Predatory Nature

Biking the busy streets of DC, pedaling
between parked cars and the frenzied traffic,
unconsciously humming Queen’s “Keep Yourself Alive,”
as if it might somehow prove prophetic.

When I was in kindergarten, sharks fascinated me—
I drew pictures of them all the time; something about their
rows of teeth and predatory nature captivated me
the same way bikers in DC do.

Traffic moving like schools of fish, some bikers behave
like sharks, weaving through traffic, the primal pull
of blood and iron seeking the spaces between automobiles.
Drawn by the scent of danger, approaching red lights

like suggestions, banking left into the cross-walk,
swerving into the flow of cars, searching
for an opening to strike across on-coming traffic,
one fluid, graceful, never stopping,

lethal ride. These bikers pretend at being sharks—
having to stay in motion to stay alive—pushing adrenaline
as though oxygen through gills, but these bikers lack
the requisite rows and rows of teeth to be a threat;

As I pedal alongside the real predators: sleek, powerful,
unpredictable bodies of steel and glass and fire,
Queen cycles in my head, and I find myself stopping
when suggested, singing to the pretenders, under my breath:

Keep yourself alive come on,
keep yourself alive,
all you people
keep yourself alive. 

Jon Barrows