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


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Trade-off

Sleet patters on the dormant yard
On the sill cats pose with slitted eyes
Contemplating domesticity
Comparing sheets and laps
and radiator's warmth
to wildness and freedom
to hunt and stalk and pounce

And turn away
Smug in the rightness of their choice


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Nevertheless

Ladies, listen up

This is not a poem
It’s a manifesto
One I hope you print and nail up on the
Entrance of your salle
Read it every time you enter
and
Review again on your way out

I see you
Rage against the normal vagaries of
Imperfection
Blame yourself for falling short of your own
Impossible ideals

I see you
Incriminate yourself
As lacking talent
Never working hard enough
Being just pain dumb

I see you
Self-flagellate
Lest your results not prove to
Spouse, partner, children, colleagues
Coach
That all that time was worth
The late nights, cold dinners,
Miles spent upon the road
Dollars spent on lessons and on gear
Plane fares, hotel rooms and registration
Co-pays to the doctor, trainer, therapist et al

Bullshit

Here’s my thesis:
You are heroes
Every one of you
Heroes—did you hear?
Not “heroines”—diminutives need not apply

You persevere through
Broken blades, bum knees, bad weather,
Clubmates who get better faster than they should
Teenagers who, now one year older, can’t be touched
Coaches who indulge their temper and their tongues
Podiums that stubbornly remain
Just of reach

I also see you
Fix the broken blade and bind the knee
Brave blizzards lest you miss one lesson
Cheer your teammates when inside you want to cry

Even after the worst practice
The most abysmal competition
You throw the stinking uniform into the wash and
Rise to do it all again

So,
Next time the black dog tries to take you down
Next time you’re tempted to apologize
To anyone, for who you are and what you do
Next time you feel you have to justify the choices that you’ve made

Remember
In the face of all the crap thrown at you by the world

You persist

And all of us,
This league of super veterans
With sore joints, grey hair, and 
Badass attitudes
We’ve got your back