The Flight of the Runner

courtesy of Audubon
courtesy of Audubon

I am a runner – a pounder of the pavement, mostly on the side roads, sometimes taking photos along the way.

I’m in New York for a stretch, running past the infinite shades of green, smelling the sweet scrub of leaves, inhaling a dense thickness that swallows wrappers and decay and turns them into blankets and bedding and oddly shaped sculptures. The shadow arcs of the unseen. I leapt over a lifeless red cardinal smeared like lipstick and long nights. The assault of color blinking in my mind’s eye like a crime scene. The murdered flight. Ah, but the music — the melancholy chords swaying around a whisky-coated voice like last lovers on a dance floor: That taste, All I ever wanted, All I ever needed, Just too dumb to surrender. And the divergence of rays. The spectacle! Inchworms bounce like yoyos, riding silk, surfing a breeze while dreidel-spun pods fall from the oaks, rolling down the streets like laughter, joining the hushed debris of a passing spring — the trample of another season. I cannot help but smile, looking deranged by the fractured light slicing through treetops, cutting layers like cake on a baker’s pedestal. Sweet endorphins. The lusty hit of consciousness that buries every boozy night and monotonous day, the drag and limp of the one-legged grasshopper.

I run between spring and summer, sprinting on the cracks, crushing and embracing the ragged, ripped lines of earth, spilling color under the lazy gather of an indecisive sky, when there is a sharp hail of words: It’s a long road to wisdom, but it’s a short one to being ignored. And I feel a tinge of self-pity, knowing too well: The struggle of writing. The unanswered queries. Words processed and strung out. The stinging rejections. I want to slap some shitty dime store cover on it. Fuck it, go to hell, and call it a day. Then the quick change of thrashing drums shifts to restlessness. Do as I say not as I do because the shit’s so deep you can’t run away. I beg to differ on the contrary. I agree with every word that you say. And the spin of every contradiction I have ever lived and said bucks my stride – we’re all raised by hypocrites — until I catch myself on the wave of can’t stop addicted to the shindig. Chop top he says, ‘I’m going to win big’. My shirt is damp and my hair is glued to my Yankees cap as I run into a raging wall of reflection, clawing away at the self-doubt until I am void of flesh and pain. The nagging ache of aging bones and crunching cartilage. I tear myself down and built myself up. Back to the canvas world. Back to being the painter. My arms, pumping in rhythm, moving to a beat, no longer belong to my body. They spread and lift until the world spins under my feet and everything is seen through the eyes of the red-winged cardinal in flight.


(Arizona, Kings of Leon; Flowers in Her Hair, The Lumineers; Walking Contradiction/Jesus of Suburbia, Green Day; Can’t Stop, Red Hot Chili Peppers.)


the swallow of debris
the swallow of debris
the hanging inchworm
the hanging inchworm




10 thoughts on “The Flight of the Runner

    1. desertdweller29

      Hah! Thanks, Professor. Yes, rejections are just part of the dadblamery. (Now that’s the second time I wrote that word today!) I’ll resist using any Forrest Gump quotes, but running rocks. You should get out there, PVJ!

      1. desertdweller29

        I should say so! I’m very curious as to the age of the Professor… Your word choice and fitness abilities just don’t match. You’re very mysterious, Professor!

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