Monday, December 19, 2011

Rehab Rap

It’s the knee
The thumb
Feeling kinda numb
The ankle or the wrist,
Suffering a twist
The shoulder or the
Toe is
Fillin’ up with woe
Settled in the joint, in the muscle in the
The pain, or the tweak,
Makes itself at home
The throb or the jab
A momentary weak spot
Could even be a
Blood clot
(Isn’t that a sick thought!)

Got a bang
Or a bruise
And I’m threatening to lose
Some functionality
Fightin’ back with punctuality
Every day at the gym
Move the limb
Take a swim
Do a lift or a curl
Make the muscles unfurl
Tame the inflammation
Fend off degradation
Trying for salvation
Hoping that the next part
Isn’t going to come apart
Try’n to make a fresh start

Here I am on the mat
Layin’ flat
Feeling fat
Working on the hamstring
Try’n to do the right thing
Try’n to heal, Try’n to deal
Try’n to tame Achilles’ heel

No matter that I’m strong, I know it’s not for long
Susceptible to injury, I’m movin’ pretty gingerly
Hey, I’d wear body armor for protection from harm, or
Anything for luck, what the [poem redacted for young ears]
It’s worth a chance if it could possibly enhance
My invulnerability
Increase my stability
Limit my liability
Not to mention fallibility

You got any advice
You won’ have to tell me twice
Just keep it concise
Tell me how to

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Faith Healing

Recently I noted
Between coach & chiropractor
Familial resemblance

Firm hand and
Diagnostic eye
Critical assessment of just what
Is out of whack

Tracing the elusive
Origins of
Stiff ankle, sore knee
Errant point,
Pained hips
Unstable lunge
Back through cascading errors
To originating sin
Often the root is far removed from
What I blame for my distress

They then
Strategic tweak...
Momentary pain and
Body, soul & psyche magically

*Sweet relief*
Astonishment at
How bright the world is
How joyous my attack when it

Suddenly I realize just how bad things were in recent past
Too bad minor adjustments never last

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Convincing Caterpillar she will
Wake with wings...
A real hard sell
Even tougher?
Delivering the news that she
Will not

Some of us
Straining to transform
Rise each morning
Pretty much the same
Despite the vigor of our
Night before

Me, I take the strip with
Hopeless optimism that
This time will be different
Innate flaws in execution
Magically smoothed
Stubborn intent translated into
Hard work finally
Paid off

I stutter step
Exhibit merely
Incremental growth
Minor tweaks in
Habits and behavior

Maybe metamorphosis is
Only for the young

And yet, (sweet Jesu, here we go again), might I feel chrysaline tonight?

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Home

Blank slate colored
Floors smell
Of raw paint and

Tape tentatively marks the
Boundaries of
Many future battles

For one speck of time the
Coach’s desk is
Shelves well
Tools not yet playing
Hide and seek

The lock is stiff
Light switches
Clean the bathrooms
Just for now

No one’s found their
Proper spot
Equipment shifts from here
To there and
Even the parrot has
Not settled on her relocated

Closing up, I spy
Beneath the benches
Crumpled cup, forsaken glove
Fugitive spring, stray
Cookie crumbs

And so it starts
The slow accumulation of
Physical and psychic
Karmic coloring

Be mindful as we write our history
Into these walls
The geomantic power of our memories

Let’s make new stories worth the telling of the tale…

Sunday, November 13, 2011

On the Slippery Nature of Truth

I tell stories

Funny how they all reflect
The past with
Such a rosy glow

The bout concludes and
Straight away the

However much I
Think I want to understand
Exactly what occurred
And where
I erred

My well-constructed buffers
Egoistic airbags
Pad my pride
Preserve my
En garde

Maybe if I rush to
Pause while soaked and half disrobed
Spill the beans
By tweet or text or post
--Debrief 2.0--
I’ll accidently leak the
Inside scoop
Straight poop

Tomorrow I’ll reread my own early edition
A true front line account sans error or omission

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Otter ripples
Up and down the strip
Three hops and a glide
A bounce
A pounce
A nip and run away

