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.
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 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.
There was a character in a James Bond movie,
He felt no pain,
It was a great source of anguish for the guy,
He hurt all the time.
Death has a way of sobering up a day,
Just something about it,
Such a great source of pain,
The loss so much for some.
I’ve had my share of loss,
Sudden, life-altering deaths,
Family, friends, each layering on scars
Somehow shielding my soul from death.
I’ve grown to accept that death will come,
Maybe another relative, maybe a friend,
I hope neither. Me, either.
I worry that I’m that character,
Not able to feel the sadness when people die,
Maybe because the ache from my family’s loses
Have jaded my outlook on grief.
Move on, go forward,
“Get busy living, Red.”
Too sober some might think, although,
Others might realize I’m drunk with life.
So how is it, that I don’t belly up to the grieving bar,
I don’t know, not cold-hearted, just accepting of the end,
Saddened by the losses, not saddled by death.
My time will come and I hope people say a toast and move on.
That would be enough,
Induced by bags of sand
Lifted in a metronomic meditation
Built in forty second bursts,
To a harried mind
Living in the muck
Who have failed
The ones they’ve helped.
To keep stepping
While the mind tempts muscles
With rest and promises of make up days
Is exactly what aggravates accountability,
Leaving those needing help
Right where they are.
Better to battle the mind with heart,
Letting each beat pound some sense,
Sense developed from discipline,
Determination, and shown
Through confidence, swagger, chutzpah
Into a soul, which is so much better than
Walking away, taking leave, quitting…
Unless, course, the latter is the truest option.
When quads ache and breathing is labored,
Sees life’s journey in black and white.
The choices are clear,
Give me the grinders,
Give me the strength to persevere,
Let me compete.
Perspective is perplexing,
Music is relaxing,
Plenty of coffee is “Ex-laxing”
And I’m sitting in a convection oven office
Trying to make sense of
Mental incarceration, and
Any other mmm-mmm bad
Thing that might surf through my brain.
A walk in the reality of one,
Since we all see things differently,
Through our lens,
In our time, with our emotional makeup,
Under the stresses of our lives.
It’s easy to see how we can be so confused
By the way we are supposed to be
Because the rules are made by those seeing
In way unique to them, foreign to us.
In these days of Rrrrrr,
Political discourse, career apathy,
Self-inflicted physical beatdowns,
The rundown nature of getting on
Tends to taint my outlook on how things are going.
Music soothes, takes on that edge,
With just a little hit on the boombox bong
I melted away without the need for psychoactive properties
Given a little bass, some familiar words, and
I zoomed away from the manstrating mood I found myself in.
Today, Joe Walsh’s, Life’s Been Good To Me, played, it’s
A teenage anthem that never fails to raise my spirit.
Coming through beat up desktop speakers, Joe helped me leave now
Allowing me to drift back to a community gathering where
Big Pioneer speakers added the soundtrack
For a night of shenanigans that
Started a summer adventure
Where for a few weeks
I’d understand the importance
Of patience, pacing, and accepting the impermanence of life.
Maybe the song was the inspiration
For my nostalgic trip back to York County.
Maybe it was the river of coffee that I’d been drinking
Due to the absence of anything stronger
During working hours.
Interestingly, the java didn’t loosen my bowels,
It relaxed my thoughts, allowing those good memories
To flood my present and wash away
The stodgy way of thinking I woke up with.
Perspective, music, and coffee. Ahh…
As the machine keeps going
What is there to look forward to?
The first day of school?
Maybe all of those,
But who really can live
Only looking towards the milestones of life.
They are bumps on life’s continuum
That are nothing more the tally marks
On prison walls.
Small town identities…
Schools offer sanctuaries
For souls needing identities.
Far beyond the academics
Are the social structures
Where kids find like minds
Testing the norms of friendships,
Creating the balance between group identities and stereotypes
Battling the war of tolerance and tribal acceptance,
Schools bring disparate people together
Letting them get to know that we are not so different
If only we see acceptance of our differences and
The need to learn how differences encourage growth,
That we are not some Internet logarithm,
Predictable, patterned, and programmable.
Schools are temples for learning.
Learning is necessary for growth.
Growth brings people together.
Small town schools are more than academic factories.
They are places where clubs allow for greater exposure
To stuff that might be more interesting
Than the latest standardized test
Or article proclaiming the rigorous machinations of education.
They are places were extracurricular activities like band and sports
Promote fellowship through accomplishments
Of a different sort than an A+ and GPAs can ever understand.
Schools are not factories or machines.
They are places with a heart,
If only the richness of the non-book stuff
Is viewed with a proper perspective.
Yet no one ever really gets mad at the mushrooms,
They kind of just exist.
There is the steam rising from the blockhouses
Cooking the soil and killing the bacteria
That will cause blotch to ravage the fungus,
There is the steam rising from the soil
That stinks to high heaven,
And there are the trucks that drag mud all over the place,
But the mushrooms are sacred,
They are the life of this little town,
For without the shiitakes, the portobellos, and the other varieties being developed
People would have no reason to be in Taylorville.
Except for the schools,
The venerable Taylor High School with it’s connections to the one-percenters,
The middle school, a palace built in the farthest regions of the district,
And three elementary schools, teaching the same ages,
But very different in their reputations and demographics.
The schools of Taylorville bring everyone together,
For better or worse,
As kids grow up with the same kids
So parents see the same parents
They get to know each other,
Sometimes as friends, other times just through sight recognition,
Their grayness and wrinkles sprouting just as the mushrooms in the hot soil.