Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 11

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

Today’s Marathon was abbreviated almost to the point of non-existence. Our county in Pennsylvania has been put on shutdown as of yesterday and I have been busy with various tasks related to it. Yesterday, one of them being stopping at Glenside Library to pick up some books before they locked the doors. The library will be closed for at least 2 weeks. There was line of book-lovers at the checkout desk.

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I went to the grocery this morning in the rain:

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The parking lot is full. The store officially just opened, but I think they unlocked the doors early because when I went in there were people in the checkout line with full carts already.

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I did my shopping and checked in on relatives by phone. The weather had begun to clear by then and I have some signs of spring in my yard:

I made preparations to write but I do not have the interest today. I offer you one poem from last week that I did a little work on today – it was a Little Vine that grew beyond its allocation of 3-4 lines. It seems important to me to keep the Marathon going, even in this truncated fashion, and I hope that by next week things will permit more attention to it.

Now, I plan to eat lunch and go outside for a walk. The rain has stopped, the sky is clearing, and the weather is mild and breezy.

I hope you are well and that you stay well.



 

Here is the Little Vine that grew. The original phrases were the orange drink and sleeveless turtleneck. I was reminded of a car I rode in as a young girl – someone took a group of us to the pool in such a vehicle. I have no idea why I associated these phrases with that memory. Maybe it was the idea of summer and sunshine.

1.
the orange drink in the glass bottle
the pink sleeveless turtleneck
the striped skirt
the blue convertible
the cream upholstery
the hot summer day and a pair of sunglasses.
Drive on. Drive on forever.

 

Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 10

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

 

On March 6 I arrived at Montco on a gray  morning.

Montco 3-6-20

I walked up into the campus

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and headed for College Hall.

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Look, are these maybe parents checking out the campus?

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Once settled inside on the upper floor (the quiet floor)

I thought over my plans. I have several WIP lined up, arriving through various circumstances. In one case, I found three poems in my database that should have gone into a book a year or so ago, but…what happened? I don’t know. I’m not so sorry, though, I don’t much like the poems. Maybe I held them aside on purpose, meaning to revise them? It’s all lost to the mists of time. Anyway, I thought I’d use them as fodder for something new. Maybe there are sentences or phrases or ideas that would be of appeal in a new context.

I have some Little Vines that wanted to grow bigger than the three/four lines. Let’s see if anything develops from them or if I just prune them back to specs…

I also remembered to bring my Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 with me today. I hope to move through a few more images with a poetry accompaniment.

And…can it be possible that I might get a rhyme poem done or maybe my own personal (I think, maybe) invention – the five-syllable per line infinite number of lines structure? I do recommend it for that poem with momentum…

Let’s see what happened. Here are a couple of selections.



 

If you can believe it this poem started out as a Little Vine – the phrases were a stunner of a shiner and apartment 17.

1B.
The raucous party guests shocked sober
That’s quite a stunner of a shiner
the burly guy just distributed
here in apartment 17. Saturday night
and what a way to thank the host
yes I’m joking I don’t think Larry
even knew the guy It was a big party
people spilling out in the hall
thank goodness the more the better
to break things up before it got you know
but now it’s time to go. No hard feelings, right?
Who’ll care tomorrow? Say your hasty goodbyes and get out
before the neighbors call the police. Again. And Larry
he ought to put a steak on that eye. All right then.
See you next weekend. Don’t you think
we ought to make a note what that burly guy looks like
though maybe by then he’ll get that front tooth fixed.
Who knew a scrawny dude like Larry could kick like that?
Anyway, the burly guy, we can’t let him in again. Ever.
No matter how much beer he shows up with.
I still don’t even know his name.

Another Little Vine that grew. The beginnings were lizard in the jacket pocket and never mentions.

4.
Wondering if I should buy tickets to this show.
The review says:

in this skewed version of a popular fairy tale
the lizard in the jacket pocket
never mentions chewing up the missing letter
leading to a comedy of errors ending in romance. Or murder.
Or getting dinner late to the table. I don’t know.
I didn’t stay for the end.

Question answered. No tickets.
I do love that fairy tale, though. Well, never mind.
I flick my tongue and snag an unwary fly
enjoying the snack as
stretched out along the top of the concrete wall
I read the rest of the paper.

This haiku is for a page in the Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.

10.

(Image 14)

future memory
when summer finally comes
with thunderstorm skies

 

PO 3-6-20 book

 

Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 9

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

Back at Montco today, February 28, 2020. I was a little later than usual because I stopped at the grocery on the way. Non-perishables, but I could easily have bought almost anything and left it in the car – it’s as cold as a refrigerator today outside.

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Look at Cara Mia McGill out there in the parking lot – plenty of friends to surround her today.

