Vol. 2, No. 4: Malice at the Ice Palace photo

Chariots of Fire: Two Running PoemsAndrea Krause

Smells Like Track Season


Spring is out of the starting blocks, fast-

healing up the blister of Midwestern winter.


Stop watches start on the smoke—

before the pistol’s soft POP wafts


across the in-field. This is not a false start.

Welcome back, gentle breeze sweet with wet:


puddling mud, stomped worms, crocuses in bouquets.

& can you smell the quarter mile of tired tires,


good-for-nothing-else Good Years & Firestones,

shredded into 8 concentric lanes, perfect ovals


fit for the Ancient Greeks? Hurdlers stretch hamstrings

into teenage leg taffy & the freshman are ogling 


upperclassmen in short shorts hauling ass

down the back-stretch, faster than a TI-86 calculator


can graph f(x) functions. That first sprint sloughing ice

from hibernating quads. Check out the Pre 'stashes


& calves of gods on the distance squad, long

& lean with attitude, lapping everyone


in killer mile repeats. The stadium is a gear grinding

taut with congenial suffering. In the stands,


wind through prized metals,

Mom-sewn chimes on a letter jacket.


Can you feel that bounce, the rubber

of possibility under your soles?


The poets can take one whiff & declare it

petrichor, for all I care. 


But me, I just smell track season

warming up.


I’m Still Thinking About 2000

& the greatest rivalry in the history of Track & Field

you probably don't remember. I'm thinking about

Michael Johnson & Maurice Greene

& the infamous dual of July 23, 2000—

the 200 meter dash finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

I'm still chewing the epic pre-race trash talk-

flavored Gator Gum. Two ‘roided & pulsating

egos chumming up the salivating press, 6 months

starving after the juicy nothing-burger of Y2K.

Grown men spiking one another with cleats

made of no mercy. Exactly who was christened the villain,

I can't recall. I'm thinking of the crisp-painted lanes.

The steaming track. The starting blocks.

The On your marks.

The grinding pit of my gut. The gun

pointed straight up at the gods.

The Set.

The epically tight asses clad in spandex

unitards. My lip chewed to a pink pulp.


I'm thinking about the fair start. The centipede of legs

across our grainy 90's TV. I’m thinking about

Johnson around the turn. Stutter-stepping

into shock. Left hammy imploding, crumpling

like your grandma's hoard of brittle sun-bleached

rubber bands. His face, a wreck of bodily defeat.

I'm thinking of Greene, 100 meters to glory,

his nemesis fileted on the track like roadrunner

roadkill. I'm thinking about how in less time

than it takes to clip my hang-nail, his left hamstring

blows out like a spare going 65. I'm thinking

about those endorsed muscles, sculpted deities

gored by the bulls of Pamplona on live TV

& in replay after replay. I’m not thinking about

the victor. I don’t remember who won the race.

No, I’m still thinking about being 18 & fucking free,

daring fate to crush my hubris like those icons on the track.