Marathon Monday Poems 2012 – 2017

Company Culture, Events Posted Apr 13, 2017 by chenpr

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 lswitzeright-hearted 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

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?