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.

So tired,
The hills of suburban Philly are wearing me out.
Thank goodness my friends are still out there,
I figure the weekend runs will be good,
If they are anything like the last two days,
I’ll deal with the hills.

“Ask” as a noun,
I can’t even figure out how to write that.
Too familiar squirrels,
People are getting out, reclaim the land, yo.
Graduations on cassette,
Not to worry, houses sell for big money over there.
Pitching tents,
“If a car hits me now, I’ve lived a good life.”

I know these are all inside lines,
Hard to understand, but trust me,
You would be better off if you knew,
The laughter is great, the ridiculousness needed.
And every now and then, there’s some peach cobbler.
Maybe the fatigue is due to more than the hills.

Just wrote tomorrow’s post,
One ranting against the conservative propaganda
Of the news that is playing on the television.

It’s not my choice,
But hell, everyone likes what they like, right?
It started to get into my head, finding a way towards my soul

So I decided to combat the angry fuel
With some really loud music in my headphones,
Drowning out what I think are divisive voices

With some inspiring music,
The kind that grabs your fingers and lets them type frenetically,
With purpose, with a waving of your body, with integrity.

An old friend stopped by the blog today,
She knew me at my worst, helped me through the hazey periods
And knows what it’s like to find solace in music.

This poem is inspired by the big sounds of “Yell Fire,”
A song I’ve probably heard a thousand times,
A song that had me jumping in the rain twice, TN and NJ

It’s a callout song, a call to action song, it’s unapologetic,
Raucous, meaningful, and so important to me that
I never tire of the energy it gives.

It’s like a three cheese sandwich after a day at an animal rescue,
The sandwich, not fully vegan, not fully humane, but a start, and the
Next couple of hours will be manageable because of this repeating song.

On deck? Wilco…Theologins? Spiders?
In the hole? I barely know her…that was for my friend…sorry mom…
Nope…reading some Jabbar, that’s music enough.

Sometimes “Thanks” can be a dis,
Sometimes “Hate” a term of endearment,
Like when you get poked to run six miles,
And you offer a “thanks” to the person
Who made you feel like a loser
For not getting out of bed to get the run done
And that feeling is less than sincere,
More of an eff you with a smile.

On that other hand, “I hate you”
After finishing that six mile run
With the endorphins pumping
And the satisfaction of having gotten something done
Even if it was only 5.75, I’m sure Strava wouldn’t lie
If only it showed up in the feed,
Is a great way to give an actual, “Thank you.”

Just a few days ago,
My legs hurt,
My motivation was lacking,
My excuses were reaching adolescent proportions
When a friend sent me a video,
It whispered in my head overnight
Making me angry for being such a little whatever word is allowed now.
I hit the roads the next day and when I finished,
Texted my boy, eff you, and I did so with great hate,
The appreciative kind.

That’s why today made me laugh,
When the wise Goggins in his sit up glory
Let another friend hear the whisper
And be so moved by the morning run
To at least allow me the dignity to choose thanks or hate.
In this case, I chose the hate, it’s more honest
And fitting with the tone
Of sucking it up, buttercup and
“This ain’t no walk in the park, Kazansky…”

By the way, consider this even for the sit ups in the pool.
I really don’t like those effers.

Accurate accusations are exactly on point,
My family and friends have me down
Calling me repetitive, a repeater, or laughing
When I use my only superpower
Which is to bring something back in a conversation
Long after it was said.

I love the familiar,
The obvious,
Especially, when it’s used in obscure ways
To make a point,
To get a laugh,
If for no one else, at least I know where it’s going

“Everything’s Right,” that’s how it all started
Phish filling up my car with the song of the last week,
I can’t get enough of it
Everywhere I go I’ve got this playing
On repeat, because that’s who I am,

The seat in my car was heating,
Outside the wind was blowing across a soccer field,
Dew covered the ground and
I wasn’t sure I was up to running,
The doubt and the lack of interest was pushing back
Against my musically inspired changing motivation.

Eventually, as is the case with Phish, the song ended,
I laced up the trail shoes and headed out,
Socks soaked in a second, lungs complaining right away,
“Everything’s right…” swimming all over my brain,
Reaching down to my heart,
Putting a spark in my soul.

The thing is I don’t know the words to the song,
And I don’t run normally run with music,
So on the headphone free ten-miler,
I was stuck singing on repeat,
Over and over again,
“Everything’s right.”

It was awesome,
Around the pond all those times,
Stopping at the batting cage, Nancy’s stop,
Running across the Y-parking lot with a finger twitch
Around the pubs and back.
It was right.

Getting into that zone,
Where the singularity occurs between the breathing,
The form, the voices in the head,
That melding of it all makes whatever
Oh, so satisfying
And this run was that.

After sitting for a few minutes out back in my car
I went Mr. Rogers, changing my shirt and shoes
Before starting for home.
I was still singing those two words, the sun, the sky, and endorphins
Were still right, but as the song came on, the Phish refrain was changed,

My friend,
The one who texted in bro code,
I think I wrote,
“With vulnerability,”
Has come back to his wits,
Back to the lovable say anything despot
I so enjoy.
In these times of tragedy,
Heartache, and uncertainty,
He answered a question
Sent with good intention
And a mourner’s curiosity
With deadpan humor
That so tickled the darkest parts of my soul
That I half expected lightning to strike.
For what it’s worth,
I’d welcome that spark, perhaps a kickstarting for me,
Since I’ve drifted into the morass of streaming,
Distance learning,
I don’t know what to do,
Except hear my friend laughing
With a big dip packed
While he’s rocking that semi-dance move
And crowing about copperheads.