When the publisher says we need a poem for a colleague’s going-away-to-hike-the-Appalachian-Trail party, you better believe I’m all over that shit. (With thanks/apologies to Dr. Seuss, of course.)
Today is your day.
They’re your Appalachians!
(Though we begged you to stay.)
You have beard on your head
And feet in your boots;
You can hike yourself
Wherever it suits.
You’re on your own. And you like what you like.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to hike.
You’ll look up and down trees, look them over with care.
About some you will say, “Oh my goodness! A bear!”
With your head full of beard and your pack full of pants,
You’re too smart to look at the wildlife askance.
And you may find some ticks.
And you may find some snakes.
And you may trip on sticks—
Do whatever it takes.
It’s Beau-ier there
In the brisk mountain air.
Up there stuff can happen
And frequently does
To people as beardy
As you and your fuzz.
And when it starts raining
Don’t worry, don’t fret.
Just keep on refraining:
“It’s fun being wet.”
Oh! The places you’ll Beau!
You’ll hike your way up!
You’ll hike your way down!
You’ll hike through the mountains
And sometimes a town.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ve got the beard.
You’ll make lots of new friends; you shall be revered.
Wherever you hike, you’ll love it, we swear.
Wherever you go, you’re supposed to be there.
Except when you’re not.
Please don’t get shot.
I’m sorry to tell you
But it might be scary
Even for someone
So Beau-like and hairy.
You might hurt your back.
You might see a yeti.
You might burn your pack
Of freeze-dried spaghetti.
And when you feel low
And your feet start to hurt,
You might be quite slow
Getting up off the dirt.
You will come to a place where the path gets so steep
That your happy-feet pace will be harder to keep.
The path may be slippery, pointy and mean.
Can you make it around? Can you go in between?
Do you know where to go? Do you know where you’ve been?
And if you should stumble, or fall on your butt,
Or slide down a mountain, or get in a rut,
Or step your boots into some icky poo piles,
You’ll know you’re prepared for these challenging trials—
‘Cause that’s just the nature of two thousand miles.
You can get so confused
That you’ll start to wonder
If you really should carry this stuff that you’re under
Your pack and your spirit may both fall asunder
And you shall be tempted to make a great blunder.
The Standing-Still Blunder.
For people standing still.
Standing to keep their place in line.
Or to worry about bills, or to remember and pine,
Or to cry a good cry, or to whine a good whine,
Or to watch someone go, or to tell them they’re fine,
Or to wait for a change, or to avoid a bad sign,
Or just standing still till the clock strikes nine.
Everyone is just standing still.
Standing still for the time to come
Or standing still to rest their bum
Or standing still right there where they’re from
Or standing, perhaps, because that’s what they’re told
Or standing still as they wait to grow old
Or standing still so that they’ll feel tall
Or standing still for no reason at all.
Everyone is just standing still.
No! That’s not for Beau!
Somehow you’ve escaped
All that standing and staying
Your life will be shaped
By hiking and playing.
With the sun in your beard,
Once more you’ll walk tall,
All the gear you can haul
And the bears you can maul.
Oh the places you’ll Beau! There is fun to be hiked!
There are mountains to climb, there are peaks to be piked,
And the magical things you can do with this trail
Will make you a teller of a helluva tale.
Blog! Your stories will generate one million hits!
You’ll crash all our websites! Mark will have fits!
Or maybe they won’t.
(Mark says, “Please don’t.)
I’m afraid that sometimes
You’ll play lonely games, too.
At those times, try bathing—
You might smell like poo.
Whether you showered or no,
Sometimes on the trail
It’ll just be a Beau.
And when you’re a Beau, there might come a time
When into your head there will pop this here rhyme
To remind you of life when you’d write and you’d edit—
Just be sure that you’re giving me all of the credit.
But on you will Beau
While we’re all back here
On you will Beau
You’ll be less and less near
On you will Beau
Though you’re craving a beer
Onward up many
A beautiful peak
Though your beard will get long
And your clothes will get reek.
On and on you will hike
And I know you’ll hike far—
Are you sure that you don’t
Want to try it by car?
And we’ll miss you, of course,
As you already know.
We’ll miss you but also
We’re proud that you go.
So be sure when you step
To remember us here
Doing 10 times the sitting
With none of the gear.
Just never forget that you’re part of the mag;
We’ll talk of you often—in fact, we will brag.
And will you get through?
Yes, be sure that you do.
(But really what matters is what works for you.)
Kid, you’ll climb mountains.
Be you editor, techie, hippie or no,
Be somebody awesome—somebody named Beau,
You’re leaving for Georgia, to Maine you will go.
Your mountains are waiting, so on with the show!