This morning I heard a story,
Inspirational,
One nearly incomprehensible in its audacity.

A man, a runner,
Who has seemed like the wind to me,
Once weighed as much as a heavy weight boxer.

Get the eff out of here,
Delusional,
Too good to be true.

Yet, this man,
Who runs silently with a caterpillar drive,
Is just that…truth.

After his reclamation tale,
I heard another quote,
“There goes the best part of this day.”

The tone was just as truthful,
More dour,
Something of a daily prediction.

Each persoon nodded,
Understanding that work was calling,
And the voluntary servitude we lead was about to start.

We rose,
Peeling our sweaty bodies away from the wooden chairs
To clean up and get back to business.

Corporate types, stay at home moms
Security experts, recent retirees, and a
Couple of educators.

I fit in the last group and
Spent my day wondering
Who was hocking loogies on the gym floor,

Then hoping kids could see beyond sonnets
And understand that there was plenty to learn from
Romeo and Juliet, if only their minds and hearts were open,

Conflict resolution,
Unhealthy relationship, and
Decision making strategies to name a few.

They didn’t buy it,
Their phones were a greater attraction and career molasses
Kept my Obama-era hope trapped within my heart.

Thank goodness for the running,
An hour of bliss with people who get it,
LIFE IS NOT ABOUT THE GRIND.

There is more to us than work,
Schedules, appointments, conferences,
Varsity sports, or whatever we are supposed to be enamored with.

It’s just so refreshing
To be around inspiration, positivity, and
A bunch of others who know when the best times are.

Trails with hills,
Fox hunting, and lots
Of suburban naturalists
Walking with their fleece,
Cell phones, and foo-foo
Breeds of dogs thinking that they are
Reconnecting with the wilds
Before heading to a microbrew
Or indie music playing coffee house
To brag about how they roughed it today
And how they need to exercise more.

Hah, Hah, Hah.

Duh.

They will complain about fox hunting,
Horse shit
On the trail, and
Whatever else these hipster family startups
With their pack and play learning stations,
Baby backpacks, beards, and road apple
Senses of entitlement
Can find wrong with a little piece of heaven that
Casts an analog version of something they saw online.

Perspective is the key for me
As I log slow ass miles on unfamiliar terrain.
I’ve got to remember that I’m no better
Never testing the wilds like some do,
Skitterish about snakes,
Too bothered by bugs
To get out there and go all out Walden or Muir.
No,
Eff that,
I’m slogging
Taking the beauty of these fields
And letting it buffer the waste filling my muscles
Without checking my social media,
Without worrying if a fox hound gets within fifty yards
Of my pure bread, long hair mountain-bred puppy mill bullshit
Breed of a dog.

“Control your dog!”
“Control your dog!”

No,
Eff that,
You shut up and walk your dogs
And while you’re at it,
Tell your overly coiffed, digitally addicted husband
To pay attention to the screaming kid strapped to his back
So it will allow me to hear the dogs barking off
In the woods.
Their call is much more soothing than that of your screeching kid
Who is destined to hate nature
Because you guys are polluting the environment
With your personalized formula of toxic waste
That oozes from a can of highly carbonated selfishness
And forces hazmat crews to clean up
After you try to turn this beautiful land
Into Sesame Street, Barney’s House, or
Whatever television edu show you are watching raising the little
Bullhorn on.

Give me Syd and Marty Croft. They seem more natural…

Maybe I should be surprised that a young family
Would act this way,
They don’t know better,
I mean a nature preserve with wide open trails
Has got to be scary to these pseudo hikers
And their early Sunday jaunt over hill and dale.
I bet they even used sunscreen and concentrated on rehydrating.

Just saying…

Not sure about conflicts of interest,
Fundraising is just a money grab,
But I do know greasing the nerves
Only a little,
Makes everything better.
Different roles,
Different locations,
Different appreciations
Making the effort
Well worth the cause.

Communication,
So easy to do,
So easy to misinterpret,
Words flow sharing ideas,
Words spew infectiously with their multiple meanings,
Communication.

Stories,
So lively to the soul,
So able to illuminate who people are,
Their tales of moral misgivings,
Their tales of emoji enunciations,
Stories.

Tables,
Gathering places of friendly banter
Gathering places of unfortunate terminations
The surfaces allowing people to hang
The surfaces allowing people to be dismissed
Tables.

Spotlights,
Directed light to focus attention
Directed light bringing unwanted focus
Illumination to bring out our spots,
Illumination to expose our thoughts,
Spotlights.

Communication,
Effecting change,
Stories,
Entertaining change,
Tables,
Enabling change,
Spotlights,
Exposing change.

Which is not where we always want to be,
Sometimes it’s better to be on the side,
Listening, a quiet communication skill,
Soaking in the stories people share
While sitting around the table,
Far out of the spotlight where anonymity,
Indifference, or passive participation
Allows change to take root.

We talk,
We share,
We laugh,
We take turns,
And I, for one, am changing
Able to be open,
Appreciative of my new friends,
Accepting of time in the spotlight,
Given I can get out of it quickly.

Maybe that seems a shock,
Perhaps a poetic lie,
In my reality, I’m quite shy,
Maybe inconveniently unconfident,
Mostly engaged, but
Thankful for the mornings,
The communication,
The stories,
The table talk,
Although, I prefer others take the spotlight,
Especially when they have to explain
Their laundry habits…☕️

Running around and around and
Around a
Track
Allows time to get to know people
Without the burdensome responsibility
Of conversation and forced interaction.

