Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 19

You may be familiar with my Poetry Marathons – I’ve done them since January, 2015. I take a week, several times a year, and devote it to poetry – writing, editing, all poetry-related activities.

This year 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.

On May 11, I arrived at Logue Library at Chestnut Hill College a little later than usual. The library is switching to summer hours today, so nine AM is opening time. It’s a day with weak sunshine promising clouds later, and chilly.

As I arrived, I saw the tent set up for graduation on Saturday.

I am a little worried about things, as heavy rain is predicted for the day and this area of campus is prone to flooding. Due to the topography of the campus – the buildings are set up along a ridge and the rest of the campus is set on a strip of land comprised of playing fields and parking lots below – this is about the only place for a large gathering.

Talking to the librarian at the front desk, she shared my feelings and we both hoped for the weatherman to be wrong. It seems a shame to go to college for four years and then the ceremony to honor your achievement is remembered for wet feet, drips from the tent roof, and gusts of rain blowing over the audience, dignitaries, and graduates. Or worse, being canceled, and you get your diploma in the mail.

Thinking about these things, I went on my way to the third floor. The library is silent. In this transition time, I might be the only person here besides the staff. I like it. I love it!

The second floor stacks, lights off, overlooking the reading room, quiet and empty.


My desk is in its usual place, waiting for me.

I noticed someone had left a copy of the school’s literary magazine on a nearby desk and I picked it up to read later.

I went about my work in my usual way – writing first, then going over last week’s work. Today I devoted myself almost totally to poems inspired by my handwriting practice – a sort of snippets-y type of work. I’ve followed this line of inspiration in the last couple of weeks as part of my output, but today it took over the session. I wrote poems and “handwriting snippets” today, with even the poems being quite short.

I don’t like to work to prompts, and I don’t think of these pages in this way. Instead, I read over my handwritten pages and let my mind relax and make its own connections. Certain words or phrases seem to “light up” (I don’t know how else to describe it) and tap into some part of my mind that’s been waiting for that spark.

I like working in this way. It seems to open my mind to areas of thought below the surface of my everyday thinking and observing. Less straightforward, maybe, and allowing me to take on roles in different narratives, like an actor. Does this make any sense?

Well, maybe not. Let’s just go to the poems and leave it there. Here are some selections from today.

Two poems, first.

Two million ants in the basement and
you leave me sitting on the sofa
and writing a list
it’s not poetry on the page
it’s just me and three counts of
so sorry for your sake
but I burned the house down
I couldn’t think of what else to do.

Greenstick fracture of your reputation
required surgery. Notorious
the doctor noted on your chart.
You can wriggle out of this one
the voice of your survival instinct
told you
in the feeble glow of the nightlight
after the nurse went off
leaving the sheets on the bed
all bunched up.
No one likes you anymore but
cheer up they’ll put you back together
because they have to before they
throw you out the door into the parking lot
I’m an honest man
you told the doctor
in the emergency room
and she said
You display no symptoms of it that I can see.

And some handwriting snippets:

Make the call.
Has sorry come your way yet?
Your second chance is walking off.

A decent human being
doesn’t hold grudges
Move the car, you heard the man.

What a vexing attitude
it won’t budge a piece of cake
it’s an apology cut into slices.

Money laundering
don’t be ashamed of it
think of it as redecorating

Until next week!


10 thoughts on “Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 19

  1. You’ve been super-productive! I love the image of a “greenstick” fracture to a reputation. That’s so potent. And I love the idea of burning down a house to solve an ant problem.

  2. Thank you. I was in a funny mood today, not a bad one, just feeling quirky, maybe. I liked it, hope it’ll come again! That greenstick image has interested me all my life, very vivid, and I have no idea why.

  3. I love your definition of money laundering
    and “you display no symptoms of it that I can see”. Well that’s perfect, for many occasions. (K)

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