Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Gaslight Anthem: Clothing or Baring the Soul

Sometimes, fu** the good old days. Looking backwards makes it tough to walk forward. And I am one to tell stories, the good stories of where we've been, as much as any other. But you can't live there. And trying to negates where you are, where you are going. Which might be nowhere.

The Gaslight Anthem is the band I can't stop listening to at present. They are not new, but they are becoming my soundtrack for the spring and summer. I play them on the back deck with a beer, cooking or doing dishes in the kitchen. Or as a shuffled playlist on a run. And this is a line that stuck in my head as my Saucony's pounded the pavement:

And God help the man who says, "if you'd have known me when..."
Old haunts are for forgotten ghosts

And that sets me off. I never want to get to the point in my life where all I have are stories, where the past was more than the present. Where I was more interesting, funnier, faster, and can't find something to be, something offer, something to become, something to be, now. I don't want life to be a series of photo albums, scrap books, articles, memories. Not just those things. Even into old age, if I get there, I want to be a grandfather, or just an old druid/dude, who people want to hear what I have to say; be at ball games and drinking coffee with the sunrise; still writing as relevantly as W.S. Merwin; still going for bike rides or hikes; still going to concerts; still trying to do something in the garden; still sipping a Dale's Pale Ale in the evening; embracing the differences that life gives you over time.

Obviously we don't control everything, how we age, what happens to us (we have some control there), and I am not sure I am aging, or will age gracefully, I fight that clock as best I can, just by having fun and trying to enjoy what is in front of me. I hope I can continue doing that.

Change, like shit, happens. And that isn't always a bad thing. I think we all know people, we all have friends we love, who are still the exact same person they were 20 years ago. And as much fun as I had 20 years ago, it seems like being in that same place would get old. So here is the next Gaslight thought that hit me during the same run:

But the clothes I wore just don't fit my soul anymore.
No the clothes I wore just don't fit my soul anymore.

Different song. But the thread continued in my head. The soul grows, changes, doesn't fit into the same ways or clothes it did. That's not to say your soul is getting fat. Though a fat soul sounds jolly in its own right. But I don't think that's what is going on there. I think in how I see the soul evolving, it becomes more clear and more stated as you get to know it. It starts to bare itself. Maybe the soul doesn't need the clothes you used to put on it to conceal it, to keep it covered.

Maybe the soul needs to be naked. Maybe life is a striptease for the soul, until we get to that point in the dance where we are comfortable enough to bare our souls. And once we do that, who wants to put soul clothes back on?

So here's to looking forward. To not saying, if you'd have known me when. Of being worth knowing now. Carpe the diem. And here is to bare, naked souls. Leave your soul clothes at the door.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Honeysuckle and Ether

Honeysuckle mainlines spring. For the nose, tongue, eyes, it shoots straight into spirit, into memory. Walking to work in Anacostia, DC, I walk under 295, next to a highway and I smell it blatantly. There shouldn't be honeysuckle here, but there it is, growing in a stand of trees between freeways. And it takes me two places.

Over the weekend, Anna went back to the corner of the yard, where honeysuckle grows on the fence. She picked some and sat on the deck with me, dissecting each piece to suck its sweetness. She's done this for years now, anywhere she finds it.

Growing up, honeysuckle grew at the shoreline in our back yard, but even more so in the marsh behind our neighbor's. And we harvested it for the same fleeting sweetness. You had to get bunches to make it worth your while. Kids housing honeysuckle is timeless.

Each day I go into the ether. The ether is what I've taken to calling the realm of the internet. There is no cell phone reception in our building, so the internet and email is all you have. Somewhat cut off. But really the ether encompasses all of our virtual worlds. The world where we experience reality on a screen--computer, laptop, tablet, cell phone. Where people are profile pictures or avatars. Where emails, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, allow us to hide, to filter, to present ourselves as we want others to see us.

There is no honeysuckle in the ether. The photo has no smell, no taste, can't get you there, and words and images can't put those things there. They can't create it.

I like the ether. I better, since by virtue of reading this, that's one way you know me. I get to expound what's on my mind and have you read it. I dig it. I work as a writer, in communications, in public relations, so I sure as hell better be down with the ether.

But I can't live in the ether. I can't smell coffee, or go for a run, or drink a beer. The ether won't let me dance in the kitchen, or steal a kiss, or ponder the moon from the front steps. The ether can't stand waist-deep in the river with my daughters paddleboarding, feeling both sun, water, muddy river bottom, and hearing their splashing laughter, watching them learn. The ether has no blue in its night or morning skies.

