Last-Minute Poetry Marathon, Day 5

For an introduction to this Poetry Marathon, look here.

Day 5. I decided to return to Arcadia University. I felt in need of a peaceful experience after yesterday. I figured the college students might not be using the library so much this afternoon, it being a Friday; things might be quiet. And, it was a mild sunny day, nice for a walk. So I set off.

I’ve shown you plenty of library photos from Arcadia, so I figured today I’d take you on my walk to the school instead. Here we go.

I leave home and walk past the high school. You can see Arcadia from the back parking lot.


I walk past the baseball field.


As I approach the condo complex, I look for a truck I see parked along here very often. This person must have a small scrap metal retrieval business. Sure enough, the truck is here today. It’s full, though not as packed as I seen it before – I particularly like it when the tailgate is folded down and a stove or refrigerator is set on it and bungeed in. The appliance always looks faintly embarrassed to be in such a position, I think.


I cut through the condo complex parking lot. This building here burned down, to the ground, about 4 years ago. After some time, it was rebuilt looking exactly as it had before. Exactly. I mean EXACTLY.


I cross under this bridge – that’s Easton Road overhead, main street of Glenside. Sometimes I go through the diner parking lot to the left (I’m standing in its drive)and cross at another light, but this time I’m entering the campus from the corner.


And here are the steps into campus at the corner of Church Rd. and Limekiln Pike.

I go into the main part of campus through between these buildings.


I approach the library from the back and side.




And I have arrived at the front doors. I go inside and check in.


I pass a portrait of Betty Landman, the former president for whom the library is named. It was built during her administration, which saw a lot of new buildings and campus expansion.


I walk along the main floor.


I head into the first floor stacks and settle at this table in an alcove. It has such a nice view, especially on a great day outside like today.

Well, that’s the journey I made to get to this Poetry Marathon location! Now, for what happened once I got to work…

As I had hoped, the library was quiet and peaceful. Perfect for thinking. I started off with quick poetry writing today – I wanted not to rush through it. After about an hour, I worked on my photo poem project.

I had come to understand I wouldn’t get through the whole photo poem collection in this Marathon, so I took my time and relaxed. And I was pleasantly surprised by the poems that came up in today’s session. I seemed to have hit a streak of images or ideas that flowed, as these poems required much less work than the earlier ones. I am now in the month of May, 2016 – and the endpoint is the end of August, so I’ve got a few more hours of work in what I also now know is just the first pass through this collection.

I plan to work on things over the next week or so and finish Round One. Then I’ll take another look through, and another, until I feel happy with all the poems. At that point I’ll set up the book and get things in print. Earlier in the week I was not so sure of my work, but I am feeling optimistic now!

One thing I haven’t mentioned – A poem needs a title, right? When I wrote each poem, I didn’t title it, feeling that I’d know better what would suit, if I did it later. I was thinking that things needed to gel in my mind. Well, I don’t mind saying, choosing a title may be the hardest part of this editing process of all. It’s easy to get impatient and slap something down. No, you have to unfocus your mind, almost, and let the sense of the poem drift up to the top, where maybe you can catch its feeling, and then put it into words. It can be frustrating. And then, luckily, along comes a poem just shouting its name, and you can type it out fast before it gets away – that’s nice when it happens!

If I may make just a little joke – it’s a matter of chemistry…

As I reflect on this Marathon, I see that it’s a different experience than the others I’ve done. In the original sessions in 2015, all I did was do quick poetry writing, for about two hours. After a week’s rest, I edited and compiled the result of each Marathon into final form, taking maybe 4 weeks or so to do it. That led to four books from four Marathons, about 100 poems each.

In 2016, I have focused more on editing and revising already existing works, poems written here and there. This photo poem project was the most involved thing I’ve done of this nature. Many of these poems were months or even a year or so old, and I had long lost the original thread of my thinking and inspiration.

So, when reviewing these works now, I reminded myself that I must focus hard and try to understand what the poem is saying – I can’t tell myself, “Oh, you remember, this is about the (whatever)” and call up the actual memory. No, with these, I have been thrown back on the actual words and sense of things that exists on the paper.

I’ve also tried not to impose today’s frame of mind on poems written in yesterday’s world. I have tried to stay true to what I wrote, enhancing or improving it, but resisting the urge to say, “Oh, I could take it in this other direction…” I reminded myself that if I wanted to do that, I was free to be inspired by my own work and write something new!

All of this has meant slow progress, slower than I would have thought, in moving through the photo poems. But, I am truly enjoying this look back. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see how my thinking and feelings have evolved over time. I can see that I have improved in my writing skills. And I feel encouraged about continuing with my writing – because sometimes I wonder why I’m doing it at all.

Well, it’s because I like doing it. That’s the answer, and it’s good enough for me. Thank you, everyone, for following my journey and for staying with me.

All right, let me finish with today’s new poem written during the quick writing section of the day – done in tanka form.


The flickering light
The cracked sidewalk revealing
its need of repair.
The quick shove endeavoring
to look like an accident.


9 thoughts on “Last-Minute Poetry Marathon, Day 5

  1. Thank you, Sheldon, that means a lot to mean that you say that. I see you doing the same thing. Practice and you get improve. Plus, I like what I’m doing, I think you do too, and that makes all the difference. Life needs a purpose.

  2. I might be reading too many mystery novels. And there is that crossing at Church Road and Limekiln Pike, you take your life in your hands every time you cross, I might pinpoint that location sticking in my subconscious and rising up to inspire me…

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