Jog Through a Blizzard

I wanted to keep off the weight lost
a few years back. So despite being
only thirteen or so, I ran each night,
streetlightless on my forest block. Guilty
if I did not run, I went out one night
even in a blizzard state of emergency.
A few houses down was a fire truck,
lights rotating in silence. Firemen
were out, neighbors too. I hated anyone
seeing me run, my plans and vulnerability
exposed. But these people I did not know
and visibility was low from snow and dark.
A utility pole was down. Its powerlines
crossed my path. Just as one anticipating
a jump might stutter-step ahead of time
to ensure springing from the correct foot,
I saw ahead of time that the lines were
too high to jump, but too low to duck.
To keep my stride and get back into dark
for privacy, my decision was to lift the line
and pass under. A sweep of the beacon
exposed me just as I reached to lift the line
and when the men screamed out to stop me
it was already in my full grip overhead.
The scream was desperate. They ran to me,
but I sprinted into the black overcome
with shame for putting my life at risk
by not thinking. The feeling was not new.
Since the men were on my path home,
I snuck through backyards not to be seen.
M. A. Istvan Jr., an addict of the TV sitcom Night Court, will always be surrounded with people and substances of ill repute. He does have a steady day job, however. A soap and lotion peddler on Jamaica Avenue in Queens, he is the man calling out “Shea Butter Butter, Blaaaack Soap.” His work has been criticized for its almost single-minded focus on equestrian themes, its lack of allegorical quality, and its overreaching fidelity to his artistic and intellectual precedents. Visit his page at
Photography by Adam Stanzak