The Marathon journey is in its third year. Put Pen to Paper is the current incarnation.
On April 18 I was at Montco in the Brendlinger Library. A typical April day, cool and gray. Look here, a photo from the intersection of Spring Garden and Butler in Ambler. It’s been some time since I showed a photo from this location, on my way to the college.
Some of the trees on campus have new green leaves…
and some don’t. Look at how green the grass is, though. Spring is here.
I went up to College Hall
and set up my table.
It’s still National Poetry Month. I decided to try another blackout poem and picked one up from the table. I also took a poem in your pocket offering though I’m not sure if it’s today or left from earlier. No matter, I’ll pass it along.
What about today? I’ve accumulated poems from earlier weeks that I could not get happy with – as I’ve said, I’m changing routines in my everyday life and it’s occupying poetry space in my head.
Also, I think I’m getting pickier with my work. Since I’ve said so much in writing already, anything I say now had better have something to say, if you know what I mean. Luckily, there is no shortage of things to write about this in world, or ways to do it. A reassuring thought.
Anyway, what this all means is, I started off by looking over the earlier-written poems. And I did get through the blackout exercise – nothing great, but for the first time I’ve tried one of these, I was able to stagger through in semi-coherent form.
I also did a whole group of poems prompted by this page of cut-out phrases.
It’s interesting – some days I can look at a page like this and get nothing from it – then another day, the whole list is leaping out and begging for inclusion. Today was one of the latter days – good! That’s fun.
At lunchtime I went to the grocery store café for lunch and to work on Little Vines. By then the sun had come out.
All right, here are some samples from today.
Here’s one of those hangover (not hungover!) poems:
Feeling the raw edges of it
I think of a knife
taking the first peel of skin off the beet
the first stroke that scrapes away
the sharp line that separates
the moment when there is no going back
the pause before the second cut.
You know how you think of it
this kind of thing
feeling the raw edges of it
with your fingers
holding the knife.
The blackout poem – as you can see from the photo, it came from text from a translation of Beowulf.
we have heard from many:
the friendless fate repaid in wealth
the folk who a good heaven sent favor
for so long a while
endowed with renown
at the fated moment
while the leader
These two short poems came from the phrase page.
to catch a train
we might have been friends
it seems the most unfair truth of all:
the idea that
it was always five minutes too late
Something soft and scandalous
about your feelings
I was narrower about things back then
I was lonely but
not lonely enough.
So did this one, come from the phrase page, I mean, but it’s a bit longer. I think the people in this poem, well, they have issues.
For a change
I’d like to say
started off the conversation
I waited for
what he’d like to say
for a change
hoping I would not have to answer
That’s the last thing I would want
wondering if I had sat here long enough
to be ready to be let down gently
remembering the last time
when he said
Wouldn’t it be nice if
I’m not going to cry anymore
but I didn’t say it out loud
and I won’t now
I agree with you
it’s very early
why can’t you divide it
save some of it for later throw it out mail it away?
what it feels like to a client
one more unpleasant
oof right in the stomach
leaves on the ground
in the air
it will end with me in the cemetery
the man I am today
the one I made clean
did he lie to me?
high-flying golden kites
pink clouds at sunset
like greasy potato chips in a punch bowl
looping handwriting stay clear
bulbous l’s and o’s careening along
underhanded and out of control
the knife in the drawer
the knife in the hand
the filleted business partner lying on the carpet
To the big eye watching over us
I advise you just to say Thank You
Any more than that and you give it ideas
For the first time
I figure I might be ready to tell the truth
so that you could leave home
because two hundred people said so:
the gossip circulated
like holes through Swiss cheese
backdate the document?
there are second chances, yes
but they usually don’t work backwards
the thumbtacks in a jar
a wedding gift
representing married life
the postage stamp
set askew on the envelope
the wedding invitation misfolded inside
there is the certainty of it
of something feeling true
as plain as the hands on a clock
now that we agree about bodybuilders
let’s try backhoe drivers
then kosher butchers
Thank you for reading!