Category: verse

CELEBRATING TOMMY LEONARD’S 85TH BIRTHDAY

As we come up upon the 46th New Balance Falmouth Road Race weekend, we also celebrate the 85th birthday of race founder Tommy Leonard. In honor of TL a light verse recalling that other great running institution associated with TL, Boston’s Eliot Lounge.  Happy birthday, TL.  See you soon.
Tommy Leonard his ownself

THE ELIOT

For this is where we runners met,
The bar we called our own,
Hard along the marathon course,
Just a half a mile from home,
*
On the corner of Mass. and Commonwealth Aves.,
In Boston’s old Back Bay,
Where we came to recover from training,
And put PRs on display.
*
With Tommy Leonard tending taps,
The guru in his lair,
Every runner’s true best friend,
With a heart big enough to share.
*
And Coach Squires in his corner,
The Wack in classic form,
Holding court, as usual,
Untranslatable being the norm.
*
With walls festooned with photos,
Of racers in their glory,
Posters, banners, flags, as well,
Each one with a telling story.
*
It’s where Rodgers came to drown a loss,
Or celebrate a record run,
And Joanie nipped with barracudas,
A champion, not a nun.
*
With footprints of the running stars,
Pressed out front in wet cement,
Course Tommy mixed the formula wrong,
So the prints didn’t quite indent.
*
And remember the night the horse clopped in,
Or the Stanford marching band,
And Heidi singing in those tight blue jeans,
They and the joint absolutely crammed.
*
‘Twas a clubhouse for every iconoclast,
Be they runner, writer, or pol,
And while few considered themselves joiners,
To the Eliot they came one and all,
*
When running meant more than fitness alone,
Or a bucket–list item for the masses,
But instead formed a band of close brothers,
Before our youth and speed finally passed us.
*
Yes, those days are fondly remembered,
When the lines did snake around the block,
But we knew the secret back entrance,
Sometimes I wish we could turn back the clock.
*
When time was the measure of excellence,
And Greater Boston the club above all,
When speed was the currency in issue,
But a good time was at night at Fall Call.
*
Still, if running has taught us any lesson,
It’s that time stands still for no man,
No matter how hard we might wish it,
‘Tis the future we must look to and plan.
*
Knowing our memories still carry,
Those times that were ours once alone,
When speed and endurance were in abundance,
And we called the Eliot our home.
*
Sadly, its doors had to shutter,
After the hundredth Marathon was through,
But the friendships we made there still linger,
How fortunate, how lucky, we few,
*
Who experienced the sport when it was booming,
When its flower was still in first bloom,
When Tommy was our lovable guru,
And the Eliot our nurturing womb.
*
So thanks to all who have joined us,
To salute Tommy on his 85 years,
But just consider the man’s constitution,
Good God, it should bring us all to tears.
END
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NEWTOWN’S SANDY HOOK

On the fifth year anniversary of the Newtown tragedy, a repost to remind us of the challenges that still remain.Connecticut Community Copes With Aftermath Of Elementary School Mass Shooting

Toni Reavis

*****

E Pluribus Unum

*****

Fear and folly in tandem come,

And in their sway we have often run,

From what’s true today to yesterday’s vision,

Though that which was is no more the mission.

*

So how long do we stand,

Blind,

As the evidence mounts?

How long do we sit,

Still,

Before the body counts?

*

Sowing and reaping the violence prone,

X-box, vampires, a society grown,

Increasingly assorted, beyond scope of a center,

No common cause, each citizen dissenter.

*

Yet innocence once ours,

at least so we believed,

E pluribus unum,

at birth thus conceived.

*

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FALMOUTH ROAD RACE FOUNDER TOMMY LEONARD TURNS 84

This Sunday the New Balance Falmouth Road Race turns 45.  But today race founder and guiding spirit Tommy Leonard celebrates his 84th birthday.

Back in the Summer of `72 Tommy was tending bar at the Brothers 4 on Falmouth Heights when Frank Shorter ran to the gold medal at the Munich Olympic Marathon.  Inspired by Frank’s win, Tommy dreamed up a local road race to help raise funds for the Falmouth Girl’s Track Club.  45 years later, both the founder and his founding spirit live on.

Tommy Leonard

Though he summered on Cape Cod, T.L. called Boston’s Eliot Lounge home for nearly a quarter century, and it was there that his legend took root.  In honor of his birthday, here is a little verse that recalls the days when a visit to Tommy was on every runner’s wish list. (more…)

THE MEASURE OF MEN

Even as we revel in the life affirming glory of last night’s women’s 1500 meter final at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships in London, we are constantly reminded of the brief stay that is ours upon this blue, spinning orb.  The Boston Globe put out a very nice obituary today on an old friend, and wheelchair racing pioneer Jack Coakley.

Jack was a 30-year stalwart at the Bill Rodgers Running Center in Boston’s Faneuil Hall.  He died last Friday while working out at Rowe’s Wharf gym at age 67.  He was a man who asked no quarter, nor gave any in return.  RIP wheel man.

We live as we do,

In the time we are given,

Trying as we might,

To accomplish what we can,

   In the fields that we till,

Through the habits we develop,

By the grace that is God’s,

To bestow as He sees,

Upon those of His choosing.


And through those days,

and by our ways,

We come to discover,

The true purpose of our existence,

In this realm of blood and breath and bone,

From the bright wail of our birth,

 ‘Til the silent dying of our light,

Arranging through trial and error,

Accommodation and accord,

And even at times whimsy,

The measure that is ultimately me.

END

 

ODE TO THE BOSTON CHAMPION

Meb Boston 2014

*

Through clamorous towns at a headlong pace,

You raced this day into Copley Place,

Where with arm thrust high,

And church bells pealing,

You wear a wreath of glory,

Though head still reeling.

*

The distance you ushered,

The pain you endured,

Your flag now flutters,

Must all seem a blur.

*

But honor’s all yours,

This Patriot’s Day,

In this oldest of marathons,

As men shout, “Hooray!”

*

And though crusted with salt,

Legs seized with fatigue,

The scene’s one to savor,

As you recall the intrigue. (more…)

NEWTOWN’S SANDY HOOK

*****

E Pluribus Unum

*****

Fear and folly in tandem come,

And in their sway, we have often run,

From what’s true today to yesterday’s vision,

Though that which was is no more the mission.

*

So how long do we stand,

Blind,

As the evidence mounts?

How long do we sit,

Still,

Before the body counts?

*

Sowing and reaping the violence-prone,

X-box, vampires, a society grown,

Increasingly assorted, beyond scope of a center,

No common cause, each citizen dissenter.

*

Yet innocence once ours,

at least so we believed,

E Pluribus Unum,

at birth thus conceived.

*

(more…)

MEASURE OF THE MARATHON

***

With so much opposition all around us,

When everyone is against this thing or that,

And the ties that once bound us in union,

Hang loosened to trip us off track,

*

There comes the N-Y-C Marathon,

That glorious democratizing event,

To renew our faith in what’s possible,

And connect us to what we best represent,

*

Those qualities that make us all human,

Each in our own flawed way,

As we strive to ennoble these vessels,

While holding time’s ravages at bay,

*

By taking on the difficult pleasure,

That no amount of money can buy,

That only can come from the doing,

Even as the cynics proclaim, “Why try?”

*

(more…)