Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 15

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




On April 18 I was at Montco in the Brendlinger Library. A typical April day, cool and gray.  Look here, a photo from the intersection of Spring Garden and Butler in Ambler. It’s been some time since I showed a photo from this location, on my way to the college.

Butler ave 4-18-1910

Some of the trees on campus have new green leaves…

Montco 4-18-19 #28

and some don’t. Look at how green the grass is, though. Spring is here.

Montco 4-18-19 #19

I went up to College Hall

Montco 4-18-19 #34

and set up my table.

Montco 4-18-19 #43

It’s still National Poetry Month. I decided to try another blackout poem and picked one up from the table. I also took a poem in your pocket offering though I’m not sure if it’s today or left from earlier. No matter, I’ll pass it along.

What about today? I’ve accumulated poems from earlier weeks that I could not get happy with – as I’ve said, I’m changing routines in my everyday life and it’s occupying poetry space in my head.

Also, I think I’m getting pickier with my work. Since I’ve said so much in writing already, anything I say now had better have something to say, if you know what I mean. Luckily, there is no shortage of things to write about this in world, or ways to do it. A reassuring thought.

Anyway, what this all means is, I started off by looking over the earlier-written poems. And I did get through the blackout exercise – nothing great, but for the first time I’ve tried one of these, I was able to stagger through in semi-coherent form.

I also did a whole group of poems prompted by this page of cut-out phrases.

Montco 4-18-19 #61

It’s interesting – some days I can look at a page like this and get nothing from it – then another day, the whole list is leaping out and begging for inclusion. Today was one of the latter days – good! That’s fun.

At lunchtime I went to the grocery store café for lunch and to work on Little Vines. By then the sun had come out.

All right, here are some samples from today.

Here’s one of those hangover (not hungover!) poems:


Feeling the raw edges of it
I think of a knife
taking the first peel of skin off the beet
the first stroke that scrapes away
the sharp line that separates
the moment when there is no going back
the pause before the second cut.

You know how you think of it
this kind of thing
feeling the raw edges of it
with your fingers
holding the knife.

The blackout poem – as you can see from the photo, it came from text from a translation of Beowulf.

we have heard from many:
the friendless fate repaid in wealth
the folk who a good heaven sent favor
for so long a while
endowed with renown
at the fated moment
to shelter
while the leader

Montco 4-18-19 #52

These two short poems came from the phrase page.

And then
to catch a train
we might have been friends
it seems the most unfair truth of all:
the idea that
it was always five minutes too late

Something soft and scandalous
about your feelings
I was narrower about things back then
I was lonely but
not lonely enough.

So did this one, come from the phrase page, I mean, but it’s a bit longer. I think the people in this poem, well, they have issues.


For a change
I’d like to say
started off the conversation
I waited for
what he’d like to say
for a change
hoping I would not have to answer
That’s the last thing I would want
wondering if I had sat here long enough
to be ready to be let down gently
remembering the last time
when he said
Wouldn’t it be nice if
I replied
I’m not going to cry anymore
but I didn’t say it out loud
of course
and I won’t now

Little Vines

I agree with you
alarm clock
it’s very early

Bad weather
why can’t you divide it
save some of it for later throw it out mail it away?

what it feels like to a client
one more unpleasant
oof right in the stomach

leaves on the ground
in the air
it will end with me in the cemetery

the man I am today
the one I made clean
did he lie to me?

high-flying golden kites
pink clouds at sunset
like greasy potato chips in a punch bowl

looping handwriting stay clear
bulbous l’s and o’s careening along
underhanded and out of control

the knife in the drawer
the knife in the hand
the filleted business partner lying on the carpet

To the big eye watching over us
I advise you just to say Thank You
Any more than that and you give it ideas

For the first time
I figure I might be ready to tell the truth
so that you could leave home

because two hundred people said so:
the gossip circulated
like holes through Swiss cheese

backdate the document?
there are second chances, yes
but they usually don’t work backwards

the thumbtacks in a jar
a wedding gift
representing married life

the postage stamp
set askew on the envelope
the wedding invitation misfolded inside

there is the certainty of it
of something feeling true
as plain as the hands on a clock

now that we agree about bodybuilders
let’s try backhoe drivers
then kosher butchers


Thank you for reading!

8 thoughts on “Put Pen to Paper Marathon 2019 Week 15

  1. The mystery in 8 and 13…you keep us hanging. I like how you mention that you can look at a page of phrases and not feel anything…it makes moments of inspiration more special….The grass you show is so green!

    • Thank you. It’s funny, if something gets my attention, it’s as if it lights itself up in my mind. And the same phrase can be dark one day and lighted the next, I don’t understand that either, I just let it go its way. I thought the same thing about the grass. April is super green grass time – it all gets sun since there are no leaves, there is plenty of rain, and moderate temps so it doesn’t burn out. And so welcome, that color, right now!

      • Yes, colour! I am so happy to see the little blades of green coming through the yellow around here…And it’s great how you’ve figured out how to generate your own inspiration…I still use a couple of external prompts, ie community prompts, for learning and interaction, but the inspiration process itself is most enjoyable when I use my own ‘methods’ to come up with something.

        • As for prompts I agree, finding your own methods means that they fit you already more than ones from the public; I feel out of any assortment something will connect.

  2. My favorite is m. I definitely don’t want it getting any more ideas! We’ve got enough problems as it is…
    and I really like the Beowulf one. The words and phrases you’ve selected are still you. (K)

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