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.

July 2018

The Keepers

          by Kirk Westphal


Reverent hands select boards

that will hold the books,

Poplar, neither hard nor soft – 

the durability of words

and malleability of intentions

embossed with clear grain of a Vermont river,

shadowed with alluring verdant hues

exposed to light

after years of quiet preparation 

in the lexicology of trees.

These boards might have become paper

but do not choose their resurrection

nor measure one against another.

Ink on paper smells as new and old

as a fresh saw cut –

no knots in finely crafted lines.


Kirk Westphal is a water resource consultant, amateur carpenter, coach, author, and songwriter. The poem, "The Keepers," is excerpted from his first published collection of poetry, Bodies of Wood and Water (Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press, 2018). He is also the author of No Ordinary Game (DownEast Books, 2015), a collection of stories about great moments in sports that happen to everyday people. He lives in Stow, MA and is currently putting the finishing touches on a timber frame cabin in the Berkshire foothills, which is sure to become his favorite place to write in the years ahead.


Kirk will be reading from Bodies of Wood and Water at the Silver Unicorn Bookstore’s first poetry night on Wednesday, July 18 at 6 p.m., 12 Spruce Street, Acton, MA. Joining Kirk will be Helen Marie Casey, Christopher Clark, and Susan Edwards Richmond. Please come, hear some great poetry, and check out this beautiful new bookstore in West Acton.

June 2018


            by Jeanne LeBaron Sawyer


‟marsh marigolds”

                             she notes

as we round the corner by the brook

and in my head I hear a timeless chorus

my mother’s voice and mine joining hers


‟skunk cabbage!”

                            as we compile

the catalog of spring


Jeanne LeBaron Sawyer, librarian and dedicated amateur naturalist, wrote this poem in about 1985. Like almost all her poems it had never been published until the past decade, when Jeanne worked with her daughter, poet and editor Polly Brown, and with book designer Sarah Bennett, to produce a first book. Evolution: Poems Across Seven Decades was released by Heron Pond Press in 2017. Jeanne died in May 2018, at 90, leaving many memories of shared ‟bog joy,” as her grandchildren referred to it, and these poems.


May 2018

This month’s poem was selected by Polly Brown.


Beltane—May 1

       by Deborah Melone


Today is Beltane

Wear yellow flowers

Walk your cows between

The two bonfires


Leap over the flame

Garland the cattle

Leave the spirits oatcake

Drink the winy caudle


Dance round the maypole

Decked with shells today

Honor the union

Of Lord and Lady May


Strew primrose and hawthorn

At windows and doors

From the Beltane fires

Rekindle yours


Deborah Melone lives in Watertown, Massachusetts. For many years a writer and editor at a scientific consulting company, she now teaches English as a Second Language to adult students at the Watertown Public Library. She has been a member of the poetry collective Every Other Thursday since 1983, and has published in a number of magazines and journals. She has published the poetry collection Farmers’ Market and two chapbooks, Walking the Air and The Wheel of the Year.


April 2018

Near the Connecticut

            by Polly Brown


Four of us travelling in one canoe—

two small enough to fit between


the paddlers—down the Connecticut,

New England’s watery spine.


We sat on a ledge in sunshine;

then, needing to pee, I climbed


to a small wood. Sun-dappled shade,

blue chinks of sky, nameless


sparrows dipping in, weaving through:

no remembered detail explains


why in that moment I woke

to our life in paradise. Which means


it could happen

almost anywhere again.


Polly Brown has organized outdoor poetry events on her hillside in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, has written about war and peace at the Joiner Institute at UMass Boston, and will lead a workshop focused on two poems by Stanley Kunitz at the 2018 Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Pebble Leaf Feather Knife, her new book of poems, will be released by Cherry Grove in 2019. The two children in this poem are now busy rearing another generation of canoeists and kayakers.





March 2018

This month’s offering is selected by Terry House, President of the Robert Creeley Foundation. Join us for Mark Doty's reading at the 2018 Creeley Foundation's annual event. Details below.  

Heaven for Stanley

          by Mark Doty

For his birthday, I gave Stanley a hyacinth bean,
an annual, so he wouldn’t have to wait for the flowers.
He said, Mark, I have just the place for it!
as if he’d spent ninety-eight years
anticipating the arrival of this particular vine.
I thought poetry a brace against time,
the hours held up for study in a voice’s cool saline,
but his allegiance is not to permanent forms.
His garden’s all furious change,
budding and rot and then the coming up again;
why prefer any single part of the round?
I don’t know that he’d change a word of it;
I think he could be forever pleased
to participate in motion. Something opens.
He writes it down. Heaven steadies
and concentrates near the lavender. He’s already there.

—Copyright 2005 by Mark Doty

Mark Doty is the Winner of the Eighteenth Annual Robert Creeley Award. He will be presented with the award and give a free public reading on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, at 7:30 in the Acton-Boxborough Regional High School auditorium.  Hope to see you there!

Mark Doty is the author of nine books of poetry, including Deep Lane (April 2015), Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2008 National Book Award, and My Alexandria, for which he was the first American to receive Great Britain's T.S. Eliot Prize. He is also the author of three memoirs: the New York Times-bestselling Dog Years, Firebird, and Heaven's Coast, as well as a book about craft and criticism, The Art of Description: World Into Word. Doty has received two NEA fellowships, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships, a Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Award, and the Witter Byner Prize.

