September 2019

As I hand over the reins on this monthly column to an esteemed poet colleague, Terry House, I invite you to follow me to the world of children’s books, where language and image can be as exquisite as a finely crafted poem. Next month on October 1, my debut picture book, Bird Count, will be released by Peachtree Publishing Company, and I will be devoting more of my energies to writing for children. If you live in the area, please come to Silver Unicorn Books in West Acton for my launch party on Saturday, October 5 at 11 a.m.!   For other news, my author site is www.susanedwardsrichmond.com.  

This month’s Poem of the Month is a trio—three poems from Leslie Bulion’s magical collection of bird poems for all ages, Superlative Birds

Three Poems from Superlative Birds

by Leslie Bulion

 

Barn Owl Papa

Silent wings brush nighttime air.

Be wary, lemming, vole, and hare—

Owlets need their growing share.

 

Papa swoops, a downward sheer,

Toward rustlings only barn owls hear.

He hunts by supersonic ear.

 

 

The Great Communicator

 

Hop-a-dee, flit-a-dee,

small black-capped chickadee

calls out a warning most

 other birds heed.

 

Growing or shrinking its

neuroanatomy,

sizing its song-brain

according to need!

 

 

Bird Hunter

 

Wings trim

peregrine knifes earthward

from sky scraper cliff

bold spirit embodies

the shape of speed.

 

These poems were first published in the United States under the title Superlative Birds by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Robert Meganck.  Text Copyright © 2019 by Leslie Bulion. Reproduced by arrangement with Peachtree Publishing Company, Inc.

Leslie Bulion writes science poetry and science-infused middle grade novels for young readers ages 6-106. When Leslie isn’t traveling for research, scuba diving, visiting schools, or speaking at conferences, she writes, explores, and lives in Connecticut with her husband. 

Catch Leslie on the "Spark Curiosity" panel at the upcoming AASL annual conference in Louisville, KY on November 16!

Superlative Birds Portfolio Page: https://peachtree-online.com/portfolio-items/superlative-birds/

Leslie Bulion’s author site: https://www.lesliebulion.com

 

August 2019

Louise Berliner wrote “Metamorphic Reflections” for this year’s Plein Air Poetry Walk, featuring ekphrastic poetry—twenty-five poets inspired by twenty-five sculptures. Please join poets, sculptors, and friends at Old Frog Pond Farm & Studio on Sunday, September 15 at 2 p.m. to hear Louise and other poets read their new work at the sculpture sites. A limited edition art book of sculptures and poems will be available for purchase at the event. 

 

Metamorphic Reflections

by Louise Berliner


Might be the end of the world,
The safety of the dining room breached
By untameable weather
So that the furnishings find themselves back home
Amongst their soaring plant family
Bewildered by their reconfigured bodies
Unsure if they still belong.  

Could a pond be a ballroom,
Feature a half-submerged chandelier shining
Over reflected cities swallowed whole?
And would those waters send out invitations,
Provide seating for those who don’t
Perch, glide, slither, soar;
Insist we’re all just one big family?

One day, whether maple or flesh,
We’ll give ourselves back to the world
So it can start again.
Meanwhile, the guests and host argue:
Whose house is it, anyway?

 

Louise Berliner is a word wrestler and thread twister. She makes sculptures of words that sometimes look like poems or novels, and characters made of waxed linen, misc. threads and fabrics. Her writing has appeared in VQR, Porter Gulch Review, Ibbetson Review, The Mom Egg, Sacred Fire and various chapbook collections. Her first book, Texas Guinan, Queen of the Night Clubs, written in part thanks to an NEH grant, is a biography of a Roaring ‘20s night club hostess famous for saying “Hello, Suckers!”

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.