Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 22

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 June 1, I arrived at Chestnut Hill College. An absolutely beautiful day.

I think that it is a shame for the students that they are not here right now. There is a resort-like ambiance, if you look for it…

Before I went to the library I walked over to the labyrinth. It’s located in a corner of the campus near the chapel.

I find even just one tour of the labyrinth is settling. Today as I walked, I was reminded that it is important to go inward and reflect and then to return to the world, to act on those reflections. I am doing this same thing every time I go through another session of the Poetry Marathon, I think – walking a mental labyrinth. I remind myself of what the information book at this labyrinth’s start says: the way in is the way out.

I’m not traveling through a maze. I know where I am going. The challenge is to stay with it. In this chaotic world we are living in, it is easy to lose faith or lose track of what is right. Something as simple as connecting a physical activity with a mental intention seems to help me navigate the rest of the day more easily.

On my way back to the library I saw a tree with a snowstorm of fallen blossoms on the ground beneath it.

All right.  The library called.

Down to poetry. I went to my desk on the 3rd floor. I am really, really enjoying the total quiet in the library in summer time, I’ll tell you that right up front. Just me and the books. A paradise.

I decided to write first and edit last week’s poems next; then I thought I’d try a project or two.

I wanted to do a palindrome poem, where the whole thing goes one way and then is reversed, with a pivot on one word in the middle. That didn’t work out so well, and I have no results. But I did get a better feel for how to go about it, so – I’ll try again. The process has a nice level of unpredictability to it that I liked.

I also tried sijo, a form of Korean poetry. I think I got close; I need to look it over later on and see. For now, here it is.

The dirt path. The downhill run stopping short. Indecision.
The map blurs. The landmarks fade. I am flustered. I scan the scene.
A small pool I had overlooked. It’s on the map. I am found!

*Even if it isn’t perfect, I like it. It expresses my feelings about an orienteering event I participated in last evening. I’m not the best person with following a map, but I love running trails and being out in the woods, and there is a treasure-hunt aspect to orienteering that adds even more challenge.

Here is another poem. Right out of my head. Inspired by no actual event.

Answered the door
a nice old lady holding a cake on a platter
Welcome to the neighborhood
I think there has been a misunderstanding
I said
we’ve lived here a geological age
she was quite certain
so we sat in the dining room and ate the whole thing
with coffee. It was good.
I must have the recipe
I told her. The sugar gave me
Oh thank goodness that little spurt of energy
got me through the rest of the afternoon
now I’m going to lie down on the sofa for a bit
a fly buzzing at the window
What an odd day.

And I’m still doing handwriting snippets. My handwriting practice sheets continue with their dividends. They do lead me down some peculiar paths…

a shoebox of old letters
full of surprises
that were on the spicy side

vacation snapshots
of canoes full of Girl Scouts on a camping trip?
That’s your business, I guess.

I have a jealous imagination
I don’t soft-pedal the ugly truths
I know some answers, believe me.

who can compete
with a convoluted story like that
no brain can be expected to do that much

OK, that’s it! See you next week, I hope.









15 thoughts on “Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 22

  1. We have dozens of shoeboxes. Most of them have shoes in them, but many are full of pencils and pens, the gadgets the children collected from Kinder eggs, dolls’ clothes, more pens and pencils…Why do you say they’re not right?

  2. Here in the US I don’t see the traditional kind with the box and the lid separate anymore. The lid folds up and is attached at one side, plus, the boxes usually have holes in them. Just don’t work right this way, I don’t like them!

  3. I agree with you about the shoeboxes. The lift up lid is not the same. Although I still store things in them…
    I love your sijo. I remember trying that form, I’ll have to go back and look for it.
    And keep after the palindrome. It needs to sit and shift and make exchanges. (K)

  4. I really enjoyed the narrative of the new/old neighbor bearing cake. That was a wonderfully rendered vignette. And I love the thought of those spicy letters too.

  5. Oh! I know the things you mean. We still have the old-fashioned separate lied boxes for shoes here, the all in one things are for I’m not sure what. I’ve never owned one, just seen them thrown away.

  6. I enjoyed the lady with welcome cake story …pleasant and surreal. My favourite snippet poem is the last one … convoluted stories…fact or fiction? I’ve done walking meditation but never on a labyrinth…I hope to one day.

  7. Thank you, I think the cake lady, I was remembering Welcome Wagon from my childhood – we didn’t get a visit when we moved and I was disappointed (I was six). And those convoluted stories continue to sprout like weeds, I think. The labyrinth is really calming to me and all it is is walking in a pattern, slowly, when you think about it. I get a similar effect when running or doing anything prolonged enough to fall into a rhythm, and I really value the effect. I am not a sitting still kind of person.

  8. I can sit still but these days I am preferring meditation in motion…even colouring fits this. Motion is a good thing especially as we age…and welcome wagons… never experienced one myself…they have both a warm (nice) and intrusive flavour in my imagination…cake is always welcome 🙂

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