July 2019

The Dead Summer’s Soul

          for Robert

by J. Delayne Ryms

 

A scent comes with him, his hair. Hardly a blond scent.

High Desert, dry sage. Rio Grande cottonwood and saltgrass

meadow. More than the sweet leaning-into

of a golden retriever, days full of dun leaf-rustlings

and pale, slanting sun.

 

The mud-sludging ditch where drowned things live,

swift acequia for contradiction, caves

of spiders and bats.

The river itself: placid bogs of quicksand

that sap our fantasies.

But the scent coming with him is

clean as a bosque sunflower,

 

stalk thrusting up in the wrong season.

Cantankerous redwings and Rio crows collect

in arguments

and gruff reconciliations —

hermit-bird merely homes down, ghosting the understory.

 

He is not mere, this one coming. Nobody’s blond scent.

Falling wind. A different sky haunts me

every hour, always vast, exhilarated

by itself expanding. His hair

floats like tall reeds, dandelion tufts, scattered.

The old scent, shimmering.

 

From Before Dragonflies (Finishing Line Press, 2019)

 

J Delayne Ryms’ first poetry collection, Before Dragonflies, was recently released by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including The Comstock Review, High Plains Literary Review, Puerto Del Sol, and Wild Apples, a journal of art and inquiry. She has received a grant from the California Arts Council, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and two Academy of American Poets Awards. She lives in Georgia with her son Jorin and dog Kai.

June 2019

At Seagull Beach
                                    Yarmouth, MA

            by Nausheen Eusef

 

All morning we combed the beach,
picking our way through its detritus
and keeping the distance between us
that neither was willing to breach.

I watched as you gathered seashells—
pretty things, yes, but cracked husks
once home to some soft-bodied mollusk.
Clams, scallops, oysters, mussels.

“The naked shingles of the world,”
you said. Knives of sunlight diced
the waves. Bitter words had passed,
as cold as the water that curled

at our feet. Pebbles of shale and quartz,
damp and mineral-stained, nestled
meekly in the sand. Once they bristled
molten and livid. They did not ask

to be thrust into the years, sun-beaten,
wave-battered, wind-driven beyond
human accounting—until they found
their way here. Like us from Eden.

We require no grand gesture
to love or loyalty, for we are two
who have no choice but to be true,
tenacious even in our rancor,

we creatures of water and fire
who did not choose each other
but were thrown together, or rather,
chosen and chastened by desire.

Nausheen Eusuf is a PhD candidate in English at Boston University. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals and has been selected for inclusion in the Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize anthologies. Her first full-length collection Not Elegy, But Eros was published by NYQ Books. Website: www.nausheeneusuf.com

May 2019

Come sow the seeds of a new season with us at Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio on Sunday, May 19, from 1 to 5 p.m. Twenty-five artists will be unveiling their 2019 sculptural installations at the Opening Reception for Around the Pond and Through the Woods.

 

Yield

          by Joanne DeSimone Reynolds

Opening a furrow with his thumb

And again in a more measured

Motion marking dimples . . .

A man’s fist

Is a womb full of seed . . .

Each passing through the narrows

Between his finger

And the thumb that sets it deeper

For as many as come . . .

Empty now his hand cups the earth into a mound

A gingered warmth an imprint meaning

I have known you . . . I know you

As in our final ceding . . .

Closing it to finch and jay.

Joanne DeSimone Reynolds is a long-standing participant in Plein Air Poetry at Old Frog Pond in Harvard, MA. Her chapbook Comes a Blossom was published by Main Street Rag in 2014. She lives in Scituate.

 

 

April 2019

Procession

          by bg Thurston

 

I was holding down a convulsing ewe,

when my friend said People need to know

that farming isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting.

 

No one understands why I want to live here

in the middle of nowhere, at the end of the line.

Sometimes I cannot remember myself.

 

My great-grandfather, Charles Bartholomew Lorenz,

was a dairy farmer in Waterford, Pennsylvania.

My other ancestors raised sheep and crops.

 

Farming comes with its own stark language:

ring-womb, wool-break, star-gazing, milk fever.

One learns to pay attention to nature’s signs.

 

Life and death entwine here every single day

and all I am certain of is that I am not in control

of what survives and what will escape my grasp.

 

But each day, I try, pray, cry and stay patient.

Sometimes I even remember the reason I am

rooted so deeply to this earth—to raise up

 

these living, breathing beings. The ewe recovers

and her twin lambs gambol around her.

Crocuses bloom in places I did not plant them,

 

silent hands stretching up from the soil, offering

comfort from kin I never met, a legacy of knowing

this is the only place I belong.

