Tanka 46 and 47

Snow in spring. Remember in summer. Anticipate in fall. Scheduled for winter, but…now we are back to snow in spring. All the harder for being out of season.

46.
Behind the window
we sit in the warm bright room
watching the snow fall
swift and cruel across the glass,
endless ranks out of the dark.
3/17/17

47.
Snow falls in the dark
swooping up to the window
hard into the glass
wanting to do us some harm
We draw back, shaken and small
3/17/17

Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 25

You may be familiar with my Poetry Marathons – I’ve done them since January, 2015. I take a week, several times a year, and devote it to poetry – writing, editing, all poetry-related activities.

This year I have decided to do one segment of a Marathon each week. Two to three hours set aside for poetry, outside my regular life. It’s called the Installment Plan Poetry Marathon.

For more background information, look here. And if you want to read previous posts in this series, search this blog under the term Installment Plan Poetry Marathon 2017.


 

On June 22, I was back at Logue Library, Chestnut Hill College. It was a perfect summer day.

 

I missed working here last week – my computer problems – and I was happy to be back in my desk on the 3rd floor.

 

I love the quiet solitude of the library in summer. Just love it. Being in the building among the books calms me in a way nothing else does.

Before I got started, I decided to walk through the first floor in search of a book to check out (I eventually chose Life on the English Manor 1150-1400, by H S Bennett, 1937. I was interested because I have been rereading Daphne DuMaurier’s The House on the Strand). Book titles were what caught my interest today. I’ll give you a little tour.

 

CHC is a Catholic collage and has an extensive collection of religion-oriented titles, as you might think. These books refer to the local seminary for priests, a very grand and extensive site. The title stopped me, but what intrigued me here was the way the book on the right seemed to be pushing its neighbor back, even though they had equal claims on the subject. A little rivalry?

I am dating myself by knowing what the title of this book means, I think.

I am not interested in what they said yesterday about today. I want to know about tomorrow!

Walk down any street and do field research on this topic. Yes, indeed.

These three books might have something to say about today’s world, even though they were written in years past.

I debated as to whether this title meant cigarette/pipe/cigar/etc. smoking, or meat smoking. But you can see it’s in the medical section.

This many volumes on the East India Company and China. This many!

The natural world is complex. These books will help explain some interesting topics.

I just liked this title.

I’ll end with this book. I love the title, and I hope the story allowed the characters not only to be born in Paradise but to stay there, wherever it may have been.

 


After this excursion, I got down to work. I decided to write first and to look over the poems I wrote two weeks ago after that. Things went fine for the first part of this session. But when I got to the editing part, I realized I had lost some files from the computer breakdown. I spent some reconstruction time that I hadn’t planned on and I didn’t enjoy!

Well, that’s all right. I think (fingers crossed) things are back as they should be. I felt a bit at sixes and sevens today, writing-wise, though. Well, next week I’ll look things over and see what I think then.

Here are a couple of poems from today.

This one was inspired by my orienteering event last week at Norristown State Hospital. There are a lot of buildings slowly decaying as the hospital continues in the decades-long process of contracting.

7.

If you close up the building
walk away from it
let it sit
year after year
let the slates on the roof crack
drop off in shards
let water in
let rain
fall all the way to the basement
brick walls lose mortar lose bricks
windows pull out of the walls
parapet lying in a dent in
the lawn
that is grown up knee high
go around back
some kind of vine crawling
through and over
the sun porch a sagging empty
dark hole
You put a Condemned
Keep Out
sign
on the front door
such as it is
rotten soft and weather-scoured
All of this and
Still
We remember, don’t we?

This poem came from observations on a walk around my neighborhood.

8.

The old man
moving at no speed
drags the hose across the lawn
a defect-free swath
of fake-looking real grass
to the thick-mulch plot
placed with just that little bit of awkward
you don’t know if it’s for
asymmetrical effect
or just off-center
Full of red geraniums
spaced too far apart to chat
but yelling would be rude
so, they sulk a bit. Each one
lonely.
The old man gets that hose in position
aims the sprayer.
The geraniums would turn their backs
if they could
but as it is
they just have to take
the turned-up-one-notch-too-high
bombardment
as best they can
holding on to green leaves
while red petals fly off
spatter the mulch in sodden heaps.
The old man cuts the flow
starts to turn
all of a sudden
squeezes the handle for one more hard burst
The geraniums shiver.

