I know these people who run,
Some of their stories I know,
Most I don’t.
One became drawn to running
With one hand in a bag of chips
While watching a weigh-in
For a heavyweight fight.
He realized he weighed more than them.
He started running the next day.
He’s like the wind.

Another is a woodworker,
At least as a hobby,
His motor runs fast,
Commuting or running,
Feet barely touching the ground,
Hardly even working
There’s grace in his stride
Ease in his sweat
A lack of awareness of friction and gravity.
He’s like the wind.

Still one other, full of steam,
A seller of meat so fresh
It’s nearly alive,
Unassuming, but grizzled from sports
And a bout with biology’s wayward cellular mayhem,
This guy just goes,
No complaining, except about winter,
But all the time full of the attitude
The keeps him pushing along the rails
As his steam trails off in the wind.

There are others,
Cardiac crazies who dare to push their limits,
And I find them to be so interesting,
Compelling,
Insane,
My kind of people,
Riders of the wind,
Pounders of the pavement,
Folks I am struggling to keep pace with
For I have not quite taken up their flight…soon, though.

Adam, Eve, the snake,
Not things I normally associate
With running at the crack of dawn,
But my exercise partners have a way
Of making the unexpected
Come to life.

Okay, not so much Adam and Eve,
The biblical reference fit, but
Snakes, it had to be about snakes this morning,
For the record, I hate snakes,
So much so that I blasted a copperhead and black snake
With my trusty twenty-gauge back in the day.

There was talk of…
King Cobras killed by shovel stabbing grandmas,
Pythons wrapped around drive trains at Granite Run Mall,
Pet snakes stepping off the bar tour and getting all baked,
Costa Rican hombres doing naked yoga…downward facing dong?,
A licking or maybe it was sucking of the oil off a dipstick.

Certainly, the conversation was appropriate,
There were also ample opportunities for inappropriate as well.
That’s why I like this group,
Flexible, fertile, a frolicking sort,
Coffee drinkers, beer drinkers, maybe “drinkers” is the best term.
Oh, and we run, too.

The HR Momma is out there rocking away,
Not because she is old,
Broken down, or
Afraid of injury.

She’s out there rocking away
Because she can,
Loves the uncertainty, and
Wants the challenges to be real.

I’m sitting on my couch,
After an ocean of shrimp, Costanza style,
Two glasses of wine, a nap, the start of summer vacation,
And a bundle of peanut M&Ms.

Check that, I’m now rocking away,
Unwilling to accept the fifty minimum,
Unwanting of the bubbles in my gut,
So let these rocks squeeze that air out.

Thank you, HR Momma for your example.
I’ll get these rocks done today, and
I’ll stay on track
Just as you.

I’m not sure how to write this,
I was just caught in a social vortex,
At times traveling through Portland, Oregon,
Others passing through Vegas,
All the while standing in the effing
Self-proclaimed Mushroom Capital of the World.

Back in the day,
My family get-togethers weren’t happenings
Until my uncle and his brothers started wrestling.
A broken rib here lost teeth there,
It was a common thing,
Once one of them put a lampshade on, literally,
The party was over.

Tonight brought those feelings of youth back,
The slurred speech,
The banging buffet,
The overdeveloped cc’s of testosterone
That seem to follow brothers or those
Still living the dreams that are unrealized.

I’m not sure how to convey how great it was tonight,
I’m mean who can complain about such a spread,
Such companionship, the absolute ease of hanging
With people I’ve feared my whole career…

Parents,
Especially the kind that might throw bicycles
Or
Bust out the walls of a closet
All rock star style in a hotel.

Glad I didn’t know that at the start of the year…

But in this case the boundaries of school and life
We’re separated. I don’t know how
To get my mind around it.
It’s not something I’m used to.

Slow down. It’s all there…

Make a list…

1. It seems cake was expected, not delivered, but not missed either.
That is a testament to the quality of character of this group.

