Senseless Act of Poetry

tree-in-fog

As the Newtown “anniversary” approaches I came back to this poem I wrote on the day of that tragedy. It seems our world is confronted with the realities of these shootings almost every day now. The likes of Newtown, Roseburg, or just this week the San Bernardino shootings, are all too frequent. For most part, there really isn’t any good or “proper” way to express thoughts or feelings about these events. Historically, in times of great joy or sadness this is poetry’s job, to express the inexpressible. That is what I love about poetry.

I’m not sure why I even picked the Newtown tragedy to write about three years ago. As far as I can tell, there have been ~85 school shootings since Newtown, and I have no connection to any one of them. No connection of course other than being a citizen of this country, disgusted at the face of evil, and at the time found no other expressive outlet other than poetry. At the time (September 2012) I had watched a live news broadcast showing a typical “car chase” in Los Angeles that ended in a visibly paranoid [perhaps mentally disturbed] man committing suicide, mistakenly broadcasted live over the air in real time. For some reason this incident was still fresh on my mind on December 14th. The face of evil has many disguises, but I think it probably feels the most horrible, the most evil, when it surfaces among our schools and children. Those lives we try to protect the most from situations in the world just such as Newtown.

The verse below has gone through some revisions over the last three years. Not many, but enough that the day it was written is still fresh on the mind, yet time has allowed for perspective. The name of the poem could have been Columbine, or Roseburg, or any number of names. The words seem to ring true to me no matter the title. Evil may have won on this day, but ultimately it’s time is fleeting. So, here are the words I penned that day.

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All i Want For My Birthday is an #IronBowl Win

Auburn Wins the 2013 IronBowl

Auburn Wins the 2013 IronBowl

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A reminder of a day
that we can re-live again.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A play, oh what an hour
that once Gary gave spin.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A “there goes Davis…”
that one-second grin.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A call… Rod, take us,
that possible to do again?

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
Oh my Lord in Heaven
This’s but a game? Since when.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A deafening roar, the muff
that Tiger come alive within.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A chance to make history
that Spirit soars never dim.

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A future moment to revisit
that glorious day back when…

All i want for my birthday
is an #IronBowl win.
A mere man ran back pigskin
that all who has ears to hear…

Auburn wins!


The photo was taken from our regular season-ticket seats we’ve sat in for 20 years, just after Davis ran back the 109 yards to score the game winning touchdown to send Auburn to the 2013 National Championship game. It was quite possibly the greatest game ever played in college football history.

Reasons To Chose to Write or Not to Write

Writing on the iPad

Writing on the iPad

So this is the typical blog away from blog post that seems to grace the pages of almost every blog I have ever read. For the first time in the 10-15 years I have been writing on my blog, I took a year off. Though I did stop writing here for a while, I never stopped writing off-blog posts in my DayOne App (the best journal writing app ever by the way) or on Twitter and Facebook. I had wanted to take this break for a while, to get some perspective, and I did. After being away for so long I kept wondering if I would ever come back, what the purpose is/was, and why it even matters if I ever write another word here in a world already filled with so much noise as it is.

When it comes to choosing not to write, I tried find reason behind these statements.

  1. It takes too much time.
  2. There is enough noise out there already.
  3. No one wants to read every thought that crosses the mind, ever (that’s still the case).
  4. Ultimately, who cares what’s “not created” by a writer.
  5. I had lost the freedom of speech on my own blog.

I doubt those questions have answers for the most part, and it is the stereotypical question and response of everyone who wants to start a blog but never does. Ultimately, what’s worth doing is worth doing, even, or especially, if there is no recognizable audience at the time. Blogging is somewhat like doing life together with the rest of the world. It leaves you open to ridicule, criticism, trolls (see a great article ‘Your Opinion is Obsolete‘), and oblivious objecting observers, when not writing removes those negativities. But the easiest thing to do is not to write.

I was somewhat inspired to get back to writing here after reading Roger Angell’s “Five Seasons” this past off season, the start of the Auburn baseball season, and the honest reflections of another sports writer who recently lost his job. Then for some reason, I became responsive to that inspiration after reading Joe Posnanski’s post about what was on his book shelf. It had nothing to do with the list of books he calls great (which was great), but by his opining about his office and how long it took him to come to the point. Great writing is like that. It’s the journey to the finishing point that creates the pleasures of wading through the details. You almost want the writer to slow down because you know the end is in sight.

As a writer (that is the act of writing something original… I make no claims to be on the level with the likes of Angell or Posnanski), the one on the list that bothered me the most was the last one. Once you start writing to please, or to not offend, the writing becomes less real, contains less of me. I still haven’t figured this one out. I admire those who have found the answer, or have ignored the question all together and just plowed ahead.