Those things live in the honeysuckle world. The sensory world of our experience.

I am cognizant of my ether addiction. Of how much time I spend in it. Of how I need it to do what I do. And how it can connect me with people I have lost, and how it can enable me to do my job and make a living. I am thankful for what it can do.

But I am more of the honeysuckle world. That's the world that connects me to my childhood. That connects me to my daughters. That connects me to my senses. That connects me to Nature.

On my morning walk into the ether, I smell honeysuckle in the city. Where it shouldn't be. And I breathe in. And I remember.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Scenes from a Run

Running is my repetition. It is my practice. It is what I do to reset my mind, body and soul. When I walk out the front door, running shoes, shorts, t-shirt, skull cap to keep my cheap ear buds in my ears, tunes on the phone in my hand, I both know what to expect and have no idea what I will find. My daylight runs generally start on the rail trail near our house.

It's a foot bridge now, but at some point, trains crossed over this stretch of stream. They were faster than I am and I can remember them. I am running, so I keep running, but I fight the urge to stand in the middle of the bridge and watch and listen to the wind.

When I turn off Rails to Trails, I am a ghost. My shadow is the only proof that I was here. But if you look for it, you won't find it. Shadows are slick like that.

Speaking of ghosts, it's Memorial Day. That's why I have time on a Monday for a daylight run. It's a day to remember, to hold in our memory those that have died for our country. Those that have died so that I can go for a run; so that I can drink coffee in the morning; take the girls paddleboarding in the afternoon; hit the grocery store; grill steaks out back; feed my family; and then sit on the front steps sipping Jameson's while watching our younger daughter ride her bike around "the loop" in our neighborhood. I owe it to those who have died, to make my life, and theirs, count for something.

Jack White's "Freedom in the 21st Century" is playing as I run by the church. Stone churches and wooden barns are sacred architecture to me, just as forms, even stripped away from what goes on inside them. They elevate my thoughts.

Back on Rails to Trails, I run hard, to feel my heart, to feel sweat pour down me, to make the run count. This run was the same and different from every other. Running is my repetition. Repeat.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

And Druids Come Back in Fashion

Birds rarely shut up in the spring. It doesn't matter what time you wake up, their soundtrack is on a loop. Whether or not you are a fan of birdsong might determine what you think of spring.

If birds became quiet, like people can, we would want their noise back. Silence is a place people can find and have trouble coming back from. Frank Bidart says:

When what we understand about
what we are

changes, whole
parts of us fall mute.

And that leaves me quiet. When what we understand about what we are changes, whole parts of us fall mute. And I have had those days. When I am walking through the grocery store looking at other people going by, and wondering, does anyone else feel this way, and then thinking, everyone in here has had some shit to deal with, to work through, and when we pass by each other in the aisles, we don't know the other person's story. He or she might have just found out they have cancer. And not told anyone yet, is picking up dinner and some wine to go have that conversation.

And there are times when if someone asked what's up, I wouldn't have words for it. Things have shifted, but not yet to a place where language has caught up to it.

Jorie Graham contemplates a maybe related change:

We call it blossoming--
the spirit breaks from you and you remain.

Spring is the season for blossoming. I am reminded of it and awed when I am cutting the grass or walking the back yard with a beer. The roses in the back garden weren't there last week and this week, full bloom. Wisteria was bright in our bus stop faces, but now it is green and quiet. Maybe after blossoming, wisteria understands itself differently and falls silent. Until it remembers again, next spring.

Spring is loud. It moves. Change on the outside does not happen quietly. Spring and the soul can also be about renewal, rebirth. Blossoming. And that kind of change, in the spirit, brings on silence. We don't have words. But we are waiting for them to catch up. I like another thought from Graham about that:

.............Just as
from time to time
we need to seize again
the whole language
in search of
better desires.

Maybe the words we had don't work anymore. Maybe as we change, their meanings change, no longer suffice. Maybe we need to step back and grab up the whole language again, not just the words we've come to rely on. Maybe awesome becomes magnificent and roses become tulips and druids come back in fashion.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Looking East

When in doubt, I look east. That seems to be a theme with me. We've established my deep-rooted connection to Maryland's Eastern Shore, its brackish water and shallow rivers; its small towns and open fields; its marshes and panoramic Bay sunsets. Its history and my family's intertwined. There are times when it feeds my soul.

