Friday, December 14, 2012


When I was in high school, I was a runner, a sprinter, mostly, because I found I could more readily tolerate brief bursts of all-out effort, followed by moments in which my heartbeat returned to normal and my breathing became easy. I found the distance competition simply too punishing.

Oh, I ran distances. That was part of the training. I competed some in the distance events, too, but I relished the explosion out of the starting blocks and the swift crunch-crunch-crunch of spikes digging into the cindered track, the lean into the tape at the end of the sprint, the sudden halt, the quick recovery.

I lived to run - to sprint.

Little wonder that I dreamed about running. I still do, sometimes, but the result of that, now, is that I often wake up with leg cramps.

This poem is the result of one of my dreams of running a lonely, nighttime race, then finding my track coach there at the finish line, as he so often had been.

"Beginning" was honored with the First Place award in a Sports Poem contest sponsored by The Listening Eye, literary magazine on the Geauga Campus of Kent State University.

The poem:


No crowd had leaned
forward and no shouts
had floated to my ears
except the faint few
from a group of friends
in the highest seats,
but on I ran through
a starlit, ominous
night, my crunching
footsteps echoing,
not knowing whether
the race was entering
the gun lap, barely
beginning; suddenly
ahead there loomed
the finish-line tape,
beyond which I aimed,
thrusting through
the way I was taught,
staggering to a halt,
blue stars bursting
in my oxygen-starved
brain, long-dead Coach
beside me, saying,
"I knew you could."

© 2000

Today's word: staggering

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