Touchstone

From Large Artist Sketchbook 2017, a section of the poetry collection Rearrange, published in 2018. Read the explanation that follows the poem for more information about this project.

Touchstone

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 ten steep steps
rising up and to my door 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
The smell of peace
and rest

11/16/17
Artist Sketchbook Image 15

About the Large Artist Sketchbook 2017

I created an artist book over a period of about a year and a half, spring 2016- fall 2017, using a garden-variety mixed-media spiral-bound sketchbook. It had no theme or plan – I added an image as I felt like it, in any medium. Paintings, collages, pen and ink drawings, prints, and combinations of media filled the pages. When I filled the book, I decided to write poetry to accompany the images.

The poems were published as part of the book Rearrange. The original sketchbook is now part of my artist book collection.

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A Void, Next Winter

A Void, Next Winter

I am taking my time walking down the street
despite the rain despite the cold because
getting to where I am going is
infinitely worse than being on the way. My feet
pick step after step steady and deliberate
they don’t decide
they just know they were told to go
and so they go. What faithful workers they are
and such traitors.
But it can’t be helped. I breathe and I walk and
I look from side to side so that
I cross the street without encountering my death
although maybe unknown to me
we did meet and I
was caught but then thrown back
being below the limit.
A snub is just as good whether it’s meant or not
even if accomplished by mistake. I can’t even get run over.
Well, then, feet, keep walking:
we are not to the end of the road
yet.

9/8/16

Winter Walk small

“Winter Walk”, mixed media, 2011.

Too Sharp

From Generous With the Details, 2017.

Too Sharp

What time I had left before dinner
I spent
sitting out in the yard
thinking
uneasy in a lawn chair
sprung in the seat and three strands broken
someone had
used it to stand on
to trim the hedge
and
coming up short of topics
I could stomach
the drifting clouds
occupied me
Puffy bloated things
floating in the sky
setting an agenda
I didn’t like.

9/8/16

clay tile lady sitting in a chair on terracotta @6x6 12-17 small

Clay tile, 2017.

Day Trip Poetry Marathon 2018, Week 37

The Marathon journey continues. Search under the category Day Trip Poetry Marathon 2018 for earlier entries.

On September 13 I went to Brendlinger Library, Montco, on a humid, rainy day.

PO 9-13 #701

For some reason this parking space marker captured my eye – the colors seemed almost tropical in this dark gray morning.

PO 9-13 #602

I left some clay face tiles on the little bridge over the wetland area. I had left clay rocks here a couple of weeks ago and they were gone when I came back the next week; I forgot to say. I thought I’d try the location again. (These were gone when I left the school some hours later.)

I settled myself on the main floor and got to work.

My evolving plan is to finish out September as I have been doing, Marathon-wise. In October and through the rest of the year I plan to complete various books/projects I have outstanding, write Little Vines, some new poetry, and figure out what form the Marathon/my writing will take in 2019. It is time for some changes, but I don’t know what they will be yet.

This year has been one of many changes, for my daily life, for my art, and for my writing. For whatever reason it’s been a year of clarity, either sought out by me or (more often) insights occurring through things falling on me (figuratively, only!).

I’ll digress into one example – for decades I’ve felt apologetic for my lack of math education – I went to the Algebra II level and no further, limited by my schools and other factors. I had been thinking of taking classes to fill this gap. For decades. So I checked an algebra book out of the library just to give me a sense of what it would all entail, looked it over, and realized – I don’t want to do this! And not only that – I realized that to be studying math, I’d have to give up things I do want to do.

Poof! Decades of math inferiority vanished. I no longer care. That’s what I mean. Clarity.

OK. Back to writing. I did a session of one-hour write as fast as you can. I tried it last week and I liked the results. Obviously a cue to repeat.

I also worked on Little Vines, of course. But when I was ready to get started…Oops. I forgot my notebook that I need for working on these guys. So, I went home at lunchtime and stayed there to write them today. Well, that was nice – it gave me a chance to listen to my collection of Sharon Jones music.

PO 9-13 #801

Here are some samples from today.

This sequence is what I call a haiku group – a chain of haiku on the same subject, one inspiring the next, but not reliant on the others for meaning. I got started on this chain when I overheard one student say to another “If I could find anything attractive…” and though I was trying, I could not hear what or who he was trying to find something appealing about – another person? algebra? the salad bar? Anyway, here’s what I came up with – a rumination on attraction or lack of.

5.

if I could ever
find any attractive trait
I would point it out.

Immediately
I knew we would never find
any shared beliefs

Talk all you want but
I’ve made up my mind to leave
as soon as you stop

From across the room
I hear your raucous laugh and
it still gives me chills

I can’t help but see
your arid inner landscape
printed on your face

I am right to feel
distrust and suspicion but
I don’t enjoy it

Flat out it’s dislike
So there. Now you can see why
we’ll never have lunch.

