Rubber Side Down Edited By Jose Gouveia

Jose “JoeGo” Gouveia’s Rubber Side Down: The Biker Poet Anthology is one of the best contemporary poetry anthologies on the market. These poems will appeal to not only deep thinkers, but also readers looking for detailed aesthetics. While most of us will never know what it’s like to be hounded by cops, some of these poems will allow readers to live the biker life vicariously.

Bikers tend to be like brothers, easily accepting of their members no matter what location they find themselves in. These poems signify the lonely road these poets travel, the hardships they face, and the beauty of the road.

“Harley United” (Page 36)
by Richard Vagnarelli

Not to them
Do tortured tones
Of twisted two stroke
Twins appeal;
Racer’s crouch
Grand prix attire
Bright plastic
Wheel to wheel.

Who can deny
The virtues
Of obsession
In a marque,
Symbolic of
The freedom
Sought by those
In dark glasses.

Seated low
In upright posture,
Arms held high,
Feet to the fore,
Proud to live
Astride a legend
Rooted deep
In biker lore.

And in common
With like riders,
Who in the aura
Have delighted,
They remain an
Elite brotherhood,
Harley united.

In addition to the poems celebrating brotherhood and connection, some of these poems celebrate famous bikers like Evel Knievel, the evolution of bikes, and women enchanted by the biker life. Some of these poems rhyme, and rhyme well–with an easy rhythm. These poems have a life of their own, and many of them will make you want to read them out loud for emphasis like in “Highway Poets (theme poem)” by K. Peddlar Bridges (page 80) where the lines read: “We’re motorcycle riding/Engine blasting/Line chasing/Gravel chewing/Bug spitting//HIGHWAY . . . POETS!”

Others are simply laugh-out-loud funny, readers should buy a copy simply to read “The Six-Legged Moose.” (I’m purposefully not including this poem in the review to entice you to get this anthology.)

Rubber Side Down is a compilation of witty verse dealing with a number of issues including how bikers deal with aging and the prospect of no longer riding and the freedom of riding and how it makes it difficult to settle back into a “normal” life. Moreover, Rubber Side Down is set up in a format that provides readers with poems and photos of actual bikers in alternating sections, which enables readers to ponder the poems while examining the visual context of these poets’ lives. Each of these biker poets knows poetic style and form and how to break convention without losing their audience, and Rubber Side Down will appeal to more than just bikers and their families.

“WTHEFM” (Page 99)
by: Susie Howard

No, it ain’t a radio station,
but I listen to it like its playing my favorite
moldy oldies, yeah,
I know the words, snap my fingers
to its back beat I can use it,
the rhythm of too many days
turned in or out, a place named
for itself, like “KCUB its a Bear”.

No, it ain’t the style on my FM dial
I heard over there when home was
for away and dry was a dream cause I sat on my helmet
in the hole, my feet turning to sludge in my boots to
keep the same from happening to my ass,
nodding off to the memory of her
soft thighs, the bow from her bra.

No it ain’t the voice from the box,
that bitch, Hot-Jane-Barbarella,
the Stones or little miss
sunshine Hanoi Rose harmonizing
with, “Have decided to
mid-Tet Offensive cease-fire.”
Its all beaucoup okay, G.I.,

No it ain’t the drone of all the
shitty jobs I’ve had, been laid
off from, kicked out of, walked
on since I got back till my best
friend is the guy at the Port Authority turnstile
booth who lets me through
for a warm night on the benches,
so long as I move now and then.

No it ain’t the sweet sing song of
my kids, scared of me at night when they tried to
climb in my bed but
I freaked out, ready to kill, with
demons before me where my kids
should have been, cause she took
them to hide which was right.

No it ain’t the buzz in my brain
when I hear, the 60’s–
remember when Little Anthony was Imperial,
when my best friend checks in for methadone treatment,
(after forty years, it ain’t
no treatment), when they say,
“Son, we’ve got PTSD”.

No it ain’t a radio station.
When it doubt, you got to dance.
Its just a backward glance.
A trip from then to now.
A long lost life since Hell.
I’m over the comments.
What The Fuck Moments.
Wanna make a request?

Rubber Side Down packs a punch and made me want to get that ape hanger I’ve always talked about and go for a ride.

Want to go for a ride with these bikers? Here’s your chance; I’m offering to buy one copy of Rubber Side Down for one commenter. (Yes, this is international)

1. For one entry, comment in the form of a poem (no, it doesn’t have to be great; or I might have mercy on you and count your comment as an entry even if it isn’t in poem form.) about why you want to read this anthology.

2. Follow this blog or if you are a follower tell me in the comments.

3. Spread the word about the giveaway on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and leave a comment here with a link.

Deadline is May 15, 2009, 11:59 PM EST


Also Reviewed By:
Minds Alive on the Shelves

***Giveaway Reminders***

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway for Eleanor Bluestein’s Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales short story collection, here; Deadline is May 6, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.


  1. […] copy of Rubber Side Down Edited by Jose Gouveia, here; Deadline is May 15 at 11:59 PM […]