Running Games

I fly over the asphalt.
My sneakers crunch
the stones.

IMG_2750 2

My friend Skye (right) and I (left) running a 5K this past fall. Photo courtesy of The Great Pumpkin Run

Stress leaves me
and I feel relaxed,
at peace.

But this is only the beginning.

In the middle
my pace slows.
I feel a side sticker forming
as my leg muscles burn.
And scream.

Doubts creep in,
but I push myself forward.
I reach the diamond street sign
indicating that I am almost home.

A new burst of energy fills my body
as I run fast and hard
for the finish.
I am panting,
out of breath.

Thirsty,
I lick my lips
salty from sweat.
Another run is done,
but I’ll be back for more
tomorrow.

Playing with Fire

Originally published in the Weal (2017), DeSales University’s literary magazine. 

Like fire destroying a house
your eyes burn into mine,
enveloping me into the flames.

It’s only a second or two,
nothing more,
But I can still feel the intensity in your gaze
before you turn and walk away.

You used to pull me close to you,
kiss my neck,
bite my lips,
intertwine our fingers together.

And just like that,
as fast as you pulled me to you
or grabbed my hand,
you shove me away.

There is no more you and I,
no more things that could have been.
There is only you.
And there is me.

Scorched and scarred is how you leave me,
staring at the ashes
of when there was a we,
an us.

So now,
I look at you,
I can’t touch you.
You will burn me.

Sidewalk Critics

Originally published in the Weal (2017), DeSales University’s literary magazine. 

She keeps her head low
to avoid eye contact
from the strangers walking by.

But she is very aware
of those around her.
They judge her
while she mistrusts them.

They whistle.

Eyes sweep up and down her body,
examining her looks,
her petite size,
that could easily be overtaken.

So she walks faster,
heels click the sidewalk louder.
Her fingers grip the cold metal keys harder.

She unlocks the door.

Inside of her car,
her muscles relax.
She finally…

exhales.

April Fools: DSU PD breaks up St. Patty’s Day party, finds a leprechaun

Originally published in Issue 12, Fifty-First Year of The Minstrel (March 30, 2017). 

Once upon a freezing Friday night, a lucky four-leaf clover was buried under a foot of snow. Students clad with green walked right by it to the party, never knowing it was there.

This was not the “luck o’ the Irish” kind of night.

At approximately 11:00 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, campus PD busted into Finnegan, the more Irish sounding of the two villas, to break up a party featuring your typical green beer and the cheapest vodka college students can afford.

“When the police showed up, I said, ‘You’ve got the wrong holiday. This isn’t Halloween,’” said freshman Scott Land. “Then I realized it was campus PD and I was out the window faster than you can say, ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.’”

Most students were not fast enough to make it out the window, and the police wrote up 37 students.

“The cops took our names and now I have to pay a fine plus complete community service for underage drinking,” said sophomre Al Coholic.

“The party was definitely worth it though. Everyone who’s anyone was there,” he adds.

Sources confirm that yes, everyone was there, except the other 1,500 plus undergraduate students at the University.

“The party was lit,” said one of the officers Paul Ice. “It was a shame we had to bust the party, but I managed to swipe some delicious guacamole on the way out.”

Outside of Finnegan, the police saw a short man with red hair, a beard and a green sequined top hat prancing around the grassy fields.

“He did not look like a student, so we decided to investigate, which led to a full-fledged pursuit,” said Ice.

“Think ‘Fast and the Furious,’ but on foot instead of cars,” he adds.

Three police officers chased the dwarf-sized man, who they presumed to be leprechaun, all around campus.

“‘Fast and the Furious?’ More like kindergarteners on a goose chase,” scoffs senior Jen Eric.

After chasing the leprechaun around Labuda to Trexler and circling the Jesus statue approximately six times, the chase continued across the wide- open space of the McShea Mall.

This is where the police lost him.

“Small legs, fast runner,” explains another officer, Percy Veer.

