Book Review: Bicycles

Bicycles: Love Poems

by Nikki Giovanni

2009.

128 pages

Genre: Poetry


Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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My Thoughts:

Nikki Giovanni is one of the world’s most well-known American poets.  And rightfully so.  This lovely book of love poems was a welcome change from the darker and angsty stuff that I normally read (and write).

Titled Bicycles, “because love requires trust and balance,”  the book opens and ends with poems about the Virginia Tech Shooting, which is where Giovanni teaches.  I thought at first that was an odd addition to a book of love poems, but the more I reread them, I think they were the perfect fit because it is after all love that overcomes tragedy.

The poems in between are a joy to read.  They reveal a fresh look at love from many angles, taking care to not overwhelm with sappy lines from a drunken romantic.

One in particular that I found moving was a poem written for one of Giovanni’s students.  He was finding fame in playing football, but she gives him a gentle reminder that fame too often comes with a price and he cannot allow that to let him lose sight of what matters.

My only regret is that for all Nikki Giovanni has accomplished, I have not read more of her work.  I intend to change that.


Favorite Poems/Lines:

Your Shower

I wish I could be
Your shower
I would bubble
Your hair
Tickle my way
Down to your lips
Across your shoulders
And over your back
Around your waist
Bouncing off your knees
Falls to the tips
Of your toes
Then journey back
Again
Warm            Wet
Sticky             Sweet
Up and Down
Around and Around
Around and Around
Around and Around
Until
There is
No more hot
Water

from I Am Glass

We are all more than our experiences
and less than our dreams

My Sleep

I appreciate my sleep

In sleep my conversation

is witty

My home is dusted

My office work

is up to date

The dog

is even

well behaved

And food is on the table

on time

But then

when I’m asleep

I don’t have you

to clutter and confuse

My hungry heart

Flight Delay

I uncharacteristically ate
A slice of sausage pizza
And characteristically drank
A regular Pepsi

I characteristically thought
Of you
And uncharacteristically said
To myself

Nobody loves me

I characteristically chastised
Myself
By uncharateristically sneering

So what

Everybody can’t love you

Anyway

But I characteristically wanted
You
To uncharacteristically be
Here
In this all too familiar airport
During
A characteristic
Flight Delay

LOVE (AND THE MEANING OF LOVE)

I wanted to
But you couldn’t
I hoped
But you wouldn’t
I understood
Why we shouldn’t
So you declined
And we didn’t
But it would
Have been fun
If we would’ve


Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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