poetry in motion.

before i went on my fifteen-mile run last saturday, the baby panda dropped me off at ye olde simmons college library for a few hours. this semester, i am taking a course in children’s literature and media. for those of you who aren’t aware, this is my dream come true, and the reason why i signed up for library skool in the first place. but i had to spend the last several semesters soldiering through those danged COURSE REQUIREMENTS before i could learn about the magical, mystical, and sometimes disturbing world of children’s books. (wow. even after just a few weeks, i am realizing that some kids books are seriously unsettling. has anyone else read arlene sardine? soooo weird!)

anyways, there i was, happily devouring a big stack of picture books, and trying not to think about the fact that i was supposed to run 15 miles in just a few short hours and that my breakfast was sitting like a boulder in my tum. and then i came upon a non-descript, 1950’s-looking book of poetry by gwendolyn brooks called bronzeville boys and girls. HELLOOOO SNOOOOOZEFEST, i thought. i am not a big fan of poetry, for the most part. in order to understand it, i usually have to stretch my not-so-elastic mind beyond its capabilities, and then confusedly chew on stanzas for hours and hours. i know that some people adore it, and that’s great– i’ve just never had one of those really life-changing experiences with the genre.

until (as i am sure many of you have predicted by now) i started reading this book. it was a delight! immediately, i was sucked into an amazing world voiced by children who would say things like:

when grown ups at parties are laughing
i do not like the sound
it doesn’t have any frosting
it doesn’t come up from the ground

ahhh, i think that my head exploded with joy as i read those words. it just was so visual and expressive in a lovely, whimsical, and delicate way.

so. what does this have to do with running? well, as usual, i am going to make a bizarre and stretched comparison here in my blog. this one will be dedicated to poetry. why? well, not only did gwendolyn brooks serve as great food for thought on my arduous 15-mile trek, but, as the title of this post suggests, i think that long-distance running demands a certain poetic grace and efficiency of movement. whoa. that made me sound sort of intelligent or pompous, i am not sure which. but don’t worry– just as much as i was inspired by this idea, i was equally inspired by this amazing website: http://baconhaikus.wordpress.com. please, if you haven’t already visited this, GO THERE NOW! the haikus are just fabulous.

so, in honor of gwendolyn and bacon, i present my fifteen-mile run, in poetic haiku form.

haiku one:

standing on the bridge
biting wind devours my face
rendez vous my @$$

on weeks that i don’t run with my huge running team, i still try to run with a small group of folks from my smaller boston partners in education team. last week, i offered a meeting spot (my place of work, and place of skooling, aka the slim, aka simmons) and planned a running route, and we all agreed to meet there at 12:15 on saturday afternoon. as i have mentioned, i had been in the simmons library for a few hours that morning, so i was easily able to meet my buddies at the assigned time in my freakazoid running suit. (which had one new addition! a garmin gps watch! wheeeee!) nandi, jess, and kelly were already there, anxious to begin. but our other running buddy todd was nowhere to be found. luckily, he phoned nandi to tell her that he was running late, and so we decided to meet him at the mass ave bridge, which was about one mile into our wacky running route, and one mile from his home. easy as microwaving bacon, we thought!

we were wrong. we arrived at the bridge at 12:45 and waited for todd for 15 minutes, but never saw him. waiting, waiting, waiting in the cold and biting wind, we became angry and disillusioned. we started yelling about poor absent todd, chastising him for his lateness and utter lack of regard for our freezing faces. finally, we decided to continue on our journey without him. strangely, we later found out that todd HAD in fact been waiting for us at the mass ave bridge at the same exact time! we just somehow all missed each other. how you can miss people in brightly colored freakazoid running suits, i am not sure. therefore, we have since decided that the only plausible explanation is that either he or we fell into a wormhole. (i have recently been reading a wrinkle in time and some other fascinating children’s books on time travel, plus i watch LOST. therefore, i am a bit of an authority on this topic, so please don’t be a doubter.)

but at the time, we weren’t aware of the mass ave bridge’s bizarre scientific and wormhole-like properties. therefore, by the time we got running again, we were not only frozen popsicle faces, but we were also pretty surly.