Just half grown
—An otterling—
Still learning his
His teeth and claws
Testing the
Muscled water of his

Somersaults between
Frustration and playful
Delight in
Bite and tease and squirm
Impatient that he hasn’t quite
Assumed his final
Not yet reconciled to the fact that
Some fish get away

I watch him wrestle, bout and
Grow in skill and
Sure-footed execution
Soon he will outpace my reach
Larking in his native element

May he always fence with otter confidence,
Otterly absorbed in his pursuit

Monday, October 31, 2011

Death Grip

Grasp life gently
Held between
Forefinger and the thumb
Barely constrained

Clutch too tight and
Paradoxically you
Forfeit all control

Try to dominate, to
Muscle through—
You’ll only
Overthrow yourself
Exhausted by the
Energetic cost

Sure, there’s a chance
You may
Lose hold
Feel the point you
Try so hard to
Keep in line
So what

That when your eye
Hits home
Your heart, and blade
Will follow

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I feel raw

Scraped and overwritten
Reused, Repurposed
Milked clean

Layered shreds of
Stratigraphic codices
Educative eras past
Ghostly underwriting
New-found wisdom bleeds
Into the old
Resurfacing at
Most peculiar angles

I find this overlay
Neologic teachings
Fragmented stratums
Systems disparate yet

A caution, if you think you can erase the past
And start anew,
Indelible notations may prove tricky to redo

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Late Night Theme (The Badger Variations)

Earlier, rain patterned on the roof
The storm has wandered off, bequeathing
Ozoned postscript

Aural backdrop fades to
Icerink buzz and thump and yell of
Hockey stick on stick on
Adolescent expletives
Muttered imprecations with
Distressing lack of

Here, within the white walls of the Salle
My life constricts to
Euphony, the
Patterned footwork of the
Clash of blade
Pant of aging effort
Contrapuntal commentary on my progress
(Or the lack, thereof)

Here, my auditory world’s complete
A soundtrack scored to amplify my
Moods, my meaning
Voicing my ambitions
Chord my life

Here I can seek harmony within, without
Here I can conduct myself in concert with my hopes and dreams

Monday, October 17, 2011


He twitches
You thwack

He pulls where you often
Push back

His humor—extra dry
Yours—let’s just say, employs a broader brush

Formality in counterpoint to
Sly asides that oft provoke a blush

This gesture of your arm means
Come, not go
When you approve you
Strike the blade
Just so

The mask whips off and you
Shout praise, not blame
An “A” for effort even if I blew
The phrase

And that’s just tone, contour
The details of technique diverge
Upon dissection

The angle of the blade
Is off
The arm is out, not back
The parry with a whipping of the tip
Instead of opposition with the wrist

The same material entirely
Through subtle permutations
Accents, mutant forms

This lexicon that I compile
—Russian into English coaching style—
Might serve other students well, but
Don’t hold your breath
This could take quite awhile

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Feline Fencer, Part II

(An onomatopoeic sequel to this post)

Tip tap Tabby whack
Tappa tappa tappa

Bippity bippity bippity
Swisha swisha

Sleek sleek

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Butt First Lunge (© RFA)

Forget about the leap, the reach, the
Scissored kick

Sure they cover ground
--Profligate, extreme
Nearly doing splits upon the strip--
Then leave you
Hanging out to dry
Stretched thin
All too often

Focus on the anchor.
Back foot rooted to the earth
Tunneling to the molten core
Powering volcanic bursts

The coiled power of the calf
The tensioned thigh the
Tucked bum
Leading with a coy swing of the hip

Stubby , powerful, controlled
Leaving open options
Waiting 'til last moment to
Maybe not the showiest of moves
Stylistically impaired
Modest in it's reach
So you fall short--so what?

