The Road Home

It had been a hard day at work, but that’s why they pay you, right?

The ride home was my redemption;

my anguish faded as the revs rose.

The snarling 750-4 ripped through meandering backroads,

its speed and intensity left the day behind.

Hunger beckoned, so I headed for the ranch.

I climbed off my machine as my neighbor arrived, carrying a case.

Wanta brew?

Nothing like a cold one to wash away the road dirt.

We knocked back a few over conversation,

and would have had more but his wife yelled over.

I covered the bike after dinner, when she’d cooled off;

I’d washed down my meal with a bottle of red.

For afters, I made a double espresso with a shot of grappa

to give it some kick.

The Old Flame

I sat on the back porch, reflecting.

I’d given her my number not expecting a call.

The girl of my high school dreams.

Hadn’t seen her since graduation, but there she was.

In school I was afraid of my shadow,

didn’t think she’d remember my name.

Never thought how I’d changed, until she asked

‘What’s up with the crew cut and leather jacket?’

She touched my hair and a current ran through me.

My buddy barged in,

‘You won’t believe it. Lawless got balls.

He won’t be alive much longer the way he’s riding.’

Thankfully some party girls called him away to do shots.


Want to see my bike?

My black machine stood out in a gaggle of Honda Interceptors.

She said she didn’t know I was the motorcycle type.

I laughed and asked her if she wanted to go for a ride.

‘No, my dad would kill me.’

I started to talk about music to keep the conversation bouncing.

‘It’s the first warm night we’ve had.

Are you sure you don’t want to go for a ride?’


The Siren Calls

The ringing snapped me out of my stupor.

Her parents were out for the night,

‘Would I like to come over?’

I knew I was lit, but couldn’t say no.

‘Sure thing…I’m 45 minutes out….Seeya in half-hour.’

I climbed back on the bike, feeling over the limit,

but the lure of getting close to her was too strong.

I made quick work of the empty back roads.

Gearing down hard as I entered town,

I noticed a car in a parking lot turn on its lights.

It pulled out behind me, rolling up close, switching on his hi-beams.

There were a lot of yahoos in this town.

I wasn’t looking to race; I just wanted to get laid.

I dropped the hammer hard as the light turned green.

The street went downhill with a kink to the right.

Charging through the gears,

in third as I flicked into the kink,

the exhaust touched down hard, and the tail came around.

The little man in my head said I got it-I got it!

That’s the last I remember.

Out of Commission

I was cold, freezing cold.

That’s odd. It’s summertime.

I struggled to piece it together.

Lying on a metal table but unable to open my eyes.

Fighting hard. Finally, my right eye pops open to blinding light.

Flat on my back, I lifted my head to survey the damage.

My left wrist twisted the wrong way.

Lots of blood and abrasions.

Watched the doctors slicing into my lower abdomen. Goodbye spleen.

I said, ‘If it’s bad or I’m paralyzed, just let me go.’

Them yelling ‘Sedation, Sedation!’ as the lights go out again.

Coming to, I’m aware of the tubes.

Up my nose, down my throat, and one where a man doesn’t want it.

First thing I see is a  state trooper.

With the nurse present, he reads me my rights.

The nurse welcomes me back,

‘You’re lucky to be alive

but sounds like you’re in a lot of trouble.’

The crash was a real eggbeater.

A laundry list of broken bones, my eyelid ripped in half.

The car with the high beams was a cop.

I was drunk and running when I crashed.

The siren call of a pretty girl, and a lot of booze, had taken me out.

I couldn’t work for weeks,

gave me plenty of time to consider my errant path.

The paperwork floated in,

a preliminary date with the judge,

I could go to jail for this.

Two to five years.

My dad once told me if I ever got in trouble to get a good lawyer.

The Legal Eagle

He was brash and condescending.

Blue suits with red suspenders,

the epitome of a successful lawyer.

When he brought his wife’s Volvo for service,

all of us tried to look busy.

He’d grill the unfortunate who handled his paperwork.

relishing his own abrasiveness.

Our mutual appreciation of Jaguar automobiles

kept me in his graces.


It was my first day back at work.

Hobbling, hungover, and strung out on pain meds.

I switched into business mode as he entered.

Kept it professional.

The lawyer seemed amused by my battered state.

Finally smirking, ‘What happened?

Your woman tired of your Irish ways?

Ya know, Jewish women will forgive their husbands’ indiscretions

if the diamonds are big enough.’

The lawyer made my skin crawl,

but he was the only one I knew.

Do you take new clients?

He flashed an alligator smile.

‘You can’t afford me.’

I looked down at my shoes, nodding yes.

‘Alright, you’re a nice kid.

Hand me a dollar bill.’

Then the lawyer said to give him the details.

I told him everything: the bike, the girl, and the drinking.

He asked several questions, some a few times over,

and made me repeat my answers.

The lawyer said he could help me.

