Surprise Poetry Marathon – Day 2

Today I decided to go to one of our local township libraries, East Cheltenham. It’s about 10 minutes from home. I haven’t gone here on a regular basis in some time, since my health issues, I guess, though in the past, much more – I took a yoga class in the building for a while and always stopped at the library. I’ll tell you right now, I’ll be making more of an effort, because today reminded me how much I like this library.

EC sign small 6-16

This section of Cheltenham Township is known as Cheltenham Village. It’s a grid filled with small single and twin houses. The library is set right in among them on Myrtle Avenue.

The library is really comfortable and friendly. It’s housed in a community center – which is a converted elementary school. The library is in the 1964 addition and is a long narrow room with many windows.

I parked the car and came in through the side entrance, down the hall to the library.


As soon as I came in, I saw one of the librarians – I’ve known her for years. We had a conversation to catch up on things. I felt welcomed.

All right. I settled into work at a table in the back.

I started off, as I like to do, with writing poems as quick and intuitively as I can, just writing, not worrying about getting things just right. I will edit later on. I find this method really is great for getting ideas on paper – the more I write, the more ideas and words seem to flow.
After that session, taking about an hour, I worked on a couple of poems needing just a touch-up to be done.

Then, it was time to see what today’s surprise poetry work would be. As I did yesterday, I numbered my list – today I chose by using the time-honored eeny meeny miney mo. And the topic was… “Epic”.

“Epic”, to me, is a catchall project I’ve been adding to over the past couple of years. The title is tongue-in-cheek, certainly. It’s a collection of somewhat longer, somewhat narrative, somewhat stream-of-consciousness poetry-like writing – no common theme, just a place to put this kind of work, really.
I had it on my list because I wanted to do something with it or throw it out and forget it. My task today was to read it over and decide its fate.

I spent a good bit of time reviewing. I decided that it has a lot of good material to work with, but I don’t see it ever hanging together enough to be an entity, if you know what I mean. I don’t have the interest in creating such a thing, either. So, what I plan to do is break it up into parts and let each one stand on its own as a poem. I am happy with this resolution. Now that I know what I want to do with the material, I feel more excited about working with it.

OK! So I have decided to include an excerpt from the “Epic” (as it is for a little while longer).

Office Drone

I open my umbrella.
I bought this umbrella at a stand on the street the last time
it rained. I doubt I will still have it
when it rains the next time. Umbrellas do not linger.

I scuttle along the sidewalk.

From the vantage point of across the street and five stories up
I see myself
a pair of legs under a black umbrella
If I were across the street and five stories up
I imagine that is what I would see
and so I see it behind my eyelids
even as I move along the street.

My feet are wet inside my thin-soled shoes.
I cannot imagine away my wet feet and I do not try.
Someone is across the street and five stories up
but
I doubt that person is looking at me.

 

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17 thoughts on “Surprise Poetry Marathon – Day 2

  1. You know I always enjoy your poems where you alternate perspectives, imagining yourself as someone else or imagine viewing yourself. I like that sense of dislocating familiarity.

    The umbrella poem made me smile: I’ve had the same bright pink umbrella for at least 15 years and several houses in three different countries whereas my husband loses umbrellas with some frequency. I was remarking on this to my kids not long ago and the 9 year old observed that my umbrella has survived because a) I tend to just walk in the rain sans umbrella and b) my husband never borrows my bright pink umbrella.

  2. A lovely homage to East Cheltenham Free Library, Claudia! Interestingly, it looks empty. My local library in Canberra, Australia, where I’m writing from now, is full of people quietly reading, writing, researching … and then there are the noisy ones! I’m pleased to say that the elderly women’s group is at the other end of the room today. They are knitting and talking about all the important ailments in life. I’ve missed the days lately where the children’s group sings, claps and cries along to the librarian’s antics. Libraries are re-inventing themselves to keep alive and today this library is full of people escaping a cold and windy day.

  3. I go to the library almost every day (I say library, but our township of 30,000 has four, with probably 8 or so others within 5 miles that I can also go to using our county-wide system). Remember that I was there on the first day of summer, the schools are out just one day, and the pool is open. I was also there at midday, which is not busy for activities. Nonetheless, there was a steady stream of people in and out. Many kids who were also doing activities in the community center. Libraries are quite busy here (I’ll refer you to http://www.cheltenhamlibraries.org/library_events.php if you want to see in our township) with the same activities you mentioned as well as English classes, computer classes, and community groups. So actually, I was glad of some quiet to be able to work – it is rarely that way.!

  4. I love libraries, too. When our girls were young, they did summer activities at the library that is closest to us.

    I love the line “umbrellas do not linger” I’m not sure why. I also liked the image of yourself as a pair of legs under a black umbrella, and then wondering if someone else was watching you and seeing that, too. I am umbrella challenged. 🙂 They always blow inside, or they are difficult to manage.

  5. It’s so much fun to visit your libraries with you. When my girls were young we used to try different ones in the city all the time. Now I tend to visit just 3 on a regular basis.
    And the poem! “umbrellas do not linger”–it’s perfect. I look forward to seeing more of these. (K)

  6. Especially when the conversations around you are so intriguing…and even more so because in the library most of them are conducted in whispers, gives them that tantalizingly furtive quality…

  7. Thank you. I visit a lot of libraries in my travels, here at home or when we go to other cities. Like you, I have a favorite few, and my local one the most, since I order books on line most of the time rather than going through the shelves, and just stop in to pick up. Still, I do look around pretty much every time…

  8. I think there are people who keep umbrellas and those who don’t, and this post is underlining that fact as both sides are represented in the comments! I love that! Me, I am a keeper, because I mostly just get wet…

    The library is my home away from home and any library is a refuge to me and has been since I learned to read in 1964!

  9. Yes. Today I checked out two times while I was at the library I chose – but that was cheating because it was my home library and more books came in for me when I was there!

  10. Thank you. It’s like those dreams where you are yourself but also someone else at the same time and it seems natural.
    I am also an umbrella keeper by virtue of not using one. Some times it just seems like too much trouble because I don’t usually care if I get wet.

  11. Such a great image! I’m surrounded by the most intimate conversations at full volume. Especially the older women discussing life death birth marriages sex and medical problems. Then there’s the legal advice at the next table. I think there’s a story in this.

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