I'd rather live to take another try than
Flame out with extravagant ambitions

Thursday, September 22, 2011

End Game: a poem on fencing, and life

First Period
A slight naïveté
But boundless energy
Stepping, eager, to the strip
Soaking in the world
A little tentative,
Perhaps a little shy
Cautiously advancing proof, disproof
Thesis & hypothesis
Testing how things work
Mapping out the world

Second Period
Buckle down and
Naming what I’ve done, and seen
Learning from mistakes
Using what I’ve learned
Theory morphs to practice
Confident mastery
Life begins to flow

Third Period
Shepherding my small stash of
Compiled wisdom
Conserving energy
Husbanding breath
Feeling every ache
Tapping my reserves
Careful strategy to
Navigate the final stretch
Bring me home
Consolidate my gains
Last chance to regroup, revise
Revitalize my game

Naïve once again, I tell myself that, coming from behind
It’s never, never too late to attempt a save

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blessed Ignorance

Hunting truth,
I should stop here
Balanced at the limit of my tolerance for

Any further and I risk
Losing myself in clarity
Flawless visions of what
I don’t need to know
About myself

I fear that
Absolute and utter verity would
Rob me of my dreams
Freeze my capacity to act

At the fuzzy edge
Vision from delusion
Miracles can happen

Like bumblebees, I cling to the illusion I can fly
Hey, it works for them

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Be wary of
Fleeting waves of joy
Momentary triumph
Fugacious victory

Pleasure ebbs
Each perfect moment past
Caught in rip-time
Swept away

Pleasure holds us back
Snagged by memory
Fighting the flow
Exhausted by vain efforts to swim
Back through time

Trust the fleeting current
Confident it will carve channels
Cultivating new and different

Only by forgetting
Is there
Any chance the past may reoccur

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Plan B

When your strongest game
Isn’t strong enough
Whatever reason:
Pits your strength against a
Stronger countermove
You’re being just a bit too
Today, right now, it just doesn’t

Cue Plan B

So what it isn’t quite your strongest move
Rough around the edges
Perhaps a little

You’re going down—why not give it a chance?

Maybe it’s a better
A weaker strength may find the armor’s chink
Might be a surprise
Perhaps a better rhythm for the day

But careful! Watch and see

Your own low expectations of the
Lesser move
May suck you in, keep you pushing launch when
It won't ignite

If it takes you even farther down, abort! Abort!

Your A game, falling short of your desire’s
Still a better bet…

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stalking Happiness

A most elusive beast
Easy to scare off
Hard to pin down
Adept at Esquive

Successful expeditions must be
Seemingly pursuing other prey:
Health, strength, skill
Dominance or victory

Thunder hell-bent in pursuit of other goals--
You may well find you’ve
Snared a rush of joy as
By catch

Don’t get cocky—happiness is never caught the same way twice
And never will stay caught

Monday, August 15, 2011





Fistful observations
Crumple me into a
Small, constricted version of myself

Would it hurt too much
For just one day
To throw the switch
Reverse polarity

Suddenly I’m




With the pressure off I will
Swelling like a sponge, ready to absorb
Ideas, examples
Anything you teach

Words can shape reality

Sunday, August 7, 2011


You think you know the rules
Handed down from high
Neatly sectioned, numbered
Endlessly debated (on the strip, and off)

I've simply layered on
My own augmented reality
A game beneath the game

Hidden in this notebook is my
Secret score
Coded annotations --
You puzzle when I pump my arm in triumph
Having lost the touch?
I'm not trying to gull the ref*,
I'm gleefully amassing points
Epic wins that no one else can see, or seeing
Recognize the import of
The covert action-of-the-day
Snuck into a bout:
  Prime riposte
  Coupe into six
  Crossover flèche

Ingenious &
Unnecessary obstacles
Clandestine quests
Challenge me to level up in
Expand my repertoire
Try new things that certainly will fail
The first few hundred times

You want to play? Leap down the rabbit hole
Petition for your first assignment here...

