Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 29

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.


People, on this very hot and humid day, July 20, 2017, I am back at Logue Library at Chestnut Hill College. Parking lot and its surroundings was empty except for these geese:

I did see a large group of girls heading for the lower field – field hockey camp, maybe, or lacrosse, or soccer? And…I could hear the library’s giant roof air conditioner unit laboring away all the way from here.


I walked up this alley of trees to the stairs.

Guess what, the squash plant is still hanging on! I thought it might have succumbed to heat or lack of water, but it has a bloom on it once again. This lifted my spirits.


Once inside, I got settled on the third floor. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do today. I had three things on my list:

1. new poems
2. review/revise last week’s work
3. continue the process of setting up my next poetry book.

On the sharp-thinking scale, harder to easier, I’d rate these in the order of editing, writing anew, and book production. Oh dear. I was pretty sure I could expect even less cooperation from my brain cells today than I had thought – the heat, a jumbled schedule this week that spilled over from last week, waking up this morning from a dream in which, as the lead in a play, I had blithely ignored the need to learn my lines until the very moment of the opening curtain – and as a note, I’ve never acted in a play in my life, but I’ve had variations of this dream for some time…

You get the idea! I figured I’d better start off with hardest first. Editing, I decided.

So — I sat right down and wrote new poems, first thing. So much for a plan.

Here are some results.

This tree lives in my front yard.


Birch tree extends a branch
drapes it over your shoulder
leaves trailing a cool touch
along your sweaty neck
Just walking down the sidewalk
in and out of the summer sun
you were not expecting to meet a friend
were you?

We eat lots of watermelon in the summer.


about to reveal all
lounges on the kitchen countertop
fat and confident

You need to know what you like.

At the rusty gate’s gracious invitation
visitors approach my house
a bungalow
set in the residential version of a used car lot
furnished in the styles of forty years ago or
whatever could be found at the curb on trash day.
I was looking for the right kind of place.
I found it. Be careful what you wish for.
Perfection spoils you for everyday life.

Summer. If this is not you, maybe you know someone it fits? Not necessarily in all the details…

If you
knock on that door
expect an answer
from a distressed woman
trapped inside
for the summer vacation
with three children
and not a bottle of beer in the house.

Now, some handwriting snippets. But first, I’ve got to come up with another name for them. Not snippets, because they are created in a different way from my (collage poem) snippets. They remind me of small artworks I do, post cards or artist trading cards. Sketches. I’m leaning in that direction. Sketches… Anyway, here are some from this session.

She kept everything in those boxes.
Never letting go had its price.
I call it revenge of the passive.

I am your guide
the person you have been waiting for
exotic and sharp as a tack

If it is a punishment you are waiting for
it is sitting in a pew three rows back.
Eventually you will have to look behind you.

headache never letting go
nerves stretched out skinny
need aspirin need one hundred aspirin

All right! Hope to see you next time. Thanks for reading.


30 thoughts on “Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 29

  1. Thank you. I love summer now that I don’t worry about anyone but myself. Sorry, but that is the truth… As for the squash, I am astounded. Two weeks ago when I saw it in the AM, it looked perky, but very wilted when I went out at about 3 PM. I figured in the intervening two weeks it would have died four times over – it’s been hot and sunny. Imagine my surprise to see it still there. I think it even looks bigger. Best of all when I came out this afternoon (it is in the 90’s here and sunny/humid/miserable) it still looked fresh. I am so excited.

  2. I don’t think so. This set of step doesn’t get much traffic this time of year and it is placed out of reach and not where people look unless they are wandering around like me. Which no one ever is. I think this guy is doing it all herself. I do notice other plants such as ferns also. I suspect there is a lot of water infiltration into the wall from the upper level and it slowly percolates down. We have lots of thunderstorms this time of year so we do get rain. I love thinking about this plant surviving my

  3. If there are ferns there’s probably a leak or a water source of some kind. Maybe the stone’s porous, or there’s a broken pipe in there somewhere. Nice to see the plants profiting from it anyway.

  4. Yes, I agree. The wall could use repointing, I have noticed, plus being a retaining wall with earth at one side…I don’t want it to fall in, but…I do love the plant life.

  5. These are all great but the one with the frazzled mother made me chuckle. I’m not there (not yet anyway) but I could definitely empathize. What it reminded me of most was when my kids were tiny and all got chicken pox one after the other one summer. It wasn’t being trapped with my kids that was the problem; it was being housebound for weeks with contagious kids. I had cabin fever. Beer was probably consumed.

    How about Vignettes?

