Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 50

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

On December 12 I did the Marathon at home. It was a session of short poems – all shadormas, in fact. I have had a very busy two weeks and I’m giving myself credit just for sitting down today and writing. My head feels a little blurry. Like this photo of the Pennypack Creek I took a couple of days ago (how is that for a segue?)

PO 12-12-19 (2)

On that same walk, I came across this bench with a sodden book lying on it. There is a lot to think about in this little scene – who was here, and why were they reading a book here, and why was it left behind?

PO 12-12-19 (1)

Anyway, here goes. As I said, I did shadorma poems and I did Little Vines. I’ll get right to the poetry!

We did an art show this past weekend. As we were setting up (indoors) and running in and out of the building, a wonderful smell wafted down the street from one of the businesses near by, in contrast to the frosty air. Several of us looked at each other and said…Hmmm, I’m hungry.

in the air
floats a hot fried smell
lead-me-to-it delicious
Could it be French fries?

Yesterday I went out the door and made a sad discovery.

The hollow
sound I heard
The window
right on through the last second
unseen by the bird

I like to do crossword puzzles. Sometimes they like me and sometimes they don’t.

Crumple up
the crossword puzzle.
clues bargain
with your pen. Lose your temper
for you. Laugh at you.

Little Vines.

did you talk to this man
whirling you as he did into his orbit
and did you make any kind of sense?

on this night it is the purpose of the moon
to delineate the outline of the house
to illuminate the dreams of those who sleep within its walls

hand in his pocket
his palm incurved
squeezing tight his wallet

comedy club and groan after groan after groan
I was ready to give up
when you told a joke that made me laugh instead

My saccharin smile more like a grimace but
it’s not easy
to shape my face into anything but utter despair
here at your wedding. I should be the one saying I do!

my kindly uncle
now viewing me with a detached expression
as if I were an insect crawling out of a drain
he meant to wash back down it

One phone call
I am incurious
Fourteen phone calls
I want to know what is going on

I took my memories
left them in a pitch-black forest
hoped they wouldn’t find their way home again

intentionally yes
I threw all of you out of the nest
quite enjoying the scattering of my selfish brood

can you unpick the lie from the truth and survive?
answer that if you can
you impostor

Two books in the library shelved side by side
separated now by a newcomer.
One fumes. The other considers the possibilities.

Once you are in you are never out again:
the definition of inevitable
is what keeps you playing, isn’t it?

two sets of
fought for dominance in her smile

smooth-spoken winners vied for the camera
seamlessly refashioning themselves
as the likes steer them
all inside a two-minute interview

even those fancy electronic credit card records
can’t keep up with me
as fleet as I am in running this con.
Hold your purse open. Let’s get this Porsche out of sight.

not again
not that dandyish fellow
and his lisp and his zip ties.

thoughts benumbed
by the blurry lady’s venom
and how tight she seems to be pulling my necktie

Thank you for reading!


Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 49

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



This week’s Marathon really got squeezed in this week – a little each day December 3, 4, and 5. I appreciate its flexibility and cooperation! My schedule is full: getting ready for two shows this week, teaching my art class, and starting to work on a long-term art project that I know from experience takes time and planning. Still, I got some writing work done, and that is what counts – spending time with my thoughts and getting them on to paper is part of my routine that I do not want to leave out, no matter how I have to fit it around other things.

I’m including a few photos from this morning, December 5, that illustrate what the daily life looks like right this minute.

At the high school across the street, the day is starting. I know two times of day just from the sounds outside – just before 7:30 AM and at 2:35 PM, I hear and see the sounds of the buses rolling and see the kids rushing into school.

PO 12-5-19 (2)

Here is the inventory I am taking to the show tonight – I will add more for Saturday’s show.

PO 12-5-19 (3)

And here is my work area set up for the art project, plus a few other side projects going on that I will need to move aside when later this morning I set to work.

PO 12-5-19 (1)

All right, here is some poetry!

