Loose Ends Poetry Marathon Day 3

Again, something new at today’s Poetry Marathon. Or maybe there were two new things? Or three? You’ll see, by the end of this post.

I went to Chestnut Hill College today, to the Logue Library. I’ve been to this location before and I like it. The school is only a short trip from home and everyone at the library is very friendly. I decided to do today’s session in the morning. Typically I work in the afternoon but today’s schedule worked better for trying a morning event. I liked it.

Ch library #1 2-16-16 small

I’ve always worked in the reading room, a very large and open room with tall windows. But today, I felt like a change. I decided to take up a position in the stacks. I chose this study carrel next to the windows on the first floor. Now, this library was built in the 1950’s or so, I think, and all the interior items reflect that time period. The furniture, the shelves, the terrazzo floors in the lobby, the linoleum in the stacks – all of it is very familiar to me, having grown up in the 1960’s, and I feel at home in this kind of space.

It was a chilly rainy day outside with off and on downpours. I could hear the students as they passed outside the windows.

Ch library #2 2-16-16 small

I was intrigued by the look of these books – turned pages out on the shelves. I don’t know why, but I love that paper.

Ch library #4 2-16-16 small small

I also enjoy seeing so many file cabinets. These are not being used anymore, no surprise to me – but I confess to a secret love of filing and organizing and so the sight of a filing cabinet makes me happy. It gives me the feeling that things are in order in one place here on earth, at least.

Ch library #5 2-16-16 small

A librarian came by to turn on more lights for me and to apologize for the chilliness – the heater was not working well. Then she mentioned something interesting – that a cat might stop by.

Well, this was news. A cat? Turns out there is a neighborhood cat who comes to the library on a regular basis. His name is Cornelius and they call him the “Chief Cataloger”. She knew he was in the building today; a student let him in, she said, looking happy about it.

Well, I hoped for a visit. And a little while later…

I followed him down the aisle and around the corner. He paid no attention to me, but I was thrilled.

Now, I’ll discuss the actual Marathon activities. I decided to finish up compiling the poems for the poetry book I am working on. I got that done, and so now I will be working on the format of the book. I also wrote the introduction to the volume today as well, which took a little thought. I needed to reflect on what made this group of poems a coherent body.

Thinking about it, these poems were all written in response to some immediate idea or thought or image – they were not part of a Marathon or session or the like. Just thoughts that came to me in everyday life, the kind of thing squeezed in among grocery shopping and mowing the grass and so on. It’s so easy to dismiss ordinary thought as being nothing but brain chatter, but I think that if you capture them in writing, you can start to see paths in your thinking or dreams or ideas you’d like to see become something. The act of writing is what is important – the results will follow. That’s what I think, anyway.

Anyway, that book will get done, and I will feel satisfied about it, and so I say, thank you, Poetry Marathon.

I then took some time to do some quick poetry writing. Today it focused on what was happening around me – how I felt being in this library, doing this task, at this particular time. That’s not always true of these sessions – in some of them, my mind wanders all over. Not today. I think I felt very content in this location. Something about it was soothing.

So here is today’s poem – fresh from my thoughts.


The books the dried pages the dense air
the heater’s incessant roaring promising heat and
producing none. The thick stone walls
that hold in the chill. The windows spattered
with raindrops blown hard against them the leafless trees
vibrating in the wind. Somewhere outside a gutter
overflows the water slapping the stone. The granite windowsill
cold when I rest my hands on it the radiator
cold when I rest my hands on it the fluorescent bulbs
hang in fixtures without covers and every other one
seems to flicker. The filing cabinets no longer needed
miles of them lining the end walls on each floor a scrap metal
bonanza the shelves a darkened turquoise a color no one can replicate
today full of books exactly what a library should be
full of books and the rest of it irrelevant
as long as I can get at those books.


I love libraries. All kinds. All the time.


24 thoughts on “Loose Ends Poetry Marathon Day 3

  1. I was so happy that the cat came in my area (I would say came to see me but he didn’t, he had his own agenda). There is something great about a place that a cat can run around in like this, I think.

