December 2013


          MOON TEA

                  by Polly Brown 


      In a dark car, before driving,

to keep myself awake

            for getting home,


            I pour tea

      from a small thermos

                  into a small cup,


and it’s the reflected sky


            by a rising moon)


that rises up to greet me

            as I pour,

                  as the cup fills.


      It is the sky I drink.


Polly Brown taught young adolescents for many years, at Touchstone Community School in Grafton, Massachusetts, and now writes about the daily texture of progressive education, at Her poems have appeared at, and in Appalcachia, Sanctuary, and the Beloit Poetry Journal, among others. She has two chapbooks: Blue Heron Stone, from Every Other Thursday Press, and Each Thing Torn From Any of Us, from Finishing Line Press.  

November 2013

Consecration  by Kirk Westphal


I am the fallen hemlock

beside the trail

with the dry rot pulp and moss breath

and the naked ribcage of my sins

spindling outward at incomplete angles

remembering the heavy lattice

of their green-black days.

Please, as you pass by,

break off one branch each day.

Snap them to the trunk,

in pieces if you must, leaving nothing

so that one day I may rest here

proud as a mainmast

or as the noble elegy

of some great spire.


 By day, Kirk Westphal works on water supply plans around the world and has written many technical articles on water management.  By night, he writes poetry, memoirs, and fiction.  His poetry has appeared in Dunes Review, The Road Not Taken, National Public Radio, and the chapbook Lines in the Landscape.  He is also the author of the book Ordinary Games, scheduled for publication in 2015.


September 2013 - Poetry at Old Frog Pond Farm

I am drawn to the farm as a place for inspired language.   Songs and stories are an integral part of thelandscape and the events that take place here, and Linda, a poet herself, frequently combines poetry with her photographs and sculpture.    

My first collaboration with Linda and the land was a series of poems and images entitled, “River Crossings,” which was published in the first issue of the Wild Apples journal.   I had just visited Linda’s studio to view the sculpture that would form the basis for our collaboration, but had no idea how the poetry would arise.  As I pulled down the drive past the pond, I rolled down my car window and stopped to listen to the water pouring over the dam.  The sounds and images of that moment became the first words of the poem:

Small boat twists on its tether, yellow

cord bound to precarious dock,

sound of water rising and falling.

Above the dam, the craft is still

white against dark and radiating

rings, signals intercepted

by insects and rain. Stone embraces

the pond, holds it back, while dry

reeds mingle with new green.

In the hull oars cross, tip back

toward penitent shore, the phoebe’s

careless tail. Blue overtakes

blue, all around the meadow

voices rise

in garlands of flight. 

I was struck by how, in that momentary immersion in my surroundings, the lines rushed in without barriers. 

In the prior year, illness had made it difficult for me to write, to be inspired, even to focus on the page long enough to coax words from their recesses.  Since that day by the pond, however, I discovered a source once again in the outdoors.  Now, I often seek a place on the farm to sit in contemplation—a rock by the pond, the meditation hut, a stump surrounded by beaver cuts at the edge of the wetlands. 


Plein air, or outdoor, painting became popular in the early nineteenth century in Europe and North America with the introduction of the portable paint box.  But the tools of the writer have always been portable, and certainly poets have been scribbling their first notes out of doors for centuries.  I have been moved to language by nature for years, but now I want to plant my art into the landscape with even deeper roots.  I am fascinated by the idea of plein air poetry. It mandates close observation and encourages appreciation of the landscape and its particulars—the plants, animals, water, rocks, and weather—in both writer and reader.


This summer we began our first plein air experiment at Old Frog Pond Farm, inviting some people who already self identify as plein air writers and others with a passion for this particular landscape.  On Sunday, September 22 at 2 p.m. we will enjoy the fruits of their poetry harvest in a poetry walk at the farm.  We hope that you will join us.   Bring a notebook and pencil if you like, in case, you too are inspired along the way.         


If you are moved to write plein air or to take as your subject the out of doors, feel free to submit your work for posting here on the farm’s website.  I will look for a new poem each month, and occasionallycomment on some aspect of writing inspired by Old Frog Pond Farm.


Enjoy these late summer days of harvest, migration, and balm.