My Marathon Monday Poems

In 2012, with Marathon Monday forecasts predicting temperatures in the low 90s, I was inspired to write a poem in humorous sympathy for an old high school chum who was not looking forward to running in the heat.

With that first effort I decided the following year to do it again and a minor holiday tradition was born. Unfortunately, the lighthearted nature of the poems would be changed that year after the Tsarnaev brothers detonated their pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line. Humor didn’t seem appropriate for 2014 or 2015 and, while I’m not ruling out a return to jocular verse, my annual Boston Marathon poem became something of a serious thing.

I just posted my 2017 poem, intended in honor of the 50th anniversary of Kathrine Switzer’s historic run as the first woman to wear an official, numbered bib. Here are the rest of the poems, in order.

Marathon Monday, 2012. A Poem
(With sincere apologies to Mr. H.W. Longfellow)
 
 Listen my children and I shall tell
 Of a marathon forecast that’s as hot as Hell.
 On the 16th of April just three days hence
 Every one of those runners will think, “I must be dense
 To believe I’ll survive twenty-six point two
 Miles under a sun that’ll turn pavement to goo.”
 And yet there’ll be thousands from Podunk to Kenya
 Jogging and plodding and panting, and then ya
 Will hear the sirens screaming down Comm Ave
 Scooping up folks who obviously must have
 Forgotten to hydrate at each water station
 Now suffering fits of severe dehydration
 But hooked up to IVs they’ll give thanks to Buddha
 That none of them ended up soiled like Uta
 
 
 
 Two Weeks Before Boston (Boston Marathon 2013)
 
 
Two weeks before Boston and all ‘cross the nation
 Runners were thinking of a race they’d be racin’
 Their miles increasing, offering assurance 
 That legs would not fail for a lack of endurance
 Kenyans were training in rarefied air
 While the masses hit pavement less lofty than there 
 But each, from elite to those without numbering
 Whether sprinting down Boylston or painfully lumbering
 Dreamed dreams of being carried by a soft April breeze
 Or of riding the Green Line like Rosie Ruiz

A Sonnet for the Boston Marathon (2014)
 
 
When the time of Paul Revere’s Ride draws near
 And the light of patriots of old dawns
 We honor them with games and marathons
 Memories of days and of ideals held dear
 
 Yet now we strain to think beyond the year
 Past a moment scarred by hatred and bombs
 That took Martin, Krystle, Lingzi and Sean
 Left others wounded, a city in fear
 
 Even as innocents crumple and bleed
 That light still glimmers as ever before
 Piercing the dark of our “peril and need”
 
 A fire that burns bright with love and deed
 The word that shall echo for evermore
 And strength that must never fail to lead
 
 
 
 Boston Strong? (Boston Marathon 2015)
 
 
What you saw
 What you lost
 Was seen in
 The emptiness of eyes
 That had no image
 Heard in a voice
 That had no words
 Adequate to purge
 A heart that tried
 To contain the agony of a city
 Even Our Fucking City
 
That could not understand
 
 Tee shirts and slogans have their place
 But are not adequate to fill
 A void once occupied
 Flesh
 Bone
 Blood
 
 Boston Strong?
 Not strong enough
 For you
 Who stood at the line
 On a day when
 Our tradition became
 Your tragedy
 
 
 
 Look Ahead (Boston Marathon 2016)
 
 
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
 Setting aside the weight of that which
 Holds us back
 Looking ahead toward the finish
 Striving to move beyond morbid fixation
 
 What happened then cannot be undone
 Nor should it be forgotten
 But as each runner who bounds forward knows
 You cannot run your best
 Looking over your shoulder
 
 How long can we carry a heavy burden
 Before we decide to lay it down
 To leave it by the side of the road
 Along with the memories of faded crosses
 Wilted flowers
 Sodden trinkets of bitterness
 
 How long is long enough to look back
 At what happened?