Wednesday, May 29, 2013


The day is wasted on my run:
Fifty degrees, calm, and clear.
No pollen, dogs, nor drivers.
But something is wrong in my gears:
I go up hills too fast,
Then shamble down them breathlessly.
I huff hyperly,
And like Harper Lee,
I know a masterpiece
When I've authored it.
And I know when I've been mastered.
I should quit.
But, onward I range,
Like an armadillo
Escaped from a cage:
Snorting and shuffling and
Clanking my armored plates
Over leprous flesh
In search of snakes
To divide and devour.
The neighbors with their morning papers,
Made friendly to strangers
By their coffees
And the mellow morn,
Salute the crashing clod-
He of the flailing arms
And failed-spitting face-
With Sunday edition and travel mug.
These are gestures of balletic grace
Which I cannot reciprocate.
It is too much a circus trick
When arms are heavy
And saliva is thick.
My heart appreciates the kindness,
But my reply is stopped.
Stuck somewhere between in and out.
It seems that though the sun
Has halved the shade
On Nall, Linden, and Somerset,
It hasn't righted my rhythm yet.

Thank you for taking the time to read it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Yes, Virginia, There is a Randy Spoonnoggle

So, I'm bent over my little shovel in the right lane of traffic on I-435, in a blizzard, trying to dig a path from the muck where I had been for about two hours, to the relatively clear left lanes, when the zombies started trudging past. Wearing light jackets and shoes, without hats or gloves, they had abandoned their vehicles. As cold and frustrated as I was, I could not imagine leaving my car in the middle of the highway, as many had. I would shovel, go numb, get back in the car, inch it forward, go out, knock the ice off my wipers, shovel, get back in my car, inch backward, yell profanities... The zombies trudged on. Another man driving a pickup with a camper top was behind me, and making some progress. Eventually, he got close enough that we could communicate. His truck only had rear-wheel drive, but he was trying to follow me out in my tracks. He hacked at the axle-high snow with a hoe, and I shoveled it away from the tires. Hack, shovel, go numb, get in car, other guy pushing, inch forward, repeat ad frustratem. Eventually, all this sound and fury came to something, for me at least, and into the clear lane I slid, knowing I dare not stop to return the favor to that kind man, or I would find myself stuck again. I was free, but not clear, because my fast-approaching exit was blocked by at least three muck-mired cars. I rumbled past, screaming obscenities for the pure release it brought, and looked forward to the next exit, a mile away-and farther away from home. That one was also blocked by derelicts, so, onward and away. The next exit was at State Line Road- the border between Kansas and Missouri- that would have to be my point of departure from the freeway. There were warning messages above the roadway of lane closures ahead, so I would have to go for it at State Line. There were three non-moving conveyances up to their headlights in chop that had tried and failed, but I would make it. With an approach angle, and a thought process both obtuse, I gave the mighty Sportage all the gas she would take...And Kia made four. There I sat, proclaiming maledictions so vile, they couldn't even be written into a Tarantino script, and needing desperately to piss. Out I went into the driving snow, shoveling, scraping ice from the windshield, going numb, reentering the vehicle. I was spent from all the exertion and screaming, and remembering that I had brought food with me, I tucked into my pb&j. My energy, and my need to piss, returned. I recalled reading in a Cub Scout magazine as a kid, that if you wet yourself outside on a cold day, you would suffer rapid heat loss and die. That's why I stepped outside with something other than a sandwich in my hand, and using the car door for wind protection, went about my business as discretely as I could. (Here begins a brief exchange with a law-enforcement officer.) "Sir, we'll be right over there," shouted one of Leawood's Finest, who was in the westbound lanes, helping some other misguided moron get moving. "Take your time, Sir," I replied, which must have seemed weird in the midst of a catastrophe. "Take your time rescuing me, I'll just urinate a while behind the car door while you attend to that good man." A couple of zombies slogged down the exit ramp. I quickly covered all visible flesh. Back into the Sportage, grab the shovel, back out, shovel away the yellow snow, back in, warm up. A while later, a Humvee pulled up nearby. The driver came over. "I'll tow you out of there for twenty bucks." A good deal, for sure, especially since I had made an appointment over the phone sometime in the next four hours for a tow truck at ninety-five dollars. But I didn't have the cash on hand for this Good Samaritan for Profit. "That's OK, I'll push you." And push he did. Mightily. And soon I was unstuck. And shortly thereafter I was home, numb feet and all. Thanks to my smartphone, I was able to capture the man's phone number, and through an exchange of text messages, his name and address. The check is going in the mail tomorrow. Not that I'm driving, you understand. I'm walking that sucker to the nearest mailbox so that the guys who never get stopped by the weather can pick it up. Thanks for reading. Thanks, Randy