*o.k.—SOMETIMES I’m trying to gull the ref. You know, just to see if it works.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Scoping out my strategy

Target acquisition
All systems primed for

Tallying the fallout from my
Chosen act

Masking patterns that
Could betray my

Reconnaissance, alignment, assessment, misdirection--what is left?
Ah! Rest. A precious chance to catch my breath

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Preemptive Regrets

I will miss

The sweet smell of puppy paw that
Permeates my glove

The diagnostic calluses that mar my palm
My toe
My heel

The wicked sing of blade on blade that never fails to
Speed my heart

The patient layering of wire into groove
(However I complain)

The late nights, soaked and spent and
Faced with early dawn

The verbal sparring
Pitting Ivy eloquence against a stubborn ESL
And losing, every time

The casual camaraderie of odd lots
Kindred souls

I struggle to accept that
All things pass away

Friday, June 24, 2011

Head Case

Gak! My shoulder's tense my
off my
Breath is short
Shoe's untied

practiced this for
Many months it should be
Automatic here I am
Blowing the touch

STUPID I could
see that you
Were going to squirm and
I missed

If I don't win this touch this
Bout this
Pool this

I won't renew my C

Goddamit you are
whup your tail should
Run you off the strip
Wait, I should calm down

I KNOW I that should
Disengage riposte into your six
666666 stop
THINKING and just focus on
The fact that I JUST GOT HIT

I DO want to compete I
Want to
win no to fence well
No b
e a sport a
Good one but
My stomach hurts I
Think I've jammed my toe

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Every Blessed Thing

The tip jams the
Barrel wiggles loose the
Wire pops out of its groove
And severs cleanly when you beat my blade

The socket will not hold the prongs the
Prongs work free from their appointed nests the
Body cord is faulty at the clip the alligator or
The plug

My sweaty bib grounds out, the Velcro on my
Glove will not stay closed
Tabs holding crucial D-rings fail
Leaving me unmoored

The floor cord jams
The turtle starts to crawl along the floor the
Box displays its lights in
Seemingly random array

With all the fardeling around it takes to make the pieces work
It’s a bloody wonder that we ever get to fence

Friday, June 17, 2011


Your first step, a little large
Leaving you
Open to attack

Your feint
A trifle weak
It leaves me unconvinced

Your parry, good!
So firm and strong, but
Where is the riposte?

And your back foot
Trails so far behind
(with knee sunk in)
You have no stable basis for your lunge

Other than that?
Perfection. Go kick butt

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Feline Fencer

Tabby is a cautious beast
She teases, irritates and stalks
Instead of charging down the strip
She hunts, and takes no chances

Rarely going straight on in
Avoiding obvious attacks
She seeks, rather, to hypnotize—
Her waving blade entrances

But her favorite move by far,
Is flicking lightly from aloft
A pitter pat and tabby whack
With staccato advances

The padding feet, the
Whiskered sensitivity to threats
The lighting paw
Combine to make a fearsome foe
But if you squirm and twist away
You’ll keep her on her toes

Cats’ fatal weakness
(Hush, don’t tell) is earnest over-thinking
If you can
Engage her brain
She’ll freeze and falter, blinking

A lethal agonist, it’s true, a deadly opponent,
And yet, you’ll find, when off the strip
A gentler, more domesticated beast you’ve never met

Friday, June 3, 2011


It's about control…
Or lack thereof

Without the confidence to
Take my game and
Shove it down your throat,
Force you to submit

I badger and I bait
Deconstructing what unfolds
Trusting I can handle
What goes down

Making the best of
My unstable game
Maybe I can commandeer your moves
Shape them to my ends

Provoking opportunities
Seeking reagents for a catalytic act

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fencing 101

Shake hands with the grip
(A firm but gentle grasp)
Don’t clutch it like a club

Hit with the pointy end
(Aim for the middle)
Don’t thwack

When attacked
Push the blade aside
Then stick out your arm

Knees bent, butt in, shoulders back
Wrist firm, arm relaxed
Don’t sneeze in your mask

Move—use both directions
Advance AND retreat
Proper footwork—don’t go running down the strip

And (this is most important)
Don’t forget to breathe

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Play Date

No score
What a great subversive twist!
A psychic liberation
No hormone-ridden clash, no angst
Just curious experiments
Empiric testing of hypotheses in
Endless permutations

