march 11/RUN

4.25 miles
river road, north/south
36 degrees

Gray and calm outside. Nice to get some fresh air. Almost all the paths are clear. Thought about trying to run on the path that dips below the road and winds through the trees, but decided it would still have too much ice. I was right. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker just after running up the hill from under the lake street bridge. I know I saw the river but I don’t remember what it looked like. Did I ever really look at it? Heard a woodpecker pecking away. I wonder, is it a yellow bellied sapsucker? Listened to some of its sounds, like drum #1 and mew call and drums, and it might be. Later, when I was almost done with my run, I heard another woodpecker, not sure if it was the same kind. Sounded like a small jackhammer, which made me start thinking about my fascination with how machines mimic animals (for example, airplanes always remind me of sharks).

This morning, after I got up, I decided to memorize a poem to make myself feel better. I have a cold or allegories or something and my throat is tightening up, which is making me extra uncomfortable and worried as I read about people testing positive for the corona virus here. It’s amazing how memorizing a poem can make me feel better. Today, I re-memorized one of my classics: Auto-lullaby by Franz Wright.

Auto-lullaby/ Franz Wright

Think of a sheep
knitting a sweater;
think of your life

getting better and better.

Think of your cat
asleep in a tree;
think of that spot
where you once skinned your knee.

Think of a bird
that stands in your palm.
Try to remember
the Twenty-First Psalm.

Think of a big pink horse
galloping south;
think of fly, and
close your mouth.

If you are thirsty, then
drink from a cup.
The birds will keep singing
until they wake up.

Oh, I love this poem. It was a fun (and sometimes challenging) one to recite in my head as a ran. It was interesting to see how the meter worked differently and how I recited it to make it fit with my cadence. It helps to pick poems with rhymes–I have also memorized/recited Shel Silverstein’s “Sick.” How hard would it be to recite a poem with no rhyme or meter? Would I force it into a meter? Maybe I should try that.

possible exercise: reciting while running

Step One || Pick a poem.

Start with an “easier” poem–one that rhymes and isn’t too long, like a kid’s poem. Later, try a “harder’ poem that doesn’t have a meter or rhymes or is longer.

Step Two || Memorize it.

A few hours before running, spend some time memorizing it.

Step Three || Recite it while running.

Once you’ve warmed up, begin reciting the poem in your head (or, if you feel comfortable enough, out loud). At first, just focus on trying to recite it without stopping or without screwing up too much. Later, when you’ve mastered that, start paying attention to how the words do or don’t match up with cadence. If you are trying to sync it up with your steps and breathing, how does this affect the poem–it’s meaning? how it sounds? how it moves (or doesn’t move)?

Step Four || Take notes.

After your run, take some notes about the experience of reciting while running. What effects did reciting have on your running? Running on your reciting?