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Potts Year in Review- 2011

Our little household, which consists of a sunny wife, a cynical husband, an oafish Corgi, and an aquaphilic cat, came through the past year fairly unscathed. We were very lucky, the cat most of all.
The Missus gained a long-overdue, and well-deserved, promotion to a training position. She is a natural at presenting in front of a group, whether she be singing, or explaining the minutiae of pharmacy overrides. She spent two weeks conducting a training class at a call center in Florida, and even though she had no appreciation of the warm December weather, she did brave it long enough to take some beautiful beach pictures. She is, herself, a portrait of loveliness.
The Hoosband continues to cripple Kansas City's running community with ill-fitting footwear. Now in his fourteenth year with the company, he has become eligible for The Golden Thumb, a gold-plated, asbestos replica of the most important tool of his trade. In accordance with his abilities, it will be a left. He completed four marathons this year, which somehow failed to make it onto any Top 10 Memorable Sports Achievement lists.
Chloe the Corgi continues to belch, grunt, bark, lumber, slobber, and flop her way through life. She spends both of her waking hours "sunny side-up," so that she can be patted and scratched on her magnificent white chest. Last week we noticed that she had gotten a tattoo on it which read, "Born to Kill Bunnies."
Carlos the Incorrigible Cat visited his father in Mexico over the summer. We then took the opportunity to stitch our wounds and change the locks. Alas, he returned, attached claw-wise to the back of one of our building's maintenance men. Carlos is a challenge- in the same way the Black Death was a challenge- that we hope to one day meet, before he annihilates us.
We sincerely wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year. A complete stranger wished me that today. It was unexpected, and very kind. I don't know how she meant "prosperous." She might have meant it in the financial sense, which in these times when so many are foundering under debt, joblessness, homelessness, and despair, would have been an uplifting enough sentiment. Or, maybe she meant it in the sense of prospering in all the other things that make life worth living: love, companionship, good health, and Nutella.
Thank you for reading,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thursday Morning Coming Down

6:30 a.m.: While taking the dog out for her breakpiss, the cat bolts past the not yet caffeinated hubby, and out the open apartment door. As the wife sings "Hit The Road, Jack," the hubby pursues, flipflops flapping down the steps, sotto voce profanities spilling like a fuzzy cat through an open apartment door, dog galumping behind.
The cat wedges himself under the stairs, his loud purring echoing through the lobby. The hubby succeeds in enticing the cat from under the steps just as help arrives in the form of a perspiring Corgi snout. The hubby falls to his knees, profanities probably audible to other tenants, and grabs cat by the hind legs. As he crawls clumsily out from under the stairs, the cat's front claws tear the carpet with a sound like pulling apart the world's largest pieces of velcro.
His knees pop as hubby stands with writhing, way overweight writhing still,loudly purring writhing cat. Hubby secures dog, who is standing outside an apartment door not her own, her nose-sweat staining the carpet. Before the party ascends the stairs, the hubby hears the wife singing "The Hallelujah Chorus."
The flipflops flap, the dog galumps, the cat purrs and wriggles. Hubby opens the door, and catches what he will later recall is a look of murderous disappointment on the wife's face. The dog rushes in, collar jangling. Hubby hands escaped purring prisoner to wife, who is promptly whacked, to no one's surprise, by the purrball.
Hubby flipflop runs down the stairs, dog dripping and galumping, as wife hums a melody from Sweeney Todd.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

He Literally Scared the...

While fitting shoes on a customer at the store yesterday, I heard another customer tell her child, " Just go in your diaper, that's what it's there for." I assume the little pooper had said something like, "Gotta go potty," but I missed that, focused as I was on my job. But the word DIAPER always reorients my concentration. (As do words like NUCLEAR, WASTE, TOXIC, and DISASTER.)
A coworker, unaware of the imminent arrival of an S-Bomb, began to help the mother. In the previous week, he'd had surgery to remove part of an eyelid, on which a melanoma had been found. The surgery was considered successful, but it left his right eye mostly shut by stitches, and that side of his face somewhat swollen and discolored in a purplish-yellow sort of way. He was not easy to look at, even for those of us adults who work with him daily and have seen a lot of zombie movies.
A couple of minutes passed, and my customer was coming to a conclusion on his shoes, which allowed me to devote about 93 percent of my attention to the happy and curious toddler. He was exploring the stacks of shoe boxes, and trying to clamber up on one of the fitting stools just before it happened. The mother was trying on shoes, and, I'm guessing, not thinking any further about the doo-doo directive she had given the flesh of her flesh a few minutes ago.
Doubtless, he was not thinking about it either. He was testing the safety of his environment, and the strength of his muscles, when, nearly atop his Everest, the melanoma-free, purple-cheeked, child-friendly but one and a half-eyed old man with the gruff voice, and comedic intonation insufficient to convince a two-year old, said, "Hey, don't climb on my chair."
The child, now filled with fear, devoted all his muscular energy to getting the hell away from that face and voice, and laid down at the feet of his mother, crying softly. The employee apologized, and said that he had only been kidding, though his pirate-zombie face could never convince the child of it. Then, of course, the mother, keenly aware of the scent of her offspring said, "Well, I guess, you did use your diaper, didn't you?" I vomited inside my own mind.
Thanks for reading,