I was thinking about my first days of work at a bank 40 years ago, and how my new shoes were so unfamiliar to my feet. A shadorma.

Blistered heel
new job first day and
brand new shoes
slide up and
down each step
just like my heart in my chest
up down with each breath.

At the YMCA a couple of days ago I was walking on the indoor track. On each circuit I passed a classroom where a group of tiny girls were taking a dance lesson. A tanka.

Uncertain but game
a small fat ballerina
raises chubby arms.
Three years old. Sagging pink tights.
Wobbly twirls. Success! A smile.

Little Vines. I’ve decided to include all the Vines I write each week rather than picking and choosing. I don’t publish them on the blog otherwise, though as you know, there are three Little Vines print books and I keep adding, so…there will be a fourth. Fifth? Sixth? Who knows? Anyway, here is this week’s output.

I decided to forgive
I opened a door
then the roof fell in

the heartless odometer speaks
there is no kidding ourselves
about how long we’ve been on this road to nowhere

such a small person
to be such a loud-mouthed hooligan
and so successfully

Do not toy with me
said the heavy pink bird
peering in my window.
At least that’s what I think he said.

Now cowardly is just the thing
what with us facing the pincers of a giant space gnaw-creature.
You’ll get no argument from me. Run!

in the infirmary
I’m sure I hear a harp playing. Oh no.

What if I told you
I like the chemistry we have
in every possible combination

the piano
eats up the composer’s stodgy sonata fest
belching all the way

After the exorcism
no one was sorry I wouldn’t be around anymore
It hurt but
looking back I guess maybe I over-haunted a little

And you my dear
are unworthy
my cat said to me. Ouch.

At the lunch table I began to feel
the day could be saved after all.
A fruit cake does wonders.

I’ve made mistakes
in every possible combination
but revenge is a promise a girl should keep, don’t you think?

clean or dirty
the window
admits light in tranquil silence

For example, that suitcase full of money in my closet?
It doesn’t belong to me.
Yes, it’s one of the kinks in my life I’m still working out.

hullabaloo in the brown bag lunch
carrot sticks slapping down nacho chips
both of them smashing the ham sandwich

Take it from me
I would die for a grapefruit
is not a very successful pick-up line.

the window
smeared by raindrops:
uncomplicated, unproblematic, simple.

squeezed into a tight emotional space
by his over-the-top too-much-of-a-handsome-hunkness
let me out I can’t breathe
said the ornamental boyfriend

the man sitting in chair number eleven
scornful of the defendant wary of the plaintiff
picked at a seed caught between his front teeth with a paperclip
while the witness sobbed

A dozen eggs
devoid of any group loyalty up to now
suddenly learned they’d have to cooperate.

you took your eye off the ball
you let the bat decide
but it’s you who has to do the running no matter what.

I grew up medium-struggle
vagabond hard-working office guy that I am now
every three years a new job
hoping to point myself into a no-struggle retirement

from that moment when
I scraped up an acquaintance with you
I knew that someday I’d be running for my life

two people in love and
wherever they went whatever they did
things got seriously soap opera sappy silly

the plot is
but thirty years we’ve been playing our roles
and having a lot of fun with it

stand back please
the invisible man
and his potbelly need room to pass.
Don’t ask me how I know.

Kicking out a plate glass window
takes a certain kind of bravado
that I do not have.

Thank you for reading!


Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 48

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

This week I did the Marathon at home, on November 27 and 29, because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Little Vines were finished up on the 27th, and I wrote a couple of poems – then on the 29th I did some snippets. Here are some photos.

I got my table set up for snippets. If you want more detail on how I do these, look here, and if you want to read about the first outing in Snippet Land back in 2014, which is funny and interesting for its perspective, try this post)

but here I show you my table (with a lot of other things on it – I’m getting clay work together for some shows next week).

PO 11-29-19 #87

Here are my cut-out phrases and words:

PO 11-29-19 #54

Here are some ATC-sized cards to glue the snippets on to – this time I was using cut-up remnants from old paintings on Bristol board.