But that's not the only east.

There have been times when my soul struggled. In college, it was Buddhism and writers/thinkers like Thich Nhat Hahn and Fritjof Capra that dialed me in to interconnectedness and gave me a new way to think about spirituality. When I was between jobs years ago, it was Chogyam Trungpa's "Shambhala," that gave me a code, the code of a sacred/spiritual warrior, to think about and try to model my life around. It has been yoga, second to only running, that has grounded me and elevated my awareness of my body, pointed out how connecting mind and body creates a holistic peace that I can't go without.

Aesthetically and creatively, it is east-meets-west writers, Gary Snyder, Robert Hass, Alan Watts and Tom Robbins that have meant the most to me.

And recently, I have turned east again. This time to Cold Mountain. I had read some of the songs of Cold Mountain through Gary Snyder's translations. I used some birthday Amazon money from my sister and her family to snag Red Pine's take on Cold Mountain's songs. Cold Mountain was a person, not a place. His name in Chinese, "Han-shan," translates to Cold Mountain, a name he took from the cave he chose for his home. He lived mostly as a hermit. And he wrote. And what he wrote connected soul to land to Nature to Universe. Like this:

Today I sat before the cliff,
sat a long time till mists had cleared.
A single thread, the clear stream runs cold;
A thousand yards the green peaks lift their heads.

I may have said this before, but I wish the Eastern Shore had mountains. I'd like to import some if we could. There is a sense of awe and beauty that a smooth landscape just doesn't touch in some ways (though it does in others). But while I don't have mountains, I can follow his example on a more simple scale.

When I am having coffee or Dale's on the back deck, watching a male cardinal circle repeatedly, I can pay attention. Or a robin protecting her nest in our rose bush, which is beginning to bloom. Or when I sit on the front steps, and feel a breeze come up from nowhere, and see the moon rising in the dusk, just as the streetlight comes on and tries to copy the moon's glow. Or being divebombed by spring birds while out on a run, who seem to be having fun with me, showing me Nature's smile.

I don't think I would make a good hermit. Or much of a poet. I don't have mountains or solitude. But I understand, sometimes, what Cold Mountain is doing, what he is showing me. And, as has often been the case in my life, I will keep looking east.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wrestling Rilke

Rilke stands in the doorway. You have to reckon with him. If you write and think and feel, there is no getting around him. He has said too much. Even to folks like me who have and will only read him translated. I put Rilke and Rimbaud in the category of favorite poets whose asses I would sometimes like to kick. Because as brilliant and breath taking and mind and soul expanding as they are, sometimes I don't want them to be right.

Let me explain. Here's Rilke from the first of his "Duino Elegies:"

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angelic orders?
and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming experience.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.

Fu**. Now what? I have sat reading Rilke in the Oxford Park. On Deer Isle in Maine. In the library at Washington College, though I never studied him in a class. Sitting on the back deck of the last three houses we've lived in.

"Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror..." that, "serenely disdains to annihilate us." Picture Jack Nicholson in military uniform leaning forward in your face saying, "You can't handle beauty!"

Those things we spend our lives looking for, hoping to find. Beauty. Happiness. Peace. Then wrestle with the idea that beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror. And let's talk about love for a minute as something of beauty. The early days of being in love, as fantastic as they are, for most people who harbor healthy insecurities, there is also some real fear lying just behind the beauty of it. Fear that it won't end well; fear that you'll be swept away and maybe it won't be reciprocated; fear of losing yourself; fear of getting hurt. In matters of the heart, that fear is there.

That's not a perfect analogy, but it points the finger, for me, at what Rilke is saying. But there is more to Rilke than that. A shit-ton more. This is what I've got time for this morning. So wrestle with beauty and terror is the same experience. Wrestle with Rilke. And maybe we'll come back to him and show why sometimes you don't have to feel like he needs an existential ass-whooping.

Monday, May 12, 2014


The child I am most in awe of is not mine. We've got two beautiful girls, ages 12 and nine. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for them, that I don't learn from them, that I don't love them. But the child I am most in awe of belongs to my sister and her husband.

Our nephew Samuel is six years old today. When my sister was pregnant I had never heard of hypoplastic left heart syndrome. I don't think she had either. When he was born, he was rushed via underground tunnel over to Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. He was hooked up to machines and had his first heart surgery when he was two days old. He had two more by the time he was two. Now, other than the zipper scar down his chest, there is no way you'd ever know. Not watching him run or skip shells at the beach, not watching him play soccer or tee ball. Not watching him clobber his older brother if need be.

