Friday, October 28, 2011

*Poem: "No Judgment Zone"*

O beautiful woman at the gym with your big body and your highlighted hair, your black button-down shirt and sneakers,
thank you for being here, whatever the reason.
It's a no-judgment zone, but that doesn't mean I can't look
at the pregnant woman in the long tight shirt pulled snug over five month belly,
man in the wife-beater and sunglasses, fingerless gloves,
tattoos that blend into his dark skin,
soft man in white , bright red face,
twenty minutes on the treadmill, TV tuned to MSG,
soft woman in pink sneakers, t-shirt advertising our gym, following a
trainer from station to station like an advocate of an unseen cross,
all here to look better, or feel better, or because their spouses want them to be,
or to be somewhere that's not their own house,
to meet somebody sober, somebody in the same sweaty boat. 

I've never found romance here, but I've taken kisses
from an old friend dripping with effort on the elliptical,
giggled at later by ladies watching, not judging me.
And there is the beautiful man I've been watching for years now,
beautiful because he keeps coming back.
He is always on the stationary bike when I begin my careful routine,
is still there when I come back for my last fifteen minutes, on a bike too.
He's the only one I recognize week after week, three years now,
and he isn't getting any smaller, but he's here, keeps coming back.
I want to thank him, this beautiful man in the dark goatee.
I want to tell him that some days the idea that he might be there,
keeps being there, is the only reason I come. 

I want to thank everyone for coming, and to skip the free pizza
on first Monday nights, unless it fits in with their food plan,
but it's a no-judgment zone, and doesn't that include cheerleading?
I am there myself to get it over with,
to lounge guilt-free before the fireplace video,
devour homemade popcorn 'til I pop myself.
I am here not so I can live forever,
but so I don't die quite as badly as I might otherwise.
O beautiful man, o beautiful woman,
thank you for joining me at the purple fountain, for the company
on this arduous stroll across the universe of machines,
into the path of most resistance.

CAR  2/1/11