In the end, I hate being just a consumer of material. I read countless blogs, news articles, books, and other writings where the authors’ purpose was only fulfilled long after it was written. The purpose of the written word is, to be read, by somebody at some time, even if the knowledge of that purpose is never know by the writer himself. So… I write.

Thoughts on @AUTigerBaseball and Game 17. #WarEagle

Auburn Tiger Baseball

Auburn Tiger Baseball

Game 17, Auburn vs Coppin State. Jordan-Hare Stadium is always looming large in the background over Plainsman Park. Majestic concrete pillars hibernating until fall with one reprieve in April, A-Day, coming soon. It is always the giant in the room, the most powerful, with the most money, the biggest following, and a stadium that changes the landscape of the state 8 to 10 times a year.

Plainsman Park, however, providing 35-ish games at prices the average person in Auburn can afford, offers something football can’t, accessibility. On this particular day I am sitting, more like bathing, in the beautiful sunshine of an afternoon in the south in March. An almost-hot day at the park (did I mention it’s March), where the temp says 69° but really feels more like 80-85° in the sun.

I had no time at all today to get the lineup and score the game as I normally would. My last meeting of the day ended about an hour ago, so there was just enough time to make it to the park and enjoy the setting. Scoring is but just one of the countless aspects that makes baseball unique, poetic. The ability to score the game is as much an art form as are the many combinations of Auburn Baseball uniforms, but it really helps in learning the game. Today Auburn is wearing their home orange jersey and white pants with Coppin is wearing a Auburn-blue like jersey with gray pants.

3:30:05 PM

Unfortunately Kevin Davis (#12) only lasted pitching 1 full inning and was taken out in the top of the 2nd with no outs. Coppin scored 1 run in the top of the first after he walked three batters, then walked another in the 2nd. Replaced by Jakob Nixon (#8) with 2 men on base and no outs. Then in the bottom of the 2nd Blake Logan (#1) hit a 3 run homer over the green monster. The homer had to go at least 350′-360′ over the Bosox-like fence.

This is one of these lazy day games where the sun is just warm enough, especially for this time of year, to allow for a relaxed crowd. Deborah is knitting, and it is quiet enough to clearly hear the sounds of the game, along with various conversations of people nearby. Although the sound of the aluminum bat just is not quite the same as the MLB wood, it still creates this echoing ripple off the green monster and athletic dorms over right field.

Our world class heckler is here and attentive as always. His job is to make sure the pitcher for Coppin (or any away team that arrives not expecting a thinking fan crowd) does not get away with anything, and ensures he is rattled as much as any away pitcher could be by a comedian drill Sargent. Our season ticket neighbor came today, along with the normal “retired” season ticket holders. A lady on the stairs walking up into our section came within perhaps an inch of getting beaned in the head with a foul ball, and did not even notice. Quite fascinating how someone can come that close injury and not even know it happened.

The crowd here couldn’t be more local, and the visitors have virtually no fans attending today. I love this crowd, and much of it has to do with baseball itself. They are as calm as the pace of the game. Middle class retirees mixed with University staff, and students with an excuse to skip class on a beautiful day. In other words, those who love baseball.

Top of the 5th inning now and Auburn seems to have this one well in hand. Coppin had to take their starting pitcher out after he was hit by a hard line drive in the ankle (they needed to take him out anyway). Auburn now has a 8-2 lead off 8 hits and 0 errors. What a beautiful game.

A Great Journal Introduction by Jim Elliot

Jim Elliot

I have been writing in some form of journal for the better part of 20-25 years now off and on, sometimes with purpose, sometimes with without any at all. Some things inspire more than others. Lately, thanks to the people over at Bloom with the Day One App, they have inspired my digital journal into the next level.

Whether you call it a blog, a diary, a journal, or a log, if you are writing for a specific reason it is always helpful to have a good strong introduction to the journal to give you some direction, inspiration, and understanding. Later on when you wonder why you started writing, you can go back and read this intro again, hopefully to reconnect with your original purpose.

In my hand written Moleskine journals, on page 1, I always put an introduction, purpose, thesis, mission statement, or some kind of reason for why this journal exists. After sitting on my shelf for over a year I finally picked up this magnificent book, “The Journals of Jim Elliot” and read his introduction paragraph. What an amazing way to start a new journal. I say this in part because I have long had this very notion, and some how connected with every word he wrote, which said:

What is written in these pages I supposed will someday be read by others than myself. For this reason I cannot hope to be absolutely honest in what is herein recorded, for the hypocrisy of this shamming heart will ever he putting on a front and dares not to have written what is actually found in its abysmal depths. Yet, I pray, Lord, that You will make these notations to be as nearly true to fact as is possible so that I may know my own heart and be able to definitely pray regarding my gross, though often unviewed, inconsistencies… these remarks are to be fresh, daily thoughts given from God in meditation on His word.

