This morning I walked on a trail,
One converted from train tracks
To a peaceful land far from worries,
Religion,
Politics,
Education,
All of the things so annoying of late.

The wind blew with wintery jabs.
The sun set a teasing angle that was
At times blocked by cliffs carved into the land to make the trail,
Further screened by trees, and then
Shining just enough
To make the cold not turn to freezing.

I was there with my dog, prancing,
My son, waxing of a mid-twenties life, and
Me wondering about nothing,
Walking,
Thinking of the day’s beauty,
Accepting of the chill.

Things changed on our return,
My son went his way.
Einstein and I ours.
Upon getting home I made an error,
I checked my email,
To find that a family member, in his good conscious, had reached out.

I wish he had not.
I have no time for being preached to,
Right, Left, or religious.
I know what I believe, I know how to think for myself,
I know I don’t have the will or soul
To sell myself out or to ask others to do so for my beliefs.

Gun toting advocacy beyond the Constitution is out of bounds for me.
Don’t ask me to join your alphabet organization.
Polarizing social proclamations have no places within my circles of influence.
Don’t tell me how people are, I’ll make my own judgments, thank you.
Inspiration from above is not about an edited book,
It’s about action. Let me find faith from all as I seek to act in a way best for all.

I suppose that means that you can take me off your email list,
I can’t be converted, politicized, and I’ll take marginalization, even loneliness
Rather than sacrifice my ethos.
Let me read from your Book and find my meaning. Will you read from mine?
Let me decide whether to own a gun or not. I won’t tell you not to.
Let me go to work and not have to talk about it at family gatherings. Please…

I’m asking for a trigger warning,
The kind that comes when you cannot contain yourself,
So that I get the message that you are about to pontificate,
Just a gesture, a waving of your hand that signals I should leave
Lest I be caught in a mess of ideology and fallacy that I would rather avoid.
Then I would know that you respect what I am, who I am, and who you are.

By the time this poem posts,
It’s 12:02 everyday,
I will be fast asleep,
After twenty-four hours of modest endurance efforts.

To get out and test ourselves,
There is nothing better,
The test, it doesn’t matter much,
Just that it is hard, maybe even unthinkable.

I know today would not have happened for me,
Twenty-six (.2) miles spread out over 24-hours,
Without some serious support,
The kind that frames these ridiculous attempts.

Family, dealing with the stink, the unavailability,
Friends, offering encouragement, healthy skepticism,
My dog, who just looks and waits with his wagging tail,
But in this one, my daughter,

Who on her birthday accepted the challenge,
Talked just enough trash
Liked enough Strava posts, and kept at it throughout
To inspire me to keep going as well.

She and I need to set up a Zoom call with Beau,
His video putting the idea of this adventure in our heads,
I’d like to thank him for the pain in my calves and the chance
To do this craziness with a kindred spirit.

Less than two hours,
That’s how long it took,
Took to break in new trail shoes,
Fresh out of the box,
Straight into the melting snow mud.

It was great running with my daughter,
The company light,
The air crisp,
The land free,
Simply a beautiful day.

Oh, the educational preparation programs…
People are paying so much for teacher training,
Yet getting so little in return.

Not really,
I wrote that to poke my “save the world daughter”
Who is mired in virtual student teaching.

The other day, she brought a challenge,
One hundred burpees a day for a month.
I accepted.

For my life, my hips and hammys have balked
At being bent, stretched, or pushed.
Burpees are the enemy.

Like an experienced teacher, which I am,
I gauged my ability and knew
Regular burpees were out of the question.

Jumping in at an appropriate level, scaling,
That would be the way.
As successes grew, I knew I’d be able to up the ante.

“Dad, these burpees are killing me.”
“Me, too.”
“How do you get them done so fast.”

I could have lied, played an over the top macho game,
“I modified them.”
“You’re cheating!”

“Would you say that to someone reading below grade level?”
“No, but that’s different.”
“Not for what I teach.”

There was a pause, I sensed her smarter than father brain working,
“You’re right, but it’s still cheating.”
I think she was just mad.

I explained the plan, to gradually get to full burpees,
That I am playing a long game, not a short one,
How so many times “big eyes” killed me in fitness.

This challenge is tough enough,
Tapping into every weakness that I have
I’ll get there, but I’ve got to get there without killing myself.

I hope scaling and learning at an appropriate developmental levels
Are still being taught. I’ve done my part to help.
Maybe that overpriced university can send some money back to her.

A couple of days away,
No writing,
No working,
No worrying,
Just hanging,
Taking in the family life,
Reconnecting with my other brother,
Chilling in the November summer sun.

