Alone, none of them can turn the wheel.
A village of spokes. Equal. Indistinguishable. Steady as a watch on a schooner. In turn, each spoke hangs from the rim and holds the wheel for a millisecond until the next spoke inherits the stress.

Even though they look alike, each spoke is an individual, and each has purpose and a name.

My Irish spoke urges me to break into song.
My English spoke laments that I can no longer use a knife to carry peas to my lips.
My sailing spoke says “less Scotch, more sail.”
My blank page spoke whines each time it turns and I haven’t thought of something.

My spiritual spoke is tuned to the wind and the sun and critters who greet me. And with each revolution it asks Mother Earth “What do you need? What do you want?”

The G.W. Carver spoke winces when it rolls over cigarette butts and busted glass.

My warning spoke shouts when I come up behind someone wearing headphones, walking a dog. I cringe and slow to pass, hoping they stay a steady course, hoping we don’t collide.
But my spokes remind me that once upon a time, I traveled with noise distractions too…

As a child, I fixed a baseball card so it played my bike spokes like the strings of a tone-challenged harp. The spokes would sing as the card plucked them in a circular strum.

I’m glad I chose The Mick to strum the spokes. It was almost Yogi, the baseball card with the bat on his shoulder. But I’m glad it wasn’t Yogi because Yogi and I share something in common. We both married ladies from Salem, MO.

And so The Mick made the fake motor sound as the spokes scraped his face off that bubble gum card. In good condition, the card might’ve been worth some money.

That’s okay. Other than play my bike spokes with his face, The Mick never did anything for me. The only time we met he refused to be interviewed. He was in Rolla with a dog food company. I was assigned to get the story for the local newspaper. “Turn off that tape recorder!” His voice cut through the otherwise amenable crowd at Zeno’s restaurant, as my turn as a sports reporter came crashing down.

Next year I was writing copy for the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals when Lou Brock set the all-time stolen base record. He was surrounded by young speedsters Garry Templeton, Jerry Mumphrey and Bake McBride. Even though the team had a losing record, these gentlemen showed composure and class.

Different spokes for different folks.

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