Most of the time…

Three guys, same route,
Different paths,
Different inspirations.

The first, an older man,
Dealt a different set of cards
That allow him to be special.
He waddles around the track,
Each step more of a side to side
Than an efficient step to the front.
He’ll stop, scratching his back on a wall’s corner
And walk while expressing his gas
Without malice, but certainly gastric relief.

He’s amazing,
Never missing a day,
Keeping on his journey
Without impeding others,
Quite content going solo.
We spoke once,
About the beauty of Jamestown,
The original settlement
Being a place he loves.
Now we exchange simple salutations
And with each passing lap
I hope we’re sharing
Positive energy with each other.

I certainly draw it from him.

Another, guy, Type A
With a healthy dose of cynicism,
Does his workout
Reminding me of YouTube videos with Arnold and Sly
His body strong, his walking pace quick,
His fitness example exemplary,
But his negativity, a drain, motivational kryptonite
For me, a fossil fuel he burns with boundless energy
That pushes doubt, uses “Why?” to dismiss effort,
And allows “WHY NOT.” to be ignored or perceived as weird.

This guy, aggressive in personality,
Seemingly successful in business, unmeasured in opinion,
Full of the crooked smile that life is about living,
So far as it conforms to his raison d’etre,
Is one getting cursory courtesy from my developing social aura.
Running is tough enough, but for a recovering naysayer,
Being inundated with dirty exhaust
Can’t be good.
I know this and run my laps
With purpose, soaking his negative vibes in,
Diluting them with good energy, and
Recycling them into something that can help me
Get past what I once was.

I am learning from him.

The last guy,
With every reason to be mad,
As genetics and life’s planned obsolescence
Have left him walking
On a metal shaft,
Brings a smile to my heart each morning.
He is learning to walk again after an amputation,
He is still teaching us to live after his loss,
Never complaining,
Only relishing in the opportunity to keep going,
If he even talks about
His situation at all.

He encourages by example,
He smiles,
He is generous with his positivity,
Always showing the importance of hard work,
Himself, working with a purpose
That seems to accept his journey
As a continuum that is endless.
His soul is bountiful, his essence infectious.

I love running up behind this man,
Each step he takes reminding me of a toddler,
Sure on one side,
A swinging of a his new leg on the other.
He sways like the first guy,
Making me wonder if that is the key,
Learning to sway,
To rock like a boat in gentle waters,
Floating in a pool,
Or just realizing life
Is not a straight line effort,
One to be plowed through,
Rather we should rock a little
Taking it one positive step at a time.

I want to run with this guy.

Really, I’m there with them all,
Each letting their aura
Be true to them.
Each helping me on my way.
None are bad people,
Neither are they good,
They are themselves
Offering the world who they are.

I run with each.

Riding in my first car,
A `67 Mustang was something.
Windows down, wind rushing in,
That 289-sound,
I love it,
Everything except the radio
Which didn’t preset well,
Leaving me with only the right side knob
To find the stations
To score whatever the drive.

Each turn gave the stations
Just enough time to check-in,
A sort of Name That Tune simulation
Of blended music, talk, and commercials.
Funny how we can tune out the noise
Until the moment when clarity hits
And the perfect sound gets through our haze.

We ran this morning,
A good run, four or five in total, I think,
Cold, crisp air, no breeze,
The smell of toast in the air,
Which was distracting,
Except for the hills,
Which have not changed in years
And it seems my noise tuning memories
Are turning into flashbacks
That became amplified after our run.

The post-run conversation became more active,
Each new person checking in about the group’s workout,
Explaining their own,
Then there was some rapid fire about color coordinating outfits,
And then, silence.
I was gone, lost in the sound of rapid tuning on the old Philco,
When the dial scanned the stations so quickly
That there wasn’t even a sound.
I could see my friends talking,
They were laughing, making faces, enjoying themselves.

Just as I was,
Content in the serene nature of the quiet
There, not there, no where.
Something woke me up, brought me back,
I would guess it was the gargoyle of the pool,
Who true to email descriptions
Does have a Jimmy Dean quality to his digits.
At first, I thought I missed out,
Not hitting on any conversation,
Then I realized, the calm that I was feeling.
There and knowing it was okay that I checked out
Because the comfort of friendships is allowing people
To be themselves.

Maybe that little diversion
Is the reason why I thought about my old car,
Windows down, radio up,
No static.

Ideas can sometimes be elusive,
Other times, they land right on the table
Like a buffet of creative delights.

The last few days have not been effusive,
They have forced me to question if I’m able,
But the physical and mental fogs have left some insight.

Through it all, the thoughts are inclusive
Including the bizarre suggestions, more riff than fable
Suggested in the morning that is still dark as night.

Under the watchful eye of a gargoyle like lifeguard
Toes grasping the pools edge with a boney grip
A rag tag group of runners wondered openly about life’s directions.

Donuts, religious and hole-y, for the nutritional die hards
Sweetened talk of latex thermals and their potential to cause a sweaty drip
While baby ducks and chicks brought out backyard recollections.

Traveling for work, seemed for some, to be hard
Especially, if a train was going to be part of the trip,
But nothing stirred the emotion as did the gargoyle’s phalangeal projections.

Too often the ideas are elusive,
More frequently they land right on the table
Stuffing my day with a buffet of creative delights.

The madness is starting, again.
Dribble drives, lots of jumpers, screaming fans.
The energy will be all consuming
Game after game after game

The bets will be in
Some will cash big, others not so much.
The games will go on
And none of the athletes will get paid.

Hmmm…