Funny how the stories are always better,
How hunters are still hunting,
How the names stay the same, but the faces change
Ooph…
Dreams remain dreams
Spoiled only by reunions and the reality
That only time is undefeated and
We’re all losers in that game.

I miss the smell of hay,
A review of the high school rap sheet,
The opportunity to go fishing,
The jumpstart hooking a big one brings to a soul,
That’s what a couple of days away can bring
Restorative runs on the trails
Banging enchiladas, and a little
Home cookin’.

Ah, Friday, autumn is in full swing,
Fall sports are nearly done,
Leaves are everywhere, and all I can do is sit
Staring at the television with arms weary,
The weight of the week plus the lifting off weights
Making them heavy and satisfied
Grateful for gravity, charity, and discipline.

It’ll be bed time soon,
Fog might rise tonight and in the morning
I’ll run on a narrow trail with my kid
Who’ll probably tell me I’m too slow, but
That’s cool because it’s true,
Old too, but she knows better than to poke the bear too hard
Because I might just shuffle along faster than she wants.

Or I might make her pay for breakfast…

It was probably around 1982 when I was in high school. The car I was sitting in was being driven by my driver’s ed partner and she was pretty unsure of how to tame the big block that was in the retired police car donated to my school for our class. We were looking at the cones, that didn’t seem spread out enough for our car to pass through and certainly not with my friend behind the wheel.

I decided to break the rules because starting and stopping the way that we were had lost it’s novelty. I reached over and turned on the radio. Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” played and the car started moving with more confidence. I suppose my partner needed a distraction to keep her foot from mashing the break. We began passing through the cones without any fear. She was doing a great job. All things end, though, and it was all good until the wrestling coach, our instructor, yelled on the walkie-talkie from his ground control tower to turn the radio off.

We went right back to the herky-jerky ride as before.

Tonight, I was sitting at the computer and struggling to come up with ideas. I’m so far gone that I’ve resorted to trying to figure out what is going to happen with the start of school and there is still a month for the most recent plans to be amended. I’ve lost it.

Then, a couple of things happened. First, my wife shared some great stories from her family that were passed on to her by her aunt and uncle. They were new to both of us and we could only smile because they seemed so unbelievable in our lifetimes. It seems that even though we grew up many states apart, it is entirely reasonable to believe that our families have been paralleling each other for a couple of hundred years. Crazy, huh?

The second was “Dirty Laundry” coming through my little JBL speaker. The coincidence of the song, matched with the myths and facts of a family history was too much for me to ignore. My mind is racing and the floodgates will be open for the next couple of days.

Lovely.

After long days at the shore
Playing the ten-dollar game and riding waves,
Before the serious internet surfing began,
Prior to YouTube taking attention over, and
Commencing before the nightly reading,
We played Monopoly.
The games were a bit fierce,
A fictional account of real estate’s fierce existence,
Where we talked trash, made outlandish deals,
Suffered through jacked up rents, and
Made it through the hours to bankruptcy.

Today, landlocked in a basement cave,
Life’s clutter met post vacation energy restoration.
I took the advice from my hyperkinetic friend,
Capitalizing on the my own energy
To wage war with a stockpile of old photos I’d taken
Back when I thought I had a little Ansel Adams in me.
All those years ago, I printed many photos,
Some made it into frames, a few made me some money,
Most sat in boxes or baggies hogging precious square footage,
Until today, when I committed to letting them go,
Relentlessly, emotionlessly, with nothing but malice.

At first it was easy,
The marginal prints, the ones that never had a chance,
The unfittest, they did not survive.
Doubles, triples, why so many, gone, gone, gone.
Then photos of my childhood opened up,
Water damaged, blurry, or otherwise inconsequential,
Yep, gone.
Then I got to the tough ones, photos from my parents,
Back when they were younger than I am now,
I kept all of those.
They’re my parents, after all.

Then came my wife’s family photos,
An easy culling as well as they are all keepers.
So many repeats and I could see the photographer’s process,
Someone trying to figure out the lighting, the proper pose,
The best aperture paired with the appropriate shutter speed.
The photos were composed well, purposeful, artistic.
I could be so objective because I only know a couple of the people,
My entry into the family came late,
But I loved looking at the bloodlines,
How the old folks gave their genes, their mannerisms to my family,
All the way to my step-children. That’s pretty cool.

One amongst them all stood out, bringing a smile to us all
For recreation and fellowship run deep in this family
As my wife’s way old family enjoyed a game of…
MONOPOLY.
Two weeks ago, we had not played the game in twelve years,
Now it seems there is some history passing time
Rolling dice and cashing in on fleeting wealth.
They are better dressed than our shore attire,
Even if all the ties are not cinched properly.
Hopefully, their fun was like ours,
Although, I hear competition was key…just like ours.

1958ish…