haiku two:

violence is not
the answer except when men
yell about my fat

we continued on our run, desperately trying to warm our icicle limbs and faces. as we glided along at a gazelle-like pace over the dreadfully long and windy mass ave bridge (the bridge of my nightmares), we came upon a man. he might have been crazy, because even from a distance, we could see that he was yelling something and strangely shuffling along the sidewalk. as we got closer, we were able to parse out the garbled words:


oh. no. OH NO HE DIDN’T. HE DID NOT JUST COMMENT ON OUR FAT. i’m sorry– i don’t care HOW CRAZYFACE you may be or how obese i may be, you DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, comment on my fat, or tell me to run it off. omg, i am getting heated just typing this story again. but at that point, after waiting for poor wormhole todd for so long, and with so many miles ahead of us, it was all i could do not to throw that man off the side of the bridge into the murky and icy charles river. i am sure that my running companions would have helped me lauch him right into that dirty dirty water.

haiku three:

puppies everywhere!
reservoir covered in dogs
hunting for chicken

i had planned our run to go all the way up the charles river, and then to scoot up to the fresh ponds reservoir. as we approached the entrance, the super-practical nandi asked, “is anyone here afraid of dogs?” although none of us were afraid exactly, we all agreed that we were wary of canines that were not on leashes. that whole jumping-all-over-your-body situation = totally nervous-making. but we soldiered on, into the land of puppies. they were everywhere! running on the path, swinging from the trees, and swimming in the reservoir. it was a reservoir made of DOGS! mostly golden retrievers, actually. but also one that looked like belle from the incredibly boring belle and sebastian cartoon of my youth. and also some poodles and labradoodles.

about halfway around the reservoir, we reached the midpoint of our run. my blood sugar was crashing, so i asked if we could stop for a little fuel break. as i was trying not to vomit while eating the chocolate-flavored gu that i had brought with me, a dog came bounding through the woods. from a distance, we heard her owner uselessly calling, “CLEO! CLEO BABY! COME HOME TO MOMMY!”

of course, cleo wanted no part of this. she was bounding through the reservoir, an unleashed blur of joy and madness! as we were preparing to push off again, cleo’s mom came rushing up to us, still very concerned about cleo’s whereabouts. she had another dog with her– let’s call him allan. allan wasted no time getting all up in our business, jumping on nandi immediately, and then trying to steal my fannypack of sustinence. however, the dog lady took no notice, still futiley calling out, “CLEO BABY! CLEOOOOOO!”

then just as we were running away, we heard her scream out, “I HAVE CHICKEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

one second later, we saw cleo barreling toward us, crazy in pursuit of the promised chicken. god love a carnivorous dog.

haiku four:

almost done but for
cruel stairs and satellites
making pain linger

this was an exciting run for me– it was officially my LONGEST RUN EVER. so when my fabulous garmin watch informed me that we reached 13.1 miles (my previous longest run ever), i did a tiny leap for joy and let out a wheezing hoot. my route had us running underneath the b.u. bridge on this charming tiny wooden dock that i just love. then we would backtrack a bit to reach a bridge that would take us over storrow drive and through the boston university campus and then back toward the landmark center and simmons… huzzah!

unfortunately, when i was planning my route, i didn’t really take into account how incredibly painful it would be to scale the bridge’s stairs after running 14 miles. i am pretty sure that as we struggled up the steps and then wobbled down the steps, my teammates were considering throwing me off the bridge, just like that stupid man in haiku two. luckily, they did not hoist me off, although i wonder if they reconsidered their decision when we reached what was supposed to be the end of our 15-mile run, only to find out that it was only 14.6 miles, according to my garmin watch. whoopsadaisy! honestly, it’s not that weird to “lose” mileage on a run– after all, the route planning that i do is not super scientific, and 14.6 is uber close to 15. it would have been totally reasonable for us to stop there.

but we couldn’t. we had been running for hours at this point, and lacked the ability to reason. plus, we had planned to run 15 miles, and we were going to accept nothing less than that. (i hope that it is this same stubbornness that is going to propel us through 26.2 miles in just about two months from now.) so we kept running. finally, my garmin watch informed me that we had completed our run. and to paraphrase my poetry idol gwendolyn brooks, when we finally finished that journey, there was indeed a lot of laughter. covered in frosting, and coming up from the ground.

book recommendation:

the realm of possibility, by david levithan

a rare find– true and poignant. as i mentioned, i am usually not a fan of poetry, but this is astounding.


