And this is “The Running Poem.” Bang! And into the air, I sprang.
Pushing my legs back against the starting block, I knew I had to beat the clock, so quickly I rose.
Swinging my leg forward, I pointed my toes and pressed them into the asphalt
assaulting the ground. I was a white dove unbound. Would I beat the golden greyhound?
The red stallion? Or the black bear? I flapped my white wings in the clear hot
air as we ran around the first bend.
The clock was ticking. I wanted to win. Tick. Tock. Tick. My spikes poked the track.
My legs pounded a relentless attack as I passed the staggering start domain.
And all eight of us runners ran to the first lane. Elbows swinging, I fought for position But the red stallion, the black bear, and
a boar were also on a mission. They raced by and blocked my view
as I came along the side of a blue emu. He was tall in stature with a lanky sway.
And I matched his stride down the back straightway. Tick. Tick. Tock
went the beating of the clock. My head bobbing.
My heart throbbing. The air robbing
my throat just as a bronze coyote
began to float at my backside.
His harmonic clinging amplified by his heavy breathing.
Seething in this cutthroat race.
I picked up my pace as the coyote and I cruised by the blue emu.
Or should I say, we flew past him. The coyote’s stride matching mine limb for limb. Tick. Tick. Tick We came around the far bend quick.
I could hear the kick of the coyote’s feet.
I could feel his radiant heat. And I began to see this ideal athlete
from the corner of my eye. And in perfect slow motion, he methodically
passed me by. Down the front straightway I ran.
A broken feather fell away from my wingspan. My claws becoming rubbery and weak.
But I’d practiced this race. I knew the technique. The spectators cheered as we came down the lane. The red stallion and the black bear were a running train.
The bronze coyote and a boar were a duo insane. They went back and forth in their lead.
Neither wanted to concede. And I in fifth place. Would I succeed? The final lap bell rang. My body gripping a cliff-hang.
Running out of steam. Melting like ice cream
in the heat of the day. But I ran on anyway.
Into the first turn, I felt a burn
in my thighs and a need to rationalize
my pain. To explain
why I would rather die than lose. Why I would rather give up the ghost than
face such bad news. And down the back straightway I went.
My muscles almost spent. Running on fumes.
Plumes smaller than krill.
Blooms of sheer will. I looked dead ahead in deep concentration.
Not giving up was my foundation. Not giving in was my vocation.
And there was the boar. My immediate motivation. He was dressed in green and cloaked in hair.
And I came up beside him and gave him a glare. He was exhausted. I could see it in his eyes,
so I looked straight ahead and ran away from his demise.
The coyote seemed to be next, but he was running so damn fast.
He caught up with the red stallion and the black bear and passed
them by. Do or die,
I thought in the blink of an eye. It was never or now as I reached the last
bend. Two hundred meters from the end.
So I flapped my white wings. I wanted to win so bad.
To be loved not sad. To spread lasting peace not a fad.
But for an instant, I thought I didn’t have enough strength.
That in an eight-man race I’d wind up tenth. But I knew how to relieve myself of my scare.
I had to believe, to believe I was the fastest anywhere.
Tock. Tick. Tick. I moved my legs in a blur. My arms in a slur.
There was no time to defer. The crowd gave roar.
There was hardcore zeal.
It made me feel so real. I could see myself win. I could feel it on my skin.
And my lust made my legs move. Made me improve
my leg speed. The need.
The want. The desire set my wings on fire.
And I began to run on air. And before I knew it, I had passed the black
bear. Tock. Tick. One hundred meters to go.
The red stallion began galloping slow. And he pushed out an ashy angry elbow
as I sailed past him. Now less than a limb
from the coyote. His bronze coat
gleaming in the baking sun. Tick. Tock. We were one-on-one.
I told myself to believe then achieve. Conceive a win.
The message racing through my mind over and over again. I could hear the coyote wheeze, seethe and grunt. He was half an inch out in front as we neared the finish line. Fifty meters. Believe. And I began to align with first place. Forty meters. Believe. I had on my dogface. And within a small space
of speed … Thirty meters. Believe.
… I crept into the lead. My body indeed
sore. Twenty meters. But I wanted to win this metaphor.
Even as the golden greyhound surprisingly bounded
between the coyote and me. What?! Ten meters. His spree … incredible!
Unbelievable! He had come back from far behind.
Running as if he’d lost his mind. Sprinting as if he was more worthy of the
gold. Five meters. He’d never lost, I’m told.
A winner in his pursuits. Two meters. Perfect when he executes.
This comeback must have been his projected design. One meter. Believe! And the greyhound’s hungry eyes locked with mine
as we leaned into the finish line. Tick.
Tock. Tick. And I could actually feel the cheer from the
crowd. A wall of sound so damn loud.
I felt quite proud. The cheering made my heart soar. Since I had wanted to win this race … . A little bit more.