Bicycle Lotus


2015 Turtle Island Poetry Award


"I have never seen so much insight, understanding, passion, and fight packed into any chapbook before. Bicycle Lotus is what a chapbook should be all about—a precise and mind expanding voyage into a state of mind that could not be entered into through a longer work—and yet contains more than any work of similar size possibly could. Perhaps it is like the world it speaks of in that regard."—Jared Smith, author of 11 books, board member of The New York Quarterly and editorial board member of Turtle Island Quarterly.

Published by Left Fork of Oregon, Bicycle Lotus is available on Amazon.

BL cover

Bicycle Lotus cover art by Katherine West ©2015

The poems and flash essays (in the Japanese haibun tradition) are presented as a chronological narrative that explores the choices we make to embrace and reject the wild world as we struggle to find our place in it. Below, the titular poem:

Bicycle Lotus

July in Japan—so many final exams!
Sunday, I ride a red bicycle
scavenged on Big Trash day.

After yesterday’s typhoon,
the air is dry enough to breathe,
and I pedal beyond the university,
beyond Mitsubishi pencils
and Tamiya plastic models,
beyond the rice paddies
in shadeless heat.
Sweat hangs in my eye lashes.
I am too lonely to care that I’m lost,
mesmerized by the infinite spin
of spoke shadows on pale concrete.

I turn to escape the sun, and there,
in a ditch, is a perfect pink lotus.
Even without touching the petals,
without a sip of tea
pounded from its roots,
its healing power
releases me from my trance.
I photograph it, and remember
where I live.

Sara Backer
first published in Avalon Literary Review

2009-2021 Sara Backer. Design template by Andreas Viklund.