16 thoughts on “poetry in motion.

  1. theredmenaceeats

    Nandi, this might be the best post yet. You’ve so accurately captured our weird adventures! Although to be fair, Crazy Yelling Man, after telling us to run run run, told us to LOSE IT. LOSE THAT FAT. And then I almost did lose it, in his crazy yelling face. Thank god for conversations about drinking orange Gatorade and pizza in a closet, because I think it’s all that saved me from committing a hideous crime on the Mass Ave bridge.

    Also, I quite like the imagery of a reservoir of puppies. Had I been slightly more practical and not distracted by my wooden leg, I might have sounded that warning a bit sooner.

    1. rootlaura Post author

      you are correct, my encyclopaedic friend! next time we see crazy yeller, let’s lose him. into the drink! walking the plank! yarrrrrrr!

      1. Lornani Deux

        Yule all would’ve been totes justified in offing Mr. Crazyface. Once, in my days living la vie parisienne, I was snacking on a jambon-fromage crepe on the walk home. A lovely, dapper man of about 60 passed me on the street, and helpfully offered that “those things’ll make you fat.” For one brief moment, I understood with full force and effect the hatred some feel for the French. (Luckily, I then had another much larger bite of said crepe, and all hard feelings v. the French were forgotten)

      2. rootlaura Post author

        that is incroyable! that man goes on the list for sure. we’ll get him someday. and we’ll eat all the jambon et fromage we want until that day!

  2. Gary

    This was my first time reading your blog and I must say you are an excellent story teller. The haikus were brilliant. I must now spend the rest of my day reading your other blogs.

    1. rootlaura Post author

      thanks, gary! i do trend toward the hyperbolic, but i am pretty sure that’s what makes for a good story! thank you for reading!

  3. Tyrone

    I will try to let it slide that you stole my dog name. Excellent post. And you’re not fat. Me on the other hand, I really need to lose 3lbs.

    1. rootlaura Post author

      i used allan in HOMAGE to you, my pet. oh my god, no you don’t! where did you get that bracelet? i love it!

      that’s the ugliest effing bracelet i’ve ever seen.

      1. Abby

        Want to know the funniest thing? (and I realize this isn’t really the forum for this story) But I weighed myself the other day and I was honestly 3lbs. more than I want to be. Thought of you immediately, and then started my all-carb diet.

  4. mommy

    ok. so I liked the story with the seagulls carry billy thomas away over the bay. but the reservoir of dogs was brilliant! where o where is that fabulous filmaker now?

  5. Kelly

    Fabulous, fabulous post!! I am now off to check out your haiku link, but thank you for making my day with your wonderful writing, my friend!

    1. rootlaura Post author

      so glad you enjoyed it, kelly– i am glad that the time that a bizarro non-essential snow day afforded was able to brighten your day!

  6. EBrasser

    I am SO pleased to see your recommendations of books. I just finished The Book Thief (at YOUR recommendation) and defy ANYONE to read it and NOT cry. What a beautiful, tragic story – I hated to see it end. Glad to see you are returning to a love for poetry. I strongly suggest you seek out poetry by Cynthia Rylant, Gary Soto, Naomi Shihab Nye – and absolutely seek out works collected by Paul Janeczko. He really has a knack for putting together wonderfully approachable poems. Here’s a nice starting point for Valentine’s Day – the poem “Oranges” by Gary Soto. I know you will like it. Read it with someone you love – share a clementine or, perhaps, one of those wonderful chocolate oranges that can be broken apart….Keep up the running and the writing. I look forward to reading your blog posts.
    Mrs. B.

  7. siltb

    HOLY HANNAH!!! What a crazy adventure!!! I think you should write a book. And I know how much you just love dogs… and the man on the bridge, I may have thrown something at him, besides the stink eye. And any recommendations to read to my crazy 4th graders???? So proud of you siltb!!!

  8. helen

    THE REALM OF POSSIBILITY!!!!! what an amazing livre!!!! god love this wonderful blog and my even more wonderful sister!!!!


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