We set the timer and
Proceed to frisk
Open-ended forays leading
Who knows where
Digressions, loops and ambulations
Testing a then b then c
Progressive iterations

Prototyping possible assaults, I
Coax my hand and feet to
Execute the code
And fail
But failing, find another possibility
The germ of innovation

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Soft Start

Stealthing glide, a
Nonchalant approach that
Signals nothing, leaving open
Offers only
Flirtatious hints
Seamlessly segue to lunge
Or shyly metamorph into retreat

No grand gesture welcoming
Attack on preparation
No blatant telegraphing of intent

Open-ended options
Pluripotent paths
Potential bifurcation

A perfect poker pace
To mask intent

Sunday, May 8, 2011


The Strategist
Relying on deliberative acts
Seeing, naming
Always calculating one move or two
Playing the odds &
Counting cards

The Visionary
Seeing possibilities that
Are not there
Until called into being by
Flights of fancy
Spiked imagination
Summoning with dreams

The Natural
Displaying unforced feeling for the fight
Racing the rapids of the bout on
Instinct, faster than the rational mind
Pulling off
Unlikely victories

Three paths to success
Three very different roads
Which traveler are you?

Friday, May 6, 2011


Each of us seeks truth
In her own way
Upon the mat, the piste
The page
Chasing metaphoric ice
Dumped down the neck
—rude awakenings are preferable
to sleep—
Losing balance
Stretching for the touch
Groping for the perfect metered word
Stumbling on
Pellucid acts
Slicing through the ambient confusion

Sometimes caught in
Unbraced for the damage
Truth, unbound, inflicts

Saturday, April 30, 2011


So many clues…
The eagerness or caution of your steps
The shadow of your parry when I feint
The angle of your blade as
You prepare offense

Still, I struggle to detect the theme
Fill in the blanks
Fumbling with possibilities that
Seem to fit, but later prove
Just one letter off

You cleverly disguise the import of your acts
Throwing me
Misleading hints,
False leads,
Puns and misdirections

Surrounded by the residue of failed attempts,
Disparate answers that won’t integrate
I mutter curses as I
Regroup, reformulate my thoughts
Grope for another phrase

As I reset the score and start again, the lesson’s clear
Never write your strategy in ink
Earnestly try to make erasable mistakes

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Closed Line

So many things I can’t control
Your speed, your
Laser-guided point
My paltry set of skills

I can at least
Set this one factor constant
Nail it to the wall:
My quarter four is closed
Shuttered, barred and inaccessible
Don’t even think
Of trying to assault that line

Except, of course
You do
Because that’s where you end
By force of habit
Preference and practice
You’re so very sure at the last moment
I will waiver, flinch and
Open up a little bit
A crack, enough that slender blade
Slips through

Except, of course
I don’t
And so your weapon meets a
Solid line of steel
In effect, you’re parrying yourself
And I need just riposte
Supreme efficiency
(Damn funny, too)

A lesson here to take into the world
Sometimes all you need is sovereign confidence in one sure thing

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Sometimes success proceeds from
Mere determination
Rather than from practice, skill or luck

Single minded focus
Stubborn fixation, blind persistence
At times, improbably, pays off

Think of your attack: met by well-timed parry
Prudence dictates drawing back but
What gorgeous surprise if you bull through!

It works, a little bit, in life as well
Naïve optimism, dogged perseverance
Never letting “no” dictate a halt

Therefore I’m not eager to renounce
My confidence, my ego (if you will)
Extravagant in its ambitions

I know deep down I’m brave I’m strong I’m
Capable of plowing through brick walls
I should embrace these native attributes

Instead, too often
Ambushed by uncertainty, stained by fear
I freeze, immobilized by doubt

At such times I need to break
The stasis of distrust

Impervious defense will sometimes yield to
Forcing of the blade

Monday, April 4, 2011


iChing fortune: “You have become too friendly with your inner demons. It's time to take them out one by one”

I know my inner demons
Perhaps a bit too well
Familiarity has bred…
No, not contempt
But resignation

