Running around and around and
Around a
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.

Part 1

It started off badly,
An alarm at four AM
Giving the alert
That it was time for a run.
Commitment was not fully in place
And without school,
There was no reason to go
Other than the chance
To shoot the shiitake with
The troublesome ones in the group.

There were issues getting there, though.
An empty tray of donuts with a smattering of crumbs
Rested on the counter…
A pit bull with a sheepish grin
Sat curled up on the couch,
One eye looking to the kitchen with the right amount
Of pride and doubt.
There was a minor medical emergency
That nearly stopped progress
For sometimes gravity and smooth muscles
Will not be stopped.
Finally, after all the obstacles,
After all the doubt,
After all the negative self-talk,
The run began.

Let it be known,
People like things to be
The way people like them.
Some are decimal people,
Keeping track of minutia.
Others are into whole numbers
Quite happy in the macro world.
Still, there are a few,
Who without much effort
Pick and choose what to ponder in detail,
What to gorge on in quantity,
And what to not give an eff about.

Being one of those is the place of a Libra
Balanced, committed to the center, able to understand all,
The perfect place to know hanky panky
While respecting the laws of decency and morality,
Kind of what the intimacy box is suggesting,
Just sayin’…

So the trek through the dark
Under the threat of a major snowstorm
Unlike any seen before,
Or at least since the one last week,
Progressed at an easy pace where the conversations
Where more important than the pace of the herd.
The speed perfect, as several, author included,
Complained of dead legs,
Questioning the necessity of liking children, and
The general-specific insanity each of us brings to the group.

The author, a misfit of declining patience
With a conflicting bouquet of acceptance
Wrestled with the idea of ranting about a host of topics
When while chugging up a hill
A moment of clarity from an old high school experience
Resurrected a warmth that raised his soul
(Not really, poetic license.)
Truthfully, the run couldn’t end soon enough
For a rhyme challenged hack.
Coffee was calling.

Part 2

Running in winter is something,
Sure it’s cold and dark,
But it takes away the intensity of running in the heat.
Don’t think, though, summer running is worse,
Those workouts when the sweat is dripping
Have their own level of satisfaction,
It just isn’t as good as it is now.
Coming in from its run, the herd found their seats,
There’s the first table, one where everyone tries to cram around,
And this morning,
The author, found the group too crowded,
His patience for socializing untouched by the bouquet of acceptance,
And the outer reaches of hanging out
To be more comfortable.

Talk is talk,
Pace, distance, races (not the cultural kinds, running…duh),
Safe stuff, predictable, appropriate.
Eff that, isn’t it more interesting to make fun of hotel amenities,
Trying to make sense of social mores, or
Just laughing at the stupidity of being?
Out there at the second table,
There world was irreverent,
Taken to the gutter where jokes about epidemics
Were accepted in the same way that talk of potential homicidal inclinations
Could be mixed with comedians drinking coffee,
In cars nonetheless, what a great effing idea,
Someone should do that,
What would it be called,
It doesn’t matter, nobody remembers the names of shows anyway.

So that went on for awhile until the 9-5ers had to go.
Then acceptance and social responsibility eased into the conversation
And (no sarcasm here) enlightenment touched the renegade author
Who was working through the adrenaline
Of being stirred up, more upset about the loss of half a lifetime of poetry
At the hands of the worst words that can be used for an ex,
Than thoughts of lost covenants with God or Yahweh
Or whoever makes the marital rules.
Special thoughts were shared, suggestions offered, and a peace that good
Does exist in people.
Of course, this moment passed as well,
The conversation darted back to the absence of snow,
Which had called another day off from school,
Making the author think,
How poxy we had all become.

Still, looking back, this two-part episode
Is super important,
The exercise,
The fellowship,
The outright skirting the edge of acceptability,
The precision runners,
The WTF runners,
Those preparing to rake embers in the after-life
All have a place at either table.
Everyone makes four AM bearable.

I wrote in my journal
That I would embrace the absurd today.
Wanting the hours of work
Pass by quickly and painlessly.
It seemed that the best way to survive
The standardized test relocation
That is causing my students to lose their weight room
For nearly the entire month of May
Was to just accept my place
On accountabilities totem pole.