What he needed was my paperwork and a cash retainer

dropped off tomorrow.

He said ‘Let me be clear.

It must be tomorrow, and it must be cash.’

He wrote the amount on his business card.

It was more than every penny I had.

Man I had to hustle,

and somehow managed to get to his office on time.

His secretary took the cash and paperwork.

She said they’d be in touch.

The lawyer didn’t bother to say hello.

Afterwards, I dropped off the title to the salvage yard across town.

My heart broke when I saw my bike.

The forks bent so far back

the front wheel broke the engine cases.

Just a pile of mangled tubes and a busted engine.

Everything was shattered, crushed, bent, or gone.

I touched the twisted handlebars, telling her I was sorry.

The man took the bike’s title, laughing.

‘You’re the kid they flew out in the helicopter.

Yeah, they thought you were gonna bleed out.

You were lucky, that helicopter was on a return flight.

God must want you around for some dumb reason.’

It Was Only Thursday

By Thursday, I was struggling.

Scraping loose change from the glove box

of my beater Volvo to buy a jug of red wine.

My buddy stopped by with a baggie.

The joint back and forthing while we drank the red on my porch.

The music was loud, so we didn’t hear my brother pull up.

He wanted to show me his new machine.

Under the streetlights sat a gleaming GSXR-1100

with a throaty full race exhaust.

I tried to lift my leg to sit on it but was still too battered.

My brother said ‘careful’ as my buddy helped me climb on.

I loved the hardcore feel of that bike.

‘Let me fire her up so we can hear how she sounds’.

The roar of tearing silk echoed off the brick houses.

I let the clutch out before they could stop me.

No helmet or riding gear, my left arm still in a cast.

I blasted up the street, feeling no pain.

Lured by the racy all-business feel of the GSXR.

Turning around at the stop sign three blocks away from home.

I rolled on the throttle hard in first,

the wailing GSXR leaped into a near-vertical wheelie.

Standing on pegs, grabbing second and third gears.

Rock hard, feeling like Superman.

Squeezing on the rear brake made the front tire kiss the ground.

Coming to a stop, I joked this bike was too fast for me.

That’s when the patrol car pulled up.

There was no fight, my only option being flight;

otherwise, I was going to jail.

I heard later they had three patrol cars skidding

around the streets after me.

Sirens and lights ablaze.

It’s only fleeing and evading if they catch you.

I got back to my apartment at 3 am.

My buddy is still there smoking.

Grinning-bet it felt pretty good running like that.

Some might think I’d see the light.

That my luck would run out.

But I didn’t care.

It was just Thursday.

A Day in Court

My reward for returning to work was a clapped-out 500 single.

I was tempted to hit the road and duck my court date,

just run ’til the marshals found me or my money ran out.

The week before trial, the lawyer’s secretary sent a to-do list.

She said just stay calm, that I was in good hands.

I was feeling OK until the officer testified.

Telling the judge he was just trying to stop me

before I hurt myself.

That my blood alcohol level was more than double the limit.

How I was trying to elude the law when I lost control of the

motorcycle, crashing into a car that was parked on the oncoming

side of the street. That I landed 157 feet from point of impact.

From their calculations, traveling 83mph in a 25mph zone.

Their harsh professionalism was driving home the point.

I deserved to go to jail.

Meanwhile,  my lawyer is playing with his suspenders.

Seeming disinterested,

bordering on total disrespect.

The judge asked if the defense had any questions.

My lawyer remarked that he drives a twelve-cylinder Jag,

that the six-cylinder model was beneath him.

How twelve-cylinder automobiles were pure decadence.

Everyone seemed confused.

The prosecutor barked out ‘relevance’.

He continued, ‘Tonight, when I drive home,

if I pulled up behind him and turned on my high beams,

he would know to pull over because I’m an officer of the law.’

The officer blurted ‘But you’re not an officer of the law!’

‘Precisely! How do your headlights differ from mine?

You never identified yourself as an officer of the law.

Due to your error, you nearly chased my client to his death.

My client has incurred huge financial debts due to his medical and legal fees.

Look at what you have done to him.

I demand all charges be dropped immediately,

or we will seek further litigation.’

The DA put his head down as the judge called for recess.

I must have looked pretty rough in the lobby.

Arm in a cast, left eye taped shut, and walking with a cane.

The officer came over, stumbling through an awkward apology.

He seemed on the edge of tears.

Saying he didn’t mean for this to happen.

The tides had changed.

I realized that lawyer changed the course of my life.

If not for him, I would have gone to jail.

Won’t You Come On Over Valerie?

Are you wondering what happened to Valerie?

She thought I’d stood her up.

Left for her parents’ beach house in the morning.

Her friends hung out for the weekend.

‘Did you hear about that guy we graduated with?

Yeah, some big motorcycle crash in downtown Royersford.

They flew him to a trauma unit.

He was running from the cops when it happened.’