They’ve scratched themselves a cozy nest
Claiming the best room in the house
Inured me to the
Raucous parties that disrupt my sleep
Pilfered my stash of
Small essential things
(Toothpaste, bandages and soap,
Contentment, self-respect)
Dodged the basic chore of
Taking out the trash

When bored, they entertain themselves by
Poking through my closets
Hauling out embarrassments I’d
Stashed deep in the back, intending to discard

Examine ancient photos, scrapbooks, yearbooks
Laugh hysterically at images
Documenting slow and painful growth
Youthful experiments
--and note I haven’t changed

These uninvited guests have long o’er-stayed their time
Trashed the house
Devalued property
Pissed off the housemates who endure my moods
Why don’t I just insist that
They decamp?
Heave their sorry asses out
Into the night?

It may be I secretly believe that
They hold valid title to the space they’ve claimed

I need an advocate to serve them notice
Terminate their stay
A champion with utter faith that I deserve
My peace, my solitude
A little bit of healthy self-regard

I’d post a notice for this opening
Trusting to receive (in this economy) an avalanche of applications
Even for a job as odd as this

Except, alas deep down I recognize
I have to conquer my own doubt
I’m the one who let the demons in and
Only I can boot them out

Thursday, March 31, 2011


If this life is better
Polished by a couple hundred repetitions
How appalling my first self
Surely was, to start

I wonder
Of that first iteration
What shards and tattered scabs
What stubbornly resistant bits

And which are new
Or if not truly new
Uncovered, excavated
Brought to light

And by what tics and
Fundamental flaws would one dear to me
Spot me in a heartbeat
This time ‘round

The sages say with time
And work
With meditation
I become more like myself
Closer to perfection

I suspect my deepest parts
Those most truly me
Are petty
Adamantine spikes resistant to reform
Fears and insecurities
Excessive self-regard

If I’m destined
Through these lives
To bump against you time and time again until
I get it right
I think we’re in for
Many more encounters

That being so, go hard on me
In each new bout, push me a little further down the path

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I suspect that
I’d be better off if
I stopped keeping score

Obsessively comparing
My numbered place
My relative results

I wonder if like
Such indicators warp the measurement of
What counts most

I need to formulate instead an
(Index of Fencing Happiness)
A running tally of my
Pleasure in my game

Metering a steady rise
Marking each advance in
Tactics, strategy

But truth to tell, while
I’ll aim to excel holistically, track quality of life
I’d like the bling as well

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Theory and Practice

Given you are fast, where I am slow
And hard, where I am soft
And steely in resolve, where I am insecure
Given what you have, and what I lack

It may be, sometimes,
That there are moves, habitual for you,
That simply do not fit
My hand, my mind, my knack

If the universe sees fit to grant
An act or two that spring, unbidden to my hand
And work
Who am I to peer inside the horse’s mouth?

Perhaps not all instruction can be
Strictly by the book
There need be room for variation
Idiosyncratic quirks
Standard deviation

I promise: I will earnestly audition all that you suggest
But in the end, can we agree, whatever scores consistently is best?

Friday, March 18, 2011


If I leave my foot
To putter
Pad and stutter,
Settle to its innate pace

If I sit,
Balanced on my backside
Tail knit, bum tucked
Muscles neatly coiled underneath

If I breathe
Scour the conduits
That focus power
Flush the tension from my bones

If I relax
Open chest, lifted heart
Shoulders butterflied across my back
Embodying fearless intent

If I firm my wrist
Fix my gaze,
Follow through
Let my touches
Land themselves (as they know how)

If I can master mustering these “ifs”
Then maybe
, maybe, this won’t be so bad

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Untroubled by the facts, blessed with
Blithe disregard of circumstance
You launch attacks with perfect confidence that
You will land
Cycling through your modest repertoire
Totaling three—a long offense, counter attack, remise—
(Note, nary a riposte)
Which works improbably well until
You meet an opponent who sees and understands, and then
You’re toast

I, on the other hand, am burdened with
Pretty good apprehension of the next move in the dance
I recognize the weakness to exploit
The opening to seize, proper response
My handicap—
I see too many endings. Beset by “but…what if…then you….”
Paralyzed by doubt, I lose my chance

Modern biotechnology may offer resolution
If we splice your fencing DNA with mine,
I guarantee an elegant solution
A stunning piece of alphabetic math
In which the sum of confidence and guile ensures
That “D” combined with “C” will yield a “B!”