 

bg Thurston lives on a sheep farm in Central Massachusetts She teaches poetry workshops and is intent on finishing the manuscript for her third book this year, titled Cathouse Farm.

March 2019

Poets Moira Linehan and Mary Pinard will be featured readers in Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio’s next reading in our 2019 winter poetry series. Come in out of the snow on Sunday, March 10, at 3 p.m. to hear Moira Linehan and Mary Pinard present their poetry of nature and community. Please stay to enjoy refreshments and conversation. 

 

Hawk and Pond and Branch

                        After “Wind and Water and Stone” —Octavio Paz

                             by Moira Linehan                     

 

The hawk sits enthroned on the branch. The pond lies prostrate below.

The branch curves the way the ragged edge of the pond curves.

Hawk and pond and branch.

 

The frozen pond makes nothing easy for the hawk. The branch extends only so far

over the pond. The hawk cannot be at home on that branch.  

Pond and branch and hawk.

 

The branch is content to hold itself out. The pond will not give way

to open water for weeks. The hawk cannot let waiting be its own reward.

Branch and pond and hawk.

 

Whatever happens among these three happens at an edge: sway and flash

and shifting shadows. Or the lack thereof. Hawk and pond and branch.

 

Published in South Carolina Review, Spring 2013.

                                                                       

Moira Linehan is the author of two collections of poetry, both published by Southern Illinois University Press: If No Moon and Incarnate Grace.  If No Moon was selected by Dorianne Laux as the winner of the 2006 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry open competition. Both books were named Honor Books in Poetry in the Massachusetts Book Awards.  New work of hers recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in AGNI, Boston College Magazine, Calyx, Crab Creek Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Georgia Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Notre Dame Review and Salamander.

 

Blossom Running With a Rake

by Mary Pinard

 

Mutt—shepherd, greyhound, visla—in a rush, finding his footing

despite slushy back stairs, w h o a, slick, quick-slip, almost sledding

on haunches, but upright again, nose down, what?  Hard, long,

 

snake?  Spear?  Snuffle off snow, sniffing to its other end—curved

tines, a set of teeth, at least a rib cage?   Split second, mouth, jaw-clamped,

now it’s a jousting lance, whip-bang-bing off the wrought iron

 

fence leading yard-wise, pillowy snow-patches, unmarked till now:

a gamboling deer-leaping rush of glee, loosening drift and torquing

up mulch chunks, chips of ice—rake gripped tightly, unearthing spring.

 

Mary Pinard teaches in the Arts & Humanities Division at Babson College. Her poems have appeared in a variety of literary journals, and she has published critical essays on poets, including Lorine Niedecker and Alice Oswald.  Portal, her collection of poems, was published by Salmon Press.  Her work as a poet has also been featured in collaborative performances and exhibits with Boston-area musicians, painters, and sculptors.  She was born and raised in Seattle.  For more information, please visit www.marypinard.com.

 

February 2019

Poet Terry House will be a featured reader in Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio’s first reading in our 2019 winter poetry series. Come in from the cold on Sunday, February 10, at 3 p.m. to hear Terry House, Susan Edwards Richmond, and Lynne Viti present their poetry of nature and community. Then stay for refreshments and conversation.  Happy February! 

 

Two Hawks

(St. Valentine’s Day)

          by Terry House

 

Two red-tailed hawks ride a winter thermal

Above the cul-de-sac.

Grey underbellies spangled black,

They appear a matched set, indistinguishable

From our earthbound angle.

 

Though neither of us here below

Can claim in truth to know their story,

We, nevertheless, stand with shaded gaze

And wrestle an ancient, anthropomorphic longing

To read within their apparent pattern of

Part, reel, reunite

An aerial pas-de-deux;

A minuet of touch and distance.

 

And so I propose,

In honor of this bleak occasion on

The downslope side of a cold, cold season,

We cast reason to the wind and give

Full sway to folly:  Let us pretend

They are in love, pretend just for today,

They are –

As we once dreamed we’d be –

Enraptured, forever dancing.

 

Terry House is an educator, poet, and arts reviewer. Her work has appeared in publications including The Berkshire Review; The Anthology of New England Writers; and Birdsong: Poems in Celebration of Birds, in which "Two Hawks (St. Valentine's Day)" was first published.

January 2019

Happy New Year!

Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio is hosting its first poetry series this season with readings in January, February, and March as follows:

Heather Corbally Bryant and Lynne Viti:  Sunday, January 20 at 3 p.m.

Terry House and Susan Edwards Richmond, Sunday, February 10 at 3 p.m.

Moira Linehan and Mary Pinard, Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m.

As an introduction, the next three Poem of the Month postings will feature work from these poets!  If you live near the farm, we hope you can make it to one or more of these readings.

