The runner heaved and retched, hunched over, halved,
sweaty and clammy-skinned, emptied and spent,
a half marathon under the belt, a 13.1 sticker just waiting.
In traffic, it seems like bragging, empty braggadocio.
But that decal is hard-earned, the bitter dregs of exhaustion at mile 10
before the second wind kicks in and carries you to the finish line.
Joseph S. Pete is a Chicagoland-based poet and the author of the forthcoming books “Lost Hammond” and “Rust Belt Cantos.”