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I settled in on the upper floor of the library and pulled out my papers and notebooks to see what’s what.

I am in the mood for diving in behind some words or fragments of ideas today. Prompts, that’s my game. From cut-out phrases to forms such as haiku or shadorma to the 50 syllable 5 line rhyme scheme, I will make some choices. I was going to work on poems for the Large Artist Sketchbook 2020 – but I forgot it and left it at home. I think that’s telling me something, right? Not a Sketchbook day, I guess.

So let’s get this writing session going. Here are some selections from today.



 

Here is one from some cut-out phrases. I pasted lines of them in my notebook and this poem is derived from a section. I like the ideas that the random collection of words gives me. As for the subject, I like the idea of visiting or having a visitor but at the same time I find disruption of my routines a strain. That is where this poem came from – how someone else might see someone like me in this situation.

2.
Through the processes of this decade
each one keeping to its turn
this visit ends
like all the others in all the years before
and we now arrive at my suitcase
as it silently sets about the beginnings of being in transit
You fold my clothes with anxious slow precision
I with the satisfaction of finishing a good meal
not hungry for the next one yet. The rooms that will be
counted empty Oh, you said, I will miss you so much
a long face and a resigned voice. But I knew
pushing aside the contrasting piles of clothing
untidy division of folded and waiting to be folded
that when my train leaves the station
the mix of Hurry up and be gone Please stay another day
the tightness around your ribs
it will relax and let you fall into the
welcome back to us
your annotated grocery lists and your careful lawn mowing and
your neat quiet house no one breathing its air but you
Along about two o’clock
you’ll wonder where the train might be on its journey.

One visit
once each year
is enough.
I feel it in my bones I will see you again next year.

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You see these little guys everywhere. It stands to reason they have their life cycle, too. A haiku.

6.
hidden in the weeds
semi-retired garden gnome
long past ambition

 

I was thinking of a place where I’ve run or walked for some years, Norristown Farm Park, for this tanka. This park is the farmland attached to the former state mental hospital in Norristown, PA (from when part of the patients’ therapy was to engage in work, if they were able). Though this practice is long over and the park is no longer associated with the hospital, the land is still rented out to farmers and there are soy and corn fields lining the roads and trails in many sections of the park. The rows are maybe not as long as I say here, but when the corn is high, it is an impressive sight.

5.

in a group photo
stalks of corn in mile-long rows
squint into the light
the whole field standing and turned
posed in three-quarter profile

 

Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 5

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

On January 30 I was at Montco’s Brendlinger Library, settled in on the upper floor. They’ve remodeled much of the seating on the main floor into a tutoring section. I find that interesting – what it tells me about the uses this library is put to most often. Less a repository of books and more a teaching environment, I am seeing, to fit what the students need.

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All good with me. I arrived before 8 AM (look, you can see I shadow-selfied myself in these photos…)

and got my work area set up.

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My goal today is to enjoy finishing up several long-running projects I’ve been involved in and to rest my mind. I plan to do that by reviewing the earlier part of this week and writing about it. A poetry diary attempt, let’s say. Let’s see how it goes.



This one was off the theme a little – I saw the word “skeet” and it turned into Mrs. Skeet, and then I was reminded of a lady I often see in my neighborhood walking a dog, and I conflated all of these things and made up this poem. And that’s the story…

3.
Mrs. Skeet
hands on hips
standing firm on stubby legs
over tapered feet togged up in stylish ballet flats
All five feet two inches of her
lambasting the dog peeing on the grass strip
between the street and the sidewalk
in front of her olive stucco house
at seven o’clock this morning
So she’s back from Florida now
I guess.

This shadorma relates to a project I am working on in my clay studio class.

7.
Shape the clay
circles and spirals
like seashells
or ears. Smooth
their curves with your fingers. Hear
the voice of the clay.

Here is a description of the mixed media class I taught on Wednesday, January 29. Yes, it is.

8.
Two down eight to go:
the students pull out their paints and papers
listen to the lecture thankfully short
begin to work on the assignment
some enjoy others do not but
a cautious calm finds its way on to the papers
spreads itself out. Three hours in and
the overheated studio is now a place
where the students are at ease.
The floor
littered with scraps of paper
The work tables
askew adrift in paint scissors adhesive magazines
and look
lone ruler with a chipped end settled next to
blue pencil with pink fingerprint marks down its length.

Then the water runs the brushes clean up
every session a tick mark against a short difficult lifespan
ending with a flip into the trash though none
make that trip today. Papers paints
glues pencils scissors packed away
the studio poised to reclaim its solitude
Three down seven to go: but not before
now let’s see
what everyone did the teacher says

the students
spread out their work for display
like jewels
on a velvet background

Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 2

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

Busy day at the Marathon today, 1/10/20, and not just putting words on the page. I arrived at Montco expecting a quiet day since the students are not back at school yet.