I love that.

Learning to Seek First the Kingdom Everywhere

Pond in Back Yard

Pond in Back Yard

I’ve been living in this phrase, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” found in various places in scripture, trying to determine it’s sway and meaning for me personally. Ever since I wrote this post about my idea of what 2013 would look like, I’ve been asking myself the question, how… and where? It’s easier to look at my back yard and see the fog rising off the pond at sunrise and say, there He is, but seeking the kingdom above all else requires looking in those places of darkness where he is the only light that shines, and it’s not nearly as bright as it is above.

Realistically I’ve been walking down this path of making, what seemed like, several small and moderate lifestyle changes, really for years now. Over time of course they are more significant than perhaps they seem in the moment of the decision. In fact, collectively, they clear a path to allow more of God in and less of those things that distract and tend to pull us in the opposite direction. I still love reading about the drastic and dramatic though, like Paul Miller’s story, Paul Miller returns to the internet after a year away, where he took an entire year fast from the Internet only to find his demons (my words) followed him offline. The more I live in this phrase Jesus spoke the more I’m finding what I once thought was dramatic and impossible is now possible, and dramatic only to those who have ears but refuse to hear.

Right now I’m pouring over Jeff Shinabarger’s new book, More or Less, and I can’t wait to do a full review on this book. His book basically tries to answer the question, “What is enough?” For some reason it keeps reminding me of this scene from Wall Street when Bud Fox asks Gordon Gekko “how much is enough?” a question we get confronted with every day. Jeff has taken this to a new level, and is at the same time helping me understand new ways to “seek first the kingdom,” some of which I’m looking forward to sharing when I finish his book.

Flowers of Spring Have Finally Arrived

Iris in Bloom in Auburn

Iris in Bloom in Auburn

I took a break from my blog for a while, which always seems to be the case during the cold dark months of the year. Now that Spring is in full bloom here in Auburn things look so full of life and so colorful it just brings new inspiration to everything. Even though I took a few months off from my blog I still kept writing throughout the winter, but for some reason it always seems to be a little different. I wish I could find a way to better merge my offline writing with my writing here, but it would probably change how I write offline. Anyway, hope everyone is enjoying their springtime colors as much as we are down here in the south.

A Non-Chemistry Auburn Basketball Season

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Aubie sits alone at the Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball Game

It’s been a lonely season of empty seats and shattered basketball hopes at this point. Deb and I love going to the basketball games, but it would be nice if just one season we could actually improve. This year is no different, they seem to have no chemistry, no cohesion, and few wins, though I love our players non-the-less. Year after year after year we keep coming to the games, and now we sit in a gorgeous new $92 million facility, which now seems to prove the point that you can’t just build it and they (players and fans) will come. Maybe I’m expecting a little too much out of a football town, but we sure have seen a lot of…

pressing into the paint… by the other team

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

shots made beyond the arc… by the other team…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

but hey, maybe we haven’t been paying close enough attention as fans, maybe they said something, but we had our Beats on because the game was sooooo exciting…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Beats Headphones at the Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

or maybe we just need one of those giant megaphones to yell with… since there aren’t many fans at the games, we could just do that as the next promo instead of a cheesy Verizon draw string bag nobody wants anyway…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Aubie and the Auburn Cheerleaders at Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

or, maybe the halftime show guys will let our team use their trampoline so they too can fly through the air and slam the ball with style…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball Halftime

…finally giving our excited little fans that do show up something to cheer about.

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Kid waves the foam finger at Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

There are of course advantages to having no fans show up to a game and a team that has lost 17 games before the end of February. Nobody cares about the “prohibited items list” (except they still search my wife’s purse for FOOD), and I can actually take photos at the game without being ejected or my equipment confiscated.

from the tip off…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Tipoff at the Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball game

to our beloved Aubie cheering in the stands with students…

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

Auburn vs Texas A&M Basketball

We really do love our Auburn basketball, it would just be nice to see something positive come out of the season to create momentum for next year? March Madness is right around the corner though, can’t wait.

Hitting the Road Literally on a Trek Madone 2.1

County Road 166

County Road 166 With No Traffic Only Dogs

Pride really does come before the fall, even literally. I guess looking back at my first wreck on Wednesday I would say I was probably pretty proud I had never wrecked a bike as an adult, motor or cycle, nor did I ever expect to wreck, and certainly not on a bike less than a week old (see previous post). But, it’s all a matter of perspective because that ominous looking road above on Wednesday got the better of my ride. After finishing my ride for the day I decided to go a little farther down the road from my car to cool down when all of a sudden I found myself being chased by a 90 pound mass of Doberman flesh at 26 mph. Without any warning, in less than a blink of an eye, in full stride, he turned his 90+ pounds like a pro running back directly into my front tire and it was all over.

