Running. With a Red Butterfly.


I run. I write. I post. In that order. With few gaps. Typically. But not Saturday. No. No. No. Disbelief. Fatigue on overdrive. Just not real. 

I marinated in it for days.

And then Rilke prods: “ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: ‘must I write?’ Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple ‘I must,’ then build your life according to this necessity.”

So I must.

And I write.

A series of interlocking coincidences which only rose to consciousness after a replay of events played forward from daybreak.

5 a.m.

A short reading. It was Leonard Bernstein, from Dinner with Lenny: The Last Long Interview with Leonard Bernstein:

I am frequently visited by a white moth or a white butterfly. Quite amazingly frequently. And I know it’s Felicia. I remember that when she died, her coffin was in our living room in East Hampton … and just a few of us were there—the family and a rabbi and a priest, because she’d been brought up in a convent in Chile. We were playing the Mozart Requiem on the phonograph. Everyone was absolutely silent. And then this white butterfly flew in from God knows where—it just appeared from under the coffin and flew around, alighting on everybody in the room—on each of the children, on the rabbi, on the priest, on her brother-in-law and two of her sisters, on me … and then it was gone … though there was nothing open. And this has also happened to me here, sitting outside in my garden. … White.

The appearance of a white moth. Or white butterfly…White.

7 a.m.

From somewhere, an unbeknownst longing for a punishing trail run. It had been months. I’m in the car. [Read more…]

Running. With Crystal Light.


Whether you snort white powder, or you shovel crystals down your gullet, the consequences are…

June-ish, 2016.  It was the last leg of the morning commute, on I-287. The heart starts to race, this followed by a pinch, with its roots pushing outward like the tail of a lightning strike.

Doctor’s diagnosis: High Cholesterol. Root cause? Diet, with any 3 or 4 of following occurring on any given day:

  • Yogurt. Fruit on the Bottom. Jacked up with two heaping tablespoons of Smucker’s Strawberry Jam.
  • Fruit.  Sliced bananas. Floating in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. Sliced strawberries, same. Blueberries, melon, raspberries, same.
  • Hotcakes. With Canadian Maple Syrup, and a dollop of Raspberry jam.
  • Drinks. Orange Gatorade. Florida Orange Juice from the carton. Artificially sweetened Lipton’s Green Tea, 2 bottles at a time.  Diet Coke(s). Cranberry Juice, swigged from a 1 gallon jug.  And oh let’s not forget, Welch’s Grape Juice, one could bathe in it.
  • Ice Cream. Pint of creamy Chocolate Haggen Daz in a single sitting.  Breyer’s Vanilla Ice Cream, topped with chopped nuts, chocolate sauce and several shots of Reddi Wip Cream.
  • Coffee. Spiked with 2.0 (yes, two) packets of Nutrasweet or its brethren.
  • Hot Tea. Golden Bee Honey from a squeeze bottle swirls to and coats the bottom.
  • Snacks. Semi-sweet chocolate chips (in pantry for cooking) by the handful. Entenmann’s glazed donuts. Mini Snicker Bars by the handfuls.
  • Sandwich. PBJ, mostly with J, oozing on all sides of enriched and wholesome white bread.
  • Cereal. Including Raisin Bran, supplemented with a handful of California golden raisins and hopped up with a heaping teaspoon of white sugar crystals sweetening the 2%.

And the pre-bed-time sedative…which warrants its own paragraph, not a mere bullet. Grape Jelly trembles as it waits for the tablespoon to dig deep and scar its surface. Jelly coats the teeth and slides smoothly down the throat. A trace lingers on the lips. The body settles in, calm now, with its fix. Bed time. [Read more…]

Running. A Blossom Rupturing.


It’s dark, I grope, I grip the wooden arm of the bannister at the top of the stairs. I’m about to take the first step down and here it comes. Not just one morning, every morning.

Must be Mandelstam’s Blossom. It hovers. It hammers. It is now.  It is not. It ruptures and raptures. I try to turn, to turn away to Light. Yet and yet and yet, it pulls me back. A beckoning for what? To what?