As you can see, it’s a cloudy day, but what you can’t see is that it’s mild.

Inside, clank BANG slam CLANK bang LOUD! The shelves where the DVD’s were kept are being dismantled. The DVD’s moved to the upper floor and left their home behind to be taken apart and then what? I don’t know. The workmen talk as they work and their radios screech out some conversation too. The cart they haul the debris off in has one extra-squeaky wheel and the metal shelf parts rattle as they go to meet their fate. To add to the scene, the lights keep going on and off, and then the fire alarm. Finally, to top it off, my credit card is declined in the cafeteria – the chip has failed (I checked. I’m still creditworthy. They will send me a new card). Quite a day.

What will be going in the cleared-out section, I don’t know. Maybe by next week it will be more clear.

Doesn’t matter. Background noise. I set myself in place at a table on the main floor and got to work.

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Little Vines occurred earlier this week (in case you are looking for them, I posted them a couple of days ago). I’ve received the print proof copies of my 2019 poetry books in process. I will look them over today. I also hope to work on the Mrs. Sari story. And then there is poetry writing…So now to the theme of today, which is…

to sit patiently, write patiently, and not hurry through the day. It’s been a busy week with several appointments and projects with deadlines, and I have even more coming up next week with my classes starting and more deadlines. Today I am here. I want to focus today on today.

Did it work? I would say, yes. When I felt impatient or antsy, I reminded myself: TODAY. Just today. Even with all the commotion that I didn’t expect.

All right. Here are a few items from today.



I overheard one of the workmen say the words I used for the first line. I’m not sure what he was talking about (could be some gauge or tool designation for all I know…) but this is what it made me think of.

1.
I see a little green
said the workman
gazing out the window at the front lawn
where January is a big gray brown
spread out under a drizzle
falling from a dull sky
I see a little green
he said
turning back
to load the cart with boxes.

I went to a doctor’s appointment earlier this week. It was complicated – the hospital in a maze of narrow streets, a full parking garage with low ceilings, hiking through an office building until I reached a dead end hall that luckily contained the office. I used to live in this section of town, decades ago – it’s not far from where I live now, geographically, but it’s quite different as far as the feel of the place and the people who inhabit this world, from my current neighborhood. This poem is taken from my actual experience. I’m still laughing/shaking my head.

4.
i.
Medical office
waiting room.

ii.
Lady
old and well-preserved
cured in pepper I’d say
Red sweater I place as
expensive twenty-five years ago
still in perfect shape today
just as I place her
that certain class of female
has lots of money
abhors the spending of it
is rude to social inferiors
acknowledges no social superiors
is impervious to nuance
and loud

iii.
shuts the bathroom door
on the old man now going in
shouts Remember to lock the door
turns to me. Exasperated sigh.
Is he with you?
She’s off the script
should be saying
what a useless potato
this fool my husband has always been
and not joking but
I know to pick up my cue
Me? No. I thought he was with you.
A snort.
Certainly not.
She stalks down the hall
like an ancient dinosaur bird
out of its time and
perfectly at home.

iv.
One hour later
parking garage
there she is
behind the wheel of a Land Rover
exactly as she should be
Stopped in the lane
head out the window
Jane Jane she bellows
at a woman who is looking at me
as if she wishes
she’d just been a little quicker
getting on the elevator
I can’t help her. No one can.

We’ve had some days like this recently. Not today, though.

9.
a watery
gray wool
thick socks
atmospheric
morning
a brown leaf
floating in a black puddle
morning
just a few minutes
before my umbrella
turns inside out and flies away
morning

 

 

Thank you for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 1

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

We begin the shakedown cruise for Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 today, January 3,  on this dark mild January morning.

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I’ve decided (unless I change my mind) to have a “theme” for each week, something the Marathon can coalesce around. Today’s theme, quite modest, is – get out of the house and go to Montco. Which I have done.

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The campus is quiet. Look at Cara Mia McGill all by herself out there in the parking lot!

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The atmosphere in the library is relaxed. When I came in just after 8 AM the coffee shop guy was chatting with the desk assistant and two guys in green workmen hoodies were laughing as they went down the stairs, the radios on their belts talking away unheard.

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I dive into the peace of this place. The sight of so many books calms me. I do not like holidays, because I love routine. I don’t like it, I love it, crave it. Now I am returning to it. Good times coming.

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All right. I continue to refine my ideas on this year’s pattern. I have tentatively decided to work on Little Vines on their own day (besides the regular Marathon day), but for this week, they are still with the Marathon. I am also working on a short story (called Mrs. Sari and it is based on a dream. Yes, I know, but I have to get my ideas somewhere). I didn’t mean to but I worked on that story a bit today.

