Over the course of a summer of running trails in my favorite park in upstate NY, I had pretty much written a poem in my head. When I finally took the time to get it on paper, it showed up in a heartbeat. I called my friends Denver Miller and JR Kraus (both talented directors and cinematographers) to see if it was worth shooting a short video to put the words with. Something done for the love of what we do – storytelling. And, to be honest, to show to prospective clients as well. After just a few hours of scouting the park, this, too, showed up in a heartbeat.

And for those who’d like to read the poem, here’s the original:

Give me trails.

Needled whisper-paths through the pines and their sharp jabs of busted spokes and whirls at shoulder/hip/head height.
Tangled close-crowded paths through gullies and shadowed low places. The willow-swing of thornbrush gripping my shins, forearms and biceps.
Glorious muddy stretches that try to swallow my feet alive.
Give me sudden right-turn uphills and skittish, greasy downhills and roots like the backbones of some long-gone earthen civilization rising if only to keep me paying attention.
Give me wipeouts and grit in my teeth. Sweat-salt in my eyes.
Give me deer that don’t hear me coming or going, fox that go on about their meandering way, geese, woodpecker, hawk, jay, blackbird.

Give me trails.

I run solo but I’m not alone.
It’s in my blood. My Blackfoot ancestry. I feel them running with me and the hair on my neck and forearms stands on end. I hear them in the wind off the lake and in the song of leafed braches overhead.
I was given endurance and two legs that respond when I say go.
I was not given excuses.
I run because I can and carry everything on these two feet and shoulders, until I carry nothing.
There’s no machine stride in me, just my heart and will and these woods.

Here I am, mortal.
Here, I will live forever. Native.
Here I outrun my heart and scramble from insane to sane. Here I am honest and unflinching and vulnerable.
I run toward pain, through it, from it.
I run heartbroken and hopeless and swearing into the hungry green.
I run whole and happy and singing into the hungry green.
I run thirsty, my tongue tasting like copper and blood and a life that is alive.


I am alive.

Give me trails so that I can run.


Filed under In the woods, Life, Poetry

16 responses to “GIVE ME TRAILS

  1. Dude. That was extremely well done and your words gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing. Hope all is well.


    • fishingpoet

      Hey, Ben! Great to hear from you. Thank you for the kind words. Things are well here. Hope the same is true in your neck of the woods.

  2. I was given two legs, but they do not respond when I say go. Not like yours, do. Incredible piece, Matt.

  3. “roots like backbones” Yes.

  4. Excellent Matt … so many great color visions. ‘Alive!’ … inflection, born on the winds of passion … for Life. Kudos! Do post more! – AOF

  5. Amy Butler

    gorgeous, strong, rooted and vulnerable. thank you.

  6. Mike Rice

    “…and carry everything on these two feet and shoulders until I carry nothing.”
    Beautiful work, Matt.

  7. Ronald Busch

    Is the text for the poem ‘Give Me Trails” available? Longtime trail runner but no more due to ALS.

  8. Lauren

    Magnificent and magical. I’d love a written copy. Is it transcribed online?

    • fishingpoet

      Thank you, Lauren! I do have the original. I’ve had a few requests for it, so I’m going to add it below the video.

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