2. Poetic or not, fireworks in a neighborhood are always cool as long as
It isn’t my ‘hood.

3. Everything is better slippery…especially slip and slides. Dishwasher safe…

4. I met a guy named Joe about four or five times. It seems he knew the host.

5. Eddie Murray could hit, Darla. Listen to your husband. What am I saying,
That’s crazy talk. Wives don’t listen to husbands, especially about sports.

6. I only thought keg throwing happened on ESPN. That guy from Iowa is a beast.
Blue minivans work well as backstops.

7. Dogs are some manipulative mofos.

8. When the kegs are flying, the party is either just getting going or nearly over.
I hadn’t been to a dead keg party since college. I hope I pulled my weight.

9. Did I mention BBQ?

10. The last two strides of the Belmont were amazing…

I can’t begin to explain
How much fun I had tonight.
For a jackass who cowers in public,
This had to be the best party in a long time,
Why,
Because I was with the kind of people I once knew,
Just having fun without regard for pretense,
Reputation, or ambition.
I was with real people,
Unafraid, accepting.

My kind of folks.

I know some others who weren’t there,
They would have fit in well,
Too bad they weren’t
For the fireworks,
The keg throwing,
The Crispr demonstration
On how to clone a kid from a parent
While they play corn hole,
It was remarkable.

And now we also know,
There are some challenges
The HR Momma just won’t take…

Meow…

The Talking Heads sang,
“You might find yourself living in a shotgun blast.
Right now, I’d have to say that’s about where I am,
Definitely not the same as it ever was
Because for the first time in a long time in this lifetime,
There’s a lot going on
And I want to be in the fray.

Back in my yute,
I was everywhere,
Hanging with anyone,
Living the dream,
With an idea of what being an adult was supposed to be,
Which became more like a rifle bullet to me
Than a shotgun.
Duty, responsibility, marriage, kids,
That was the way, right?

Gone were the nights at the bar
Talking the crazy stuff,
Living those scenes crafted
In a Springsteen song.
Gone were the jobs that allowed for golf,
Contributed to meager means, and
Were so easily let go of.

Gone were the times of going out
To some far off area
And shooting up some cans
With a .22 or a shotgun,
My favorite was a twenty gauge.
I preferred the cans to animals
Because I couldn’t stomach the death,
Yet I never realized the slow burn
I was living by taking on some Huxstable-Keaton styled life.

Years went by in this foreign land,
Kids came, friends distant and fading,
And all I got was the kickback from a life
That brought little in the way
Of challenge, distraction, or satisfaction.

Not now…

The change has been slow,
But it’s happening.
First, the whole family thing exploded like a hollow point,
Thankfully, missing the true mark,
Although, the rehab was hard.
It paid off, though, and now healing is complete,
Stronger than ever.
It feels like I am in the old and familiar shotgun blast
With friends who get what life is about,
Not too concerned with themselves,
Not too concerned with me,
Just living, laughing, letting go of whatever
That thirty-forty something life was, the
Distorted expectations, warped beliefs in parenting, or the
Hollow bedrocks of being an adult.

I love hearing my friends tell their stories of agave inspired personalities,
Spouses unwilling to share the good liquids,
Or the fragility of men drinking beer from snifters,
Because I know those things, too.
I can laugh with them because I am really laughing at me.
It’s great being vulnerable in that way,
Especially when it’s okay to be there. That’s how friendships should be.

So, there I am, shotgun blasting.
A twenty-gauge, enough to raise the hairs on my neck,
Not so much as to put a hole in my confidence.

Finally.

The winds whispered, “Now I have a goal,”
Breezy banter asked, “Are you doing that heart rate thing?”
My morning fog
Took them both in
And barely knew how to process them.

The first, a statement of comradery, made me think
Thoughts about my training
Where the ideas about how to get more fit
Fester in the comfort of a couch
And seem so easy when they are graphed out.

At 5-am the reality of what is really necessary,
The commitment, the drive, the smarts
Are nearly obstacles to getting things done.
Hearing someone say that they had a goal
Punched my gut bringing me out of a morning fog.

