Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 39

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 September 28, I went to Brendlinger Library, Montgomery County Community College. It was a beautiful day, cool and breezy.

Very welcome after the string of hot humid days we have had.

I walked in the main section of the campus with a string of students – I was early, before 8 AM, but cars were entering in a steady stream and students were heading for classes.

I went into College Hall and headed for the library.

I was happy with my seating choice last week so I went to the same section and got things all set up.

There is something about the ceiling lights I really like. Just saying.

Today marks Week 39 – three quarters of a year that I have been doing this form of Marathon. After today, I have enough work to fill up another book, so I will be starting on that project very soon. That will make three books from 2017 so far.

I reflect a little on this Marathon process. It may seem an artificial way to work – save up ideas and write them out all at once. Shouldn’t I be grabbing for my pen as soon as I get an inspiration? What about spontaneity and artistic expression?

I’ve always been a person who finds it easy to fall back into an earlier mood or thought, as long as I have notes or some other trigger to help me; I’ve honed this ability, I think, in my visual art life. Often, I think of an idea to paint or draw but I can’t get to it right at the moment. So, I leave myself clues, take notes, whatever. It has worked for me.

I find the Marathon has operated the same way. I am always thinking; half-formed images, words that spark a bit of interest, whole lines and even parts of poems – I scribble all these down all during the week. I come to the Marathon session knowing I have time and space to let them out; and I also know that the next week, I will see what I wrote this week and have time and space for further refinement.

I’m used to working quickly and I don’t second-guess myself a lot in my everyday life. So it is with poetry. I write, I enjoy the process, and I move on.

It is so easy to get lost in daily tasks and each evening say, “I meant to get to this or that, I really did…”. I’ve spend a lifetime on those daily tasks and now my art and poetry are my priority. I am lucky to have the ability to spend my time this way. I know it and I am grateful for it. The Marathon works for me – I prepare all week for it and it gives a structure to my writing process. Thank you, Marathon!

All right. Let’s see, this week I worked on last week’s poems first.

Then I pulled out a couple of cards I had made earlier in the week.

As background, I was working on another project that involved cutting out words and phrases from printed matter, using discarded library books. As I worked I felt a pull to certain phrases. No idea, as they were nothing unusual; they just “lighted up” when I read them. I cut them out and pasted them on index cards in a random line-up.

I brought them today (there are two) and decided to use each entry in a poem. My rules being – 1. each one got its own poem and 2. I could use the other phrases if I wanted to, as often as I liked.

I had fun with this routine. I’ll do it again. For one thing, I only got through one card. And as I read them over, they make a kind of sense. Maybe there are snippets possiblities? Are they collage poems all on their own?

All right. Here are today’s examples. Look for their originating phrases on the card if you like.

Bus trips.

Without much warning
but sufficient
if you were paying a little attention
the argument
picked up some steam
whispers in the dark
can get
two people interested
the rest of us
trying to get some sleep
or pretending to
the signs being
it could go on all night
Stuck on a long-haul bus ride
you get used to these things.


A night like this
pouring down rain
extra-wet and heading straight for the target
My feet in strappy sandals
the dye striping my feet
My too-short coat
exposing six soaked inches of taffeta dress
wrapping itself around my legs
My hair-sprayed updo
sticky and beginning to drip
bits of glitter
My sister’s wedding reception
The last day of November
We walked from the church
It was only four blocks.
Let’s please get the photos over with.


That red dress
was instantly conspicuous
Cast out its siren-call
Caring nothing
for a budget and
without much warning
but just enough
to prompt an indrawn breath or two
for its outrageous price tag
Happy to incite
guilty pleasure and
overspent credit
That red dress
swayed on its hanger
won over every eye viewing it
was ever so sorry
to have to reject anyone not size four
stoked up a month’s supply of jealous envy
was bought the first day it was displayed.

And some Little Vines.

on the run for two years you miserable little ghost
you can come home now
the insurance policy paid off

You big lunk
If you believe what you just heard
there is a vacancy in the thought motel

A gruesome state of circumstances
The patient is in surgery
Afterwards he will have to go into a new line of work.

I have matching pairs of anxieties
I veto your idea

The eyes do their work
The hands make their choices
Isn’t the future a fabric still to be woven?


Thank you for reading! Until next time.


14 thoughts on “Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 39

  1. I love that final Little Vine. Great use of metaphor. I could relate to that bus ride poem. I used to ride the night bus between Edinburgh and London in my student days and it was never not an ordeal. The discomfort and cabin fever was very real and throwing in the interactions with and between other passengers only made it worse.

  2. Buses seem to be nicer now than when I was riding them. I’d like to try Megabus. But in the end, travel is always disruptive and being crushed in with other people for some length of time is my idea of a nightmare.

  3. The first one reminded me of–not a bus trip–but a motel room with very thin walls. We were there for a friend’s wedding many years ago, and a couple next door were fighting for hours. I can’t remember if there was make-up sex, too. It was so horrible. Then the next day, we found out they were related to the bride. . .

  4. Thank you. I think the structure of the Marathon idea is really paying off. Both in better work and in keeping me focused, plus – I just enjoy being at work in a library and we are lucky to have so many to choose from. I hope to keep this up for a good long time. Regarding Little Vine K, I had the first two lines and was at a loss (my informal rule is three lines). Then the light bulb came on! This is why poetry is so much fun.

  5. ah Claudia, I just love the cards! One wonders out of which poor book you got the words from… Poem 8 with the bus is just ingeniuos. And the vines g, k and l are just perfect, well they all are, but these do something with me. Thank you so much for sharing. And the photos, just great. The pearl of students, filing along the path… I would never walk that way… I’m a rebel… Prefer walk on the grass or any other way even if it was a longer way…

  6. Thank you! The books are all old ones that my library (and most of them around me do this) discard when they are worn, or out of date. They have a shelf for us to take. I have found some treasures I do not cut up, but these were just run-of-the-mill books. I thank them before I cut into them. I love doing poetry with words falling into my head like this, to me, poetry is expressing my love of words. I am enjoying being at the community college, we are so lucky to have this place for all residents to use. I enjoy seeing the students straggling in to school; I think they are half-asleep and so they need a path to follow so early in the morning!

  7. Ah Claudia, what a wonderful way to recycle! I myself try to avoid wasting as well, use every bit of my works in other ways again, if their final destination isn’t found yet. And I belong to those, filing into University every morning at half past seven, and still prefer the grass to the cold asphalt path… But that probably is due to the fact, that I’m a cheerful kind of person in the morning, awake really fast. And that I just don’t like walking in the middle of other people. And I just like the picture… The students looked like pearls on a necklace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s