As the clock ticked on,
Students tolerated the final day of child birth,
The video, not an actual delivery,
Although my new focus on accepting the madness of daily life
Had me appreciating the humor brought
To the cinematic conveyance of the nine-ish month miracle
By kids who chimed in with sarcastic thoughts
About the roles of men and women in birthing room
And whether the baby would speak “whale” or not.

I thought for awhile of my trip to Pittsburgh,
An artistic awakening brought by one who may have been
The ultimate absurdist, Andy Warhol.
At a museum dedicated to him,
I developed a greater appreciation for pop-art
When I learned of the difficulties of his life
And saw all his medications on display,
That for some reason crossed the synapses of another sad installation,
As I connected memories of the shoes at the Holocaust museum,
With what I perceived as a medical misery for Mr. Warhol.
Both gave me feelings of helplessness and a weighty chest.

Why the two came together in my mind
Is hard to know.
Maybe it was the quantity of pill bottles and shoes.
No, it was much sadder than that.
Yet, these thoughts did not bring me down.
Instead, I tucked them away,
Holding them in reserve until I needed them again.
There is a reason for this mental collision
And it will reveal itself when the time is right.

Several classes took part in a volleyball revival
Playing for the sheer enjoyment
That recreation can bring to a weary school brain
By kids who are pulled like taffy
To achieve at levels their parents cannot understand,
But who still demand the conditional and evolving academic rigor.
These teens were doing what they do best, playing,
In a gym that required a fleece jacket
To prevent the condensed Arctic blast
Coming from the chilling units
From turning us into frozen relics
To be thawed in the next educational archaeological excavation.
Somehow, the athletes hit balls that stuck between the conduit and the ceiling,
Which, on a normal day, might have been something to cause
A less than positive reaction from me,
But today the frustration would not be.

The day was filled with ridiculous conversations with colleagues
That subconsciously were influenced by our cumulative years of Seinfeld devotion
And often footnoted with direct references to the nearly memorized scenes.
We joked of new friends in terry cloth, assistants to help organize, and
Lost cufflinks in pet cemeteries.
Lunch was never so hard to keep down as it was with our
Comedic amateur half hour.

Throughout the contractual time
Nothing seemed to matter nor too absurd to enjoy.
Peace ruled.
Perhaps that was what I embraced.

Two flies debated
Whether it would be better
To float like a butterfly
Or to sting like a bee.

Neither could decide
Between floating through life peacefully
Or being ready for war
In the protection of a queen.

So they just waited
For the next picnic
To get back to being
The flies that they were.

Which was good enough for them.

My dad used to talk of Texas

With a forlorn look and a wistful voice.

He’d remark on the expanse of the land,

Quickly damning the multitude

Of Virginia and loblolly pines 

Obstructing his view.

Yet, I think, on his trips back to the Lone Star,

The pull of the openness was never strong enough

To leave the confines of those sweet Virginia breezes.

My nostalgic trip back to the historic roots of my youth

Took off this week

When I learned that the parent of a student and I

Went to the same elementary school.

Coincidently, the This Is Your Life momentum 

Continued when a different student informed me that

I went to high school with his uncle.

The news back home,

As reported by Google,

Was splattered with names

Of people I remember playing four square 

Or hanging out with by the river.

Now they were involved with ordinances and liquor laws.

Like my father, though, there’s no real pull to return,

I’m a stranger in my hometown.

Development has removed most of what I remember.

Besides, my life just off the corridor is great

With a family I love and a desired complacency

That has pushed aside longings for those southern nights.

Tablet typing, with my left hand only,
As my right is fully engaged
With my quivering pit bull
Who shakes with nervousness
Brought on by the daring frustration
Of two little cats.
For two months
They have endured
An exile to the basement
At the paws of this rescued behemoth
Who dominates with size
Wanting to play
With felines
More suited for
Lounging than wrestling.
At present they have divided his attention
One slinking upstairs
The other stoically daring the dog to chase
Instead of his more reckless sister.
For now
Each must be content
With the established boundaries of safety
And the true authority
Keeping mayhem from flashing
Residing in the calming hug of right arm