Monday, August 3, 2015

Attack the Hill

12 years after high school
during this 40-mile bike ride
beneath carrion birds
as I approach yet another
in a seemingly interminable sequence
of inclinations I'm rather disinclined to ascend,
Coach Turchyn's words
somehow reach forward to me
instilling the will to follow still
one of his few but oft-repeated directives:
"Attack the hill."

These 3 words came whispered but urgent
at almost every cross country meet for 
7 years to our cheer-tired ears
as the only audible thing
worth processing and applying,
for everything else is almost automatic:

the pace, 
keeping eyes on the guy ahead,
breathing and stepping,


when that slope rises,
the instinct is to go into
lower gear,
attack your competitor,
or attack yourself,
worrying about all the hills ahead;

you need someone there 
to remind you of this
1 task:

to just attack the hill that's next. 

Start of a race.

The high school crew.

Coach T on the right. Coach Mac on the left.


  1. Love your work!

    I like the idea the behind the poem. (I too have climbed that hill by the soccer field.) Instead of letting the poem become an abstract lesson from the past, consider re-working the idea into a concrete experiential poem.

    May I suggest: I hear him still/ "Attack the hill" repeated as a stanza ending couplet.

    I can foresee a regular rhythm and rhyme to the poem that tosses the reader into the rhythm of a cross country race.

  2. That's the very hill that always comes to mind!

    Thanks for the recommendations - I'll definitely start drafting out another version and see where it leads.

  3. Your poem evokes memories of so many races and other events. It says to me keep it simple and direct, take care of what needs doing, don't be daunted by the fear of the unseen or by the obvious next challenge. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I'm glad it was enjoyable. Thanks for listening to me gab on and on about all the races at the time.