55° F. Saturday morning. I’m on the front porch. Rain is spitting Autumn, the season has turned.

Mile 2:
I look down. Gray shirt. Gray shorts.  Gray water bottle.  Gray and Blue shoes. I look up, Gray skies. Synchronicity – cosmic alignment. [Read more…]

Running. With a Mystical Moment.

parec simon

The eyes pan the green carpet of the unmarked plots at the Spring Grove Cemetery. Geese feed silently, showing their respect. The Police station is to my left. The Public Library in front. And there’s four miles of track ahead.

I slow my pace.

The eyes are drawn to the flock of Canada Geese.  It’s a large flock, fifty or so.

The eyes spot a difference. I’m awed at how the eyes can hone in so quickly on “what’s off.” I begin to hum the Sesame Street jingle: “One of these things (is Not like the others).” (Your mind works in mysterious ways, friend. Wow.)

She’s limping, badly. Her children, late season goslings, furry now, trail behind her.  Their necks are all down, pecking at seeds, the grass.

It’s been a week now and the image remains fresh.

Was it a car that hit her?  Or was it a scar from fleeing from the clutches of a predator? A hunter’s bullet grazing her webbed foot?  Or was she simply born lame? There’s no emergency room for repair. No splint or cast to heal.  No morphine to cut the edge. She limps. She lives. She protects her family.

And it’s Sunday. And your morning sermon doesn’t come from the inside of a Church, or from a person of Cloth, but from a Book.  This Agnostic is deep into his readings of Thomas Moore and his teachings of creating a personal religion. It’s as if he opened this chapter speaking to me: [Read more…]

Running. Some Rain Must Fall.


“Fragment Palooza.”
“Repetition” in words and in theme. “Tiresome.”
“Lacks flow and rhythm.”
“Lacking depth.” (This one cut.)
“Can’t produce more than 500 words?”
“Have you thought of a creative writing class?”

I’m two miles into my morning run. The unsolicited feedback is swamping Audible’s narration of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 5: Some Rain Must Fall. And chirping in, is Brian Blanchfield’s new book of essays written without the internet and any reference sources.

I twist the earbuds deeper into each drum, turn up the volume and hope to drown the sh*t out.

The words from Book 5 continue to pump. Knausgaard’s autobiographic detail and flow is hypnotic. There are five published books in his series, with each averaging more than 500 pages. He goes back more than 40 years and walks us forward stone, by stone, by stone. (There you go again, with the repetition.) [Read more…]

Running. And, slow sailing to a quiet dance.

It’s a coincidence. (Again?)
It’s synchronicity. (Do you believe that?)
You made it up, you’re delusional. (Not yet, don’t think so, not just yet.)
It’s a sign, a message. It’s G – – . (Oh, boy.)

5:45 am. I round the corner to Cove Island – low tide.  The sulfur released from the exposed mud fills the lungs – gas, pungent smelling salts.

I inhale.

Geese float silently in the shadows.

I run.

I’m around the loop and back, 1/4 mile from the entrance.  GPS flashes 4.1 miles in. I don’t glance at the time, that’s been a year now, I’ve conceded. “Matured.”  Over 25 years of daily tracking of body weight and notating work-outs, first in a log book, then Excel spreadsheets and now Google Sheets.  And also, now, on a parallel path on a digital step tracker which automatically feeds volumes of data into machines and is charted and graphed and spliced into pieces – all of which I never look at.  The logging, the tracking, the effort, I mean Really! WHO CARES?

Yet, the tension pulls at both ends, a medieval body rack tearing the limbs from the torso. Wired to Do, whipped by a Mind that makes you Do and strapped to a Body that can no longer Do. And, the Head swims in rip currents.

[Read more…]

Running. With a Black-Winged Bird.


Sunday morning, early, 5:40 am.  Out the door.