Here is a poem written from a phrase card – somehow it ties in with my theme of changes and returning and remaking, and how that happened, I do not know. In this poem I put the phrases in any position in the line, one phrase per line.

I would also like to say, I had a skirt like the one I mention here that I wore to work, 35+ years ago, and if I could find one like it today I would buy it. Immediately.

7.
Ready-made and it was a snug fit so I
held my breath and counted to ten
there are so few chances to make things right
to look back or to begin again – I say so and to anybody who’s ever tried you know it –
but in the daytime light the details are always revealed
to anyone not in a hurry or nearsighted. Do not force it.

I sighed and buttons popped. Of course I always knew there was a certain amount
of trial and error and patience in any good fit– talk it over with your tailor
before you try it – remember: whatever style that was yesterday and you missed it
it can still find you today. Just look. And I recommend – Decipher the instructions
before you take any of it apart or add to it. The improbable often is.

But if you don’t cut the cloth
you will never have
that black and white
houndstooth wool skirt
No matter how passé it is today
you have always wanted one.
Made for you.
Go ahead. Be measured
today.

PO 9-13 #107

Little Vines.

b.
when I hear
your sour voice on the telephone
I wish I had no ears

c.
there are a few people
who belong to both of the top clubs in this town:
cannibal clan and serpent cult

d.
I am the ghost with no ears
listen to me
don’t talk to me

e.
the teacup mutt wandered the streets
miniature and ingenious
there he is hiding inside a doorbell

f.
sound really carries in this house
the crying baby got his second wind
blew the roof off

h.
see what you can find in that storage locker
scuttle the rowboat
then we’ll meet back at the abandoned shack in the woods

j.
one through ten eliminating the eighth
I escaped this time but some day it will find me
it marked me one through the middle

q.
this globe half in darkness half in light
No matter how many times I run away from home
it always catches up to me

s.
I don’t blame you for
kindness and decency
I’m on the fence about your application of it.

t.
let me emphasize
the disorientation is manageable
if we take our sweet time.

u.
an ounce of sanity
just scraping by
in a world that thrives on crazy

v.
we’ve traveled a long way together
along this dark foggy road
do you know how to weigh a faithful heart?

x.
Sure took you a long time to get with the program.
Put the squeeze on people. Learn to hold grudges. Extort.
But you did it. Congratulations.

y.
Make sure your paperwork is up to date
because what if polishing the silver
were the last thing you ever did

z.
I can make a poorly-educated guess
in person and in public
but I think you’d rather I not. Am I right?

bb.
you did a belly flop off the high dive
your bathing suit fell off:
the universe’s rebuke to you.

cc.
big ugly house and big ugly inhabitants
what happens to people like us
when we stop paying our bills?

hh.
Never
promise the enigma.
Nothing you can say will change its mind.

ii.
the darkness the rain
the ferryboat at the opposite bank
remember who pulled you out of the water
remember which side of the river you are on now.

Thank you for reading! See you next time.

Will Be

From Large Artist Sketchbook 2017, a section of the poetry collection Rearrange, published in 2018. Read the explanation that follows the poem for more information about this project.

Will Be

Cast the winter sun
into the unfeeling sky
whirling it away

a flick of your hand
and the seeds of spring arise
invisible yet

known and understood
flowers will come again
bees will make honey.

11/16/17
Artist Sketchbook Image 14

About the Large Artist Sketchbook 2017

I created an artist book over a period of about a year and a half, spring 2016- fall 2017, using a garden-variety mixed-media spiral-bound sketchbook. It had no theme or plan – I added an image as I felt like it, in any medium. Paintings, collages, pen and ink drawings, prints, and combinations of media filled the pages. When I filled the book, I decided to write poetry to accompany the images.

The poems were published as part of the book Rearrange. The original sketchbook is now part of my artist book collection.

Joust

Here is another of those two-sentence stories with poetry added. I’m thinking of them as “Minuscule” and quick to read.

Read the first Minuscule, the 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.

Joust

Desperate times desperate measures, you know, and so I had needed a word with her in confidence, not wanting kindness or understanding, those things would be of no help, oh, no, but just a word, a straightforward out in the open statement, no fooling around, no hidden meanings, just give me the truth flat out: does this suit say Promotion-Worthy as I stand before you, or is it lost in translation from the hanger to my body?

The career saleslady, the squire to my knight, examined me over her half-glasses so as to better fit my armor on me, pinching it here, pulling it, adjusting it, before she stepped back: Dear, the suit says nothing, it’s you who’s going to kick ass in that interview – poking me in the arm with her forefinger to emphasize the point – but things being what they are, let’s see about some nice shoes.

If I wear this suit
– choose a pair of leather pumps
– buy a stylish hat –
– yes, I could find some white gloves-
will I be found suitable?

(Tanka 105)
3/22/18

KP 2-25 mannequins #27 small

Mannequin, 2/18, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania