Poem a Day 2015 #9 – The Bicycle Mechanic of Vedado

Poem number 9 for April 2015. I’ve picked up a quarter written poem about cycling in Cuba about ten years ago. On arriving in Havana, I discovered that my bike had been damaged in transit, and a couple of critical pieces of it were missing viz. the bolts that hold the handlebars and the derailleur in place. I nearly went straight back home. You just can’t get bicycle spares in Cuba. But I found a man who was an amateur bicycle mechanic, and he was my saviour.

The Bicycle Mechanic of Vedado

On the first floor

of a Havana tenement


Juan Perez ushers me (and my bike)

into his kitchen


displays his workbench

which is his kitchen table


his rusting, reclaimed tools

alongside his cutlery


his jars of screws and washers

amongst salsa and sauce bottles


His fat fingers retrieve

just the right screw

to secure my handlebars


he improvises

an arrangement of nuts and bolts

to hold my derailleur in place


I ask “How much do I owe you?”

he says “Whatever you like”


Minutes later I’m on the Calle ¹

riding into a fifties film set

¹ Street

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015


8 thoughts on “Poem a Day 2015 #9 – The Bicycle Mechanic of Vedado

  1. I like the honour you do to him. And to your memory of him. 10 years ago, & you remember. The power of the poet – to notice and honour/immortalise things that would be lost that shouldn’t be.

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