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Heading east on Route 6, 
A young couple scutters by 
On a motorbike. Harley, I think. 
On their way to the beach. I can 
See his feet are bare, resting inches 
From the muffler’s burning heat—oh 
The recklessness of young men 
That makes them so exciting 
To fuck, and sends them off 
To war, whistling and marching. 

I still remember both my brothers 
As young men, and the motorcycles 
They scrimped and saved to buy. 
What foreign lives they lived 
With their deer hunts, and their 
Love of speed, and their boring jobs 
In factories. When they jumped 
The starters and roared off helmetless 
And fast, I feared they’d lose their lives 
weaving through the freeway traffic. 

Wherever it was they needed to get 
So fast, neither ever reached. One 
Is dead now from drugs and drink. 
And the other finally sold his bike 
After it laid for years, disassembled 
On the bedroom floor where his kids 
Used to sleep before the divorce, 
Before his wife moved out, and 
Took them all away to another state. 

Kate Daniels reads “Bikers”

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Kate Daniels

Kate Daniels is the author of several poetry collections, including The Niobe Poems, Four Testimonies, and A Walk in Victoria’s Secret. Among her awards are the Hanes Award for Poetry from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a Pushcart Prize, the James Dickey Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Lannan Foundations, as well as Harvard University’s Bunting Institute. Originally from Virginia, she is professor of English and creative writing at Vanderbilt University.