Holly Bushes

            by Heather Corbally Bryant

Holly hedges bloom with pinpricks

Of vermilion, sticky branches

Wind their way, needing to be

Tamed—a row of blue spruces

Grown tall, below yet more

Trees, pear I think, still full

With copper leaves bearing

The shape of their fruit—

 

Morning mist thickens,

Descending into the valley,

The edges of our terrain wedged

Into a hilly crevice, part of

The Appalachian chain,

Sharp rocks rising out of soil

Where I begin again.

Heather Corbally Bryant teaches in the Writing Program at Wellesley College.  She received her A.B. from Harvard and her PhD from the University of Michigan. She has given poetry readings at many universities and bookstores in the United States and also in Ireland. She is the author of Elizabeth Bowen: How Will the Heart Endure, You Can’t Wrap Fire in Paper and the following poetry collections: Cheap Grace, Lottery Ticket, Compass Rose, My Wedding Dress, Thunderstorm, and Eve’s Lament. James Joyce’s Water Closet won honorable mention in The Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition in 2017. Two of her poems were nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize, and Thunderstorm was nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award.

 

 Deep Midwinter After-Party

                        by Lynne Viti

 

Empty kitchen. Morning of snow. Small birds
make quick round trips from bush to feeder.
Hardly a sign of the knot of guests who last night
stood by the French doors, beers in hand
or gathered at the table of empty plates,
glasses half full of wine.

Traces of crackers and salsa marinate
with vegetable peels in the compost tub.
We used to be busy with kids and pets,
used to be the ones driving south for winter,
getting home to pay the babysitter,
wondering if we’d ever make up lost sleep.

I saw you lean back in the yellow armchair
listening to the thirty year olds
talk about work, their children, the news.
It made me wonder at how time
had moved up so fast on us, how
we ignored it as long as we could.

We’re old, admit it, I tell myself, don’t have time
for twenty to forty years of reforming the country,
the world—we barely have time
to read the books we want to, plant the gardens,
see the fifty states, see refugees welcomed,
resettled, find a glimmer of a hint of a possibility
of peace on the planet, this home to our
benighted race, drowning in stuff or in our confusion.

Let the younger people take the reins. I’m
straggling at the back of the crowd as it pulses down
Independence Avenue. You might glimpse me there,
like the gray panthers I used to see on the picket lines
–when I was young and fecund—
time biting at their aching heels.

Originally published in Porcupine, Lost Sparrow Press, Fall 2017.

Lynne Viti is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Baltimore Girls (2017) and The Glamorganshire Bible (2018). Her poetry and fiction has appeared in more than one hundred online and print venues, most recently, Constellations, Muses Gallery, Highland Park Poetry, Gargoyle (forthcoming), and Bay to Ocean: The Year’s Best from the Eastern Shore Writers Association. She has received Mass Center for the Book nominations for both of her chapbooks and has recently been nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize. A faculty emerita at Wellesley College, she blogs at stillinschool.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

 

December 2018

Before the Ash

by David Giannini

 

Dip a sliver of bone or wood

into wet ochre-based compound

and you will be on your way

back 100,000 years

to wall-painting in Africa

where you make no more

splash than spit in a cave

among groping fingers of flame.

Go ahead, go

back.

 

Now,

come forward again, mere

man among trees, 2018.  It is early

and late in human history

with original African genes

in you bending at the woodpile,

split logs with their grain

cells drying fast,

shrinking as you shrink,

toward ash.

 

“Before the Ash” appears in David Giannini’s forthcoming collection, In A Moment We May Be Strangely Blended (Dos Madres Press, 2019).

David Giannini’s poetry collections include Traveling Cluster (Feral Press); Four Plus Four (Country Valley Press); Porous Borders (Spuyten Duyvil Press); AZ TWO (Adastra Press), a “Featured Book” in the 2009 Massachusetts Poetry Festival; and Faces Somewhere Wild (Dos Madres Press). His book, The Future Only Rattles When You Pick It Up, was published by Dos Madres Press in 2018. His work has appeared in international magazines and anthologies. He lives in Becket, MA.

November 2018

Untitled

          by Eamon Grennan

 

Soon enough, of course, the eyes adjust to this huge absence in which

Trees begin wintering, their coloured draperies given over, leaving

 

Naked shapes, ramifications, a reminder of what’s at the heart: a going

Away, the brilliant vertiginous vocabulary of leaves, of being-in-leaf,

Stripped down to sheer unmitigated syntax, this sense that what begins

 

In anchorage and rooted thickness will taper till the endmost twigs are only

Hair-wavers wincing in air, tiny cleavers of light, solid shadow-nothings

Of live wood reaching out the way wiry white tendrils of roots go groping

Down in the dark. Now

 

                             emptiness is all, and you may read what this late

Radiance has left in its wake: signs—stark silent—saying what’s what.