And I have two print books in process that are coming from 2019 poetry. I combed over the second one today (the first one, I am waiting for a printed proof).

In the end, I mostly felt like doing something new right now. New poems. I pulled out my pile of materials, notes, etc. that I carry around for when I’m ready to do some digging for gold nuggets and got to writing.

Happy New Year 2020. Just enjoy yourself!


 

When I came in all was quiet…

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When I left a few hours later, the lawn was filled with this crowd:

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Shadorma chain. I love to read books set in haunted houses.

12.
took shelter
in a rotting house
that belongs
to don’t know
and I can’t believe my eyes
here’s a secret room

behind the
bookcase so of course
I enter
just avoid
falling through the floor I am
living out a dream

all right and
here’s more luck just look
that creepy
old portrait
its eyes follow me (Scream of
sheer terror pleasure)

Let’s look forward to summer and warmth. Because it is rainy and damp in my part of the world today.

11.
the rind saved
to make into pickles
the rest of the watermelon
now a picnic memory
the tide come in
the level of the water
blotting out the beach
Sunburned and the plaid blanket
just a little wet. Wring it out
the four of diamonds
left behind on the sand
floating out to sea. Let it go
let’s climb up the dune
Amore, this was a beautiful day.

I jotted down a note at the gym the other day. The walking track overlooks the pool. This is a shadorma.

2.
Like an ant
destination fixed
the old man
stooped and pale
water-walks the heated pool
swim trunks bagging out

On the radio this morning on the way to the college. From the car radio to my typing fingers, less than twenty minutes.

1.
The radio sang
My happiness is gone
Where
I wondered
and
Why
but the radio could not get past
My happiness is gone
repeat it
My happiness is gone
enjoy the misery of that special feeling
My happiness is gone
but
I didn’t.
I tuned in another station.

Little Vines.

a.
not a day went by that I did not think of you
not a gloomy dank morning
not a moldy rain-soaked afternoon

b.
I think a radish
given a soul
would have turned out something like you

c.
the vampire:
he’s that quarrelsome new tenant
smoking a huge cigar in the cellar

d.
the snowball effect of a high level of note-taking ability
on a notebook of math facts
and…you avalanche through the test questions. A+!

e.
then make a choice before it is too late you said
but I could not make a decision.
I really am still trying. How long will you wait?

f.
I can see even now
your eyes gazing into a half-full beer
too late at night

g.
Walk-in client, you’ll know in a minute
what I have known for years:
never let this hair stylist touch your hair ever again

h.
I’m the easy way out and you know it.
It’s the valuable vanity of complacency I offer
Guilt free. Today only. Take some.

i.
a little wear and tear here and there on my friendships
the countless times I did or didn’t do this or that thing
Well, as long as there’s always a new face to cozy up to
what do I care?

j.
the prophecy came true
but in another city
and in someone else’s life

k.
I took away your bitterness
into the receptacle
of my heart that loves you so
and made you smile again

l.
a pink and sugary cake
compliments overheard at the table
the cook smiles in the kitchen

m.
I’ll know in a minute
if we allowed enough time
for the glue to hold. Don’t try to stand on it yet.

n.
you were never
an encumbrance
Two more of you sure would be, though

o.
I have been someone erased
written over
yet I still speak from behind the words of others

p.
a big hurt today
tomorrow the therapist
will take it out on me
Oh you thought I meant MY big hurt?

q.
shhh shhh
the baby has finally fallen asleep
I don’t care how odoriferous she is

r.
my chattel goods
without them
I have no biography

s.
At 2 PM the entire class of English 202
just now embarking on a very ambitious program
of daydreams

t.
a distortion in a photo
a random word inserted on a page
my face in a tiny cracked mirror
I see things. I see things.

u.
an out-of-tune piano
your fingers stumble across its keyboard
in the dark

v.
mind-reading –
that door to a dark place –
I’m not in that line of business anymore.

w.
how I chop onions:
I give them a pummeling all right
then I shred them with my claws.
I get a nice texture that way.

Thank you for reading!

Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 51

The Marathon journey is in its third year. Put Pen to Paper is the current incarnation.

This week’s Marathon took place at home and at Montco. Little Vines at home. Writing and beginning a little planning for 2020 at Montco.

School is pretty much over for the semester. Quiet. Just the campus and…shadow me.

Montco 12-19-19 (1)

I went in the back door

Montco 12-19-19 (9)

because I wanted to make sure the cafeteria was open in case I got hungry. Yes, it is.

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Even the notice board is less populated than usual these days.

