Dwayne Freedman was the semi-retard
who rode his bicycle backwards,
waving to the crowds laughing at him.
I know every town has one, someone
named Dwayne—or Duane—who stands
Bunyan-like over other boys,
who can’t be tracked down after
his fifteenth summer. They don’t work
on the highway, picking up roadkill;
they don’t wash dishes or go to jail
selling coke. The Dwaynes
just disappear. For years
each Saturday morning I’d skid
my ten-speed on a fresh sheet of ice,
and open the Sunshine Car Wash.
Prodigal Dwaynes from far-off towns
would walk up, premature mustaches
blonding their lips, all asking for a job.
But my Dwayne, the backward bicyclist,
he never showed. The easiest target
in dodge ball, an army-jacketed
manchild among green ties and saddle shoes,
Darwin would soon take him from
that cement yard of flag poles,
and I know, this may be the worst way
to actually find Dwayne. But he could see this
at a chain store (so many by the highways
these days), he may draw back with dorsal shock
from his days lighting farts in the pews,
the burnt methane competing with high mass
incense. Dwayne might look back at my bio,
call me, and tell me what he’s accomplished
since that fifteenth summer, when I last saw him,
his cherubic face smiling, his ass
on the handlebars and boom box resting
against the sissy bar, playing Skynyrd and Sabbath
cassettes, the potholed road to his back.
* * *
Daniel Nester is the author of How to Be Inappropriate, God Save My Queen I and II, and is editor of The Incredible Sestina Anthology. His writing has appeared in N+1, The New York Times, The Morning News, The Daily Beast, The Best American Poetry, The Best Creative Nonfiction, Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction. He teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.