  2. From the style of the architecture, I think this building might even be older, 1920s or 1930s. Of course, I might be wrong.

  3. The building fools you with the stone and the details – so I looked it up to make sure, 1960-61 is the date. I had the advantage of seeing the interior details that don’t show up in photos, and the place is in pretty much original condition (they are in fact getting ready for a total update of it). I guarantee if you saw the bathrooms you would place it at 1960 – tile, sink, etc. – totally perfect.

    I was also interested in how the furniture is all 1950ish – the tables, the heavy wooden chairs, etc. And the most beautiful terrazzo floor in the front lobby. This style of building to me is very familiar around here – I think of it as Catholic university style – as we have a lot of colleges of Catholic affiliation and they all seemed to do a big expansion in the 50’s and 60’s with this style of architecture. Interesting social history thing, looking at buildings like this one.

  4. I love how sensory your poem is. You really capture and convey the scene perfectly. All it was missing was a cameo appearance from the cat. Ha ha!

    I also love libraries. Almost the first thing I did when we moved here was sign the kids and I up to the library system. It was important to me to have that library card in my possession and be part of that system again. The style of that library reminds me of the university library I used to study in. They definitely have a look to them, that’s for sure. Sadly, my university library did not have a Cornelius.

  5. What fun to have a cat in the library!
    And yes…full of books. They keep renovating branches in NYC and making them mostly computers. There are no bookstores left, we need someplace to find that book we would never know about otherwise…at least that’s what I think. (K)

  6. Do they ever. I have lived with a lot of cats over the years and none ever gave me any other impression! A meeting of equals, no less, we were, if I were not actually the inferior.

  7. I thought so too. This particular college library is a time capsule of 1960 as far as fittings and architecture, but it has the books, the cat, and a lot of friendly staff, and it’s got years of learning soaked into its walls, I like going there and I’m glad the poetry Marathon gives me the reason.

  8. I walked around in the stacks for a while on this day. Being a college library there were a lot of really intriguing titles – I was in a history/theology area – and I later learned I could sign up for a card here if I want..Now that is friendly. Our public libraries are also going very computer, but I mostly order books rather than browsing shelves – I browse the catalog…

  9. Thank you. (I did another poem about the cat but it seemed too much CAT with the post. I really took to the idea of a library that welcomes a cat like this). This library is very pleasant if you ever have a need to work on something and want quiet, and it’s very convenient location to you, too. The campus is tiny but some really nice buildings and it has an interesting history as a Catholic school for nuns, girls, and now coed.

  10. Lots of books and a cat–sounds just like my office! Thx for sharing this peek at Chestnut Hill College. (I ended up going to Temple U but I remember the day I checked it out. Seemed like a wonderful place!)

  11. Yes me too. Although I always browse the “new” shelves which are right by the entrance. Sometimes you CAN tell a book by its cover I’ve found.

  12. I went to Bryn Mawr but I came from Tennessee originally so I didn’t know anything about other colleges until I settled here, and Chestnut Hill is very close to home and I still didn’t visit it until I started this Marathon thing last year. I toured the whole place over the course of a few different times and it is such a nice spot, and everyone very friendly and helpful (even the security guards, one of whom personally guided me to the correct visitor parking area the first time I came).

  13. You brought back memories — good ones of library stacks– I ‘ve read about library cats but never met one–a good sign when the staff lets one in.

  14. Yes, I thought so too. The whole feeling of the building changed for me, or really, was reinforced, when I heard about the cat, and that he had a name, and then when I saw him…!!!

  15. Oh I love the part about the cat making visits to the library, that is adorable. I love being surrounded by books and visiting libraries, you poem paints such a wonderful visual of space I feel like I am there. Love reading your poems Claudia!

  16. Thank you. I think I would pick a library as my home if I could choose my ideal place on earth. And the cat was just fantastic – really makes the place – even more individual.

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