Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 21

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. 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 May 25, I arrived at Logue Library at Chestnut Hill College. What a rainy, dreary day!

– and the library seemed to be calling to me as I rushed up the steps from the parking lot.

I climbed to the third floor, arriving just after the library opened. I turned the lights on myself, that’s how early I was – first person on the floor today. My desk was ready for me.

I looked around a bit, as I often do before settling down to work. These books on book collecting caught my eye.

I admit to having no understanding of collecting books as objects – I just want to read them. The most beat-up paperback, if it’s something I’m interested in, is worth as much as a first edition to me.

I like looking at book titles and trying to figure out what the book might be about. Or why anyone thought to write a book on the subject in the first place. Because I know, that for every book here, there is an author who felt that spark of curiosity or compulsion or necessity to write on that subject, felt the need to pass on thoughts. I can understand that feeling, yes, I can. I took a little walk around at lunchtime to see what I could turn up.

All right. On to the writing. I felt a little light on ideas today, coming in the door. I find that when I spend a weekend at an art show, as I did last weekend, the next week is a lot of catching up. But, I showed up, I got out my writing utensils, and I put my intentions toward writing. Slowly I shifted things into gear.

Today I revised last week’s poems; I wrote new ones; I looked over my handwriting practice sheets for inspiration; and I did a few snippets.

Snippets were a last-minute idea as I left home (knowing my thoughts were scattered, why not bring some words together, literally, I thought?). I packed up a little snippets kit.

I’ve done snippets away from home before. My feeling, though, is that it’s better not to take them on the road, and today was no exception. I say this because, at home, I set out my words and phrases; they become half-thought out poems gradually finding their way into being finished. Snippets is a slow process and usually extends over days or weeks; I leave the parts and pieces on the table in between working on them. That way, poems have time to – grow, I guess. In today’s mini-version, it’s all done in one hour or so.

I don’t like working that way as much, but — I did get some done, and it was a good thing for today. I’ll show you my finished ones right now.

All right, and here are a couple of poems from the earlier part of the day.

First, this one about gifts and givers.

What is it about this gift here
perfectly appropriate
and from a very nice person
What is it about this gift
that it sings
on key
and with such insistence?

And why instead do I remember
the present you gave me
the one so wildly out of tune
why is it the one I laughed to receive
and that I hold so tight in memory?

I have music on my mind today.

The choir is singing at top speed
pursued by the piano keys
tripping over themselves to catch up
You don’t know anything about music
but you love the thrill you’re getting
being a part of an audience
running for cover

And how about a few handwriting-inspired snippets?

Cold feet running for cover
they get into the car and drive away fast
One headlight has burned out.

tomorrow morning first thing
fresh air change of scenery
I have earned that second chance

sitting at the table in the restaurant
coffee spilled on the table
eyes full of expensive tears

No better time to clean house
as she plucked a piece of broken glass
from her hair

broken feelings broken plate
what’s the difference
it’s just a little one-act play.

All right! Thank you for reading, and see you next week.

17 thoughts on “Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 21

  1. So good! No. 8 is so good. It reminds me of moments like those and makes me smile. If a ruined evening brings about such a pearl then it was well spend nonetheless. 😉

  2. The “clean house” one immediately struck me as something I might have used as a prompt for a creative writing exercise when I was teaching HS. I rather love that it suggests so much narrative but doesn’t explore it. I’m also taken with the one about gifts. The conceit about music works well but it also conveys a truth about the nature of gifts.

    • Thank you. I think I have learned that in short poems, the urge is to tell all but the real value is in suggesting so that others’ imaginations will get fired up. And the gift one, this sounds crazy, but just as certain words “light up” for me when I hear them, gifts have sounds to them (so do other things but I was focusing on gifts) as to their true nature (once again, not what they are but what they ARE). I know this sounds kind of crazy but it happens to me, that things’ impressions spill over into other senses in an odd way, but I like it.

  3. I think there are some real gems here, despite your feeling of not being totally together. “fortune created and accident…”–love that one. And the choir pursued by the piano keys…and “no better time to clean house…”–that one is just perfect. (K)

    • Thank you. I am still easily thrown off balance though every week is better (and all so much better than January). Also that giant rain storm going on unsettled me, even in that big library building it had a presence. So I am glad that you said this, I feel better about them myself as I read things over today.

  4. There is much here Claudia and I can’t scroll back to look when I’m in the comments (on my phone). I liked seeing the maple (?) key on your windshield. Interesting to know more about what draws you to book spines…quite a variety of ‘odd’ titles this time…when I see these photos I think of you recording a dying phenomena, that even though old books like these will be preserved some where they may not be as readily available in the future. Gifts do stir up various conflicting emotions at times…I like how you delved into that…

    • Thank you. Funny you say that about the books – one thing I do think about each week at the college library is, how many of these books may never be read again. With the internet and with the factual books getting out of date and so on, the idea of this makes sense and yet hurts. I have read some of these older books and now find them a portrait of the time they were written as much as conveying info on a certain subject. Surely that is worth preserving? And as for gifts, I have been interested in that topic recently, with various birthdays and holidays making me think about gift-giving. Thank you so much for your thoughtful response and your close attention, it means a lot to me. Thank you.

      • I agree that the books are worth preserving…perhaps on a larger scale than in the past as the role of print is shifting..and I hope they continue to be available for viewing…I imagine librarians are thinking about these things…and I do appreciate your sharing your creative excursions 🙂

  5. These are all wonderful. I also felt a special connection with #8, having just attended my daughter’s middle-school choir concert last night. (though they actually did a brilliant job, no running for cover 🙂 )

    • Thank you, I’m not sure where this one came from, the idea just came into my head. My days of attending school concerts are over, but I never had to run from one, either, thank goodness. Fall asleep, maybe, but not run…!

  6. Ohh, so much to love here. All the snippets turned out great. And this: “I put my intentions toward writing.” This is how you do all things, don’t you. And you know that most everybody could be doing it if only we put our intentions towards whatever it is we want to do. And the e) and the f). Expensive tears and glass in hair as a cleaning motive… All right!

    • Thank you. Yes, I think that setting an intention (I borrow from my yoga classes for this phrase) is everything. And I remind myself that if I show up, well, that is the step that all the others all depend on. Showing up. Thanks also regarding snippets. I do love snippets. I find myself more and more wanting to write shorter and shorter. I think my mind is paring things down, making room for more small things, fewer big things.

Comments are closed.