We await the start in crooked stance,

Anxious hearts beating true,

Pulsing blood coursing through,

With hopes that haste will

Carry us to,

The goal we set in distance viewed.


First, firm we stand at starter’s call,

Wits on high to his command:

“Runner’s set”, then the gun,

The journey off,

The race begun.


Demands will be high, a test of our mettle,

`Tis a challenge we sought, there’s an issue to settle.


From first advance, the pace to set,

There’s ground to cover,

With strides erect,

As away we fly, ‘round this track of oval,

an ancient design, once simple yet noble.


Left upon left, the turns to follow,

as in the days of those like Paavo.

While the crowd will cry out,

As we fulfill our accord,

Establish the tempo,

Toward uncertain reward.

As distance disappears, and

Time builds in measure,

We hold rapt our promise,

As we draw down our treasure,

Releasing to this effort,

What was ours at the start,

The ardor of our aim,

The strength in our heart.


‘Round a bend then another,

We expend through our sinew,

Such fuel as we carry,

And the hope that we cling to.


`Till oxygen deprived,

We unstring our tether,

Empty vessels once more,

Not comrades who answer,

The surge of another,

Whose stride like a dancer,

Still holds him on high,

The sole, elegant prancer.


He’ll be The One now,

Released through this passage,

From all corruption and doubt,

While we assess damage,

Wrought by our efforts,

Despite best care and plan,

That has dimmed our world,

Left us over manned.


As he speeds away freely,

in an epiphany of form,

The last man riding,

This whirlwind of a storm,

We seek comfort in knowing,

Though his victory’s assured,

Our effort’s been worthy,

This challenge inured,

To the judgement of others,

Whose passions never stirred,

Whose hearts never mingled,

Whose  strides never spurred.


Though feet be blistered,

Brows ridged with pain,

We embrace it all closely,

And call it our gain. 

For the raging within,

That racing solicits,

Is where time  turns eternal,

And the heart most exhibits,

Those qualities that poets

Have long sought through words,

To uncover in rhyming,

In couplets and thirds,

That realm transcendent,

Be it heaven or earth,

That holds fast the promise

Wherein, death becomes birth.


Though caught in the unwinding, we’ll never said, “Die!”

Instead dig down as we can, though form’s gone awry,

Given over to the gods, who have raced here before us,

Anointing these grounds, now singing in chorus,

In kinship and challenge,

`Till the finish line beckons,

Saying, “enough for today, lads,

There’ll be another time to reckon.”


Such are our goals,

As we stand

Held in stillness,

Madmen in singlets,

Awaiting this business,

Where the nature of the game,

The thrust of the matter,

Is to release our full measure

To another spin `top the platter.



3 thoughts on “WE AWAIT THE START

  1. Nicely done Toni! There’s a half marathon in MI’s Upper Peninsula in Munising called Pictured Rocks, that has SO much going on it could easily inspire a long, multi-layered poem. If I was only doing some running again….the race is this Sunday. First there’s the setting along Lake Superior, a massive uphill, long, gradual descent then sharp downhill…pass thru town and start up a steep sand hill for about a half mile…around the 10 mile mark. Top off in the woods before an out-of-control run downhill to the finish. The course DEMANDS your attention like none other in the state.

  2. Your poem brings to mind the character in Once A Runner; you are describing, as Parker does, a mindset that I recognize yet it has always been beyond my ability to achieve. The pace, the glide, that feeling of being in super-cruise I have experienced, but the thrill of increased effort fueled by the competition eludes me.

    I was pointed to your blog by my mother. She is a close friend of your sister, so you might say we are separated by less than two degrees.

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