Being chased by a dog is certainly nothing new out here in the county. There are way WAY too many dog owners out here in Lee County Alabama who just refuse to tie up their dogs, and most of them own Rottweilers, Dobermans, or Pit Bulls. It wasn’t even the first dog who chased me on my ride that day, it was more like the 5th or 6th dog. Faced with slowing down and possibly having the dog take off flesh like a shark out of water, then the ensuing rabies shots that follow, I generally just keep going hoping to outrun the dog (note to self, big giant dogs can actually run over 20mph for not so short distances).

I really gave no thought to my helmet or anything else I put on that day. When I landed, or bounced, on the pavement I was so stunned when the dog speared my wheel, seemingly at the time on purpose to take me out, I hadn’t really understood that all the safety gear I was wearing actually did what it was supposed to do, give me a fighting chance at surviving a body plant on pavement at 26mph. I landed directly on my hip and the back of my head simultaneously. My helmet basically was split in two and apparently a hip socket can take a beating I never knew was possible. I’m not sure how I didn’t black out completely, and my brain somehow didn’t seem to get scrambled inside my skull as I quickly went through the “do I have a concussion” routine.

Some questions came up of course:

How Did it happen? See above.

Are you ok? I think so although I still can’t really walk yet, have some nice road rash on my skin and every muscle I have seems to be yelling at me. Nothing broken (I think, but how I don’t know), and seemingly no concussion (at least not a serious one).

How is the dog? Who cares, but, yes he never even slowed down or looked back. Pepper spray will be flying next time around.

How is the bike? See below, but surprisingly, it fared extremely well. I was wearing a pair of Bontrager RL Road shoes (pictured here in their new splendor), which split at the seam of the buckle. Kind of strange but it just snapped in half. I was hopefully Bontrager would warranty the shoes being only 5 days old. After my LBS checked on it for me they said, no Bontrager said they couldn’t warranty the shoes because they were smashed to oblivion and in an accident. They did however say they would replace them under their “good will” program because they were less than a week old. I figured out this meant they felt really sorry for me. WOW, well I’m now a Bontrager fan now and will certainly recommend Bontrager gear to anyone who asks.

The bike, a Trek Madone 2.1, purchased a week ago from my fantastic LBS in Auburn, had some fabric wear on the seat and bar tape, and the front tire is slightly out of round, but other than that, the frame held up extremely well, hardly even a scratch on it. I didn’t really anticipate writing a review about how well a Trek Madone 2.1 holds up in a wrecked, but crashing at 26mph, the bike looks fantastic.

What were you wearing? An old Trek helmet. My helmet was smashed but my head wasn’t. I was wearing gloves. Something I never thought about much, but they kept my hands from some serious pain. I was wearing thicker riding pants (tights), something that also saved me some pain (hair on legs was not a good idea). I had on a breathable non-cotton shirt, but it was pretty thick, it also ended up being a good choice.

This is all basically to say… if you ride a bike, wear a helmet, period. Make safety a priority. I never ever ever thought I would make use of my helmet, but when I go to pick out my next one it will be with a keen eye on safety. I do wish I had mounted my GoPro Hero 3 on my bike to capture this event, but hope it never happens again.

Broken Trek Cycling Helmet

Broken Trek Cycling Helmet

Bontrager Seat Damage from Wreck

Bontrager Seat Damage from Wreck

Shimano Hood and Tape Damage from Wreck

Shimano Hood and Tape Damage from Wreck

Trek Madone 2.1 On the Road Again :: Friday Feet

Cleats and the Front Fork of a Trek Madone

Cleats and the Front Fork of a Trek Madone

Trek Madone 2.1 on the Car Rack

Trek Madone 2.1 on the Car Rack

It’s been a while since my last Friday Feet post. I kept trying to get a shot on a Friday with a different pair of shoes and decided this was it. For the first time in 2013 I got back on my bike again, although it was still pretty cold, I did ride for about 10 miles and didn’t bonk. I have high hopes for riding this year, and even higher hopes as the temperature rises into the Spring and Summer. For now, I’m just trying to rebuild my cardiovascular from far too long a break.

My previous ride was a Trek Madone 4.5 and this year I have moved to this updated aerodynamic frame of the Madone 2.1. At some point after I get a few hundred miles on this frame I’m going to try to do a review, albeit an amateur review, but I can already feel a few differences between the carbon of the 4.5 and the aluminum of the 2.1, but not too many if you are a rider who isn’t too concerned with winning the next Tour de France.