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.

PO 7-11-19 (10)

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.

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.


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


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


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

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


PO 7-11-19 (3)

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

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


PO 7-11-19 (4)

Little Vines.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

my skimpy damp bathing suit
in the hot sun

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

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

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

He is
a novel
with not even one chapter finished

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

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

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

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

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

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!


From the collection published in 2016, Enough For a Book.


Peel the unpromising vegetable
cut into it
and I promise you
You will find a ruby
and intense. Roast it and marvel
at the sweetness concentrated
by the heat. Examine
the abstract painting
in its juice baked-on
in the dish.


Peel beets. Cut into cubes. Toss them in a little olive oil. Put in a baking dish and roast at about 400 degrees for as long as it takes for the beets to darken and soften. Your white ceramic baking dish will look like these photos when you are finished, and I guarantee you will love the beets too – the roasting concentrates their sweetness.

There Is Not Here

From Enough for a Book, published in 2016.

There Is Not Here

I am never the one who leaves. I stay here
on and on. I have looked at many faces
knowing before I hear a word
that the word will be

I am the one who stays. It is not in me
to go. It has not been asked of me
thank you
whoever has arranged for things to be so:
for me to stay
and for others to have to do
the going.

So I say
I turn
step back into my house
shut the door
in relief so profound
I feel it in my fingers my eyes
my feet
washing through my cells.

Because, you see,
I have already
I know I will not
transplant well
another time
I cannot be the one who leaves

sunflower photo





A Sense of Guilt

From Enough for a Book, published in 2016.

A Sense of Guilt

Parched white sidewalk
the worn-out pansies
cool weather flowers in midsummer
tangled blooms and stems
in terra cotta pots
thirsty. I keep them alive
but just
watering them the minute before
they succumb. To make amends
I splash the sidewalk
too. Dark putty gray
lines of water seep along the concrete.
The pansies should be dead in this heat
The sidewalk
is indifferent
I water them both.

pansies on the porch

pansies on the porch






From Enough for a Book, published in 2016.


means not made-up but what if you
take a fact
break it in half
Do you feel the same
about both halves
Are they just as true
as together?
Or did you have to use a little filler
to even out the edges?
Take one more crack at it. I see
some of the pieces have become
powder. Now
what will you do?

PO 11-21 #902




From Enough for a Book, published in 2016.


The chair set askew.
The table aligned
with the bookcases
full of volumes leaning on each other and some
more than others. The lamp unlit
its cord twisted beneath
the table
arriving at the floor outlet.
Associates by necessity.

The square of sunlight
on the carpet moving
each minute adjusting itself to
the table and the chair and
bookcases and lamp and cord.
Associates by choice.

Which ones will it choose to befriend and which ones
to snub
if any of them?

Poetry 7-11 #117

Sunlight, Montgomery County (PA) Community College library




False Identity

From Enough for a Book, published in 2016.

False Identity

At the college
they’ve got the nicest lawn there
green and thick. Looking at it
You would think
you could jump on it
like landing in the center of
a great big soft green mattress and lie down
for a comfortable nap
looking at it I said. Well, you do that
just try it
you’ll break something
and get a boatload of chemicals on you
at the same time.
A big swath of weeds
would be more honest.



From the collection published in 2015, Look Winter in the Face.


The deer
so early in the morning it’s just short of daylight
and one deer
resting in the snow
under the pines
against the bushes
settled right up against the thin bare branches
not much shelter I think
but the deer rests
at ease
with a dusting of snow on its back
and its face turned away from me


Snow, 2015.

The Only

From the collection published in 2015, Look Winter in the Face.

The Only

there is no sound but
then the water drops
fall hit slide
down the rock face and
they interrupt.
Behind the layer of ice
top to bottom twenty feet high
they fall
and a small opening in the quiet
forms. A little sound
finds its way out
and in front of me.
I was walking along
in a hurry
in the cold gray day
That sound
I hear it
I stop. I wait. I hear it. I listen only to that sound.


Pennypack Trail, layered fall and winter.