Modern Olympian Odes #27 & #28

Modern Olympian Ode #27 (2020):
Around the World in 80 Days

The virus made it around the world in that time,
even to countries who wouldn't be participating in the Games;
many had consulted faulty oracles and acted too slowly
The Olympic officials also dithered a while
even after countries said they wouldn't send teams
because of the spread of the virus,
but eventually they made the right decision
and postponed the Games for a year
And so
some dreams will merely be delayed a year,
some dreams will be realized ahead of schedule,
some dreams will be deferred, perhaps permanently,
and only those affected will know which category they fall into,
though others will speculate then and later



Modern Olympian Ode #28 (1948):
My Mom Can Beat Your Mom

I don't know
if the six-year-old Jan Blankers
ever uttered such a remark,
or how it would have sounded in Dutch if he had,
but he would have been justified in doing so
this year, as well as several years before
and a few years after:
his mom could beat your mom,
could beat anyone else's mom,
could beat any woman not a mom,
because his mom was Fanny Blankers-Koen,
"The Flying Housewife"
She was eighteen and still Fanny Koen
when she competed in Berlin in 1936
(only a year after taking up the sport),
and she finished fifth in the high jump
and was a member of the 4 x 100m relay team
that also finished fifth
Her dreams were deferred and her life affected,
as were the dreams and lives of almost everyone,
by the advent of World War II;
the Netherlands was invaded in early May 1940,
a week after the Olympics that year
were officially cancelled
her marriage later that year to Jan Blankers,
even more so the birth of her first child
in 1942,
ended her career in the minds of most
But she competed during the war,
though the competitions were domestic only,
and set a number of records
She survived the hunger winter
in the last year of the war,
she took several months off from competition
after the birth of her second child
The war ended,
and international competitions resumed
Though she was successful in these,
and had set several world records,
when the 1948 Olympics came around
some 'experts' thought that at age 30
she was too old to make much of a showing,
                                                                  while others
thought she should stay home and take care of her children
She decided to limit herself to four events,
forgoing at least one event
in which she held the world record,
and she won all four events:
two sprints, the hurdles, and as the anchor on the relay team
Too old indeed



Michael Ceraolo is a 63-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had two full-length poetry books published (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press; 500 Cleveland Haiku, from Writing Knights Press), and has two more full-length books in the publication pipeline.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, July 22, 2021 - 22:11