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Up the stairs

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and to my seat.

I have a list I made some time back of 5 syllable lines. Haiku material. I decided it might be nice to finish up this list. So I got to work. Now, I veered off the true definitions of haiku as to subject and so on a long time ago. I mostly like the idea of the syllable restrictions – I enjoy the discipline of expressing ideas within a structure.

Montco 12-19-19 (2)

These five-syllable lines were certainly not picked with classic haiku in mind. Just five syllables that make sense. So the haiku I wrote go all over the place. Very Little Vines in flavor, some of them. And some of them turned into tanka (my tanka living under the same definition as my haiku, except going on longer, of course!)

Never mind. I enjoyed myself. That is what Marathon is all about.

Here are some selections from today.



You may remember I spent much of my time at the pool when I was young. I was a competitive swimmer, yes, but I mostly just loved the water and swimming. We belonged to a pool when I was young. I can see it in memory today as clearly as I did back then. This tanka is one of those memories, from around 1964 or so. The prompt was in a swimming pool.

9.
in a swimming pool
one summer too long ago
a woman swam laps
her chin-strapped white bathing cap
festooned with rubber daisies

The prompt for this tanka was big holes in the roof.

3.
Big holes in the roof
of my world. To let me breathe.
To give my eyes light.
For stars to shine down on me.
For rain to water my roots.

This tanka, prompted by the line on the upper floor, is about Wanamaker’s department store (now long gone), a Philadelphia name for decades. I am envisioning shopping there around 1980 or 1981 – I went there a lot since I worked just up the block for some time. I was always intrigued by the names given to store departments and that is what gave me the inspiration for this tanka. Imagine yourself coming into the multi-floor store and asking directions.

16.
On the upper floor,
Ladies Better Sportswear. And?
Foundations? Yes, yes.
You’ll need the basement level.
What? Of course it’s not a joke.

(as a note, Foundations was not in the basement of this store, the Bargain Shop was, as I remember it, but…this is how the tanka wanted to do things…)

Little Vines.

a.
the future where everyone knows everything
showed up at my door this morning
Eek! There I stand stark naked for all the neighbors to see

b.
Miss Muffet my name for eighty-eight years and these days
enthroned on the wobbly tuffet of old age
I’m no longer terrified by the spider who sat down beside me

c.
last night’s dinner for example:
a lesson in supply and demand economics
the undervalued meatloaf casserole surprise cake
the excess of leftovers in the refrigerator today

d.
chattering daffodils on a windy afternoon
crowd up to the sidewalk
in the mood for some attention

e.
the humiliations fell on me
settled in layers
entombed me.
I live on in the fossil record but as a failure.

f.
no doubt you think he left an hour ago
hate to tell you
he’s lurking on the sidewalk right now
two houses down the street.

g.
bought a lazy-afternoon
speedboat-and-skinny-dipping kind of lifestyle
when he moved out to the lake

h.
over time the fish learned to recognize
the squeaking of your rowboat’s oars
no matter what bait you put out

i.
who ever heard of buying worms
who ever thought of feeding them to fish
who ever thought the fish would go for it?

j.
I’m in a big hurry this morning
you long tangly strands of hair hanging from my head
so get into your braids and shut up. Right now.

k.
my lilac eyes
and their carelessly-told story:
whether it’s true or not is up to you

l.
I think we both understand
you’ll just have to rely on your charm
and let the devil take the hindmost, as they say

m.
clear-headed and resourceful
he wins all the games
but this time my money is on the poison ivy.

n.
where did she go? where could she go?
I wondered
looking into this kaleidoscope of a city

o.
the missed phone call
the ticking of the clock
the dim light of a midwinter afternoon

p.
Fly, in this cobweb,
I am your only friend
said the spider.

q.
I’ve been making a few changes
said the portly man
cavorting across the dance floor

r.
my signature
written in saffron yellow
emitting a soft steady glow at the end of the letter

s.
Spotted that body part as fake right away.
In a very cool bit of thinking
I did not point it out. Let him have his fun.

t.
Angry and jealous
the cabbage
did absolutely nothing.
It’s just a cabbage, after all.

u.
I just love an irradiated-blue spicy pair of spike heels.
Enhancing my Bewitching. Emphasizing my Lethal.
That’s all I need to say.

v.
The wind crooked its finger
Come here, it said to me,
Come here. I began to walk through the snow.

w.
now what would you expect from
ultra-hot inferno salsa and Thai noodles
besides another argument inside your stomach?

x.
We booked the amphitheater for the reenactment
commemorating fifty years of marriage between two gladiators
still struggling in the dust. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Thank you for reading!

 

Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 45

The Marathon journey is in its third year. Put Pen to Paper is the current incarnation.

