Mission

From the poetry collection published in 2015, Autumn Opens a Door.

Mission

This man sits, his face weathered and
sun-burned even in October.
He has placed his chair on the narrow sidewalk
at the intersection so that
anyone who comes along
must stand next to him
to cross the street. I sneak a glance
at him though the polite thing
would be to ignore him and let him get on
with his chosen activity which is
sitting here and holding a sign
(nicely made, professionally printed)
protesting the poor service received
from the business across the street
further details unknown.
I am resentful of how he has co-opted
this anonymous space for his own ends and so
I sneak a look at him and then increase it to a glare.
He does not look at me. He never looks
at anything but the business across the street
with his own set, permanent glare. My glare is nothing
beside his glare. The light changes. I move on.
The man does not notice. He continues
burning a hole through the façade
of the business across the street
with his eyes.
I take care to stay out of the line of fire as I go.

Artist trading card, 2014.

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Overthrown

From Autumn Opens a Door, published in 2015.

Overthrown

My goodness this apple is so sweet.
I love this kind of apple
I don’t know what we did before we had this kind of apple.

We didn’t eat apples. We didn’t like apples.
We would only eat baked apples
and only the one kind of apple
the green one.

With raisins in the cored-out middle
sprinkled with cinnamon
those green apples were delicious.
We ate them for dinner. Not like this new apple.
We eat these new apples just as they are.
Good all on their own.

I could eat two or three
of these new apples
every day. I love this kind of apple.
I don’t know what we did before we had this kind of apple.

“Apples and Pears” – fabric collage wall hanging, 1999.

Actor

Here is another of those two-sentence stories with poetry added. Read here for the first one and explanation of why I wrote it and got started on this idea, and search under the category Fiction/Poetry Combination for others in the series.

I like doing this form of minuscule story. I can handle two sentences, I think, and it is fun.

Actor

The lobby of the office building was tropical-warm, the crust of snow on George’s expensive coat and boots melting immediately as he cut across a just-mopped section of the floor, ignoring the protective mats and moving with the confident strides of a fellow much too busy to waste time making things convenient for some janitor guy and his cleaning routine. The elevator door opened on cue and closed just as smartly, getting right to the business of speeding his personage to upper-floor doings of consequence, while the guy mopping the marble floor moved his bucket and started clearing the path of gray slush George had left behind.

 

Tanka 76

a winter morning
a walk in the clean hard cold
a tailored wool coat
flecked with falling snow. Inside
a man mops the marble floor.

11/4/17

Easton Road in the snow
Glenside, PA
Taken from the Easton Road overpass at the Glenside train station, 2015.

Today We Discuss Role Models

From the collection Picture Making, published 2017. The three photos served as the inspiration for the poem. For more information, look here.

 

Today We Discuss Role Models

I.
A truly functional object. The garbage truck.
Never mind its bright blue paint
its impossible-to-miss oversized barrel of a body.
Never mind the flashing light on the back
the mud flaps
the solid wave of diesel fumes
it sends over your car as you sit behind it at the traffic light.
It is not embarrassed to be hauling around
things that weren’t good enough for you to keep
potato-peelings
the plastic wrap you tore off the package of knives.

II.
A truly functional object. The green-painted mailbox.
Flag up, street number clearly visible as is required by the postal regulations
waiting for the messages from anyone anywhere
no matter what the content.
Messages that may not be good enough for you to keep
and may end up in the garbage. Nonetheless,
if you go to the mailbox
to find it empty, it is a disappointment to you.
None of this is the mailbox’s concern.

III.
A truly functional object. The ring bolt on the gatepost.
Partner to the chain that closes off the parking lot
at five o’clock in November, eight o’clock in July –
park hours being sunrise to sunset.
Impartial, the ring bolt does its job.
If you do not leave before the closing time
the ring bolt
will not worry about how you are going to get home
now that your car is penned behind the chain.

IV.
A truly functional object
has no ego
has no vanity
has dignity
is to be respected
is to be envied.
Take the time to do so.
Thank you.

11/17/15

Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 46

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. (That was the idea – it’s grown now to take over the whole day. That’s fine with me.)

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 November 16 I was back at Montco, Brendlinger Library.

I tried to take my now-traditional photo of Butler Avenue in Ambler, but the light was green…oops. Don’t worry, I did not hit anything. Not even close.

So here is one from Morris Road and Penllyn-Blue Bell Pike. As a tourist note, turn right here and you’ll end up at the condo complex my in-laws lived in for many years. We’re only about 5 minutes from Montco at this intersection.

It was a beautiful fall day. I noticed this wasps’ nest, now that the leaves are thinning.

Most of the trees were shocked by the hard freeze we had a few days ago and their leaves have crinkled and browned – their colors gone.

Into College Hall and the library.

I stopped at the desk to return some videos and had a talk with the librarian about 1940’s films – we are both fans.

At my desk I set things up. The sunlight pours in the clerestory windows high above my head at this time of day. The warmth of the rays felt good on my face.

Getting up this morning I was not much in the mood for writing, but having arrived, I found that the routine of coming to the library had soothed me. I appreciated the welcoming environment of the school very much today. I decided to write first and edit last week’s work later.

I wanted to divide my time between poems from notes I had made, poems to accompany my artist sketchbook, and of course I must do some Little Vines. I worked my way methodically through this assignment, giving myself one hour for each. OK, maybe it took a little longer. I did also stop to look around the library for a book to take home.

Here are some examples from today.

A haiku.

1.

Paper made by wasps
to live in not to write on
Bears their signatures.

A poem about a topic I’ve been thinking about lately. How some experiences stay with you. And stay.

2.
The lid of the cardboard box
you pushed down again and again
never closing all the way. You have
force-packed the carton too full
of what’s in it
it just won’t stop
fighting you
the expanding lungs of it
still breathing out and in
all the kinds of things
you’d hoped to forget. The lid
an uncertain barrier at best
You sit on it. Not enough.
The breaths are even and steady
scraping against the underside of
the lid.

A couple of pages from my artist sketch book. I still have a few pages to go. Next week.

The artist sketchbook.

 

8.
Page 13

There is no crowded
though every spare inch is set in motion
built up
influencing
breathing in and out
dog-walking
patterned
crazy-paved
driving down the street
There is no crowded
here
where you and I
wait together.

10.
Page 15

On the sidewalk
nine o’clock
humid summer night
hot and still in this city
just for this moment
I stand
at the bottom of the ten steep steps to my house
light in windows across the front
I see the lamp behind the half-closed blinds.
A breath of air
before I go back inside
to air-conditioned rooms
I like to smell the summer
asphalt and a hint of garbage
car exhaust and street-tree foliage
I am at peace.

 

And some Little Vines.

b.
he couldn’t find a needle in a pincushion
an anonymous tip and still no luck
Keep your chin up, pal

f.
a mop of frizzy hair and a harmless smile
capable of an impressive amount of mayhem
pretzels would untwist themselves for her

g.
assuming that this man suspects nothing
the doctor has prescribed those big red pills
that should wrap things up ASAP

j.
All I have to do is spread the word
about who’s behind this little comedy
then touché, my friend, you disappear

k.
stop screaming you are attracting attention
jump inside the clothes dryer
I guess undercover work really doesn’t suit you

m.
I’m a minimalist
I don’t know and I don’t share
I just enjoy the quiet

n.
I wanted to see the world
a systematic eyes-peeled surveillance
three-continent tour kind of way

s.
the girl wearing fishnet hose
where does she think she’s going in that get-up I don’t know
but she fried my heart like an egg in a skillet


Thank you for reading! Until next time.