PO 11-29-19 #76

Here are a few books from my supply collection – I use these at this stage of the process to look for words or phrases in particular (let’s say I want the word “and” – I just grab one at random from these books). I try to let the snippets evolve from the words on my table, but sometimes there is one missing word that will make it perfect, and that is what these books are for. By the way, they are all books that were destined for the trash before I gave them one last assignment in life…

PO 11-29-19 #43

And here is what my work area looks like after I have arranged the words/phrases and started to get things going.

PO 11-29-19 #65

So I got to work. Every so often, though, I need a break Here is what I did today.

It’s cold, and I decided to break up my exercise into short segments. School is closed, so that means a handy half-mile circuit is open and available for me without having to dodge school traffic and doings. I am talking about the playing fields for the high school across the street from my house – if you walk the perimeter on the sidewalk, it’s a half-mile.

PO 11-29-19 #211

Every hour or so I went out and did a mile. Three or four, I don’t know where I will stop, but it makes a good stretch for me, and that is enough for me for today. I cross the street and set off down the sidewalk:

PO 11-29-19 #109

I go around in front of the school and continue back toward my house (the arrow points it out).

PO 11-29-19 #98

I’ll show you a spot I frequent during softball season – the fields are right in front of my house and in bad weather I can watch games from my bedroom window. But in nice weather, I come out and hang on the fence behind the home dugout. Right here.

PO 11-29-19 #310

OK, on to poetry!

A haiku prompted by something I saw this morning. Under this red sky, three deer slipped across the back yard just at dawn.

three deer in shadow
blurred ghosts going home at dawn
footsteps burn the frost

PO 11-29-19 #112

How about a couple of snippets. I’ll show you the whole array and write out two or three favorites.

flamboyant girl
grinned at lively boy
Yes, there were possibilities
strangers now, friends always
After a good journey shared
A long way from home

But I think It was the moment
I was married
that I turned my plans to murder

guilty. But after all,
it was Only a toothpick.

Little Vines.

ironic and non-platonic
our relationship
thrived on snark and skimpy nightwear

much like me
the money is gone
to pot

all these pirouettes
I feel so dizzy
it could get messy

was their marriage
always a picnic
under attack by ants?

I point my camera at you
the direct method of capturing your soul
and right in front of your nose too

Faced by the trio of extreme real bad people
I undertook a therapeutic reclamation of my own agency
Interesting what a nail gun can do at the high setting

I might be planning
a brooding session
in my cognitive playhouse. Leave me to it.

go ahead invoice me but
doing some basic relationship arithmetic
I see I still have a giant credit balance

the opera cake
upstages the store-brand cup of tea
with an aria of cherries and chocolate

when accuracy counts
and good ventilation among the numbers really matters:
a decimal point is a treasure

reach out your hand
for the pen
that you will use to sign your marriage license

The first thought of
every overworked guardian angel woken at three in the morning:
Couldn’t you have figured this out for yourself?

dinner will be ready soon
details to follow
I’m busy right now cutting the paste into slices

The Raven loves a good joke but
what difference does it make to a Mermaid?
They are not part of the same story.

The supermarket spins
on the axis of bread milk eggs.

the sermon staggers into the afternoon
the uneasy congregation
begins to understand the idea of eternity

the invalid
preoccupied with industrious fretting
never notices she is making a recovery

the heavy wool boot sock under the washer
baffles capture
I revisit thoughts of walking the beach in bare feet

now! now! now!
too late.
The shed collapses.

over the years
the invisible men grew fat and soft
behind their closed office doors

I never got the chance
out here on the street.
Do not toy with me now.

editing the continuum
the black hole
swallows the compressed star

imperfect lifetimes
made easier
because we are sisters

the sterilized lives in this apartment building
intersect nowhere
that has not been thoroughly scrubbed

Thank you for reading!