February 2018

Poem of the Month selections can now also be accessed through my website at


The Orchard in Winter

     by Terry House


Storm's end quickens;

Still, wizened apples cling;

Barred owl glides

Silent as the last, slow flakes -


In their kitchen

The farmers scan

Nursery lists,

Plotting spring.


Terry House is a poet and educator living in Acton. She currently serves as President of the Robert Creeley Foundation.

January 2018

Happy New Year! Wishing our Old Frog Pond Farm community near and far a new year filled with joy and discovery. January’s poem was selected by Moira Linehan.



         by Betsy Sholl


Because the titmice at the feeder are

all silk and tufted gray, and the cardinals

beautifully paired in their marriage

of subtle and brash, I have to read

the same sentence seven times,

then finally give up and study instead

the suggestions of bright red flashing

as house finches occupy the feeder.            

On my lap an essay explaining

Dickinson's deft ironies, elusive

dashes and slants, so dense I have to stop

wanting to get to the end, the bottom

of anything, and just live in the drift

of phrase and clause, until once again

a feathered thing—a nuthatch heading down

a rutted trunk—catches my eye, and I

am torn like an old uneasy treaty,

within a single mind two tribes dwelling,

people of the book, yes, but also others

literate in seed husk, rain slant, cloud,

a thousand twittering tongues.


—from Late Psalm, Univ. Wisconsin Press


Betsy Sholl served as Poet Laureate of Maine from 2006 to 2011.  Her eighth collection of poetry, Otherwise Unseeable (University of Wisconsin), won the 2015 Maine Literary Award for poetry. She currently teaches in the MFA Program of Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in Portland.

December 2017

The Shortest Day of the Year

       by Wendy Mnookin


Our doors blocked by a blizzard

the two of us climbed from a window

into a world made new—


mailboxes buried, signs disappeared.

We walked on the tops of bushes, 

dug until we found our car.


And dug some more.

We cleared the hood,

unburdened the windshield,


tunneled all the way to the tires.

Then what?

The roads were closed,


there was nowhere to go.

Sweating inside our layers,

we let ourselves fall


back into drift.

We had no ambition.

For minutes, or a year,


it was enough to lie there,

stunned with sun, with implacable white.

Our eyes glazed.


The frost of our breath happened.

And then we stood, clapping

our jackets free of snow,


suddenly shy

to see the imprint of wings,

so slight, it’s a wonder


we trusted ourselves at all.


From The Moon Makes Its Own Plea, BOA Editions, 2008


Wendy Mnookin’s most recent book is Dinner with Emerson (Tiger Bark Press, 2016.) The recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Writing, Wendy has taught poetry at Emerson College and Boston College. You can find out more about her writing at




November 2017

NOT AS ONE who knows the ground

          by Joan Houlihan


NOT AS ONE who knows the ground

but woken to a standing,

Ay rose and held as bird would hold          

for want of weather, flight.                

Far, the hard light grew.                    

The us were down in sleep.

Fire blacked away.

None would know me

colding there. Ay stood and stept

as calf that has no mother-side,

as a weak thing made, then fell

and lay in a smaller place to wait.    

Where a noise had been

Ay let a quiet in.


From Ay, Tupelo Press, 2014


Joan Houlihan is the author of five books of poetry including Shadow-feast, forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2018. Her other books are: Ay (2014), The Us (2009), The Mending Worm, winner of the 2005 Green Rose Award from New Issues Press and Hand-Held Executions: Poems & Essays (2003). She has taught at Columbia University, Emerson College and Smith College and serves on the faculty of Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is also Professor of Practice in Poetry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Houlihan founded and directs the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.


October 2017


          by Charles Pratt


The trees, I’m told, have stood here fifty years—

Bearers still. The motherly Cortlands, fat

As their dusky apples, cookers, firm in pies.

The Macs more upright, sparer, the apples—

This year, at least—scarcer, smaller, brighter,

Flecked with little lights. And the Wageners,

Bristling with apples from a thousand spurs,

The fruit a modest russet, turning as it ripens

To scarlet, apples from a Book of Hours.

Sweetness seethes from the press, foams

In the bucket; I turn with the handle

Under the mild October sun

That brings back summer, softened. Sun-yellow

Hornets, now, mellowed from when,

In August, the mower brought their stinging

Hubbub up from underground,

Nuzzle my sticky fingers, gentle as cows,

Swoon to that foaming sweetness where they drown.

Midnight, midwinter. Under the full moon

The trees, like twisting smoke, like rocks

Whorled by tides of air,

Stand stock-still in their shadows

On the new snow, precise and mysterious

As spiders on a linen tablecloth.

Arrested, I look out, investing

Them with the patient merit

And deliberate innocence I would learn of them.


From From the Box Marked Some Are Missing by Charles Pratt, Volume I of the Hobblebush Granite State Poetry Series, Hobblebush Books. Book available at

Charles W. Pratt taught English for more than 25 years, mostly at Phillips Exeter Academy, before he and his wife, Joan, bought a small apple orchard in Brentwood, New Hampshire, and became apple-growers. In addition to From the Box Marked Some Are Missing, he has two previous collections, In the Orchard and Still Here.