Friday, January 29, 2010


Here’s a secret…
Talent’s over-rated

Some young bucks with
Natural ease
Unselfconscious grace
Instinctive touch
Start with fearless joy
But quickly cool
The arrogance of easy victory
Turns to frustration
When they hit the rising asymptotic curve of skill


Those with fewer innate vantages
Persevere with patient, plodding
Pedestrian persistence
Savoring each small victory hard won from
Hours of toil
Pain and
Sheer determination
Appreciating every small advance
Backwards through the alphabet
Celebrating milestones
One touch against superior opponents
One perfect bout
Third place
In the end, they may o’er take their meteoric friends

Woody had it right—
Eighty-percent of success is just showing up

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Soundscape II*

Thrum of feline happiness
Whine and strain of mixer’s motor
paddle mired in resilient dough
Muted tidal slosh of laundry coming clean
Ticking of the oven, hoarding heat

Lyric play of blade on blade
Sing of wire threading through the barrel
Resonating thwock of perfect, centered touch
upon the target, drumming on the wall
Clatter of the blades inside my bag, knocking at my hip
Silent slice of wind against my ears
Stepping out into the darkling night
*See Soundscape

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dormouse, Dormouse Dormez-vous?

Where is the Dormouse?
Sleepy little beast
Banking up her energy
To spend upon the piste

Faced with the prospect
Of fencing fifteen points
She curls up for forty winks
To loosen up her joints

Having bounced upon the strip
Finishing the bout
She’ll collapse and take a kip
Her energy’s run out!

During Sloth Bear’s lectures
A guess to where she is?
Oblivious to “point in line”
She’s catching up on ‘z’s

So where is the Dormouse?
Taking a brief snooze
Don’t be deceived by sleepiness
Sometimes it’s just…a ruse


Know what’s really tempting?
Just to hit
Like Godiva chocolate
Illicit pleasures
Endorphin hits doled out like
Peanut M&Ms
Red, green, brown, blue
One for every touch

Problem is,
These tasty treats will
Make you fat, complacent
Wire you with operant rewards to just
Repeat, repeat, repeat
Drilled into a trite robotic rut

A better diet has you
Eating crow
Swallowing the bitter disappointment of
A lost bout
Loss of face
Letting others feast
Harvesting their touches as you
Discipline yourself to practice moves that will
Ripen months hence
Even years

So, use common sense
In balancing your fencing meals
Curb your gluttony
Take a bit of that, a bit of this
Even things you do not like
(Attacking into six)
But save room for dessert

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Watching from the corner of my eye
Fleeting snatches of a lesson by
the Other Coach
Interesting footwork, rhythm
A clever piece of work
Hmmm, what if…?

Nowadays the fashion is to pick and choose
A little bit from here, from there
In everything—philosophy, religion, art
It all becomes collage
What is the value of a single path?
And what is lost?

Could I stay true to my
Main Man
While sampling another guru’s line?
Philandering a bit
Flirting with heresy
Might expand horizons
Make me feel worldly, and experienced

Sure, some of it is incompatible
The action’s from the wrist
Scribing neat and tiny circles
Round your blade
The line is from the elbow to the tip
Grand sweeps scorning subtlety
These can’t co-exist
But footwork, timing, strategy
A robust exploration of alternate views could be…


Remember the rewards
The dividend of working through
Frustration, boredom, pain
That comes from facing the same face
Week on month on year
Hearing the same admonitions
Time and time again

And then there is the daunting prospect of
The sturm und drang
The jealousy and punctured pride
That comes when infidelity’s exposed
Is it worth an ‘A’ (scarlet or not)
To so disrupt the natural order?
(And, besides, Siberia is lonely, and it’s cold)

Coaching’s a commitment—while serial relationships might be the norm
Polygamy’s a cardable offense

I guess I'll stick to
Faithfulness to one who knows me far too well
To fall for my deceptions
Or be impressed
Or ever let me be less than my best

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not Quite

Slipping past your chest
Gliding underneath your arm
Skittering across the vast expanse of your lamé

Landing with a gratifying thunk
Dead center in your chest…but no light

Endlessly I
Bruise your knuckles
Whack your leg
Slap your shoulder
To savage your off-hand

Sometimes I
Navigate your tangled maze of parries
Find the sweet spot open
Only to fall…a quarter inch too short

Some fencers have
Magnetic personalities
Their blade within an inch or two
Of any valid target
Will land, and score
No matter how improbable the touch

My blade’s cursed with
Opposite polarity
Averse at any cost to
Closing the circuit
Making the connection
Ending the phrase

Given sufficient time, the Earth’s magnetic field will flip again
And maybe so will mine

Meanwhile, it’s a better bet to dedicate myself to target work
Extend, recover, lunge…

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Listen to the coach
Eyes and ear-tips lasered on his every word
Even if you do not understand them

Safety first
Even blunt, your weapon is a weapon
No pointing it at faces bare of any mask!
Tip down

Always do your best
Even if you cannot make it work
All that’s asked is earnest effort

Play nice
If you lose your temper, turn and walk away
Never never never strike to hurt

Remember why you’re here
What a joy to stand upon the strip!
Battling with mind with hand with blade against a worthy foe
Have fun

And Badger says:
Help yourself to cookies,
after your last bout
en guarde

Friday, January 1, 2010

Stories I Tell About Myself

[A poetic response to this post from Fencing Bear]

That I’m a hidden hero, waiting to spring
Fight injustice, save the underdog
If only opportunity presents

That next year I’ll be stronger, better, faster
If I’m diligent and disciplined

That I can do quite well on five hours sleep

That when someone dislikes me
It’s because they’re jealous, or afraid
In short, a reflection of my true superiority

That, magically, I’m prettier
When the mirror doesn’t look

That “seeking work/life balance”—not just an excuse
For slacking off

That I can feed, if not the world
At least the denizens of my small domain
And in so doing heal their wounds

That my love makes up for all uncaring acts

That by pouring words onto the page
I can discover truth; and if not truth then
Comfort; if not comfort
A modicum of understanding

That maybe in another life I’ll have a chance
To get it right