Friday, March 4, 2011


Your butt sticks out

His knee collapses inward on the lunge

She squeals when attacked, frozen into immobility

His hand—magnetically attracted to his chest

Her automated defense—stick the arm out straight
And run away

I haven’t seen this crew for a full year
And nothing’s changed
Habitual reactions
Technical tics
Deep rooted and, I fear
Entirely resistant to reform

My consciousness uncomfortably aroused
I catch myself in surreptitious glances
At my feet
Peeking o’er my shoulder at my tush
Self-consciously suspecting a dispassionate observer
Back from leave
Would think the same of me…

Oh Stuart, can we get a mirror for the salle?
A little self-reflection could be good for all

Monday, February 14, 2011


I don’t wear glasses when I fence
After all, how clearly must I see to hit these massy foes?
(Even the little ones are plenty macroscopic)

Besides, their blurry edges are better proxy for the world
It’s rare to find the outlines of our target crystal clear
Do you know exactly what you want or is your goal

Forget the ambiguity of borders
Focus on the center with
Relentless gaze

Let peripheral attention do
What it does best
Tracking random movements and distractions
Warn of inbound threats

As long as I have depth of field
I’ll do just fine
Half blind

Sunday, February 13, 2011


You ask me for a bout
I graciously oblige
So blithe and unconcerned
Dancing at the edge of your exertions
Gliding out of reach or
Interrupting your attack
Tossing off a little fencing humor—counter attack with squirm
Feint and run away
Embarrassingly simple lunge and touch
Salute, and bout

We find each other on the strip
An even match
We dally, butterfly and vamp
Exerting all our wiles
I draw on everything I know of you to
Put one over
Game your quirks and foibles
Sometimes we end 5-4, sometimes 4-5
If I prevail, I know without a doubt that
You’ll adapt—next time I’ll need to
Up my game

Humbly, I ask to referee
And cycle in
Even watching it’s a struggle
To parse your strategy, call your blinding moves
When I plug in I become a stumblebum, a clod
A rank initiate
But you—so blithe and unconcerned
Dancing just beyond my lunge
Gliding out of reach
Interrupting my attack
A little fencing humor—now the joke’s on me
I barely score a touch

And so I backtrack to my first opponent
Reassure myself that
I can move
Can make the colored light go off
(More to my credit, to rehearse the moves that
I suspect might work some day, scaled up in
Speed and execution)

We cycle through the salle
A fencing reel of couples swapping partners
And frustrations
Egos waxed, and waning
Eclipsing and eclipsed
Tutoring and schooled
(And smarting from the lesson)

Pardon, may I add you to my dance card for the night?

Monday, January 31, 2011


“What, again?”
(You roll your eyes)
“I tell you this repeatedly
I am not speaking English?
You do not understand?”

Oh yes, Я понимаю
But spin the tale once more

Tell me for the umpteenth time how
Clever disengage wins out o’er savage parry
And fearless straight attack triumphs
Against the evil squirm

Fill my head with glorious tales of
Canny strategy, ingenious machinations
Perfect form

These stories I will carry
Through my sleep, the nucleus of
Epic dreams,
In which (of course)
I play the hero’s role

Так, да, I understand,
рассказывают мне
историю снова!

