Races have a soul,
Philly has a soul,
Too often that Philly way
Is a soul steeped in harshness,
Bitterness,
What ifs…

This past Sunday clouds took a break
From draining themselves
On the hopefuls who were looking for personal greatness
Along the streets of Philadelphia
Where dreams are often dashed
In whatever macabre deviance cast out by the city.

With the rain stopped, the cold kept a hold on the scantily clad throng,
Finally, the gun sounded and off they went
Chugging through the neighborhoods,
Looping through the parks, and living in the Philly vibe
That if nothing else, is tough.

A little bitch of a hill in Fairmount,
The uneven pavement of Old City,
Whiskey charity, and the boredom of West River Drive
Each doing nothing to inspire doom, gloom, or failure,
Until they joined forces with Mother Nature.

Or maybe it was Old Man Winter who brought the pain,
With a nasty wind off the Schuylkill blowing heavy rain sideways that
Made a wild trip through Manayunk a serious battle to prevent leg cramps.
The weather and electrolyte depletion could not defy this soul
For lessons from Goggins ran deep and kept purpose in the forefront.

Neither snow, sleet, nor hail could slow the pace,
Not even a full bladder could stop a determined stride
Each hobble bringing the finish line closer until it got real when.
The personal clouds opened up
Letting loose a torrent camouflaged by nature’s storm.

Toughness,
That intangible trait, something the Greek used to factor in,
Before he became a racist buffoon,
Is the one thing that culminates from all those hours of training,
And in the City of Brotherly Love, thousands showed their mettle.

Forget the metal platitudes, the dry fit t-shirts,
Forget the celebrities at the start,
Marathons are about a soul, an ethos
That we can do something crazy, something seemingly impossible,
Something fitting for a city like Philadelphia.

For in all the ugliness of the urban area,
All the pain and suffering that exists at one end of the city’s continuum
Not all hurt must be dire,
Hips might quit, fingers might get cold, hypothermia might be right around the corner,
But soul can soothe all ills.

A soul is an identity,
The energy that lets others know this is who we are
Take it or leave it.
And I’m taking it, the warts of Philly, the gifts of Philly,
The soul of Philly.

Twenty-six miles and change,
Not much on the scale of accomplishments,
Five hours
Not much on the scale of accomplishments,
But I’m damn proud of the experience.

The cold, the cramps, the confluence of cold rain and hot whatever that was,
We were out there testing ourselves,
Treating ourselves to the power of uncertainty,
Gaining new scars, better stories, and callouses against doubt and regret,
Souls, that’s what we got, yo.

Trending downward,
Not in a bad way,
Just easing into the days,
Semi-patiently waiting for a race
And then a change,
The next big challenge
That will require more patience,
Greater acceptance of ease,
“Belief in a better way,” like Ben sang,
So I can find another upward trend.

Finally, Friday,
A short, long weekend
Followed up
By what willk surely be
A too short weekend.

I wonder what it’s like
When everyday is a Saturday,
Retirement,
An ellusive vixen
Tempting and teasing
Offering the goods,
But when you get there
It’s all nasty.

Ah, whatever,
I’m too young for that,
Friday, that’s all today is.

person swimming on body of water
Photo by mali maeder on Pexels.com

Finding the balance,
Arms churning,
Water laughing,
Lungs complaining,
And all I want
Is to slide across the pool
Barely leaving a wake,
Not filling up with doubt,
Blowing away the bad air.

There were moments
When it happened,
Maybe for half a length,
I could feel the water,
Sensing its shenanigans,
Rolling away from the frustration,
Taking in those Hofian breaths
All as I journeyed to
Find my balance.

Sometimes life gets in the way,
Changes are forced upon us,
The fates take over.

So it has been,
Life-changing,
Fate coming to term.

Sometimes we have to roll,
Be flexible,
Deny the fates any satisfaction.

So it is,
Rolling, flexible,
Better for all of it.

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A long time ago
When I was but a college freshman,
I was allowed to hang out
With some upperclassmen.
One night on a drive around Norfolk,
They took a right off of Hampton Boulevard,
And followed a quiet road to the back of a neighborhood
Where there was a large statue of Buddha lit by bright lights.

