Friday, June 19, 2015


Fitful dreams, vivid and weird
Fade away as my eyes open
I try to hold on to them
In hope of maybe writing them down

Roust myself from bed
I can have the road to myself, mostly
If I get up early enough
Still, it's hard to wake before 8 these days

But even the birds are still shaking off the night

Curious, I prod my flesh
Lipomas on my arms and thighs
Have shrunk, and no longer swell
Painfully against the tissues where they dwell

Sun's already fairly high
Still it's cool enough
Humid from the week's heavy rains
But not quite unbearable yet

A few tentative calls from the songbirds begin

Check my running shoes
Cracking and splitting,
More Shoe Goo than canvas
But still together for now

Socks so full of holes
More like nets than garments
I wonder how many blisters
I'll come back with today

At least it's too early for sunburn

Sweatband, sunglasses,
One-pound dumbbells
Out the door and into the steam
To the end of the long gravel driveway

This time, I turn right
To run the western leg first
It's shorter, but steeper,
Leaving me more strength, I hope,

For the longer eastern haul

Cattle in the pasture across the highway
Low in expectation, then in alarm,
First hoping for chow, then seeking escape
As they see me running past

They trot away, up the slope
To the clustered feeding troughs,
There to watch me warily
And reassure each other with their calls

And on I run

Into the long curve
Near the top of the hill
I watch for the landmark
That I must pass before turning back

Then back down, and back past
Those unhappy cows
Still reproaching me with angry moos
For not having brought them food

The birds still haven't got their act together

Swishing sounds of katydids, chirping sounds of crickets
No cicadas yet to speak of
And the loudest sound of all
The slapping of my feet on asphalt

I'd much prefer to run with music
Carrying my media player instead of dumbbells
With earbuds in my ears
If I didn't have to try to hear

Approaching traffic

Passing the house, now
And on the eastern downslope
It's easy for a while until the turnaround
When it all becomes uphill again

The longest haul
And most tedious

A straight line until that S-curve begins

Counting telephone poles as I pass
Their magnetic twittering of induced fields
A chatter that rises and falls
As they approach and recede

Fatigue breaks out within me
As sweat breaks out upon me
Have I eaten enough for this?
Have I slept enough for this?

Regardless, I run  on

Past the point
    where the neighbor has put up his new adjoining fence
Past the point
    where armadillo bones have been ground into the asphalt
Past the point
    where the shoulder, cracked, is pulling away from the road
Past the point
    where the bad accident occurred a couple months back

Finally, into the curve
Marking the endpoint
I swing wide into the highway
To turn my ass around

On this side of the street
The willows are more fragrant
So, too, the water stagnant
And mud of an unkempt stock pond

I exhale sharply and run on

Shadows passing draw my eyes upward
Vultures wheeling overhead and low
I wonder what they think they know
About my condition

The run becomes less pleasant still
As I lean into the hill
Without music to keep time
My mind idly counts footfalls

On I run

Low blood sugar, the enemy
Weakens my muscles
And I contemplate dropping to a walk
But I hear the oncoming rush

A mile or more up the road
Of an approaching pickup truck
And I cannot allow myself to stop
Where a neighbor might see

So on I run

The truck closes the distance
As it passes, for once I look up
And am surprised to see
A courteous wave

I nod back, and lower my head
And grit my teeth
And continue the uphill climb
The truck's noise continues on behind

And on I run

The rush fades behind me
Merging, finally, with the wind in the trees
Fading out until the signal
Is lost in the noise

The road is once again all mine
Now I have all the time
And all the space in the world
To succeed, or to fail

Three miles now

Another rushing noise
Coming up from behind me
Emerging from the windy trees
A heavier vehicle, less friendly

A laden gravel truck passes
Coughing calcite dust along my path
My mouth is forced closed
And I breathe through my nose

And run on through the cloud

I'll break past the boundary,
The eastern fenceline treeline,
Any moment now, and
Come back into view of the house

The dogs will be out now,
And I can hear them yammering already
At my unseen but well-heard approach
The barking alerting family

That I'm running back

Dare I drop to a walk here,
My quivering muscles demanding I stop?
If they see me doing less than running
Their confidence will erode further

This is the hour of their indoctrination
(Maddow, Hayes, MSNBC+DVR)
Odds are they won't even look up and out the windows
But I can't chance that they will

So on I run

At the top of the hill,
The driveway beckons
But I ignore it and run past
Down the slope into the western leg

If I push a little further every day
Then soon I can double this part
And work on doubling the rest
That eastern, longer course

So on I run

Push a little further every day
Identify a new landmark on the fly
A new endpoint to mark the turnaround
Each extended segment X adding 2X to the run

The goal, eventually, to retrace my steps
Running twice the course every day
A total of five or six miles
As I did twenty years ago

In my youth

But today I stop short
At the bottom of the slope
Where the culvert admits the wash
Floodwaters still running off

Horses to one side of the road,
Cows to the other,
All trying to figure out
What I'm up to

I turn around

And start back up that slope
Toward the house
And the driveway
At the top of this hill, the last

Breaking free of the treeline
It comes into view on my left
No sign of activity yet
They're sitting inside, comfortable

Air conditioned

I pass over the long crack
The asphalt's final landmark
Two hundred meters from here
Time to speed up and sprint

My legs hate me for it
My stomach's not happy either
My blood complains of thirst
This will be the worst of today, though

I sprint on

From here on out, it's better
I can slow, then drop to a walk
As I turn into the driveway
And I have little but sitting to do for the rest of the day

The dogs see me now,
So their yammering stops
Recognized, I'm no longer a mystery
No longer a threat

I walk on

Bernie has finally learned
To sit patiently on the other side
Instead of slobbering on my hands
As I unlatch and open the gate

Once through the fence,
I dutifully commend him for waiting
A praising voice, a pat on the head
Then I set the dumbbells on the AC fan

I walk around

My cooldown used to take
Three walked laps around the house
But now my breathing returns to normal within seconds
And my heart within a minute or two

Cardiovascular system isn't a problem
I'm limited only by my leg muscles
And while on calorie restriction,
They will remain my weak link

So I stop behind the house

Bernie's still obsequiously following
The other dogs are oblivious
Pursuing stinky pasttimes in the yard
(Rolling in dead whatever)

But finally Chester, the Brute Bear Mutt
Barrels toward me
Across the patio
And I'm obliged to pay him attention

I walk to the swimming pool

Skimmers are clear this morning
No leaves nor insects
Nor even dead frogs
And suddenly I'm free of chores for the morning

Back around the house
To the side door I exited
Where I can sit on the stairs
And remove my shoes

And count the blisters

Then abruptly back outside
Because once again I've forgotten the dumbbells
Out and in as quickly as I can
So Bernie has no time to slobber

Inside, air conditioning
Has the air cool and dry and comfortable
And I stow everything away
Shoes, socks, dumbbells, sweatband, shades

Until tomorrow

I bask in the cool breeze
Remove my shirt and air-dry
Stand, arms outstretched,
And drip and relax and breathe

A cold water bottle awaits in the fridge
And hot coffee on the counter
Skipping breakfast, I trudge up the stairs
To ponder how else to improve my life

Until tomorrow

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