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.

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

Earthdaughters

            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 www.susanedwardsrichmond.com.

 

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.