And a few handwriting snippets.

b.
it was the last thing anyone expected
the lightning strike was not fatal
we are all disappointed

c.
it was perfectly respectable
some sort of vegetable transfusion
to modify my behavior

d.
your alter ego
reflected in a mirror
now I know why your jealousy is so intense

e.
discount prices are compelling
intruding on my mental peace
things looking grim but still plenty manageable

f.
a broken toe
out-numbered two to one
by a stiff knee and damage to the garage

g.
call the doctor and get his opinion
of the scales on her nose
don’t just assume it is fate

OK, that’s it for today. Hope to see you next week!

Good Manners Require

From the collection published in 2015, Catch Up With Summer.

Good Manners Require

Two men walking. I know them. I go toward them.
It’s rude not to.
One man talks on the phone as he walks
Hunches his shoulders a little
as if to hear better.
It’s my brother, he shouts
as I approach
It’s my brother.
The other man strides along
looking to the side
It isn’t his brother and maybe
the conversation has turned
too personal and yet
he cannot vanish with tact. So he is working hard at
thinking about something else
I can tell. You can do that
even when someone is talking to you
but it’s even easier when
it’s not your brother.
I don’t know what the etiquette is
for this situation normally I would stop and say hello but I
wave and pass
so I can begin
thinking about something else
myself.

 

Four men walking, Philadelphia, PA, 2006.

Fragment

From Catch Up With Summer, published 2015.

Fragment

Summer morning portrait.
Sidewalk.
A grandmother
singing
pushes a fat baby in a stroller.
Older brother
trails behind
preoccupied with
dragging the toes of his sneakers
across the concrete
with each step.

Sign in front of a church, Allentown, PA, 2012.

In Full

From Spring Cleaning, published in 2015.

In Full

You know
He was always a loudmouth
a bragging kind of kid and a blustering adult
and we were always trying to get him to shut up.
He didn’t stay in one job for very long
don’t know why, maybe no one could stand the talk.
And so he moved to the other side of the state
for a while. Now I hear
he’s back and then I hear he’s had a heart attack
and next thing you know he’s died.
That’s it. The whole story.

 

Discarded metal pieces, all found together. 2015.

Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 24

You may be familiar with my Poetry Marathons – I’ve done them since January, 2015. I take a week, several times a year, and devote it to poetry – writing, editing, all poetry-related activities.

This year I have decided to do one segment of a Marathon each week. Two to three hours set aside for poetry, outside my regular life. It’s called the Installment Plan Poetry Marathon.

For more background information, look here. And if you want to read previous posts in this series, search this blog under the term Installment Plan Poetry Marathon 2017.


This week’s session was multi-part, held over several days starting on June 15 and ending on June 19.

Here is why – computer problems got in the way. Oh dear. The less said there, the better. You will understand what went on when I tell you the upshot was – I had to get a new computer. The old one died such a catastrophic death, and then there was getting the new one to get itself going. I’m shivering thinking about it.

So poetry was done in bits and pieces – of time, and in print/paper. Yes, snippets. Low tech.

I took the short walk down the stairs to my studio. I have a table there that I do “clean” projects on, such as snippets, drawing, etc.

The regular art tables are over to the side.

I have a bookcase full of snippet material – old books I have picked up here and there.

I had some words and phrases cut out from earlier sessions and I tore some pages from various books to have some new material, too. I set up my work area – I arrange the pieces on the cardboard pieces, shifting them around here and there until things coalesce.

Doing snippets takes time. I get a few things that look good to me but I don’t glue them down right away – time is your friend. You need to let the ideas settle. Or – maybe a new phrase or word will come along and make you happier. Then you are glad you did not glue right away. Patience!

I came back and forth to the table over the next few days. Except for Saturday, when I was at an art show, I worked a little every day. I ended up with a good crop of snippets and I decided to leave the table in working mode rather than cleaning it up. I may want to stop back in – I don’t think this snippet session is done yet.

So, that’s all I have to show for this week. I didn’t get a chance to go over last week’s poems, trapped as they were inside the computer (they are ok, having survived the transfer to the new one, thanks to the cloud backup). So I’ll do that the next session.

Here are a few snippets to whet your snippet appetite…first, a couple of ones about nighttime.

I could say “current events” about this one, but I think it describes an ongoing human behavior, from ancient times to today.

And how about that summer coming along so nicely!

Until next time…