Bicycle: Poems

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"Bicycle Impressionistically renders the sonnet form -- sonnet stanzas, inset sonnets purling through longer poems -- and bends the Renaissance medical treatise Three Books on Life by Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) through the lens of Federico Fellini's art," notes a synopsis of the book. "Verging upon alchemy and integrating astrology and the science of humors derived from ancient Greek and Roman medicine, Ficino's treatise explores the relationship between melancholic temperament and creative genius. In his debut collection of poetry, Wells recruits Ficino to chart the trajectory from a dissolution 'that thwarts the actual doing / with one's life what one ought to do' to a vital reverence for immanence, a quickened sensitivity to how 'submarine themes of earth bind the human archipelago.' "


"James Bradley Wells's volume of poems is a meditation through Midwestern rural settings. Guiding him is biblical and classical story. We hear a skilled wordsmith's Frostian meditation as he bicycles about his Promised Land, Canaan and Vergilian terrains, and pedals around a family Missouri farm, an Indiana or Kentucky backyard, New York's Upper West Side, and the Rome studio of Fellini's Satyricon. We overhear talk about his grandfather's land projects and Vergil's Eclogues and Georgics, tune in to Marsilio Ficino's astrology determining our medical 'humors,' and glimpse the medieval Cloud of Unknowing. Throughout this carefully constructed romp, on bike or not, Wells is close to the land, his deep companion. As the poet rambles through mystic vision and reveals farm and tombstone incident, there lives the cry of the skeptic philosopher poet Lucretius. An astonishing achievement."
—Willis Barnstone, author of The Gnostic Bible: The Restored New Testament, and Stickball on 88th Street