Today I returned to Montco’s Brendlinger Library after a long absence. Nice to be back here.

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The campus looks the same, except for now…it’s fall.

And, they have fixed the clock in the tower. It now tells the correct time. I remind you, do not sit on the benches that surround the little paved area. The clock chimes on the quarter-hour and it is LOUD.

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I went into the library, located in College Hall, but I am sure you remember that… and if not, here is a photo. Yes, that is the same student in all the pictures – he was walking very slowly and I kept catching up to him after each photo.

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Before I sat down I checked on tiles I had left in the video section months ago. One is still here. I think it might be a record for slowest to leave a location. That’s all right. It’s comfortable here and so I left it in place.

I set up my work on the main floor.

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All right.

I did a variety of poems and Little Vines. I had done a few Vines yesterday, but most of the writing was done today.

All in all, a productive time and enjoyable for me to be back at the library, too.

Here is some of my work.

 



Where did this one come from? From a crossword puzzle I recently did in which the answers “magician” and “bored” were juxtaposed. I started off and just let my mind go.

5.
the bored magician
brought down the checkered flag
this race has gone on long enough
You
he pointed
are the winner
the rest of you
he pointed
also-rans
the crowd in the stands
puzzled
wondering what they were
scenery? sideshow? how dare he?
but the magician gave no indications
other than to drop the flag in the dust
disappear in a puff of smoke
mingled with the smell of racing fuel
and hot dogs from the concession stand
the owner of which considered himself the winner
with a considerable day’s takings
and besides
he had nothing to do with the race at all
It started to rain
everyone went home
crowded in their small underpowered cars
waiting in a mile-long line to get on the highway
The magician sat in a comfortable chair
after the quick commute to his own living room
feet up on a cushiony ottoman
reading a book
with a bowl of potato chips by his side
the rain falling on the roof
the gutters full and a quiet gurgling
mischievous laugh
impossible to tell
whether it came from
the drainpipe
or
the magician

This one came from the same puzzle, the answer words being “iota” and “unfitness”

4.
Not one iota
of unfitness
anywhere on that body
every muscle toned up and posing
quite a crowd of them competing for attention
the very apex of good-looking in-shape
arms legs abs even the muscles of his hands
are something else. What an impressive sight
well worth spending plenty of time taking it in
I only wish I had double vision.

This tanka came from thinking about the quick clean-up of my kitchen this morning before I left the house, with some imagination added…

9.
an inch of water
forks soak in the kitchen sink
almost unconscious
the celebration dinner
an epic of impaling

Little Vines. Today I could not choose favorites so I give you the whole list.

a.
the window’s open
letting a lot of dust blow in
oh, this untidy planet!

b.
Striped patterns make me uneasy
there is always too much of one thing
or not enough of the other

c.
You asked for one pivotal moment
I’ve found you two hours’ worth of them
Why aren’t you thrilled? What do you mean it’s no longer special?

d.
the stars in the planetarium
a poor copy of the Milky Way
tamed constellations performing under duress

e.
a scientist a juggler a magician:
a doctor and his signature medical procedure
lie down on the table please, and don’t forget to clap

f.
I need to know for sure.
The drowned terror:
has its body really washed ashore?

g.
maybe it was an error but
the extra sweetness
meant so much to me

h.
neon green
wearing sequins
the fish flashed through the ray of sun and was gone

i.
very sweet jelly
seeping a satin tunic
over the yellow cake

j.
it’s so dry here
in the center on the side over the edge
a girl crying in the back of the room
the only irrigation for miles around

k.
it was the utmost, this irregular line of teeth,
that the orthodontist had ever seen
It lit his creative fire

l.
the minister spoke
with a petrifying holiness
his words building up a stalagmite he hoped would reach heaven

m.
First bake a hollow anxiety
Fill it with what you fear.
Eat it and it turns to butterflies in your stomach.

n.
On the menu
matchmaking salt and sweet
And I made it all happen
Result: wedding cake.

o.
In general, gallstones are not a marketable souvenir
said the hospital administrator
but then, has anyone really tried?
We’ve got shelf space in our gift shop, don’t we?

p.
what a gelatinous individual he is
and it’s taking so long
for his ideas to gel. Yawn.

q.
curse words
in the exclusive stationery shop
no pen would write them, no paper would accept them

r.
Now the gas stove
let out a howl
This particular cake was just not up to standards, I guess

s.
a closet full of tutus
does not make her
a ballerina

t.
hyacinth blowing out a stink
cloying and heavy
in her hospital room

u.
a tropical theme to the conversation
beach towels on the living room floor
the best vacation our family ever took

v.
I’ve already arranged for these statistics
to whisper
they sound very plausible
when you say them with delicacy and soft words

w.
the nurse
diagnosed me with a case of blocked ears
overfilled with gossip

x.
this cake
tastes like a salty coffee drink mixed with soap
I do like the blue color, though

y.
he was just one more heartbroken hairdresser
crying and rinsing the soap from my hair
I worried there would be nothing left of my head when he was done

z.
A mile of string
wrapped around a cardboard tube?
No, I do not want to buy it.

aa.
antiseptic drops
working out their issues
on my cut hand. Ouch.

