Near fifteen-thousand yesterdays ago I lower myself into a set of blocks,

kick each leg out behind me once, adjust my thumbs and fingers just so –

against the line I must start behind

Last one in, first one out. That’s my trick

My heart pounding in my chest, but I am not afraid or nervous

I am confident in what is about to happen

There is no pace to be had – only speed

I look down the track at row after row of hurdlers daunting as life itself

I wait for the gun

Each step is planned and I will find that familiar rhythm between each barrier I don’t even want to graze

click, click, click – extend- clup, click, click, click – extend – clup, click, click, click – extend – without slowing

head even with the profiled-horizon like viewing it from the top of a wooden fence – as the late Coach Joe Hartney always said

Strong through the finish – lean in and break that little string

For many, in youth, there is speed, without thought, the ability to accelerate, seemingly without effort

So easy, it is taken for granted, whether chasing down a fly ball, returning a punt, leading a fast break, or sprinting down a track

Unspoken, maybe unrecognized, yet beautiful, gliding, smooth,

I betrayed my high school teammates like my knee betrayed me

Turning my back on the unknown, hoping to preserve what remained

Now I watch my son run the track, just learning but full of potential, with the ability to accelerate, the ability to be…


© – 2018


Stolen Moments


Was returned recently by way of fatherhood to that place,

Where youthful imagination was allowed to roam.

Too many blissful hours to even calculate.

Every inch covered by foot – or by fingertip.

Every pathway discovered.

Every emotion ripped open for diagnosis.

Every impulse explored.

Every blade of grass manicured.

Every curve of the water’s body traversed.

Every topic, shared words on lips.

Until only the elements spoke.

The moon danced across the sky,

Tiptoeing gracefully through the stars.

The ticking clock whispered

“Departure is a must.”

But a fence or a lamp post or a bench or a tree would say

“Not yet. Steal another moment.”

And the night birds would agree.

That was all the persuasion needed

For the magic of the darkness to continue.

© 2016


piggyback bw

OURS ARE fifteen, thirteen, and nearly ten

Thus you forget

The constant chatter

The wonder

The inquisitiveness

The trust

The tiny steps

The uncertainty of speed

The forming of new words

The overuse of familiar ones

The inflections

The playfulness

The need for naps

The crawling over

The bravery in climbing

The heavy diapers

The tiny laughter

The nonsensical

The infatuation with animals

The love of dolls

The sleepy eyes

The softness

The bed head

The babbling in the morning

The humming and singing

The hugs and snuggles … of the two-year-old

The knowledge that each new day is a blank canvas

The hope that love is in the paint

© 2015

“Floridays” and a Festive Flock of Old Friends

Author’s Note: This picture made its way to me through email, the Simmons Family, formerly of Monterey Drive: Mother Doris, son Max, and daughter MaryLu…. their exodus from SAHS was in the early 70s. Their father, Paul, passed away many years ago. We had a special connection as I grew up, and he is the subject of the below poem, “Heroes.” Around ’82, my graduation date, he wanted to see Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson in concert. He respected and was a fan of their song writing talent, but was no longer comfortable making the drive. I nervously took on the task. Because of my inexperience he had to climb more stairs than necessary, and had to rest before we made it to our seats. That hurt me. But we ultimately had a wonderful time and the memory, like so many others, is cherished. Peace, A.S  

2014-12-25 Simmons crew

Josh (Maggie’s husband) and little Max, Maggie, Max.
Second row–Jan with Madeline, Doris, MaryLu and Alex Kinlaw and Rob (Maggie and Rob are Max and Jan’s children).
This will be the first opening day you’ve missed since 1911.
You with your infinite wisdom – me just a boy who thought Mays was the one and only.
But you had seen them all – Ruth, DiMaggio, Mantle…
I had seen the Reds once and could remember Rose # 14 through heavy binoculars, and it stuck with me… like a dream that wouldn’t die.
I remember walking down our street when I was young, fireflies glowing, crickets chirping, and there you would be, always, listening to your little transistor – to the game – smoking cigarettes, maybe having a beer.
We’d talk pennant race, those dreadful Dodgers, or basketball – West was always the greatest.
I acted like I knew everything – so you gave me a Guinness Book of World Records and Sports Almanac 1974  to get my facts straight. This just fueled my fire.
Your son was my idol too, he played hoops like a lion, fearless yet graceful – I hoped I would rate.
Ultimately though, it was your daughter’s music that we both gravitated to… as I grew up and you grew old.
You wrote songs though the music was in your head, poems sometimes as long as Kubla Khan, and stories that would make Twain smile like a river pirate in a stolen boat.
Though you eventually quit, cigarettes haunted you till you were like a skeleton fighting the wind. Seeing you gasp for oxygen hurt, and I became aware that death hid like Satan himself in the burning white sticks you always held.
I’ve been to many parks and stadiums now: Kansas City, San Diego, Denver, St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Charlotte, New Orleans…
But I’ll never enjoy a ballgame more than I did listening to the Big Red Machine: Bench, Perez, Morgan, Concepcion, Foster, Griffey, Geronimo…
Swatting mosquitos, sitting on the porch with an RC, laughing under a summer moon, with you, Simmons.
By Andrew Spradling
First printed, The Kanawha Review 1991
Printed Shelton College Quarterly 2014