A black and white picture of a motorcycle.

Love, Lust and Motorcycles

From the Guggenheim’s Art Of The Motorcycle at the Field Museum, to the distinguished theatre of Milwaukee’s 100-year-old library, the recent movement of Biker Poets has entertained all walks of life, attracted press, and tapped into America’s love affair with the motorcycle.

Their poetry has taken shape as live “Slams” in bars and at biker meets, on PBS and festivals as poetry videos, on radio as readings, and as performances in the nation’s most distinguished institutions. Like the internationally acclaimed Poetry Slam, Biker Poetry performances engage their complete audiences, whether that audience has interest in motorcycles or poetry, or neither. These are performances full of theatricality, comedy, and passion, and often audience participation.

Where can you find William Shakespeare, Harley Davidson, Iambic Pentameter, and 300 Tattoos?…at a “Wild Ones” Biker Poetry Slam!

Yes, bikers are sensitive too! Some of them are “coming out” to share their feelings in verse! Like the “Wild Ones” Biker Poets located in Chicago. Sandwiched between rock bands and tattoo contests, these bikers reveal their inner selves by performing their poetry at biker bars, motorcycle meets, radio stations, and television. Their video poems have raised eyebrows not only at national film and video festivals, but on PBS, too!

How is biker poetry being received? Imagine Saturday night at Desperatos bar, West Chicago. The bar is packed with black leather, beards, babes in tattoos. Beers are being raised. Smoke is swirling in the light above the pool tables. The volume outside as Harleys pull up matches the party within. Suddenly, quiet ripples through the room as poet Rob Van Tulye begins his poem on stage describing hot summer rain, the feel of the highway, and his woman beside him, as he rides by the light of the white August moon. The poem concludes to the roar of hooting and applause.

While these bikers are eager to break the negative stereotypes earned by gangs and Hollywood, they are just as eager to maintain the biker’s lifestyle of nonconformity, independence, and freedom. Their work is spreading from coast to coast with biker poets popping up in Slams from Boston to Sterg’s. These biker poets are mothers, musicians, waitresses, even account executives. When they show up, get ready to be exposed to their souls through words!


With one fist of cloud.
Below, three digits
the color of new water.

In the bottom left-hand corner
A tree.
Scruffy and aching with green.

Above, my black earring.
And part of my cheek.

Your shoulder fills
the frame.
Sun dropped on leather.
Fringe spastic with wind.

The sharp line of the highway
runs it’s stitch
through and through.
Our rear-view mirror
a glass bead
on it’s thread.

Behind us,
a trinket of

Biker Poets

* Biker Poets: Easyriders / 313-July 1999



When she lifted her knee,
he saw ivory,
smooth white keys
he’d hear his mom play,
Sunday afternoon,
locked deep in the bathroom,
he’d be lowering
a crankshaft in a bathroom
jeweled with oil

Then her skirt flew out
like him and Lelis mounting
the hill, Widowmaker laughing
now gravel and.sagebrush,
wind and gray boulders
smashing hard in their spokes
with the whole damn sky
sliding down on them.

She looked for a minute
then touched the rear fender,
and Sunday school jolted
clean up through the shocks.
She giggled too loud.
He knew God
was a cop,
the ultimate loner;

But her lifting up
over saddle seat and chassis,
chrome exhaust pipes
and spokes, was like the settle
of one hundred
on the speedometer’s throat.

It was like the sun kneeling,
spiked heels, on his leathers.
He settled back.
Her name was Sophie.
He brushed the ignition,
then rose up to stomp.

He settled back.
The slice of the kick stand
made a white whimper,
a pearly white feel-up,
stiff with ivory and sparks.