Our daughter Ava had a neurology appointment this past week (all is good). We were answering questions about family neurological history (I have nothing documented, you can't prove a thing) and Ava said, "Dad, Samuel." I explained that our nephew Samuel had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, though it isn't a neurological condition. The doctor looked up and said, "How is he?" I said, fantastic, you'd never know. She smiled. She's been working in pediatrics for 30 years and knows what that condition used to mean. It wasn't good. And she's seen what it means now, which is why Samuel is here.

I have often thought I was born into the wrong era, the wrong time frame. That I would be better suited for a simpler time. But that's just a matter of preference and perspective. Samuel was born as the exact right time. So I guess I was too, because I get to know him.

I try not to exaggerate or speak in hyperbole. But Samuel's smile lights up a zip code. It makes everyone around him smile. I've watched it happen. He has also established himself as king of the zerbert. He'll track you down. He'll get you on the stomach or the side of the face or the leg. He is relentless. At this point, I have the advantage that I can pick him up. So we have some noteworthy zerbert battles. He's got six years of experience under his belt. We'll keep the zerbert war going for another six. And then six after that. And six after that. And you get the idea. I'm going to have to develop a new strategy when he is too big to pick up anymore. I'm starting to work on that now. Happy birthday, Samuel :) Keep on smiling.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I'm a Timex

I'm a Timex. Nothing fancy or newfangled. Nothing too impressive, but to those that run, those that don't throw money at watches, those that know, just right. If I won the lottery, I'd still wear a Timex and drive a simple pick up truck.

I started wearing Timex watches after I trained for and ran my first marathon with a normal watch. I've been in love with a Swiss Army Watch, have had some decent enough timepieces, still actually prefer a standard clock face to digital, but can't justify anything else. I beat watches to pieces. I don't take my watch off to shower, swim, run, dig in the garden, I don't like to have to think about it, to remember where I left it. So it stays on.

I'm not sure how many Timexes I have had. Always the Ironman, so I can have simple elapsed time for my runs, and multiple alarms set for getting up in the morning. And it doesn't seem to shy from brackish bay and river water.

My Timexes have run marathons, ultra marathons, trails, and hiked the White Mountains. They've played football and gone paddleboarding and hugged toilets after "spirited" nights. They have picked steamed blue crabs and cooked gumbo and jambalaya and cleaned fish and cannonballed off of speeding boats.

It's funny what you notice when you have one, or who else you notice wearing them. The Coast Guard admirals I have worked with/for, the runners, the ones in the best shape, all wear Timex Ironman watches. Not fancy watches and not Garmin. Just the simple go-to.

A Timex feels like an old pick up, with a dent or two, so that you don't mind or think about anything that happens to it, you are curious what it can take. And if it meets its match, even if it has been through it all with you, its spirit gets reincarnated into the next Timex.

My Timex is just a part of my arm, an extension of myself that I put on and don't think about until I need it. They are not for everyone. I am sure they would look out of place in a Range Rover, Jag, or Cadillac. But so would I.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


I've seen 3:14am on my Timex more times than I care to admit. It's become a bit of a sanctuary. It tastes like Pi. Sometimes I get up, other times 3:14 and I smile at each other and go back to sleep. See you in 12 hours. Sleep is sometimes a struggle.

There are a handful of writers who it seems a big deal to me when they have a new book out. W.S. Merwin is one of them. Our daughter Ava and I were book shopping after a good news doctor's appointment, and Merwin spoke to me from the shelf. He teased me with my current fascination for moons, still dark mornings, and blue. The Moon Before Morning. Well played Merwin.

He tells us, "the stars we consider have long been gone." And my mind goes there looking up at the stars sometimes, the science of which I know very little, but in whose awe I frequently stand.

Our back deck is overrun by carpenter bees this time of year. I have never been bothered by bees, but we still keep a tennis racket handy for sport and self preservation. Or at least a quiet outdoor happy hour.

What is it about 3:14? Why do I keep seeing you and why are you the one time that sticks in my head versus another? What are you saying? I need to touch upon your essence. Maybe.

Ghosts of words
circle the empty room
where I was young
stars in daylight

Ah, Merwin, now you're on to something. Words are stars on the page, once we read them we can't get at the things themselves, the emotions themselves, the people themselves, that they describe. "The [things] we consider have long been gone." The struggle to catch stars and words and meaning is eternal.

That is the struggle, fighting for survival and grace and stars and things in themselves. Fighting for survival and grace and stars and the moon. Maybe 3:14am knows something about the struggle.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring Prayer

Let me take the time to sit on the steps with my eyes closed and the sun warm on my face, the girls riding bikes or playing catch.

Wake me with bird song for my alarm clock and remind me that spring is about rebirth and it gives me that same chance.

Give me ink, words, permanency, all thrust into the heart, coming from the heart, sent as an extension of it into the world.

These words are scrapbooks of a sort, timelines, testaments. Behind them, where you cannot see, they hold secrets even from me.

Echoes of an old prayer. The kind of prayer you write on a paper bag or a napkin, because you have to, because you can't risk letting it get away.

Prayer. Putting gratitude into the Universe. Throwing hopes and dreams into the air with all the might in your soul's shoulder. Asking comfort for fears or protection for loved ones. It's not in the answering, it's in the asking where the worth is.

Prayer. A deep breath and exhale at a sunset on the river. Reflecting with the sun.

Prayer. Seeing the smile of your child spelled out in the stars at night. And knowing the Universe, however vast, is there in the smile.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cheshire Cat Moons and Something

Ava and I are lying on the trampoline, watching the clouds run fast by an early daylight moon.

"Look Dad, it's a Cheshire Cat moon!" That's what we call the crescent moons that look like the Cheshire Cat's smile floating in the sky.

Ava is convinced that the moon is moving toward the clouds. People thought for centuries that the sun revolved around the earth, so who am I to tell her she is wrong? We look closer and I show her the clouds moving. And fast.

"What did you say about air, Dad? That it grows up to become wind?"

"You mean what did I write? I wrote that wind is air that has learned to speak. But how did you know that?"

"Grammy told me at the bus stop. Wind is air that learned to speak, that's right."

Her nine-year-old mind contains the wind and the sky and the moon.

Twenty-five or so years ago, someone changed the word "stuff" for me forever. What are you thinking about? "Oh, stuff." And later, stuff was explained in a handwritten and doodled letter in the mail. And that word has made me smile ever since.

My mind has been on the changing nature of words, language, how different words can mean different things to people. Like stuff. Like geraniums, which for us mean my grandmother Shoey, who spent as much time as she could in her gardens and greenhouse in Towson, and then Easton. Who planted geraniums. So we hear "geranium" and Shoey is there.

"Something" is a word with that kind of loadedness. "Remind me to tell you something later." "What are you thinking about?" "Something." "He/She's really something." "I've got something on my mind."

Blue is loaded. Tattoos are loaded. Cutting the grass is loaded. Running, cutting the grass, and the shower are the three places I do my most creative thinking.

Loaded words. A personal lexicon or vocabulary. Words imbued with personal meaning. That would really be something.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


Weekends are silent. Listen. Nothing. But I'm still up at 4:30am. Restless. Weekends are silent, except for coffee beans grinding.

Except for lacrosse and Anna's eyes big, heart pounding as she clears up the sideline and passes to a friend.

Weekends are silent. No Microsoft Excel, the fu**ing scourge of all programs. I cringe when I open it. Be quiet, Excel, it's the weekend. No listening for traffic. No morning radio shows.

Weekends are silent. Except for the aluminum crunch of beer cans opening, and contemplating the blue of a Dale's Pale Ale can--does the blue change as the can empties?

Except for the bounce of the trampoline and girls screaming earlier than neighbors might care for.

The other day I wrote this in a notebook. Bouquets of blue. Or maybe I didn't, but it seems like I should have, blue being on my mind and all.

If the weekends are silent, then I have only what Merwin says, "I have only what I remember." There is no record.

From what I can recall, silence is golden. Maybe we need more of it. When I run without music, I can hear my feet hitting the pavement, feel my heart beating, like Anna's must. I speed up over the last mile, trying to leave nothing, spend it all. My breathing is becoming ragged, shorter, strides faster, arms restrained, low, shoulders working with legs, running hard until I cross the tree in our front yard that marks my finish line.

Weekends are silent. Until they fill themselves with sound.

Friday, May 2, 2014


What am I worth? I am damaged. I damage. I get it wrong. Even when I get it right, I'm not sure. I'm selfish. I have self-doubt, which isn't as big as my insecurities. I maybe can't trust and maybe that makes me untrustworthy.

I am not worth anything. Not a single thought.

These are the tough moments. The dark night of the soul moments. When love feels one-sided. When the hole I've dug feels like an abyss. When I can't find Black Sabbath or Metallica or Korn or something loud on the radio to refocus and live in sound.

And what I would not give to hear you speak. Anyone speak. Give me something. Something to play over in my head to replace what's there now.

Sometimes we don't know our worth. Sometimes our worth resides in others. It doesn't matter if we are worth our children, our families, because they are there. We are a part of them. If we don't feel worthy, we better act it, because they need us to be, to be there, to be worthy for them.

Anyone born feeling worthy, who never questions it is probably an asshole. An existential crisis is food for the soul, it makes it grow. Even the soul, in order to stand up, to know what it feels like to be high, has to get knocked down, to feel low. Sometimes it would be nice to pick our lows. And maybe order our highs off a menu.

Not being worthy never seemed to bother Wayne and Garth. They made it work. James Worthy, the Laker great, is certainly Worthy. My favorite baseball player is Jayson Werth, but he spells it differently so he has figured out how to avoid the problem.

Maybe that's what we need. To change the spelling. To rethink the problem. Change the meaning. We've established that I am stuck on blue these days. Remake it.

"How was your day?"

"It was blue."

And to know what that means. And that it means different things to different people. What shade? Hhhhm, good question.

Ultimately our worth is what we make it. Both how we feel about ourselves, about life, and what the people we love, the people who matter to us, what they feel about us. Sometimes they can buoy us, can remind us of our worth when we are low. We need those people.

Or maybe we just need to get "worthy" tattooed on our wrist, or somewhere we can see it, a scar, a takeaway, a reminder that we are.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


I wonder if we leave some part of us behind at the different places that make an impression on us. Places that become a part of who we are. Do we become a part of them as well? Is there some part of our soul or spirit that haunts (a good kind of haunts), inhabits, is incorporated into that place?

Let me explain. It has been well documented here that I take our girls to the Oxford Park. This is the park where, when it had cool monkey bars and higher swings, I grew up. When I go there now, I can clearly see us jumping towards the river from the swings at their highest possible point; I can feel the weightlessness and then feel the sharp pain from the landing on the balls of my feet. It's like younger me is still there. In a way I can feel. Maybe that's just my memory taking over, or maybe there is some part of me that has become a part of the park.

How about some science? We all know the notion that matter or energy isn't created or destroyed, it just changes form. So that there are traces of the Big Bang still floating around us. And some folks know Carl Jung's idea of the collective unconscious, which is saying something similar on a psychic level, that we are part of a larger consciousness that stretches back through time. Maybe we can tap into it.

So maybe it stands to reason that we do physically and in terms of energy, become a part of the places and things and people who help define us. It's not Halloween, but let's call it "haunting."

We all have our haunts. I've been into too many of mine in and around Oxford. I am sure there are stretches of the cross country course at St. James School where I must have left some of myself--learning to run distance, learning to breathe. The same with the C&O Canal Towpath, both for that time and for the JFK 50 Mile Race, where I thought my legs would threaten to collapse and by the finish my sweat tasted like sleep.

I am sure there is some of me, and will be more of me at Crucial Tattoos in Salisbury, as I continue to imprint images that matter onto my body. I can trace the fine black ink, where it will be on my left wrist, of the next to come.

I know there is some part of my spirit still catching its breath in John Brown's Cave in Harper's Ferry, my first experience caving. If Memorial Stadium still stood in Baltimore, and now trips with the girls to Nationals Park in DC. Speaking of DC, the Folger Theater, or our monument to monument 11-mile run from a few years ago.

I have many haunts. I take something from them and I leave something of myself.

At the moment, and maybe I always have been, I haunt and am haunted by the color blue. A little bit of the color around the moon on Laurel Street above. And maybe by Maggie Nelson's "Bluets," as she starts to give me words to describe it. Maybe blue makes me feel wildly, with too much force, but here it is:

...A voluntary delusion, you might say. That each blue object could be a kind of burning bush, a secret code meant for a single agent, an X on a map too diffuse ever to be unfolded in entirety but that contains the knowable universe. How could all the shreds of blue garbage bags stuck in brambles, or the bright blue tarps flapping over every shanty and fish stand in the world, be, in essence, the fingerprints of God?

Blue as a secret code. Instances of blue as the fingerprints of God. Maggie Nelson knows my blue. It's one of my haunts.