The second question, directed right at me, was a jolt of caffeine,
Making me realize my plan for being solo
Would not be good if I didn’t stick to the plan.
Run slower, keep my heart rate down,
Lessen the impact, and see far into my running future.

My talkative friends turned, I headed straight.
I’m guessing their pace was fast, mine would not be,
My watch became a coach, telling me to slow down
When it burned yellow, a cool green was the goal.
It was harder than it should have been.

Navigating the flattest streets in my little town
At a turtle-like pace took its toll on my motivation.
I wanted to let go, let my feet turn over quickly
So my heart and lungs could test their limits, so
My ego could be fulfilled.

But that wasn’t my goal,
That wasn’t my plan, so
I replayed those quotes from before,
Drawing strength from the awareness they inspired in me
To finish that run almost always in the green.

Volcanoes to the ancients,
Eclipses around the same time,
Things that were totally unexplainable,
Things that inspired awe.

That was our coffee table this morning,
Normally a place of sedate conversation,
Organized politely in a circle,
Accommodating for anyone who wants to sit in.

This is how it rolls,
We run, three, five, or seven
High fives in the parking lot,
Coffee around the table.

It’s great, just hanging,
Sometimes I listen,
Mostly I am procrastinating,
Putting work off.

Not true, I love hanging with this group,
But (not bad) we are creatures of habit.
Same routes, same paces,
Nearly always the same seats at the table.

This morning the flock was diverse,
Some took the three,
Some ran off for the five,
A couple sort of ran seven.

The seven’s conversation ran the gambit,
Life has many facets,
It’s cool talking things out, joking,
And taking serious walking breaks.

The run ended, the table was packed,
My overly big, old green shirt sagged with sweat
And I knew that whoever got the seat after me
Might need the sausage toed floaty to help them out.

I made the decision to stand,
Hanging on the fringe drinking my coffee,
Listening to the conversation, and
Making those telepathic jokes that the devilish ones tune into.

Then the volcanoes erupted,
The sun was blocked by the moon,
The unexplainable was in motion,
Everyone was standing.

It was a middle school party,
We were all up, circled up,
Talking shit, the kind that’s funny at six AM,
But might get you shot at six PM…we’re old…

There was an exploration of the word “It,”
Maybe the best personal pronoun,
Vague, lazy, and potentially inappropriate,
“It” is worthy of conversation. (See…)

Runner jokes flew,
Those being of the kind that are just above Dad jokes
Dumb and funny,
It was awesome.

Alas, work called, not really, but it was time to go,
I wanted margaritas to go,
But that would not go over well in my job.
So it is.

My son and I discuss some trivial stuff,
The other day we contemplated
Whether rock stars had lost all their mysticism
Which has helped to steal the life
From good old fashioned rock and roll.

We blamed the sedation for what was once
The rebellious energy driving youth
On too much access,
Too much streaming,
Too much coverage.

There is nothing left
No wondering about the women’s shirts,
No wondering about the party bus,
No myth, no fantasy
Just plain old fashioned reality.

A friend blames all of this change
On a lack of baseball.
He says that when kids stopped hitting,
Taking the easy way with trendy sports
Where the pressure is slight, deterioration happened.

His premise is built on the All-American pastime,
A game where the action is slow,
The consequences out in the open for all to see,
The required skills are high, and without a Mel Allen mysticism,
Baseball has become a video game inspired lift and jack-o-rama.

Which brings me to one of my running partners,
Who dispels all myths of mystery about access,
While at the same time proving to be on a level
I can’t quite get my head around, he’s a total
Mystic to me.

All of the folks I hit the pavement with are somewhat mysterious,
I know their paces, running styles, and coffee preferences
Much more than I know them as people,
My radar is bogey-free, telling me they are all cool,
But in this one fellow’s case, I can’t see him clearly.

Gentle.
Sedate.
Generous.
Confident.
Independent.

