by John Simonds  

Honolulu, HI 2013

The marathon’s end hangs over the future,
a welcome sight showing signs of age,
its own and some still crossing under.
The last few hundred meters,
the banner spans roadwide in view,
pray the legs don’t cramp in mid-stride,
don’t rattle the calves or the quads.
The voice of the hidden man
at work in the upper booth
shouts out name, number,
your age and bio blurb,
as another foot reaches
20 seconds of fame
after nearly eight hours
of pushing the road,
chasing a sunny end
in the tropics’ December.
Will and trust, also the future,
guide us over  the mat,
through the chute, shell lei,
water spray, thirsty with delirium.
Others cheer their shortened times
in different ways with separate meanings,
all glad to be here among the quick.

Some in their 80’s move faster.
Others grow gently determined
for just once more across,
smiling at the joyous bent
of runners celebrating
these, the best of times,
knowing some may survive
to dance out the worst,
happy to keep both feet
in the game, knowing
the hands of the clock
keep moving, but not so fast
they can shove us out
of this day’s late-noon finish
or next year’s pre-dawn start.

Lead, kindly LED, and keep
our digits luminous,
as the seconds advance,
luring us in like winks,
with light emitting die-odes,
Hope that the man in the booth
looks down and remembers—
judging us not on our speed
but the faith of our steps—
the people we used to be.

John E. Simonds, 79, a retired Honolulu daily newspaper editor, has lived in Hawai’i for 38 years, previously wrote for newspapers from Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. A Bowdoin graduate (BA), he did not attend graduate school. Writing verse since the 1970s, he is the author of Waves from a Time-Zoned Brain (AuthorHouse 2009) and recently published in Connecticut River ReviewThe Ledge, and New Millennium Writings.