I decided to challenge myself as a poet. For the month of September I chose to exchange the comfortable coffee shop laptop experience for something new. Every day in September I took the subway from my Brooklyn apartment to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Uptown Manhattan, to write there for an hour. Even on Mondays when the Museum was closed I sat on the steps writing poems. I wrote in various locations in the gallery – Egyptian Art, European Paintings and in the tranquil surroundings of the Chinese Garden.

As part of the challenge I posted a poem a day on my blog amonthatthemet.blogspot.com. I invited guests to join me and fifteen or so participated. I wanted to examine an environment’s effect on writing, the influence and interaction of art, history and routine. Now, after a month of writing among tourists I feel my poems have shifted in their subject matter and tone now more varied than before. My sense of time has altered and it is clear that this chosen environment and the discipline of the project have had a significant impact on my writing.

– Caitlin Thomson

At Sailors Delight, Take Warning

We bear these days of red skies, try to search for clues
realign bodies, the lack of rain stretching out weeks. Long sleeve
shirts, jeans, hats piled on; we strip at night,

reveal bodies brown as peach pits. Nothing keeps
the sun out, still the earth is no warmer than it was.
I chart it nightly. My father searches books
for explanations, combs footnotes for skeleton keys.

In the valley he strings oranges from trees, lights fires
underneath, shifts the oranges axis every day or two,
records the browning spots. My sons burnt
their clothes last week and spend hours blending
into trees, deer hunting. They smile more now,
teeth a shocking white.

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House

I am governed by an empty sky;
the gray of dust, texture of chalk.

Home, would I recognize you now,
wood, tile, siding, stucco, knee, back bone?

I have grown accustomed to words
for shelter. Punctuation

a variable foundation.
The elements are here,
and I welcome the winds.

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