It was beautiful.
In many ways, it changed me.

I often drove that way
Drawing energy and awe
From the statue.
I wouldn’t say I am Buddhist,
But that statue,
At that time of life,
Slowed me down, literally and figuratively,
The radiance of the statue affected me that strongly.

Tonight, I again felt and saw others who
Experienced that same feeling.

I lived on the edge,
Sitting on a deck,
High above the ground
And well below flashing lightning
That cut through the sky. I couldn’t go inside.
Instead, I watched others who stopped in awe
To take in a unique surfer VW Bug across the street,
Oblivious to the fireworks overhead.

It was those feelings
Awe, uniqueness, both happening at the right time and place.

Maybe a Buddhist spirit shot into me
On those dark mornings after partying all night.
Maybe the lightning’s purpose is to grab my attention
With its powerful bolts and to take my breath away.
Maybe the simple chopped up Bug
Brings a smile to people who are tired of the same ole, same ole.
Who knows when a soul is touched?
Who knows how peace reaches our depths?

I loved that statue, I love lightning, and
I love watching people stare at that car. Beautiful.

architecture brick building church
Photo by C. Spencer van Gulick on Pexels.com

Trips home aren’t what they used to be,
I suppose everything changes…

This morning, in the Colonial Capital,
Much was the same,
June is hot, humidity rules,
The horses still poop in the streets,
Which at every turn seemed to be blocked by construction.

I found my way to a vacant lot,
It was the public library and since there wasn’t anyone there,
The easy joke would be,
That no one in Williamsburg can read,
Not true, of course, and the library would not open
For two more hours,
Which is why there were empty parking spaces.
There was no plan, this would be a Murderer’s run,
Cox’s run, whatever my friends up north call
My spur of the moment running routes.

I had forgotten my watch, so
Tracking this run would not happen.
I decided to run old school, digitally naked,
Letting my effort hang all out, letting my senses prevail.
Scotland Street brought the sweat,
The football stadium brought awe,
A construction closed road brought out my ballsy side
As I just ran by the dudes who were not building anything
Behind a less than menacing fence,
Their hardhats meant nothing to me. Safety be damned,
I was making this route up and just around the corner
Were parts of the ‘Burg I had not seen in decades,
Neighborhoods, with pines and magnolias, those smells
Tripping the nostalgia that keeps its talons in my soul, but
Truth be told, there is little else here for me now.

The sun was blaring, nearly one-hundred on the humidity,
Just about eighty for a temperature, and
I could hear everything, the little bit of traffic,
The clanging rattle of a chain hitting a chain guard on an old lady’s bike,
Two guys talking it up as they dumped trash by Campbell’s.
Then I heard my feet, a slide with a scratch as they hit the pavement,
A sign that my form sucked and I was working too hard,
“Pay attention, focus, forefoot, come on Hanee,”
My nickname down here.

The run ended after maybe four or five miles,
And I found a seat under a canopy at the library.
Sweat dripped from my hat,
The quick drying shirt I wore had no chance
Against the waves of effort pouring from my skin.
These are the workouts I love,
When perspiration is not enough to describe
How the fluids are flowing out of my body.
The kind of sweat that happens in the NBA,
Patrick Ewing sweat, this is how it was
In front of the waterfall behind the library
Where I had spent so many summer days and
Where I always park when I go to Williamsburg.

For a while, I just sat on the granite bench
Then Goggins popped into my head,
As did my hollow rocking mates from up north.
For some idiotic reason,
I started busting our daily rocks out right there
Under the canopy, next to the waterfall, on the granite,
Splashing in puddles of my own sweat.
It was awesome,
The spontaneity,
The relaxed aura,
The feeling of being home
Its talons massaging my soul,
Not poking them into my skull
Like that bald eagle and German shepherd story
A guy to told me the other day.

Nope, this run, in this place, on this day
Was about life,
About what I care about, and
How I want to live.

Chillin’…