There was a moment today
When what I thought I knew
Proved only to be a memory,
Long held over for at least a decade or so
And erased in the course of a few seconds.

See, a ways back in my life,
The Fairthorn hill was only sort of tough,
That was until you reached the STOP sign.
From there it was a walk to the peak.
All these years later, now it’s a run to the top,
Walking isn’t “allowed” until the downslope.

I was thinking about that little bit of road,
Fairthorn and how much better it is than Sickle
When I got all pandemic courteous
And started weaving around a mother-daughter pair
Before mentally mapping how I would navigate
The lone walker up ahead.

Back when Fairthorn stopped short,
There was a runner who did all the crazy stuff I’ve entertained,
Longer and longer, that’s what I’ve been thinking,
Which is exactly how that dude ran years ago,
Gumpian, out early, out at lunch, out in the evening
He ran so much and was so disciplined
He could tell how fast you were running just by watching.

I checked out from the group for awhile,
He kept traversing the earth,
In ten years, I’ve maybe seen him three or four times.
I assumed he was out there chasing the eagles
While I toyed with the idea of going long,
Of pushing my limits into that thin air.

As I approached, Locust, there he was, the walker.
Once he had been a runner, not twisted into a question mark,
His pace, something he probably never thought he was capapble of,
Was approaching cane or walker slow,
Which was off pace for a guy who used to grind the miles away.

We exchanged runner-social-distancing pleasantries, I turned on
Locust, a longish hill, where there’s normally a walk break
Which I never take when I’m solo and especially today
After seeing my old running partner hobbling down the road.
I thought of him, the uncertainty I felt, and the whispers began,
“That’s not you, mofo, get moving.”

I couldn’t help it, a runner’s mind sometimes runs away.
Controlling those thoughts when the doubt comes or
The negative distractions of excuses and fatigue
Combine to make quitting easier,
Isn’t that really the battle of being a runner?
Half way up Locust and just before Fairthorn
My mind was leaving me with little hope of continuing.

Yet, as I made the turn,
Thinking of my old partner’s chant of “chop, chop, chop,”
As he would baby step his way up any steep hill,
I found a way to pay attention to the whispers
Instead of the grammatical shape of my old friend
And the idea that I could be on his path.

The stop sign passed, barely even on my radar,
The 82-bridge felt new, I hadn’t run across it since March,
The end was nothing but a “walk in the park.”
Still, I’m wondering if the ultra game is for me.
I suppose I’ll let that stay open-ended for awhile.

I don’t really get the whole fireworks thing,
But I understand the need for independence
Which makes me question people judging
If I decide to sit the fireworks out.
Settle down,
I think they are cool,
Symbolic,
A big oomph to our county’s independence.
I’m just not into them that way.
I prefer freedom for all without bombastic representations,
Independence from the lunacy of conformity
And the hypocrisy of politicians.
Give me July 4th with family,
That same band that does the block party each year,
And if I choose, fireworks from Daugherty’s deck,
The view should be good.

people hotel bar drinks
Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

Some have said,
“He’s a current event poet,”
I guess meaning
My writing is about what’s happening now.

Okay.

Topical, that’s what it is
Hitting on the highs and lows
Of life in a routine, searching,
Trying to find if there is meaning.

True.

So these things happen,
I write about them,
Maybe changing details,
Maybe creating better versions of a day.

Absolutely.

Yet none of it is true,
Not the absurdities,
Not the bawdiness,
Not the lies.

Maybe.

Perhaps there were pigs and gunny sacks,
There could have been equine prancing,
Would growlers even have a place on the same day
As fashion conversations between aging men bellied up to the sty.

Huh?

Random thoughts inspired by concrete days
Make the miserable bearable through
Inspired laughter about the ridiculousness
Of the lives we lead.

Say, again?

Look, stuff happens,
It gets illuminated here,
It gets amplified there,
If it really ever happens.

You’re losing me…

No, find your meaning in poetry,
The poet says something only known to the medium,
The reader determines what the poem means
Through interpretation and reflection.

Ah…

Yes, the stories of a day
Can tell a bunch about us individually,
How we see the world,
How we lived our experiences.

Makes sense…

So go figure out why your boss is not at the game,
Throw batting practice on an off day,
Wash down drool with snooty beer, and find
The perfect inspirations to describe manicured lawns.

I will.

“Find an independence where action becomes action that supports the whole action that includes everything and does everything that is needed.” (Presence, by C. Otto Scharmer, Peter M. Senge, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers)

Parts become the whole
Everything comes from something
Finding requires all

Each day, escape me
Accept the course of nature
Being one with both

Author’s Note: This week will end twenty-six weeks of writing about systems thinking… Thanks to The Fifth Discipline for kickstarting the fire so many years ago. 

It’s funny how songs
Do whatever it is that they do,
Creeping into our psyche
Bringing a rush of calm
To unexpected moments
All the way from their far away places.

Maybe it’s “Sometimes,”
A happy Franti song
Letting us know that potential rests
Within our spirit
If only we take the time
To believe.

Maybe it’s “The Things We Do,”
A serious Indigenous song
Letting us know that we are from somewhere
And should never forget
That place
Ever.

Maybe it’s “Give It Away, Hard Times,”
A hard driving Blue Mother Tupelo song
Letting us know that life is tough
And we should be there
For those who need
Help.

It’s funny how songs
Do whatever it is that they do,
Creeping into our psyche
Bringing the rush of calm
To unexpected moments
All the way from their far away places.

Sometimes I probably find meaning in things that are more appropriately classified as coincidence. I also carry the idea of webbing (for you technical educators, “concept mapping, semantic mapping, whatever”) a little crazy sometimes. Let me explain:

1. Last summer I read a bunch of books. One of them, maybe it was Stephen King’s On Writing, although I can’t be sure, made mention of Tim O’Brien’s, The Things They Carried. I kept meaning to read the book, but never did.

2. Last month, I was reading an Australian newspaper from the 1930s and came across an article about a guy named Oscar Asche. He had been an actor of some renown and then an author of a book called the Joss Sticks of Chung. Not knowing anything about Mr. Asche or joss sticks, I did some reading which led to me writing a poem about Asche and the sticks.

3. One day at work, my normal printer was not working, so I walked to the school’s library to get finish the job. While I was waiting, I looked at books that the librarian had displayed atop the book cases and there was O’Brien’s book. Of course I had to check it out, but it sat in my office for a couple of weeks. That is, until today…

4. I was totally into the book even though I couldn’t find a link to Stephen King. The story also smashed right into a discussion I recently had with other writers about creative non-fiction and whether there really is such a thing. Near the end of the book, which may or may not be about the Vietnam war, there is a direct reference to a character taking “joss sticks” from villagers.

5. Really?

My mind was swirling the rest of the day. I call things like this “cosmic collisions.” I had to put the map together, which led to another map for a character I write about in this blog named, Rory. He’s a guy who is trying to make sense of things much in much the same way I try to find meaning in these random happenings.

Maybe it’s time for Rory (or me) to burn a little incense…

This solemn day,

As connected to a rabbit

As Christmas is to a jolly dude,

Means so much more.

Promises, redemption, second acts

All holy, all pertinent.

So take this day and

Reflect on its significance

Without worrying whether

The Easter bunny came again.