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Tag Archives: New England

Turning to a new season

red salamander
Fall affects people in differing ways. Some feel dread as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop. They worry about darkness, snow and cold when they are months away. Others, like me, love fall the best. Yep, I like all the cliched autumn things: apple picking, country fairs, turning leaves, mums and pumpkins, crisp nights, Halloween, fewer tourists in Maine….almost all of it, except pumpkin spice flavored beer and coffee. I think it’s the loveliest time to live in New England.

Here is a short, powerful poem by Denise Levertov that I have liked for a long time.

Living

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.

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“Spring” in Maine takes its time

The calendar tells us it’s spring, but in Maine we still have a lot of snow lying around. Some snowdrops and crocus have made a brave appearance. As the earth awakens, here is a poem that is not about spring. Spring poems will follow in the coming weeks.

THE SCIENCES SING A LULLABY

PHYSICS SAYS: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

GEOLOGY SAYS: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.

ASTRONOMY SAYS: the sun will rise tomorrow.
ZOOLOGY SAYS: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle.
PSYCHOLOGY SAYS: but first it has to be night, so
BIOLOGY SAYS: the body-clocks are stopped all over town and
HISTORY SAYS: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

Albert Goldbarth

The year turns again to autumn

This is a tree in my neighborhood in Maine.  It’s a cliché but a true one that most of us feel lucky to live in New England this time of year.  The “FOILAGE”, as I heard someone say on the radio, is spectacular.  One’s thoughts turn to cooking, comfort food, approaching holidays, wearing fleece and putting the flannel sheets on the bed.  And, of course, reading and other indoor activities.  I read a wonderful book recently, ON THE MOVE, Dr. Oliver Sacks’ memoir.  What an extraordinary man, multi-talented and in love with language.  I had read some of his books about neurological patients and they were very good, but the memoir is even more fascinating, and I recommend it highly to you.  neighbor tree October

Finally – spring in New England, and National Poetry Month

daffodils_04

April is always full of poetry events. This year is no exception. I try to list all the ones involving Moon Pie Press poets on the website at http://www.moonpiepress.com. Here is a lovely poem about what sustains some of us through a long winter. It is by former Portland Poet Laureate Bruce Spang, whose latest book from Moon Pie Press is BOY AT THE SCREEN DOOR.

THE COLOR OF FAITH

Minus fifteen degrees, even the thermometer on the deck
recoils under its lid. Like a man with a Bible in a bombed out building,

I unearth a Johnny’s Selected Seed catalog
in the mail. Fields of Allstar Gourmet Lettuce,

mottled rows of purple and green, spread
beneath bare feet of a girl who slices one head

after another like the Queen in Wonderland.
I twist the space heater dial to high and flip

to Amaranthus, with its ropes of deep red,
fold the page; find a new Echinacea, Pallida

with long slender purple petals, fold it.
Colors splash on my lap, yellow tomatoes,

blue aster, pink poppies, and on page
sixty-eight, skins of peppers glistening

as brightly as the snow did this afternoon,
yet sliced open like hearts. Look, there is

Joe Pye Weed that releases a vanilla scent.
Smell it. Write it. Fill in the order form.

Winter beats us down in New England

snowy trees

Truman C with cat

Everyone is tired and crabby after the past month or so of snow, bitter cold and more snow. Boston is a big mess that is making national news. Here in southern Maine we are not paralyzed to that extent, but driving is treacherous and we’re running out of places to put snow. Tonight into Sunday another 12-15″ is predicted, with 50mph+ winds. I went to my town library yesterday and stocked up for the long weekend with books and a movie.

Here is a photo of my late cousin Truman Capote with a cat – I have a collection of photos of writers with their pets and will keep throwing them in randomly. Capote has been on my mind since the hoopla over the pending release of his friend Harper Lee’s sequel to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I can’t help but wonder what Capote would think of all this, or of the book itself. His original last name was Persons; my father’s cousin Archie was his father. Truman’s mother later married Mr. Capote and changed the boy’s name. I never met him, but am a long time admirer of his writing.

Here is a short winter poem by Thomas Campion (1576-1620)

Now the winter nights enlarge
The numbers of their hours
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups overflow with wine;
Let well turned words amaze
With harmony divine.

Hope is the thing with feathers

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yellow bird on flowering branch

Spring has finally burst out in New England, weeks later than usual. The lilacs are blooming and their scent is everywhere. My white azalea is flowering and the peonies are budding. Here is a poem by Stephen Scaer that my mother sent me recently, a cleverly rhymed take on the “romance” of birdsong.

TO AN EARLY BIRD, MID-JUNE

To-we, To-woo, To-woe! Must you sing
so early, bird? Can these announcements wait
until a better time: say, half-past eight?
You don’t think this cacophony will bring
a friend who’ll share her nest so late in spring?
April’s the month to serenade a mate,
and at the latest, May. Accept your fate:
This summer you’re alone. And please don’t cling
to adolescent hopes these clamorous,
brooding lays could win a hen.
Sincerity won’t make her amorous
this close to fall. It’s hard to come to terms
with passing time. You might see spring again.
But let’s talk after breakfast. Go find worms.

copyright 2014 by Stephen Scaer – from The National Review

Fickle New England spring – and reading

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books crucial

cats in rain

It’s a cliché to say that if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait 15 minutes (I believe this is attributed to Mark Twain), but there’s a lot of truth to it. I set out this afternoon in sun to walk my dog. We got about 10 minutes away from the house and the sky grew black and a tremendous stinging hailstorm swept in. We sheltered the best we could under a pine tree, but got bombarded and soaked. Poor Zoe was scared. A kind neighbor came along in his pickup and offered us a ride home, and didn’t mind a very wet dog in the cab.

I estimate that we’re three weeks behind normal blooming and blossoming times this year. Finally the forsythia, daffodils and tulips are blooming, but it’s May, not April. Now the hail has stopped and it’s raining. Nothing to do but stay inside, have a cup of tea and dive into a book. Sometimes the weather conspires with bibliophiles.