Thank you for reading!

Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 33

The Marathon journey is in its third year. Put Pen to Paper is the current incarnation.

Poetry Marathon session this week is once again broken into sections. I worked on setting up the next print book I want to publish (Little Vines #3) at home on August 14. Then for a change of scenery, I stopped at the Glenside Library to drop off my books, pick up new ones, and work on Little Vines (for Little Vines Book #4, I guess!)

 

 

On August 15, I went to Montco’s library. I haven’t been there in some weeks. With surprise I realize school will be starting very soon.

Construction work is still going on in the science building, but in the library, all is calm.

I mentioned some weeks ago I’d been thinking about a long term poetry-writing project involving portraits of people – my vague plan was to do one a day. I tried it for a while. I like the subject, but I’ve realized I don’t need to set up another deadline to meet.

I decided to work on the poems already written and add them to my current book. And I resolved to keep the concept of portraiture in words at the front of my mind, so that when I encounter an interesting person, I’ll write about it.

I’ll tell you why – I did like how vividly the poems I did write reminded me of that particular day or incident. It’s so easy to lose the “unimportant” past if there is no reminder. And when it’s gone, so is some of your life. I’m not a diary keeping kind of person, so maybe poetry is my method of preserving my story.

Something to think about.

All right. At lunchtime I came home and finished up working on Little Vines. Here are some shots from at home. We remodeled some of our flowerpots as the summer flowers were spent. And along the walk, black-eyed Susans are out, a sure sign of approaching fall.

 

A couple of views from/of our front yard. We have many plantings because we are so close to the road in the front. I like the way the walks curve and the plants enclose us.

 

All right. Back to writing. Here are some selections from today’s work.



I saw this scene at Montco one time when I was there on a weekend.

2.
Alone
with the trombone
sitting on a park bench
she plays warm-up scales
into the afternoon

This portrait is of one of my neighbors.

7.
Out early before it gets too hot
the neighbor two houses down
stands in his shady driveway
unhurried and methodical
he wipes a sudsy white terry rag
across the driver door
of his sister’s blue Mercedes
the running hose in his other hand
dousing his sneakers

I saw this man at Montco.

3.
Seven-thirty summer morning
sweating and rumpled
the red-faced man
struggles up the sidewalk
two boxes stacked up
his arms splayed wide to hold them
he goes stutter-stepping swaybacked
radiating the kind of cheerful
where carrying too-heavy boxes
on a sultry morning
is just a minor inconvenience

Little Vines.

a.
night sky please do not
release
the echoes of what I should not have said

b.
camera
with a mean streak
laughing in your face

d.
There are so many sizes.
Be more specific.
I think we should talk about this in private.

f.
A cat.
A week of non-stop mouse-chasing.
Next question.

h.
a couple of skinny-dippers
completely harmless
except for the gurgle they make in the pipes

i.
my new country, insomnia
I bought some land
built a house and moved right in

k.
snapshot of you
in the purple light
of an insomnia-dulled existence

l.
six months since I last saw you
an army of gray hairs
has set up camp on your head

n.
flipping the pages of the calendar
that is how
Father Time and Mother Nature enforce our curfew

o.
you know what
it’s not indestructible
this warm glow I feel for you

p.
count the black sheep
short-circuiting the electric fence
jumping over and swaggering away

q.
I dream of
yellow roses blooming again
and a happy ending for us all

r.
unlimited hurt feelings
non-stop umbrage-taking
a monologue of disappointment

s.
time running out on the clock
the trellis of pink roses
losing their blooms in the cold

x.
bluegrass folk musician
singing a song about real life
complete with squeaking hinges

y.
in ten minutes maybe less
the entire client list was a line of ants
marching off to a new nest

z.
needle and thread and taking up a hem
the luxury of the old-fashioned sugar cube
the fountain pen in the desk drawer writes a thank-you note
to memories

bb.
nine different sketches
the whole spectrum of blame
in a cheap notebook

 

Thank you for reading!

Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 28

The Marathon journey is in its third year. Put Pen to Paper is the current incarnation.

 

On July 11 I was back at Montco on a pleasant morning.

PO 7-11-19 (9)

Take a look at the patterns on these trees I passed on the way into the campus:

Construction is still going on in the science building.