  6. I loved the geese on the tennis courts! Hilarious!! 🤣 And the squash just goes to show that it is VERY hardy! 😯 I enjoyed seeing that plans work about as well for you as they do for me! 😉 And maybe your dream would make a great poem? I may have to create some art based on some of my weird occuring dreams… where do they come from?! 🤔 I enjoyed your poems as always! 😊 Stay cool!

  7. One innovation we see a lot of now is the ‘wall of vegetation’. In very narrow gardens bounded by high walls, or very small public places that don’t get much light because of the surrounding buildings, we’re seeing the walls being used as gardens. You have to put a sort of plastic coating on it with pockets for earth and plant them. Watering is tricky but the plastic retains a lot of the rain water and guttering at the top can be used to irrigate. It’s attractive.

  8. Yes! I have seen these around here, too. Mostly in the city (in suburbia we are plenty spread out). But I also have seen one in my neighborhood, the person attached guttering in rows to a shed, filled it with dirt, and plants grow on the shed wall. It is beautiful. I also have noticed that at the local college, Arcadia, they have been putting green roofs on some of the building overhangs over entrances or porch roofs (not the building roofs). It is funny to see green things growing on top of the bus shelter, for instance, but I love it.

  9. Yes, there are flat roofs planted out here too. It’s a great idea, especially as a small roof space is easy enough to irrigate with rainwater. We need to put back the green into our urban areas or we’ll suffocate.

  10. Ugh, chicken pox with four children, a recipe for ultimate cabin fever. I remember well how contagious it is and you are sent home for the duration. I had also thought of vignettes, I wondered if it sounded too pretentious? Because these are just little works, nothing cosmic, I don’t want to overreach myself. However, if you say this word, I respect it, you have an unerring ear and eye for cutting through cotton candy ideas as well as perfect pitch with the English language, I think. Hmmm…

  11. Thank you. Yes, that dream perplexes me as I never did anything in theater and don’t want to, but in the dream, I’m fully confident of dealing with this play while having no idea of my lines. Feel free to try it as art inspiration if you like! And you are right, it has occurred to me to write down some of these dreams and see if they have any spark to them. The surreality alone is appealing.

  12. Yes. There are tons of flat roofs in Philadelphia rowhouses here and people doing roof gardens is increasing, it helps with rain runoff and also with cooling the city, but the houses have to be able to bear the weight and may have to have renovations. Still, it is something I like to see and hope for more of.

  13. Hmm, you are the second person to say “vignettes”! I like that word too, but thought it might be too pretentious. But Laura PA Pict says not (I greatly respect her opinion and I’m not being sarcastic but totally sincere) and now you mention it… As for the poems, well, I think many of us have had that trapped at home thing going on, even if we were not literally unable to go out at all. I know I felt it.

  14. I just got another vote for “vignette” from memadtwo (Kerfe), and between the two of you, I am feeling it. I also considered “scribbles”, because of the handwriting aspect, I kind of liked the reference, and also with its connections to writers referred as “scribblers” … but the overall connotations are too much of a putdown, I’d like to think of these as a little more worthwhile! It’s funny, I scoured the thesaurus for the right word and I am not totally sure English is up to it! How about that, me daring to criticize the language of billions!

  15. Fascinated by the squash plant. And what a lovely walk through the alley of trees. That’s beautiful. I’m always surprised by the new perspectives of CHC you show (though, granted, I’ve spent very little time here myself).

    I’ve had that exact dream myself. A key feature for me is that I am the only person onstage still carrying their white binder with their lines.

  16. Detroit is in a whole class by itself of needing reinvention and I don’t know how to think about that city (haven’t been there but I have read several books by “urban pioneers” as well as by long time residents and also some web sites. The devolution of a city is not the usual thing, usually they grow and sprawl. It does seem any solution will be creative and also involve nature in ways not usual in cities.

  17. Cute word. I agree with you, however, that any iteration of a “scribble” concept undermines how polished your work is. Sketches was more apt but I think your end product is still beyond that concept too.

  18. It’s that I don’t like saying vignette, the word just seems so fussy to me ! for one thing, but also, I try with these little guys to refer to something beyond just the little scene, maybe not always achieving it, but otherwise they are too trivial. More than just a sketch or a piece, they are whole (I hope). Sigh. Still thinking. I still like the scrib- part. From scribe, and handwriting. I’m going to keep thinking.

  19. There certainly seems to be the scope for inventiveness in a city that needs to be rebooted. Especially if the old polluting industries are dead. They can start again with a green economy.

  20. Yes, I am thinking along these lines. Scrib- plus something about being small but complete. I will be getting out the dictionary and thesaurus. This will be fun.!

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