She had a sick feeling in her stomach.

Replaying our flirty little conversations in her head.

I didn’t stand her up after all.

She tried to call my apartment,

then reached out to my friends

in those pre-cell phone days.

Found out I was staying with family

until I could move around on my own.

I made it back to my apartment the following Tuesday.

There was a knock on the door.

I hobbled over, struggling to open it.

And there she was.

Fresh from the beach,

kissed by the sun.

She looked glorious.

‘I’m so sorry!’

She placed her hand on her face.

‘My God, what have I done?

If I didn’t invite you over this wouldn’t have happened.’

She pulled me close to hug me,

then paused, kissing me on the lips.

I would wreck again to relive that moment.

We stumbled over to the couch, still kissing.

My hands glided over her skin.

Her fingers thru my hair.

The kissing was bottomless.

We shed our layers as the room spun around us.

She got on top of me and took me over the edge.

Way better than the painkillers they’d given me.

She would stop over every day or so.

We connected on so many levels,

talking about music, art, motorcycles, our dreams.

Life was good between her, the wine, and the pain meds.

I loved the city, and she did too,

but her family didn’t.

Still, we blasted into town on my motorcycle.

Walked through the art galleries holding hands,

ate sushi & did vegan.

Got dressed to hit the town.

Roared around the streets on my clapped-out 500 single,

stopping for cannoli and Americanos.

Then Baseball Season Ended

I felt like the only guy on the dance floor.

We had been constant.

Then my phone stopped ringing.

Things were different in those pre-iPhone days.

I couldn’t get in touch with her.

Valerie always said don’t ever call her house.

Saying her father didn’t like boys with motorcycles.

She said he would go crazy if he found out about us.

I knew of her father.

He was in high school with my dad.

Pop said Valerie’s dad is now big in the unions.

How they used to be friends,

but that was a long time ago.

What did I do to deserve the silent treatment?

Total crushed after a week or two.

I asked my buddy if he had seen her lately.

‘Yeah, I saw her at a party with that douchebag baseball player

she has been dating since high school.

The dude’s always telling everyone that he’s going pro.

Talking about his crew.

The same whistle dicks he hung out back in school.

He needs to grow up.

Hey, he needs you over there so you can talk to her

while he tells everyone else how awesome he is.’

I needed a good laugh.

I didn’t know about her baseball player.

The season ended, and I lost, or did I?

It burned a hole in me.

The magic, while it lasted.

The good times we had together getting lit and having sex.

Was she using me?  Who am I kidding?

It didn’t matter.

I just wanted more.

I burned to be with her again.

Where was what we had?

I was lost and confused.

Figured I might see her if I rode by her house.

She was just getting out of the car, as luck would have it.

I shut off the bike and silently glided over to her.

Her eyes said it all.

‘Have you lost your mind?’

The door opened,  her dad yelled VALERIE!

‘One second, Daddy,

it’s just a friend of mine from school.

Please go!’

I did a quick run and bump,

leaving with a broken heart.

It really was too good to be true.

I took my anger out on the bike.

Mad at the world and damming the way it played out.

I attacked every back road like it was a qualifying lap.

It’s easy to go fast today if you don’t care about tomorrow.

The next few days were tough.

It hurt if I wasn’t going fast.

Drinking just made it worse.

With Love, Daddy

I hit the diner by the highway.

‘Just black coffee and an English muffin, please.’

Two truck drivers sat across from me.

One got up to use the pay phone.

As I paid at the register,

the two monsters grabbed me,

dragged me behind the trucks.

Valerie’s father leaned on his Coupe Deville.

My arms were pinned behind me.

His harsh look turned into a smile.

‘I know you.

You’re Jack’s kid, right?

You need to do yourself a favor.

Forget where I live.

Never speak to my daughter again – ever.’

His punch knocked the wind out of me.

‘If I see you near her again,

I’ll take you trash to the fucking steam plant.

Not to give you a job either, you little shit!’

I was slammed to the ground.

Just glad they didn’t hurt my bike.

The Mutual Allure of Danger

The rest of the week was a blur.

By Friday, I just want the sanctuary of my apartment.

Near midnight,

she tapped on my window with her keys.

There she was in a slinky black dress.

Shoes in one hand, a bottle of champagne in the other.

In her kiss,

I tasted alcohol and cigarettes.

It turned me on.

‘You said Mumm’s was your favorite.’

She flashed me that smile.

Slipping out of her dress, she walked into my bedroom.

I walked in to find her in racy black lingerie.

Call me weak, but I couldn’t resist.




Michael Lawless [@electric_horseman], our ‘Poet of Packed Earth’, is the Flat Track Editor for, and has his own blog: Electric Horseman
Related Posts

The Vintagent Selects: Motorcycle Man

Why does a dog chase a car?

The Vintagent Trailers: Motorcycle Man

Racing legend Dave Roper is hardly an…

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter