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Friday, 12 June 2009

Poetry of a Desperate Runner

C'mon you know the feeling. Your training has been average to non-existent so you can't sleep properly. Thoughts and dreams related to your sport and hopefully many other things have been arcing through your head which feels mashed against the pillow. Suddenly you realise the rain isn't beating on the roof anymore and you can hear other noises, a lonely car, a possum sifting through the bush, your partner breathing, the waves collapsing on the rocky shore below, the rubbish truck choking. You need to go for a run. Whether it is 12 midnight or 5 in the morning you creak up, and scrummage with your set of draws for running gear. You get out and its dark, its just you, the streetlights and the Iranian embassy. They are always awake watching for the Israelis. You run like you do in the morning, like a fat man, an old man, past the embassy and more quickly down the steps to the waterfront, and the waves that woke you are so small, but the wind is keen on the small of your back. You balance along the rocky wall to the penguin colony, full of vegetation, empty of penguins. All good intentions, no substance, sort of like your training. You creep like a creep around the waterside apartments hoping no one has put a new chain up over this path and pause for a moment to watch another plane take off from the airport across the dark bay.

Of course your experience is unique but you have done this before plenty of times in all sorts of places, and so have others.James K Baxter, New Zealands most famous poet, wasn't known for his running. He was known for communes, drugs, vagrancy and verse. But he too knew the desperate peace and glory of a runner in the early hours...he shadows you now a whisp of dawn light cartwheeled by the wind...!

Getting Stoned on the Night Air

The long night fills the streets with fog
And the garages are windblown tombs

Under the leaves of the plane trees where I run
Lifting and dropping my arms like a bird

This mad night - so peaceful, so dark and so open,
That the sea might easily flow over the land

Or the hills crumble like sand into the river
Since the town is a bed where the young and old sleep

In the sweetness of being, - man I don't need any
LSD to open the gate in the head

That leads to a land where men are birds
And Tanemahuta plays games with his children

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