Meeting the Pleasure Cruiser

I am an inventory of pain,  

a jalopy like the litany that dotted our backyard  

and filled my father’s garage, half rust but  

wholly filled with good intention. 

I pull on navy coveralls, apply grease here and there,  

replace a part, jerry-rig, kluge, duct tape it all and keep going. 

I once tied a muffler onto my VW van with a dog leash. 

I once used a wheelchair, a walker, a cane. I once used 

a wrist brace with a crank on it, a medieval device, yes, 

but I used it. I will try anything to keep it all going. 

One doctor said, We keep shooting you with cortisone 

until it doesn’t work anymore. One said, I can replace that. 

One said, It’s about your pain threshold. 

Threshold is a funny word. I’ve installed thresholds,  

sometimes so poorly I had to periodically pound  

the nails back in. I’m not good at entrances. 

I once had a screw removed 

from the side of my thigh. And then One said, I wouldn’t do that 

and running hills in the park is over  

just like that. I search for something else that is moving  

without drudgery, that is exercise hidden in joy. 

If I stop moving, I am positive the grass will rise up 

through my rusty frame until you can no longer see me. 


I pull my bike out of the garage.  

It’s been neglected for ten years. I check brakes, fill tires. 

Six miles later I submerge my hands in a bucket 

filled with ice water. I am a tinkerer in a long line of tinkerers. 

I change the seat, the stem, I change the handlebars 

three times. My wife speeds ahead, hunched over an old ten speed 

and I suffer. There is no other way to say it. I am about to give up 

on the bike idea. Banana seat fantasies evaporate. 

And then I find the Pleasure Cruiser, matte black, low slung, 

wide tires. I practically pray before I swing my leg over 

and take it for a test drive. Please please please. 


The Pleasure Cruiser is part Seventies Caddie, like steering a boat  

and part Muscle car, all swagger, deep throat. 

It looks badass but has the soul of a Barcalounger. Ten miles  

later there is no ice water, there is no planning of tweaks 

or tests or changes. There is just this: 

Oh, beautiful street cruiser, I promise to honor you. 

I pull out of the garage, once again fixed up and turned loose. 

Ann Wilberton is a queer poet and librarian living in Rhode Island. She’s interested in writing about queer joy, memory/forgetting, invisible disability, and aging. She is enrolled in the MFA program at UMass Boston. Her work can also be found in Rattle, Maine Review, and Critical Read.