“The First Annual AHS Wipeout 5K Run” by George J. Searles

George J. Searles


No question about it; this was a great day 
for the American Hemorrhoids Society,
and for me. The race attracted hundreds
of socially conscious joggers and runners
from all over the area—each glad to fund-raise
for such a worthy cause and maybe achieve
at the same time a personal record on the fast, 
straight, out-and-back course through town.
We showed up early and gathered in the park
near the starting line outside Sundown Vale
Assisted Living and exchanged the usual
self-congratulatory tales of recent performances,
and, of course, the predictable litany
of ailments: plantar fasciitis, sore knees,
the lower back issue, tendonitis, shin splints,
IBS—and yes, painful hemorrhoidal tissue.
According to these conversations, no one had trained
sufficiently, thereby providing a preemptive excuse
in case of a poor showing in the race, while some
of the faster kids and other reliable local standouts
did impressive wind sprints to loosen up and show off.
The event’s sponsor, Preparation H, had a big truck
on site, decorated with the product’s familiar logo,
and peppy young company reps wearing blue
and yellow T-shirts also bearing the logo were 
giving away free samples. Some of us chose 
to try them out right away, availing ourselves 
of the porta potties arrayed along the sidewalk.
Then a tiny, clearly nervous girl from St. Jude’s Pre-K
gamely labored through a quavering, slightly off-key 
but well-received interpretation of the national anthem, 
as we fidgeted patriotically and adjusted our watches.
Finally the starting gun was fired and we got moving,
shuffling at first because of crowd congestion, but soon
picked up speed as the pack thinned out. The weather
that morning was cool and sunny, matching my mood.
I was flying, wings on my feet, the scenery a blur.
Having just celebrated my 100th birthday, I was sure
I’d finish well before lunch, first in my new age group,
earning another of those coveted little plastic trophies.

from Rattle #76, Summer 2022


George J. Searles: “Originally from Jersey City (one subway stop from Manhattan), I’m a former social worker (maximum security prison, public assistance, mental health) but am now a long-time community college professor (yet another variety of social work) in upstate New York. I write poetry—if that’s what it is—because I have no choice. I’m trying to say something reasonably germane about our shared predicament, while trying for a few laughs at the same time: death, heartbreak, horror, suffering; HaHaHaHa!”

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