Surprise Poetry Marathon – Day 4

Oh my goodness, already Day 4!

My shoulder is feeling very happy today, for which I am grateful, and I did not try to scale a straight-up hill or ford a creek this morning in my exercise – so the rest of me is holding together fine. Poetry Marathon, here we come!

After lunch, I ran some errands, still not having made my mind up as to where I wanted to go today. We were anticipating a stormy rainy day, but it hadn’t developed that way and the sunshine encouraged me to try a place I’d been meaning to visit: the William Jeanes Library in Lafayette Hill, PA, maybe 15 minutes or so from my house. I’ve come to this library only a couple of times. Though close to home, it’s in a direction I don’t typically go, and we have many other libraries more convenient to me.

Jeanes library 4 6-23-16 small

It’s been renovated and enlarged in the last few years, due to the largesse of a local resident, whose name is now prominently displayed, and it has certainly changed since I last saw it.

It’s a pleasant airy place.

Choice of seating is limited, however, and today it was made worse by most of it being taken up by a large group of ladies playing canasta over in the new section. Sound also carries all over the building – I participated involuntarily in the tutoring sessions of two different kids across the room and several rows over. Well, enough complaining – I was here, and ready to work. So, I found a spot in a back corner and set things up.

My table 6-23-16 small

First I did my usual fast writing – that occupied about an hour. The it was time to decide on my activity. My thinking was that since I didn’t know what location I was going to use until almost when I started driving, that choice would be the surprise for today. Because – I had an idea of an activity I wanted to try and so I cheated a little…

To explain, I often paste collage poems on paint cards – I tend to collect them for different house projects and then keep them. I pulled out a stack of them a couple of days ago to bring with me, and today I got them out and used the paint names as the first line of a poem.

I enjoyed it. Like collage poetry, it led me down some thought trails I am sure I would not have traveled. Some more literal than others. I’ll do this again, certainly.

All right. I’ll give you the whole list of poems I did in this manner – they are each one pretty short. My only rule was using the named color in the first line – though I did have to look up the meaning of a couple of them…

Black basalt,
he was
slow to anger
Even in full flow
cold and crusting over
at the edges. If you stayed
to the side
you’d have nothing
to worry about.

traveler in yellow pants
standing in the aisle on the train
taking a seat wherever one opens up.
Sociable fellow
picks up a group of guys
and they are playing cards
passing around a bag of chips
and singing out well-worn stories
before you know it.

body suit
not the most practical wear
for a courtroom appearance
the implacable judge
bounced the defendants
into years of solitude

Amber moon
the big round sign
in the window of the snack shop
out on the highway. We had been driving
too long to remember
our last meal
or so it seemed. The golden sphere
like the magic planet home
of the patron saint of
the car-weary and the road-sick
more than willing to pay homage
and cash
for a hot dog

Artichoke leaf
spear tip
scraped clean by teeth
and then on to the next one.

Craft brown
paper wraps up everything
smells a bit gluey
tears at a look. Can you find a place
in our organization
for such a versatile player?

Copper moon
the bottom of the fry pan
hanging on the hook
the penny on the ground
and a whole array of tiny ones
the freckles on your cheeks

car keys go everywhere in this house
stay nowhere
for very long. Land on dresser tops.
Fall under the sofa. Hide in the bottom
of a purse
searched three times. Occasionally
they can even be found
in the

does not mean valuable
but if you are a gossipy type
all bets are off. Grab any example
you can find
of your particular specialty
and see if you can’t sell it
to someone

Warm onyx
in a face
polished by years of extruding
through a mouth
unconnected to
a brain with any sense
of accountability
for them
though they left their mark
in other ways.


10 thoughts on “Surprise Poetry Marathon – Day 4

  1. You are a genius! What a very clever idea. I wish I’d thought of this as a prompt when I was teaching creative writing. The poems are great! I’m sure I would have drawn a blank on “yellowhammer” (I’m going to need to look that one up for a start) but you constructed this entire character and narrative. So clever. Having so recently borrowed your paint chip art idea I might have to try this creative writing exercise out on the kids – and have a go myself of course.

  2. PPS Ack! It wasn’t Amber Moon was it? Copper. That one. Pans, pennies and freckles. That one.

    PPPS I hate that the app version plops comments into a separate screen from the blog post.

  3. I’ve always liked the names on paint chips – exotic and mysterious, many of them, and I always had some story for them right away – so when I was going through my collage poetry supplies the idea came…it was fun. I’ll do it again.

  4. Sometimes, you have the image but no words to go with it, and that’s how it was for me with the freckles, until I had the prod of the words, and then, I can’t explain, it, the freckles idea just – appeared. I could almost feel it rising to the top of my mind from wherever (and whatever) kind of place these things swirl around.

    Getting kind of airy here! I’ll stop before I ruin any claim to sanity I may have. Just, thank you for reading!

  5. It’s the kind of thing – let it soak into your mind, that’s how I feel about it, and ideas just kind of emerge. And it is so nice there are so many colors and so many names!

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