Monday, June 20, 2011

What I Learned From An Iowa Marathon

#1. The lake part of Storm Lake is no more than twenty feet deep, which means Jimmy Hoffa is not playing bocce ball and wearing cement shoes down there.

#2. The county where the marathon was held is Buena Vista. Pronounced like "bee-yu-na." Such a mauling of this bee-oot-i-ful Spanish word makes me think that we need more immigration from Me-hee-co.

#3. That is the smell of money, not manure.

#4. Iowans are friendly-even when treated rudely. I don't know what the jerk-off with the earbuds said to the teenage volunteer at the mile 23 waterstop (Other than it wasn't "Thank you."), but she apologized to him.

#5. There is always someone who has done more marathons than you. Unless you're the guy I talked to afterwards who had just finished his 151st. I could have said that I'd done 152, but I was in a small town in Iowa-I just couldn't bring myself to lie.

#6. Spectators should never shout out, with about 1400 meters to go, that there are only "1400 meters to go to the finish." A meter being about one step's worth of distance, 1400 of them seems like a trip around the Equator. Just say things like, "Almost there," or, "Just around the corner." The promise of imminent relief from pain, even if false, is what's needed.

#7. There is always enough gas in the tank for a couple of "fly-bys" in the home stretch. I extended my trembling arms shoulder high and swooped from side to side, like a drunk walking a tightrope. The spectators loved it, and I only knocked down two of my fellow participants, who were dueling it out for 96th place.

#8 Lastly, I love Iowa. It's a beautiful state, with well-kept farms, and hard-working, fun-loving people who will come out to watch and help complete strangers exhaust themselves running from one end of a county to the other. They thanked me for coming and doing my silly airplane swoop.
My wife is a native Iowan, and she came out to support me and those who were strangers to her. She wandered about the county roads, taking pictures of sheep, and breathing in the smell of money. She was a small-town girl who had come home. She is kind, and decent, and hard-working, and loving, and funny. She is the thing I love best about Iowa.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Take That Beach 6/17/10

I've always loved the thought of running on a beach. The tide laps at your feet. The ocean breeze lightly blows your hair away from your eyes. Music from "Chariots of Fire" plays as you bound effortlessly along in slow motion. As I found out in Crescent City, California on our recent trip, though, t'aint always so.

First, the lapping tide. Mostly it lapped over the eviscerated shells of crabs that had been picked over by various sea birds. Alfred Hitchcock would have been proud of them. All that remained were the sharpest, least edible crab parts. Dodging them added at least a half-mile to my run.

Second: the cold. Granted, we were in far northernest Cali, not San Diego, so what did I expect, right? Even though the sun was on full display, it was no more than fifty degrees, and the wind- Holy Chicken of the Sea, Batman!, it was an icy Mamma Jamma. Not only did it blow the hair out of my eyes, it blew the hairs out of my eyelids. I flossed sandsicles out of my teeth for days. And, if movie music had been playing, I wouldn't have been able to hear it, since my ear drums were beaten by Mother Nature the way the rest of me was beaten by Ron Smith in eighth grade.

On the other hand, I should say that running into that wind did create a sort of slow motion effect. Kind of like a mime going over the top on that "Man Walking into The Wind" routine.

So, I was nearly hacked to bleeding bits by dead crustaceans, blasted by freezing sand, and slowed to a pace that banana slugs would laugh at. I wasn't just going to sit in the motel and watch the waves roll up on the shore. Not running would have been out of the question in such a situation. We don't have beaches in Kansas, and who knows when I'll get back out to the coast.

Alright, cue the music- da-da-da-da-daah. Da-da-da-da-daah...

Thanks for reading.