Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 3

You may be familiar with my Poetry Marathons – I’ve done them since winter, 2015. I take a week, several times a year, and devote it to poetry – writing, editing, all poetry-related activities. This year, in addition to scheduling some of the regular long versions, 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.

I’m still somewhat restricted as to my travels, caring for my husband after his accident in December and subsequent surgery. I decided to do this week’s session at home, but I changed locations from last week. This time, the afternoon of January 19, I set things up in our dining area.


This room is currently serving a lot of purposes besides hosting this week’s Marathon. For instance, you can see that I have a lot of small paintings on the table and around the room at floor level – I’ve brought them out of the studio, which tends to be cooler, up here so that the paint can dry on them more fully before I put them away. The wooden tray is what I’ve been serving my husband’s meals on.

I put all my items on the table – computer, reference books, drinks (in addition to my usual iced tea, I am treating myself to a mango-orange juice, something we don’t usually have in the fridge but was left over from the weekend).


As soon as things started happening, the cat appeared and settled himself in place.


Here’s his view.


This room looks out into the back yard. I love this scene. Even in winter it’s lively, with birds always around – sometimes a fox, and very often deer will come up almost to the door.


Now, on to writing. I came to this session feeling tense and overwhelmed. The situation at my house has been upended and I’m still getting my bearings as to how to keep everything going. When I sat down to write, I really wondered what I thought I could do with the jumble inside my head. But the routine and focus of the Marathon took over. I decided to start by writing poems about what I saw right in front of me and what memories or feelings the surroundings brought up – kitchen memories, the birds outside the window. I did five poems and that was enough – I felt like a whole different person from the lady who sat down, one minute from screeching.

Then I put away the computer and went back to a form introduced to me by Jane Dougherty. I am fixed on this 10-10-10-10-10 syllable set with the end words all rhyming, and I like to work it out on paper, for some reason. Anyway, I just love the challenge of this form. And that’s surprising, because usually I resist prompts or forms or imposed structures.

I opened my rhyming dictionary and picked out two words: skirt and road. The I got to work and here are the two poems that emerged.

Cold Weather Flirt

Grab your pink flip-flops and trim your grass skirt.
If you’ve still got it, your Hawaiian shirt
fits the occasion. And swim fins won’t hurt.
Let’s capsize winter. Reverse it. Invert.
Pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.

Same Scene Overload

Fire up the engines. Let’s get on the road.
Get out of this town. Kiss off this geode.
Pushing and shoving and feeling elbowed –
that’s not for me. No, I’m mining the lode
of Gone. I’m digging for a new zip code.

Next week, who knows? But I do know one thing – I’ll be writing again. Thanks for reading, everyone.


13 thoughts on “Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 3

  1. I wish I had your cat. Ours are not sociable at all. Trixie just comes into the room when she’s hungry and bites my knees until I get up. The other one has…issues. I did like your poems, especially the second one. It made me think of Thelma and Louise.

  2. Doesn’t s/he ever lay on the paintings? I used to like to read the newspaper in the time of broadsheets on the floor, but my otherwise completely anti social cat would come and lay on it! I am so impressed by your commitment and ingenuity in getting what you want to do done.

  3. Thank you, it’s as if the whole back wall is glass and I love being able to see outside like that. I’m obviously thinking of the beach, too…though I admit it was skirt that got the whole thing going, grass skirt, and it went on from there!

  4. Yes, he does lie on pretty much anything that looks lie-able on! But this time he took up the clear space. I used to lay out fabric patterns for making clothes on the floor, with the thin tissue paper, when I was younger and still made clothes, and every cat we ever had came right to the middle of it all and lay day.

  5. Martok, this cat, is pleasant, friendly, and sociable. A joy. But if we look back a few years, I can offer 17 years spend with Luna, a seriously anxious little thing (7 pounds) with the most anti-social personality ever, not to mention the longest fur ever that she didn’t groom, and so we had to get her hair shaved every year (which strangely, she liked). Even now, she has been dead 5 years, and we wonder how we survived…

  6. Did you call her Luna before or after you discovered her unbalanced behaviour? Our tom cats have all been friendly, easy-going (except Jackson but he was a Siamese so you have to make allowances) but we haven’t been lucky with the girls. Trixie is just obnoxious and the little one is not all there.

  7. She actually came named Luna, which we often extended to “Lunatic” and she was. Just. Nuts. We had Jasper and Raquel who were siblings until last year and I think you might remember R. – I’ve written several poems about her over the years. But Martok, the current one, is the all-time favorite and I go back 35 years as a cat-lover.

  8. Somebody had an inkling then 🙂 I don’t think I’ve ever liked any of our cats more than the two I had when I was a child and adolescent. They were farm cats we adopted and they lived to be pretty old. Great characters and loving, which is something none of the subsequent cats has really been.

  9. I love the fact that you decide to have a marathon day in your own home and then you do it, in front of your cat and all. Lovely view as well. The rhymes I don’t enjoy so much, compared to how you usually do it, but I know the appeal of limitations.

  10. Yes, the cat is the real icing on the cake, isn’t he? It is interesting about the rhymes. I usually resist any kind of prompts. But there is a whole different thought process to making poems this way, I find – like fitting pieces together. Kind of how I feel about cleaning – I like ordering things. I am sure this craze will fade (suddenly one day, I will say: Enough!. It happens that way with me) but until then, well… I have also found that the process of trying to do this form gives me NEW ideas for poems that are not rhymed. I think one day I will start off with the idea of rhyming and then…fly off. That’s my guess where this is going, a process to teach me another way to access thoughts, maybe?

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