Be it therapy
Or be it intoxication,
I don’t know,
But my need to connect things
Gets out of control sometimes.
Each run, each class, each experience
Always seems to have a connection
To something else.

It’s a little ridiculous,
I’ll admit.

Take a run through the slice,
Not the soft drink that my old basketball friend
And a one-time professional player,
Used to mix with his popular Irish stout
To make one or the other go down easier
Which has nothing to do with the bar,
Literally and figuratively around the corner
From my dorm,
No, slice, slushy-ice,
Left on the roads to make for another fake emergency
Causing a little more of our collective human soul
To be sapped
Much in the same way
Cutting Guinness with carbonated sugar water
Steals from the rooster fries, aka Rocky Mountain Oysters,
Balls, Testicles, okay, got it?
No, slice, the stuff we should be tempting and taunting
Because we are meant to survive and to challenge comfort
Even if it means going slowly and complaining the whole way.

Granted, there’s a lot there,
And it’s all ridiculous.

Necessary, too.

Necessary, because sometimes llamas push and pull,
Dogs bark too loudly under the spot of headlights,
And only God knows what happens with chickens in the U
After parties where the consumption goes beyond acting
“Your age and not your shoe size.”
The lesson being that getting older does not have to mean
Adolescence or the college years resurface
Because restraint and maturity are okay,
Just so long as the senior years don’t restrict the development
Of marginal Philadelphia up and coming (llamas?) suburban cities.

You see, running should be fun,
Toiling away
Under the guise of athletic improvement
Might be the deal for some, and I understand,
Why run if you’re not getting better at something,
Especially in the crap that Mother Nature left this morning,
Why can’t she make up her mind,
Snow or rain, not both.
I’ve come to think that the running is more than physical,
The chuckleheads (typed with affection) who keep me going
Might be surprised to know
That my running is about more than the time or distance,
It’s about the connections,
The observations, like why do certain cultures
Run in the fast lane on the track,
But go slowly,
I’m not trying to start a new hashtag thing,
Because as a middle-aged white guy, I am a stereotype, too…

Nope, running brings together all sorts,
Finance, mechanics, security, so many different professions
Are in our group,
That it’s amazing.
We even have a blueberry coat wearing triathlete,
A former spin teaching water polo playing fitness bain of lifeguards,
And me, a guy drawing energy from them all
To make sure that ice, snow, rain, hills, mud, and mostly me
Don’t become an excuse
To become a two-hour delay,
Living in fear,
Afraid of struggle
Who would rather sit life out
Instead of trying battle ropes for the first time.

Ah, the connections,
Vape on those for a while,
Afterwards, destroy the lane markers,
They are nothing but bars stretched across
Open water to make like easier
For some territorial mofo
Who doesn’t have to worry about legs that sink,
Contact lists that get shredded in the laundry,
Or hydroponic farming neighbors.

It was a good one this morning,
Thanks.

portrait of dog
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Snow came down hard,
A couple of inches had already fallen,
Choices had to be made,
To risk the roads
For five at five
Or keep it safe
Under the comfort of modern living.

Who could judge either decision?
To submit to creature comforts
Being the more logical way,
But getting into the fray
Has a romantic and adventuresome appeal.
Neither choice matters much
As the snow falls either way.

Living as a prospective knuckle dragger
Allowed the snow to draw me out of a deep sleep.
Visibility was low,
Plows were just warming up,
Their lights reflecting off the white curtain
Giving my small town
A big city neon feel.

Running in the snow is awesome.
It’s quiet, except for the crunch,
The rustling of my coat, and
A rooster who announces each morning with gusto.
Everything slows in the snow,
Pace, breathing, expectation,
Leaving a mind free to appreciate what is happening.

The wind blows the fresh undisturbed sidewalk snow
Painting a scene that Bob Ross would be proud of,
Brush strokes creating the same look of sand at the beach
That makes for beautiful abstractions.
The sidewalks share their unevenness
Like snow-capped mountains.
The conditions create an aesthetic, mindfulness.

Getting out there is great,
Too often I think I’ve avoided adventure,
Missing out on a bucket full of experiences.
With this group,
At this time,
I know I have to get out there
Seeing all that I missed, appreciating it all.

Back in college,
When days started around 10:00 AM
On Tuesdays and Thursdays…
Only Tuesdays and Thursdays,
I had an art history class.
The room was darkened,
The slides were projected, and
I learned that studying art
Could be interesting.
For art
Brought flavor to my aesthetic palette.
Dali was one of my favorites,
And I identified with the bending figures
When I realized one mid-morning that I had become
A melting watch, my then flexible body slumped in a chair
Ready to slide off into oblivion.

I never much thought
I could have a surreal conversation
After running, but
On this morning where everyone
Took to their personal programs,
Choosing from the buffet of fitness items
Brought out by the YMCA chefs,
There was a moment where I felt like my body
Was sliding into that same
Art class boho college sweat pants wearing
Dali inspired haze
That had the potential
To either
Enhance my culinary maturation
Or totally empty my innards
Through one end
Or the other.

After the normal chit chat
About weather, cold, upcoming races, and job transitions,
Someone, probably an accountant, mentioned

Scrapple.

“I love scrapple,” was the gist,
Which, like some sick self-aggrandizing motion
In a bizarre Congressional hearing,
Was seconded with the right amount of
Mmm-Mmm good guttural expression
That was washed down with a torrent of Pavlovian salivary moisture
Previously suggested by a
“Why is this so wet?” question.
I have to say that on this Thursday, it was barely past sunrise,
A time I would have never seen in my college days, so
To feel the pangs of art history
In conjunction with a discussion about the ingredients in scrapple
Was bordering on a gastric disaster.
My ignorance of the snout to tail breakfast confabulation
Spanned the continuum containing sausage, hot dogs, spam, and
The finer cuts of pork like loin, butt, and shoulder.
Still, though, the devotees extolled the virtues
Of the scrapple like it was a triple word score
On the tiled board game
That was adding to my nutritional neurosis.

You see, food is a stressor for me,
I like to eat, but textures do me in.
So, too, does the idea of eating intestines, stomach,
Anus, tongue, liver, kidney, onions, cucumbers, and
Squid with the tentacles still on.
I like to know what I’m eating
Not because I’m a health freak,
But because I’m chicken, which I eat freely,
Range, oven, nugget, however.
Scrapple? Nah.
The conversation became an exercise
In pork futility.
The scrapple eaters not understanding how some of us
Had never eaten the mash-up,
Those of us who were scrapple virgins,
Living in nutritional purity, myself, not mastitorialy-flexible,
If that is such a thing,
Looked to the scrapple eaters as catfish,
Scouring the bottom of the butcher’s block
For whatever tasty scraps might be left
From Wilbur’s slaughter.

I left the table satiated,
Full of the amazement that comes from the diversity of tastes,
Appreciative of the good-natured ribbing we all dished out, and
Thankful for the group that gets me out of bed a full six hours
Before I would have in college.
I also journeyed into a day where the food lines had been blurred,
My expectations for breakfast were a little fuzzy.
Like those other times of breakfast food epiphany,
Runny eggs, no syrup, energy balls with uncooked oats,
I saw a hazy vision of me in a Venezuelan restaurant
Named after America
Eating of all things,
Scrapple.

Surreal.

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.