PO 7-11-19 (8)

 

I was a little early. I waited in the lobby until the library opened. How about this blur photo, looking out? I think it fits the dreamy early feeling of the day.

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In case you were wondering, the small tiles are still on the shelves. They are patient.

I set up on the main floor and thought over my plans for the writing day. I decided to work at the library for the morning and then go home at lunchtime. The weather is predicted to change to thundershowers and heavy rain this afternoon and I figured I’d change locations before that happened.

There’s a package all wrapped up and ready to go, I thought. Now for getting to work.

 

PO 7-11-19 (2)

I worked on poems in the morning, topics drawn from various odds and ends of things happening in the last week or so. I also had some photos that I wanted to write about. Some years ago I did a whole book (one year’s worth) of poems based on three random photos taken on a single day (it’s called Picture Making). I’ve been thinking about trying another photography-based run of poetry but so far, it’s a vague idea. But it did get me to look over recent pictures and that led to a couple of poems. Hmmm…

All right, here is today’s work.



This poem describes a rental house near the park where I often exercise. I’d made some deductions as to who was living there from appearances and one day I went by and had my thoughts confirmed – a group of young guys is the current set of occupants.

4.
Four cars fan out on the dirt
angle off the drive where grass used to be
the garage door open a volleyball net set up
in a rough-mowed rectangle four guys
I’d say twenty-five or so years old and
two of them strowing around buckets
sort of flinging them by the handles
haphazard either side of the net
The other two tossing out squishy rubber balls
medium size like what the little kids have
They team up in twos start winging balls
some going over the net some into
if they are aiming at the buckets none going in none
the idea more seems to be deflect them with your chest
then throw yourself into the grass lie there laughing
Two of the guys with beer cans in hand
two not and I wouldn’t know how to evaluate
the beer/no beer effect on play
no matter how long I thought about it
The stone house in the background
shabby with the sun on it showing up
the weeds around the porch and the scorch mark
on the door. The guy with the long hair
and a beer kicks a ball over the net
hits a non-beer bald guy in the head
they the both of them they fall on the ground
they lie there laughing

A couple of poems inspired by the jewelry class I am taking.

5.

copper sheet
lies flat on the steel
awaiting
hammer stroke
on chasing tool. I hit hard
not straight. Oh my thumb.

(shadorma)

12.
the pliers twist wire
neat coils ending in a loop
like a seahorse tail

(haiku)

One photo poem. I have been collecting photos of these suns as I see them. This one is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

8.
metal sun
underfoot. Your rays
lightning bolts
in concrete
set and fractured long ago
by this earthbound sky

(shadorma)

PO 7-11-19 (3)

Another photo poem. Taken at 30th Street Station, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

9.
Blurry man
I saw you I caught
your image
even though
the day was hot and angry
the pace was too fast

(shadorma)

PO 7-11-19 (4)

Little Vines.

a.
My only chance
to be one of the two of us
It’s right now. Please say yes.

b.
who is this person
doing all the things other people do
but so much more convincingly?

d.
like the minister said at the wedding
take two people just semi-broken in
marriage will polish them right up you bet

e.
see she’s got another mind
tucked right behind the front one
then there’s her secret backup stashed behind the refrigerator

f.
a million new brain cells
sleeping in small transparent units
worker bee pupae

i.
almost anywhere in this city you can find
a woman in a black dress and pink pearls
living a complicated story

j.
skip the squabbles
grab the tweezers
I’ll settle things now. Give me your nose.

l.
a fault line
the geologist in me can’t believe it
but the wife in me does

o.
my skimpy damp bathing suit
hissing
in the hot sun

q.
well I wondered
how can I cope with this disagreeable woman
when her every word is a snarl of white soft string?

s.
in the dryer the collar of the pink shirt
wrapped itself a little tighter
around the pair of gray socks

t.
the boat
the topaz ring
years of outdoing each other
together now on the bottom of the bay

u.
He is
a novel
with not even one chapter finished

w.
are you an enzyme on the loose
a lucky hunch stranded
a maze with transparent walls?
Who are you?

x.
I may have underestimated that girl
she took apart the jet engine
with nothing but a wrench and her own sophisticated brain

z.
fifteen years of experience
putting dinner on the table
I’d like to forget about every bit of it.

aa.
take some kind of coincidence
attribute it to fate or religion
or just say it’s all part of the big pink happy

bb.
all of you stop shouting
those big shards of glass
are just lonely wandering silica ghosts

cc.
this is the most recent picture of him –
him and his six heads needing haircuts.
I should have gotten rid of it
but he’s got such nice smiles, I just couldn’t.

 

Thank you for reading!