On a day when life restarted,
I noticed the light in my office shower
Burned out.
I noticed this indistinct happening
Just two weeks after learning
My old colleague, the man who once held the office, had died.

I’m not going to tell maintenance,
Wouldn’t it be cool if it came back on without their help?

On this same day, I sat with my annoyed dog,
His annoyance directed my way since I was working all day.
Moby took over Pandora and I thought of my running friends
Who have been gone for far too long.
I want to run with them again,
But I’m too scared.

Overly cautious?
Could be…
I’m not going to risk it
It’ll be cool when we finally get back together.

Oh, my toe,
It’s hurting so badly,
Did I bang it running,
Did I drop a bottle on it,

I don’t know what happened,
It’s not really my toe,
Maybe the elves can fix it up,
Tape a couple together,
Poor thing…

Just kidding,
Hope you feel better.

It was one of those conversations
Between two guys of certain persuasions,
You can pick one,
It doesn’t really matter,
Anyway, their discussion went all over,
Leadership and vision,
Hashtags and bullying,
Bullying as a hashtag,
Solutions without blame,
Responsibility without excuses,
John Thompson and Hoya hysteria,
Memories of times long ago
When drama still existed,
But it seemed manageable,
Less personal, easier to navigate.

Funny, persuasions never entered the discussion,
No pointing of fingers,
Wagging of tongues,
Blaming anyone for their beliefs,
Funny, both grew up closer to poverty than middle-middle class,
Both were the first to go to college in their families,
Both are doing well despite being older
Which comes with its own problems.
Funny, as old guys of a certain persuasion
Neither wanted anything but the best for all,
Neither sought advantage over others,
Neither clamored for anything but what they had earned,
Neither wished away the experiences they’d had,
For both knew, life is too short to languish in a social morass.
The disrupting nature of those who push an agenda
Without regard for the majority who are doing right by others
Will never interfere with these two forward thinking guys
Whose persuasion is only about being a good person.

People say I’m decent with technology.
I can figure out the Schoology,
The YouTube TV,
The Spotify.
Regretfully, I must shatter their illusion.

Man, did I blow it today,
Settling in for some Hof,
Not Baywatch Hof, Wim, the Iceman
Different than Gervin,
I doubt Wim Hof can “finger roll.”

As the breaths flowed,
As I neared the second hold,
With my hands tingling and my brow starting to warm,
Damned if the phone didn’t ring,
Ring? How the eff did that happen? Who’s calling me now?

A friend.

I took the call,
Forsaking my breath work,
Denying that elusive release of endorphins
That paints my mind’s eye those fabulous colors,
That draws out the Dali in me allowing the stress to slide away.

We talked for awhile
And it was all good.
Laughter, sighing, mumbling, they’re all part of breath work, too.
It’s also nice to know work sucks for others,
That the summery air feels so good, and retirements are on the horizon.

Next time, though, “Do not disturb,” gets turned on.

Turns out, I’m just a tech apprentice.

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
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’.

No practice today,
An afternoon delight,
Not that kind,
But a poke, right in the arm,
A shot,
A medical Hail Mary
To prevent a potential sickness,
A seemingly inevitable occurrence,
Influenza, the forgotten virus.

I hardly even noticed the prick,
I was in too much of a hurry to get home.
A book about breathing played in the car
I took the curves safely, huffing and puffing into the house,
Sat with some munchies, and
Watched David Sedaris teach me things about writing
I’ve been to scared to try.
Yet, I had just gotten a flu shot without worry,
My heart rate actually went down as I waited
For the nurse to find the sweet spot,
Again, nothing like that,
Something with the bar scan on the syringe.

While I absorbed the on point knowledge from the sharpest of writers,
I saw visions of a running friend in a kilts,
Had thoughts of changing the intensity of my eating from snack to snacking
For I was active, a verb, wrecking havoc on a bowl filled with candy, and
Wondering when we’d all ever get to run together…mask free…
The backdoor slider…(really)…was open
The cool temperatures more comfortable than the arctic chillers at work.
Snacking turned to dining, how’s that, yo?
Bagels and oatmeal, Sinatra on the TV,
My hanging partner saying that with Mom at work,
“It’s like we’re in college,”
Of course, that’s without the booze and crumbs everywhere
Because after all, Mom will come home
And things better be just right.

Such a beautiful afternoon,
The haze and confusion of virtual instruction lifted,
The dull ache of almost seasons
Displaced for just a few hours.

Movies clips,
John Paul Jones action,
Easy conversations about nothing,
The way it should be
Working ways,
The manner of speech when friends hash things out,
Gunny knows,
Shots across the bow,
When retirement is so close it burns the whites of the eyes.
You know what I mean?

One word, one word can change a dynamic,
One lousy word.

This humidity made our run feel like a shower,
Heavy legs made walking tempting.
We all talked, taking it easy through the soup
When I casually threw out a joke.

“We should sprint down the hill.”
Sprint was the lousy word.

Only one in the group called my bluff.
Of course it he was the fastest of our group
Maybe more than two minutes per mile faster than me,
Check that, more.

And off we went.

It was supposed to only be down the hill,
But the greyhound decided to push it around the pond.
Towards the end, my lungs were aching, my form lost,
His brow nearly dry.

I’ll never use that word, again.

I’m not sure what to do with Saturdays and Sundays,
Social distancing is supposed to be a thing,
Keeping away, stowed off in the house, protecting all,
And somehow, in a non-viral way,
I have felt worse off, lost without outside contact.
Not that there is anything wrong with my family,
I couldn’t have done the lockdown without them,
But all this time has taught me that I need to socialize,
A little bit.

Hence the Saturday and Sunday dilemma,
To run with a group, not any group, but
The early risers who like to talk and walk more than run
Because the human contact proves to be so much fun,
Like yesterday where we learned of frozen eggs and FedEx
Or today where neighborly compassion
Got a faux ride in the back of a squad car.
Both stories celebrating the goodness in life,
Both stories adding some soul to mine.

Exercise programs should be written in pencil,
Because when it’s time to change them
An eraser is all that is needed.
Pencils don’t exist in my house, so I’ll be crossing things out,
Making some scribbles in a journal that needs to be flexible
For I’m running on the weekends,
Each morning at six with the bunch who stick to their ways,
Spread out on the routes, and
Make the runs more than an exercise in fitness.