The Skycycle blues

B. Dolan

between Heaven
and the landing ramp,
is the sacred mathematics of Chance.
The calculated risk
And the wind, whipping ya in the eyes,
and the sharp, metallic taste
of life
and death.
And there is a moment of utter calm there, in mid air
A moment of sheer silence and peace
before you hear, as if in a dream,
the sound of your own voice
Evel Knievel at the top of his take-off ramp in 1967
with a fucking earthquake in his chest,
and all 30 feet of intenstine clenched
against the concrete’s puckered lips.
Evel Knievel saying goodbye to the mother of his kids
daddy’s job is dangerous,
daddy’s job is to swim out farther and farther into the ocean
he comes back to them broken and never for very long
At a press conference he tells a reporter:
“This is what you call a one shot deal and
I’m not comin back for any late show, honey.
No I have not practiced the jump
Because… there is no use practicing something that you cannot miss.
and if i miss the jump in a test shot, that means im dead and will not ever get to do it for real.
So this is what you call,
a fucking one shot deal.
This helmet
is to protect me
from my own momentum.
This costume
is to protect you
from the realness of what is happening here!
I am calling on Death!
and she comes growling and snapping into the arena,
and opens her jaws up wide on both sides of my landing ramp
gasoline, throttle,
thumps up.
open her up.
let the arrow fly,
and tear into the fabric of an instant
where you can live an entire lifetime
in the star-dusted, flash bulb infinity
of a launch
into impossible space
that climbs to the top of its arc
and beats the sky back another inch,
only to crumble and collapse
only to fall and return to the earth
with no illusions of immortality
and pay the cost of dreaming.
like your skin stretched out in ribbons along 100 yards of tar.
like those ghostly, ruined bones up there on the x-ray screen
like the steel plates, and the pins and the screws that they put in ya
til ya got more in common with your bike than you do with any human being
By 1976,
Evel Knievel’s body is a monument in ruins
the scorched remains of a war waged against his own flesh
born to chase after death
and kids coming home crippled from Vietnam
write letters that say
“thank you sir.
i figure that if you can get up and go on then so can i”
Evel Knievel shoots holes in the sky to keep people’s hope alive!
Even as he’s flying across the gaps between public appearances
burning cocaine like money and women with their faces made up to look like neon motel signs,
the vacancy
of a million tv’s shining on your skin
you’re the twinkle in America’s eye,
& the women come looking to lay down with Death
& you got enough money to buy into your own hype
& you got enough fuel to push you past the speed of light
where every day you age a year
and you watch, as if in a dream,
as you fail
every single person in your life.
to pay the cost of dreaming:
the botched attempts
the bankruptcys
the divorce.
the loss of his family.
All the bad blood in his veins is
Hepatitis, Kidney Failure,
Old age
to feel yourself,
to the size of a footnote
a novelty.
a gag.
an oddity.
All of it part of the long,
drawn out revenge
of your cowardly enemy.
Robert Craig Knievel
In 2007,
telling the Hour of Power Christian Telecast
about waking up and seeing the devil in his bedroom.
speaking carefully and slowly,
The broken man told the congregation of how he rose
up in his bed and said:
‘devil! devil! you bastard you,
get away from me. i cast you out of my life.
i just got on my knees and prayed then,” said evel.
“i prayed that god would put his arms around me and never ever ever let me go”
He was not a good man.
But he was a great man.
And for that he deserves