In this fellow’s case, I can’t figure him out.
Each of those qualities, so apparent,
Each of them so elusive for me,
They require such effort,
And it shouldn’t be that way.

I look in his direction whenever I can
Taking in that smile,
The positive energy,
The intelligence,
The mystery.

I’ve learned more about this dude
As we’ve run through the winter,
I have to say, he has warmed my soul,
Yet as close as we have been on the roads,
I’m still far from knowing how he is who he is.

I’m intrigued.
The way he is,
What I think it says about who I am,
Those qualities,
His examples.

My friend is no rock star,
He’s no mystery, just a good dude, some say, “salt of the Earth,”
He’s putting in the miles; running, cars, or secretly mentoring.
Maybe he’s not the root of my mystery, at all.
Who, then? So far to go…

I like learning things,
Maybe my poetry is too much about me,
Forche said in her book that she was encouraged
To write poetry about something other than herself.
I’d like to, but things seem easier this way.
Observations, lessons,
What have I learned?

We took to the roads this morning ten or twelve strong,
We bullied cars to other lanes, or so I imagined.
Thinking tough was a defensive move
As my heart rate shot through the zones
Like gas prices climbing through the two-dollar range.

The group stuck together,
A hodgepodge of rhythms, conversations, and paces,
Only to break up for the threes, fives, and two lonely sevens.
It was cold. I did not know about the temperature dropping
Only a couple of degrees just before sunrise.
I knew my hands hurt from the chill and
That the hill didn’t look as menacing in the light,
But gravity and angles don’t lie,
It was the same mofo seen or unseen.
Stories stopped, breathing labored, endorphins released.

After accepting the hill’s charity, a steep downhill,
I was struck by the beauty of the morning.
The sun softly lit an unplowed field and for a moment
There was nothing,
The nothing of awe where even this jaded soul
Could recognize how great things can be.

Could it be that I’m getting older,
Able to see through the bull shit that is created by others,
Created by me?
Why should I care if my arms are skinny, little twigs,
Unable to lift a big body without help from rubber bands?
Why should I care if my belly rises from my torso
Life an annoying speed bump on the road.
I do care, but why should I?
Ah, vanity, the Devil’s favorite sin, according to Pacino.

Still, why should I care?
There are more important things, better lessons,
Serious accomplishments.

I’ve learned to like people, again.
That sounds harsh, but too many pokes with a hot iron
Has a way of turning a personality off.
The last few months of hitting the roads
With a group of dedicated souls
Has allowed me to see good. That’s a testament to them,
Not something I’m proud to admit about myself.

Maybe that’s it,
Caring is key,
It’s owning motivation,
So we can keep going.
I don’t want to be the big belly in the picture, so I run,
Today, I ran both night and day (cheap, I know)
Finding a peace that can’t come anywhere but from age,

And from paying attention to others

Like my running partner who
Thinks about things similarly and shares the
Same values, same humor, and hopefully shares
The same respect.
It’s good to know that people have the same issues that
I thought were all mine,
Strength through numbers, right?
Bringing life to those kinds of things
Is an emotional release worthy of boom box amplification,
And that’s what our stories are,
Radio transmissions, efforts to make sense of the stuff
That shouldn’t require a call.

But we do call, each person in the group,
Kind of an HR person,
Listening to each other’s stories,
Offering perspective, or just listening.
Only in this group,
It’s not just about complaints,
But also the joys of family, the ridiculousness of teachers,
Simple banter, dumb ass jokes.

Friendships.

The end of seven miles sometimes comes too soon.
Class continues at the coffee table,
Although, some days it’s in the back alley gym or pool,
Lessons happen in each area,
Be nice,
Pay attention,
Appreciate others,
Have no expectations and take things as they are.

I love it. Not the back alley gym classes so much,
But why ruin a confessional type of poem with such negativity?
I love their energy, the laughing, and this feeling of trust
My crusty old white-haired soul with aging muscles
Is finding with this group of highly motivated early risers.
I’m learning. It’s scary good. Age be damned!

Please, though, no jock straps…