Have you seen the video where the moms of the Baltimore police officers grab their sons out of the police transport van and whack the hell out of them, yelling, “Stop it! Stop it! Stop slamming Freddy Gray’s head into the van, you’re going to break his neck!”

No? Me either. While we wait for that video to appear and go viral, let’s do push-ups.

In 31 days, we’re going to do a lot of push-ups. More important, you’re going to go from decent push-up to a great one: strong flat plank, chest to ground, smooth movement. If you have a solid flat push-up, you’ll be working towards a clapping push-up, a chest touch push-up, or a one-arm push-up. Set your intention now.

If you’ve not gotten your pair of dumbbells yet (see the “About” section), try to get them before too long. A stronger push-up requires a stronger back, so we’ll be doing weighted rows with those dumbbells to keep us balanced.

Bring in two or three friends to do this Push-Up (+ Poems) challenge with you. Someone from work, a high school friend you’ve not talked to for a long while, your sibling who moved to California, your neighbor, someone who’s been saying they want to get into shape. A caveat: if they think the young people in Baltimore are “overreacting,” skip over them and invite someone else.

Here we go.  Welcome to our first Queerfit Open Challenge.

Friday, May 1 Dare:

5 push-ups
10 squats
10 push-ups
10 squats
15 push-ups
10 squats
20 push-up
10 squats
Max consecutive push-ups without breaking your plank. Pausing at the top of the plank is ok, so long as the pause is less than 2 seconds.

The sets of 5, 10, 15, and 20 push-ups can be broken up into as many sets as you need to maintain excellent form. If you don’t yet have a push-up from your toes, do your pushups at an angle, against the side of the table or against the wall. Start at whatever angle you need to maintain a perfectly straight line from your shoulder through your hip to your ankle.

Post to comments when you’re done, along with your max set if you like. Get your ego out of the way: it will be lower than your true max b/c you will have just done 50 push-ups already. And let us know who you’re pulling in to do these push-ups with you.

du bois in ghana
bEvie Shockley (2015)

at 93, you determined to pick up and go—
and stay gone. the job nkrumah called you to,
to create, at last, your encyclopedia africana
(encompassing a continent chipped

like wood beneath an axe, a large enough
diaspora to girdle the globe, and a mere four
thousand years) was either well-deserved
sinecure or well-earned trust

that your health was as indestructible as
your will. my mind wrestles with possible pictures:
the victorian sensibility, the charcoal wool
formality of your coats and vests, the trim

of your beard as sharp as the crease of your
collar—how would these du boisian essentials
hold up to sub-saharan heat? would
your critical faculties wilt in accra’s

urban tropics as i’ve read that westerners’
are wont to do? dr. du bois, i presume
you took the climate in stride, took to it,
looked out your library’s louvered windows

onto a land you needed
neither to condemn nor conquer,
and let the sun tell you what you already knew:
this was not a port to pass on.

your 95th birthday photo found you bathed
in white cloth, cane still in hand, sharing a smile
with a head of state who knew your worth—joy
that this nation’s birth occurred in time

for you to step out of a cold, cold storm
into outstretched arms. would your pan-
african dream have survived a dictatorial
nkrumah, an nkrumah in exile? you took

the prerogative of age and died without telling,
without knowing. a half-century later, here
in the country where you were born, i look
into a screen and watch as, near and far, a pan-

demic of violence and abuse staggers the planet.
we seed the world with blood, grow
bleeding, harvest death and the promise
of more. when i turn bitter, seeing no potential

for escape, i think of the outrages you saw—wars,
lynchings, genocide, mccarthy, communism’s
failure to rise above corrupting power
any better than capitalism had, the civil rights

movement’s endless struggle—and how
you kept writing and walking, looking
for what you knew was out there. your memory,
your tireless radiant energy, calls me

to my work, to my feet, insisting
that somewhere on the earth, freedom is
learning to walk, trying not to fall,
and, somewhere, laboring to be born.