Monday, January 24, 2011


I want to be a car

High performance
Complex piece of engineering
Chock-o-block with safety features
Tested to the nth degree

Subject, sure, to bumps and dings
Marked after not so many years
By dimpled fenders, scratches on the side
(Not so different from what I suffer now)

But, short of a total wreck
So easy to repair! A crumpled bumper—pfft, it’s no big deal
Let’s hear it for industry standard
Duplicative swap-out parts

A falter in the engine?
Pop the faulty spark plug out,
The new one in, and
Zoom! Back on the road

Broken strut? Power off the bolts
Give it a firm whack, detach
Snug a new, strong bar in place
Instant stability

No prolonged convalescence
No inching back up to speed
No reconditioning
Just damaged…and then whole

Skip the lavish packaging
The moon roof and the heated seats
Just nail the basics—a smoothly ticking engine
Four wheels on the road

After 200 thousand miles
I’ll be ready to be junked
But until then

I want to be a car…

Friday, January 21, 2011

Proper Practice

By not trying too hard to
Make the touch
You’ll make the touch

By being unconcerned with
How you look
You’ll garner admiration

So take it
Step by step
Don’t push too hard

Sure, you’ll lose at first
But with time, I promise
You’ll know why you lost

You’ll try a proper action
It will fail
So what? You’ll try again

Eventually you will
Gain ground
Point by patient point

By not attaching to
Results, you will
Go far

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing: Badger’s adaptation

Breathing in, I know I’m breathing in
Breathing out, I’m conscious that it’s

No small thing (given that it doesn’t always work). Prize the simple miracle of air, mindful of each hitch, catch, snag or ragged edge. Watch for the still point poised between the in and out
Breathing in a long breath, I know that I am breathing in a long breath
Breathing out, I

Purge the flotsam of a messy day
Breathing in a short breath, I know I breath a short breath
Breathing out I

Get to work
Breathing in, I’m aware of my body
Breathing out, I am aware of

Every injury I’ve ever had, an ever growing litany of use, somatic resumé
Breathing in, I calm my body
Breathing out, I

Breath through each bruise, ding, tear, stitch, scar and point of inflammation. Working like a barnacle to scrub all hurt and ill from out the endless sea
*now to the good stuff*

Breathing in I feel joy on the strip
Breathing out I feel

A welling eagerness for battle, curious to see, when pressed, what will spring out, a little bit of trepidation
Breathing in, I feel equanimity
Breathing out, I really try, but

This one’s hard—to be ok with any outcome, touch or touched, flow or choke, prince or foolish mammal
Breathing in, I am aware of my attachments and aversions
Breathing out, I recognize

Addiction to the colored lights, to victory, to bling, to all the self-aggrandizing myths I wrap around myself, embellishments of life; Antipathy to loss of face, dissention to my version of the truth, irritating people who won’t play the parts that I've assigned
Breathing in, I release attachments and aversions
Breathing out,

I tug at their barbed hooks, try to see them vanishing like mist
Breathing in, I’m aware of my mind
Breathing out, I am aware that my mind

Lurks, watching, endlessly engaged, meddler in the center of all acts, so clever and so maladroit
Breathing in, I make my mind happy
Breathing out, I try to strike a deal

You have a valued role! To notice and to name, suggest solutions and then (very important) step back and let the body be
Breathing in, I concentrate my mind
Breathing out, I try to concentrate, but

…Cereal or toast? Red boots or black? The cookies that I baked last night could use a little…ack! Begin again, again, again

Breathing in, I liberate my mind
Breathing out, I caste a net

Seining for the ping of distant cars, cats’ purr, ticking of the heat, the warm vanilla scent of wax, the itching of my foot.
Breathing in, I contemplate the transience of things
Breathing out I recognize

This sac of flesh and bone—all it is, and does, is just on loan and subject to recall. Each step I made today will be retraced, all progress lost with time. Everything I love—people, places, simple pleasures—will fade or break or morph into an unfamiliar form
Breathing in, I practice non-attachment
Breathing out, I figure that I

Might as well let go before it’s torn away
Breathing in, I practice letting go
Breathing out

Accept that, in the end, I can’t control my life, I open up my hands and wait for what drops in
Breathing in, I practice cessation
Breathing out,

I sit, a still point on the turning world, wheeling through the stars, fulcrum to a universe blissfully unaware of my attempts at meditation