Monday, September 5, 2022

Provisional

The shoulder tweaks, 
Triggering the drill: 
Roll & stretch & soak & rest 
Pamper ‘til its wheedled to perform 

Only to find the instability has leapt 
Like checkers, over back and hip to 
Settle in the knee 

Fencing at this age is like a game of dominos 
Or like applying plastic film--one sly burp of air 
Always remains 
No matter the massage 
Squidging to another spot 
Never truly 
Gone 

 Knowing this migration 
 Always in the back of mind a 
 Modicum of doubt 

That tweak…a momentary pinge or 
Foreshadow of a systematic fail? 
One bad night or 
The first step In yet another years-long slog of rehabilitation? 

For all my decades this is what I’ve learned 
We’re never really well 
Or cured 
Or permanently fixed 

The best we can attain is “functional for now” 
Probationary health 

And so my current goal: 
To redefine heroic 
And cultivate a reservoir of 
Kindness to myself 

There's ample room for fellowship 
Perhaps you'd like to join the quest?




Saturday, July 10, 2021

Recover Forward

Our bags are chronographic capsules 
Disgorging fragmentary evidence of 
Times Before 

Uniforms that zip with 
Some protest 

Blades touched with rust 

An ouroboric tanglement of cords 

We ourselves are travelers 
Cast into future times 
Familiar venues fraught with 
Unfamiliar norms 

Cautiously we re-emerge 
Greeting fellow chrononauts 

Assessing what is welcome 
A little bow, an elbow bump 
Gripping hands or 
Going for the full-on hug 

Despite uncertainty 
This new epoch 
Offers reassurance: 

 Strangers smizing over masks 
 Abundant courtesy 
A plenitude of kindness 

One big change: the terms of this engagement 
The metrics of success 
Victory is being here, today 
With all of you 

 Salute



Friday, January 1, 2021

Absence of Blade

I miss… 

Calluses 
The gnarly evidence of repetition 

Contusions 
A chromographic record of encounters 

Chaos 
The slop and tangle of uniform and gear 
The fertile mess of armory 

But most of all 

Camaraderie 
The shout and bustle of the salle 
Loving rivalry and sweaty hugs 

One would think the trade-off’s not so bad: 
My joints heal, I bank sleep, mend and wire 
Heck, I haven’t lost a bout since spring 

Nonetheless, I find I’d rather have 
Rough edges, bumps and bruises 
Minor injuries, fatigue 
Some scraps and wrangles 

That being so, 
When opportunity presents 
I know I will reach out and 
Take the blade again



Monday, March 30, 2020

Halt

Stop the action
Freeze frame
Put everything on pause

Unmask
Let the blade fall
Turn and catch your breath while

Someone who’s supposed to be in 
Charge attempts to
Parse the action
Map what the hell just
Happened here and
Make the call

Don’t look at me, I’m
As mystified as you...
As all who spectate in this 
Strange exchange

However, I suspect that
It may be some time before 
We’re placed back en garde



Monday, March 9, 2020

Laundry

With a bit of care and
Prompt attention maybe
I won’t stink

Working at the stains of
Messy practice
Blood and sweat
--A smear of chocolate--
Perhaps I can
Clean up my act

If nothing else a
Bracing rinse of vinegar
A good brisk wash
Will yield a clean white slate

Tempting me to
Try again



Monday, February 17, 2020

A Baker's Valentine


Heart
            Heart
                        Heart
                                    Heart
Sharing almond softness
A jammy amplitude of love

Even those that do not
Quite work out 
Shattered fragments of affection
Still
            Taste
                        Sweet

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Faith, Part 2

At the break
Beset, behind and 
Not sure what to do

You hand me water and your 
Best advice

Gnomic utterances 
Seemingly divorced from
What just happened on the piste

“Keep distance about one foot farther out”
“Weight on your back hip”
“Get in close and bounce”

Never clear directions for the touch
Nothing so distinct as “parry circle six riposte” or
“attack to her flank”

I see absolutely no path forward
Doing what you say
It’s about as promising as “run into that wall!” or
“Pet the cat!”
Or simply
“42!”

But being out of options I 
Shrug off doubt
Abandon rationality and
Try exactly what you say

And score the touch

To your delight
Offset by rue that
I look so surprised


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Resolved

To sometimes

Let myself sleep late 
Linger under covers 
Pinned by cat

Skip the gym
And soak my aching
Bones instead

Break from bouts
Lay down the blade
And chat 

Eat a second slice of cake
Drink hot chocolate even if it
Doesn’t snow

Leave an item on the daily list 
Unchecked 
Maybe even two

Exercise a bit of 
self-compassion trusting that
the world won’t end 


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Faith

It’s humbling to realize that
More than half the time I
Don’t know what I did

That is to say, I know I
Held the blade and
Not my breath
Kept the tension in my legs and
Not my arm

But in between “allez” and “halt” occurs
A sequence of events I
Can’t unpack

Evidently
I did good
The light came on the
Hand flashed up 
Awarding me the touch

I’m just saying (full disclosure)
What happened in between is 
Something of a mystery

I can live with that

In my dreams when
I take flight 
The most important thing is not to 
Wonder how
Lest doubt rescind my wings



Friday, July 19, 2019

Broken Time

After warming up
Awaiting referees

Pool sheet being signed
A lull before the storm

Quarter finals done
The long, fraught wait before 
Ascending to the elevated strip

And briefer still:
Staring at the weight and willing it to rise
Pausing while my opponent adjusts her hair
Idling ‘round the podium, awaiting bling
(and craving lunch)

Fragmented time adrift from work or home or news
A temporal dimension safe from everyday demands 

Interstitial moments that define the competition
Just as much as fighting for the touch