The police continued to do a sweep of the Mall and found a black pot. It was heavy when the police picked it up.

“We thought it was filled with a gold,” said Veer. “A Saint Patrick’s Day miracle.”

However, upon opening the lid, they discovered black hunks of coal.

“Wrong holiday, again!” shouted Land.

The leprechaun has been causing havoc on campus for the past two weeks now by putting extra bacon on students’ cheeseburgers, adding money to students’ Paw Bucks accounts and slipping candy into backpacks.

Sightings of leprechaun should be reported to campus PD immediately. The mayhem must be stopped.

The Boy I Never Knew

 

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Glen Onoko Falls in Jim Thorpe, PA. Photo by Kellie Dietrich.

Hikers have been seriously injured and killed as a result of accidental falls from the trail and gorge overlooks.

I’ve never been afraid when I read this sign before today; before a boy two years younger than me, just 18 years old, fell 50 feet to his death.

I’ve hiked at Glen Onoko in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania almost every summer since I was ten years old with my Aunt, cousin, and sister. Besides some spray painted circles on tree trunks, there wasn’t much to guide hikers along the so-called path. If you didn’t know it, you would miss it.

My aunt knew the way and we hardly ever ran into anyone. It was our secret, peaceful place. Birds chirped and the sound of the river and waterfalls cleared our minds as we raced to the falls and splashed in the water.

I was a child, invincible, and with my Aunt, protected.

But seeing the sign today hits too close to home. Rahman Mustafa Hassan—I only know his name from reading news articles online—died one week and three days ago. He had a picnic with a group of friends at the second and tallest waterfall that hikers reach. On the top of the falls, there is a wide flat surface of dry stone that water travels around. Rahman and his friend Fadi Abboud dangled their legs over the falls’ ledge.

The police reported that a water bottle was dropped and both teens reached for it.

Fadi slipped. Rahman offered a hand. They both fell to the base of the falls.

Rahman was killed on impact. However, he died trying to save his friend. Because he grabbed Fadi’s hand, it slowed his fall and he was sent to the hospital in critical condition.

I never found out if he made it and I’d rather not know. It’s silly to die over a water bottle, so I’d like to think Rahman did save his friend’s life. Because even though I never knew him, he was similar to me. He was a college student with plans and hopes and dreams. He wanted to hike with his friends and have fun. It wasn’t too much to ask for, was it? But a spark changes to an all-consuming fire in milliseconds.

I think about all this while I head up the steep path. It’s a cloudy and wet spring day. There are more warning signs as we head to the first fall. I wonder if these signs were just added or if they were here before the accident. The signs warn visitors to wear proper hiking shoes and to turn back if you are wearing anything else.

I’m wearing sneakers and I’ve always worn sneakers here. I’ll be fine, I tell myself.

I slip on some rocks and it makes me nervous even though I’m not close to a ledge. At one point, my aunt has to pull me up because the rocks are slick and smooth. The temperature drops as we move closer to the falls. Gnarled, damp tree roots stick out of the ground and serve as handholds as we climb higher. We see less and less mountain laurels, my Aunt’s favorite flower, and the rushing water of the falls drowns out any birds or other signs of life.

When we reach the top of the second waterfall, we see ropes, my guess just added after the accident, to stop hikers from getting onto the flat rock or close to the ledge. The ropes don’t seem to have stopped anyone though. A couple has set up a hammock between the trees and a few other hikers admire the view, which is the best overlook of Glen Onoko. Mountains, leaves, and trees—green, green, green—as far as the eye can see.

I stay behind the ropes. I’ve been out farther before, but it doesn’t feel right today.

A Penn State baseball cap, soon to blow away with the wind, sits on a skinny tree trunk, about three feet high, to honor Rahman’s memory. A red “R.I.P” graffiti on a rock is already fading away.

I give a moment of silence to Rahman and Fadi as I listen. The water hits the rocks below with a thunderous roar, and I’m not sure why the sound overcomes me with peace.

Beautiful and deadly, nature is quite the hypocrite.