I wrote this poem as a gift of gratitude to my brother who graciously welcomed a couple of tired motorcycle tramps into his home and garage in the spring of 1993. We were on the way to visit the Viet Nam Wall in Washington, DC for the "Rolling Thunder" Memorial Day tribute. We had ridden nearly 2000 miles to get there and the motorcycles were in serious need of attention; both mechanically and cosmetically.
My big brother's nickname, for decades, has been "Tumbleweed". He is a very advanced and accomplished auto mechanic. Given his generous nature and exceptional abilities, it is no surprise that he was able and willing to translate to those car wrenching strengths into motorcycle applications.
In truth, I made at least three more, cross-country motorcycle trips to visit him in Topeka over ensuing years. Each of those rides has its own story and sentiment which will probably get shared here someday but the first, as it is with many things, remains the most memorable. I presented this poem to him, pasted to the bottom side of an old, very weathered, wooden, grape tray, for his birthday the following year. Above the poem I hand painted "East Topeka Harley". He proudly displays the sign in his shop to this day.
So I publish it here, 28 years later, on Yonderin' Tales, 6 July 2021 in honor of his 76th birthday. Those were shinin' times Tumbleweed! Love you Bro. Happy Birthday.
East Topeka Harley
They came a rumblin' to the neighborhood
On a dark and stormy night.
I could hear 'em puttin' round and round
Though they weren't nowhere in sight.
'Fired up my old Pontiac wagon,
Thought I'd go have a look.
Weren't long 'fore I found 'em
An’ read 'em both from the book.
Well it was plumb plain see,
Those boys was lost as yesterday.
So I tossed out a Kansas "Howdy!"
And fetched 'em home, a spell to stay.
I threw open the barn door
And they putted right on in.
What they parked on my shop floor,
Was two scoots, filthy as sin.
Harleys, they said they rode.
But a man sure couldn't tell.
Still, all the same, I told,
"Light, shuck boots, 'n set a spell".
Behind a 'ruptin beard I spied,
My kid bro. Call him "Yonder".
'Twas his partner "CC" at his side.
Both 'em on a damn-fine wander.
I sent my woman to pack some water,
"These fellas gotta be fetched clean.
And as for those two scoots, we oughta'
Polish 'em up. Make 'em gleam!"
Was powerful good to see those boys,
One o' the highlights o' my summer.
But when they spied their ragged toys
They fell fierce on into a bummer.
These men rode from Californy
Astride these two fine steeds
Through blazin' sun and raining stormy
To set n' jaw with 'ol Tumbleweed.
So we washed and we wrenched
Whilst sharin' lies n' a beer.
When our thirsts were quenched
Down deep we knowed what was dear.
They only stayed around
Two, three days or so.
But when they rumbled out of town,
I was danged sorry to see 'em go.
I reckon' they had a good time
Cuz' after those gents came
They gave my shop a sign
East Topeka Harley is her name
By, Rik Goodell