 

            Reprinted with permission from The Quick of It, Graywolf Press, 2005.

 

Eamon Grennan taught for many years in the English Department of Vassar College.  His poems are published in America by Graywolf Press, and in Ireland by Gallery Press. His most recent volume is There Now (2015). For the past ten years he has also written and directed short plays for voices on Irish subjects for Curlew Theatre Company in Connemara.  He lives in Poughkeepsie and the West of Ireland.

 

October 2018

Watching Light in the Field

          by Patricia Fargnoli

 

It may be part water, part animal—

the light—the long flowing whole

of it, river-like, almost feline,

shedding night, moving silent

and inscrutable into the early morning,

drifting into the low fields,

gathering fullness, attaching itself

to thistle and sweetgrass,

the towering border trees,

inheriting their green wealth—

blooming as if this

were the only rightful occupation,

rising beyond itself, stretching out

to inhabit the whole landscape.

I think of illuminations, erasures,

how light informs us, is enough

to guide us. How too much

can cause blindness. I think of memory—

what is lost to us, what we desire.

By noon, nothing is exact,

everything diffused in the glare.

What cannot be seen intensifies:

rivulet of sweat across the cheekbone,

earthworm odor of soil and growing.

The field sways with confusion

of bird calls, mewlings,

soft indecipherable mumblings.

But in the late afternoon, each stalk

and blade stands out so sharp and clear

I begin to know my place among them.

By sunset as it leaves—

gold-dusting the meadow-rue and hoary alyssum,

hauling its bronze cloak across the fences,

vaulting the triple-circumference

of hills—I am no longer lonely.

 

"Watching Light in the Field" from Hallowed: New & Selected Poems, published by Tupelo Press, copyright 2017 Patricia Fargnoli. Used with permission.

Patricia Fargnoli, former New Hampshire Poet Laureate (2006-2009), is the author of five published books of poems which have won numerous awards, including the May Swenson Poetry Prize and the Jane Kenyon Award. She is a retired social worker and lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.  

September 2018

Trail of Song

            by Dawn Paul

 

A veery unravels his glissade of song

from the top of a tall oak along this trail

and I am reminded of the deep forest

at Saguenay in Quebec,

filled at dusk with veery song

every night we tented there.

As the light faded, one bird would

call a few tentative notes,

then others would join in

like an orchestra tuning up in the trees.

Soon melodies poured through the air,

thrush songs like crystal

chandeliers in the wind.

One bird now, yet I hear them all,

decades ago, hundreds of miles north

on the St. Lawrence River.

 

I was caught in this moment while walking the trail that runs past the bell.

Dawn Paul is the author of two novels, The Country of Loneliness and Still River. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in anthologies, journals, and magazines. She is also a frequent performer on the Improbable Places Poetry Tour and has received writing residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Ragdale, the Spring Creek Project, and Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories. She teaches writing and interdisciplinary arts at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Included with Dawn’s poem is the note she wrote for Old Frog Pond Farm’s 2018 Plein Air Poetry Walk and chapbook, Paths, Tracks, Trails.

Please mark your calendars for this year’s Plein Air Poetry Walk on Sunday, September 16 at 2 p.m. at the farm. Twenty-seven regional poets, including Dawn and several other poets who have been featured in this blog, will read new site-specific work on the theme of Paths, Tracks, and Trails. The Poetry Walk is free and open to the public. Chapbooks of the poems will also be available for purchase at the event. Hope to see you there! 

 

August 2018

The Last Mile

          by Martha Carlson Bradley

 

Not just south, but down

the boulder traveled, not just with

 

but through the melting glacier,

 

pollen, sand, the grist of smaller rocks

also adrift and sinking—

 

to land where, eons later,

ferns have learned to cluster

 

every spring, persistent—

and wilt back down come fall.

 

Barbed wire, rusted, skirts

the hulk of stone; the road

 

diverts around it,

like the tracks of deer—

 

while the boulder, half buried yet,

 

is flying—its shadow veering

at the speed of Earth.

 

Martha Carlson-Bradley has published several collections of poetry, including Begin with Trouble, which was a 2017 title in the Hobblebush Press Granite State Poetry Series; Sea Called Fruitfulness; and Season We Can't Resist. She also published three chapbooks with Adastra Press. Her poems have appeared in the LA Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Valparaiso Review, Zone 3, and other magazines. Her awards include the Baron Fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society, an Artist Fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, a St. Botolph grant-in-aid, and the Gretchen Warren Award. She earned a PhD in English from the UNC–Chapel Hill and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. A grant writer at Strawbery Banke Museum, she is currently writing a novel.