Temperature: 78° F.  Humidity? 1 zillion, and climbing. Visibility? Fair. Mist rises from the earth, still absorbing the 3 am deluge – one very large compost pile.  It’s August in the Connecticut rainforest, and I run.  This should be corrected, I used to run. Now I lean forward and move my feet hoping not to take a header.  I’m 1/2 mile in, all exposed body parts glisten with a high sheen…and the rest are feelin’ Heavy.  I flip my music player to Counting Crows and The Rain King.  Yes, if you’ve followed along with me on this blog, this song and its reference would be a repeat. You get old, you repeat sh*t. That’s how it goes.

….When I think of heaven, (Deliver me in a black-winged bird) I think of flying…

I triple click the up volume arrow, Rain King is boomin’ into the earbuds.  The tech gremlin pipes in a warning: “Sir, you can sustain ear damage at high volumes.” Honey, no worries, there’s ain’t nothing up there will be damaged.

I round the corner and approach a steep incline. You’re Usain Bolt. You’re a Kenyan. You’re in Rio. You’re amazing!

I take off. [Read more…]

Running. With Man on Wire.


This body is 6’1″ and yet it always seems to hit me head-high. On the chin. Wraps around my forehead. Straps across the eyes, like strings of celophane plastered on the corneas. And on a bad day, at the end of a long morning run when I’m heaving, it hits me full on the mouth like strands of cotton candy, without the sweet and the color. Here, the scene would be a middle aged man who’s lost his marbles, arms waving maniacally and spitting like a machine gun.

Yet, it’s so fine. A fraction of the electrical wires slung between the poles overhead. Thinner than the monofilament fishing line I would cast in the eddies of the Kootenay river. And thinner yet, than the fiber optic cable laid across the Atlantic.

Yet on this road, this morning, this path less travelled, it was apparent that overnight he was working. At 5:15 a.m., it hit me across both eyes. A single strand. Not on the forehead. Not on the chest. Not on the knees. Not even on the neck. Not one eye, square across both eyes, as if he had a plum bob, measured me up and said: to get him, it has to be right here. 5’x” off the ground, and assume a bit of up and down motion because he’s running.

The single web line was strung across a two lane highway, to a tree on the other side. Across a two-lane highway!

How? Now that is the question(s). [Read more…]

Running. With Blood.


Captain’s Log.
Last run: March 13, 2016.  Jesus. 4 months.
I step on the scale. Hope springs eternal.
Flash. Flash. Flash. Bam: 204.6. Exactly the same weight. Well, that’s something.

I grip the Body Glide cylinder and rub it on the nipples.
There’ll be no breast pads for this Hombre after today’s run.
I pause before setting down the magic wax, and look down at my groins.  Are they touching? Can’t be. Must be the way I’m standing. I spread my legs. That’s better, pleased at the separation. Another year or so and you’ll be able to drive a bus between my legs – they’ll be spread that wide.

I’m out the door.
4:57 a.m.
66° F.  Cooler today.
Weather App calls for the sun to rise at 5:30 am.
My Goal: Exceed the 5.38 mile distance in March or run to the Sunrise, whichever comes first.

It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to run. Right. A nerve in the upper left shoulder blade pinches. And this slides down to the lower right back achieving beautiful pain symmetry. Sedentary Suit on the move.  Jesus.

[Read more…]

Running. Without Tiger.


Preparations started the night before.  Running jacket, shoes, pants, shirt, socks, hat, watch, ear buds – all placed near the front door to minimize obstructions and maximize propulsion, Out-The-Door.

4:30 am. I trudge down the stairs. I step out the door, barefooted, in shorts and a short sleeved white tee-shirt. A soft wind carries the smell of a black and white, a skunk, pre-dawn smelling salts. I inhale to clear the lungs, 39° F bites.

The Tiger clutches the cymbals with both hands, opening his arms wide and slams.  The noise, ear-splitting. He repeats and repeats.  Crashing. Slamming. Piling on.

Stay at it. Slow it down. Breathe. Quiet the Mind. Chant.

Tiger separates from the body and ebbs higher, higher, and higher until reaching a crest. Salt kicks up in the mist where I stand, separate, still. The ebb makes its last gasp, the fight now gone, sighs and then releases. [Read more…]

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