know it to be a half-mile, at best,
As the crow flies, covered in three, perhaps four minutes,
But they are not concerned in the least
With the mechanics of straight line measurement,
The vagaries of acoustics, the minutiae of glacial residue,
For they have not accumulated the wisdom of the elders,
The practicalities of the sciences,
Or any of the other stuff of shackles and limitations.


16 thoughts on “sky blue bells ringing

  1. My nephew, who is going to be ten in November, and his buddy might be exceptions to this. They are very studious about where they’re going. They always plan very carefully with road atlases and such where they’re going to go before they go, what routes. I don’t mean when they ride their bikes to the public library or to the store or something like that, of course. I’m talking about when they plan trips down south of where they live and what small town they want to end up in, or up to the towns north or west or east of where they live or whatever. They like taking trips of twenty miles or so. That, and playing basketball, basketball, basketball!

    You know what I find strange? I find it strange that, in the name of safety, people seem to be more concerned about helmets (which are dubious at best, for both motorcyclists and bicyclists, in protecting the cranium), and they hardly at all pay attention to (in my opinion, anyway) the MUCH more important LIGHT on the bike, which is a much more important safety item. To me, there is no comparison in terms of priority.

    How about BOTH helmets AND bicycle lights. And good reflectors, too.

    I liked this poem. I had to read it a few times to understand it fully, and I’m STILL not sure that I fully understood it, because your poems tend to be intellectual, but there are varying opinions on the meaning of “intellectual”. I know that I’m not one; I’m intelligent, but I’m not an intellectual. People tend to get embarrassed when they’re asked if they’re intellectuals, and generally, an intellectual will deny that he’s an intellectual. I guess no one knows for sure what an intellectual really is!

    The poems of yours that I like the best are your poems about small upstate towns or small Pennsylvania towns, and the ones about baseball.

    Robert Frostbite

    1. Can I feel a little sorry for your nephew? Granted, a bike is a lousy place to be invisible, but there’s something to be said for a lack of planning and direction every once in a while. If it’s any consolation, I’m rarely sure about what I’m writing about myself, and I generally don’t like any of it.

      1. Well, that’s very common among writers. We are our own worst critics.

        Of course, it’s gone both ways. I’ve written things that I really thought were lousy, and I’m surprised when people say it’s good. Then, there are the times when I’m very happy with something I wrote, and everyone says, “Slater, ya know, that really sucks!” So, ya never know.


  2. They have a blast! There’s no reason to feel sorry for him! They also go places without planning, I’m sure. Just when they go on their LONG trips!

    As for me, I always liked to go off alone and get lost on my bike. I didn’t want to know WHERE the heck I was! I’d just ride my bike to parts of town (or OTHER towns) that I’d never been to before, and try to work my way out of it, and find my way home. I loved doing that.

    Maybe I’ll write a post on that.


  3. Love the ending and the carefree feel before …The practicalities of the sciences,
    Or any of the other stuff of shackles and limitations. great ending and wonderful language as always xx

  4. Wonderfully homey and theatrical at the same time! I enjoyed the bell-filled setting and how you introduce the boys through heedlessness on steeds of the imagination. I was surprised by the further gift of riding with them–just as I rode with my brother to the swimming hole (not quite a village center but of equal importance). Your last sextet!!! I wish I had written it. Bravo.

  5. I am always delighted to have the opportunity to read one of your pieces. This speaks to me of the generation gap, widening at an alarming pace – or so it seems to me. Thanks for sharing in The Imaginary Garden.

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