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Outlaws

For a time we were Willy and Wendell
Untamed outlaws on horses wild
Riding trails
Toward unseen horizons
Steady and strong
With the wind
Always in our faces.

Hondas not horses
Black leather
Blue denim
Deep throated pipes
Singing harmony
On highways and back roads.

Neither pursuing nor pursued
We moved as one
A circuit completed
City
Town
Country
Nowhere
Then back and ’round.

Beside you
I learned to lean
To push not pull
To balance on power
To feel
To focus
To flow.

We shared
Zen
and the Art
of Motorcycle Maintenance
Talked of things
Lutheran and Atheist
Republican
And half-cracked Democrat
While creaking in
Wooden rockers
With your final scotch
And my last smoke.

At night
Unfolded in bedrolls
We’d listen
As distant stars
Serenaded a moon
As round and full
As the dreams
Secreted in our saddle bags
Pushed into our pockets
Or held deep within our hearts.

Beside you
I learned the road
And watched as it divided
Your wheels spinning north
Mine turning south.

Chasing the miles
As they unwound
In front of me
Your tail lights
Faded to black
In my mirrors.

Sputtering to a stop
Stiff and tired
I looked for you
But all that was left
Was your scent in my helmet.

Time does with us
What time will
It pushes us down pathways
And runs us down roads
Out and around
Seemingly without direction.

But roads are funny places
Travel far enough
And you arrive
At the very place
You thought you had left.

A place where
A wise friend
Patiently waits
Knowing that
Turning wheels
Always return

Still outlaws
Still Willie and Wendell.

For William (Bill) Conrad
September, 10, 1926 (Rockton, PA) – January 21, 2012 (Bradenton, FL)

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