Ann B. Day, Poetry

Home Concert

by Ann B. Day

Rain:
flute drops
against the yellow leaves,
flat on twigs and trunks
of blackened trees.

Rain:
strings slide
down the silver panes,
beyond the puffs
of popular gold
on hills and wooded lanes.

Rain:
piano plays
a beating bass
upon still waters
of the pond,
where circles interlace.

The afternoon
of music
mingles rain
and sweet memories
of you.

 

Photograph by Ann B. Day

 

Poetry, Rodger Martin

East Boothbay

by Rodger Martin

Just beyond the looking glass of dawn
when the cormorants reel and swoop down
over glassy water and up above the threaded
needles of the boatyard masts, the shock
of the welder’s arc, a spray of white sparks, and grumble
of diesel help the yard of Goudy and Stevens
give birth to the stubby iron plates of an oil skimmer.

A steel crane, a tall, unforgiving frozen joint
of an arm, slowly lifts the pilot house up
and up the four stories to its slot on the bridge
above the wide mouth whose jaws gape, anxious
to strain the sea and digest man’s greasy plankton
before it oozes into the pores, onto the feathers,
and over the scales of every creature cheaper than gas.

It’s the biggest job in years for East Boothbay—
a place of rivets and old boats—where the tides keep
the starfish bright under the clear prism of the sea
and above the shale shells of clam. On a Sunday
when only the gulls work, and the breeze pushes this way
till the mollusks scent the air more than oil, one can stroll
under the skimmer’s hull and imagine a sweep

of huge, green seas lunging against
the plates to hold the skimmer back
as it strains against the scream of salt
spray to reach yet another great, black
tanker stacked beneath the gray rock
turned white under ageless seabird droppings.
Oh the North Atlantic is a towering heavyweight

who will not pay a lot for a tanker—
ocean biceps never tire. They clench, draw
their tidal gloves back to launch blow
after blow thudding to the body and the head,
driving the punch-drunk shell, eyes bruised
to slits, deeper onto the granite ropes
where it begins to bleed and buckle.

After the count, the always champion
Atlantic raises green fists in victory
then lumbers from the ropes leaving the ring
to a skimmer from a clapboard town
with a boatyard, one store, a church, and an inn.

 

This poem was previously published in Northern New England Review, 1996. It was also adapted and recorded as the song “East Boothbay” by Doug Clegg on Only Fools Predict The Weather, 1996.

 

 

Irma Haggerty, Poetry

Kayaking Streeter Pond: Seasonal Rentals

by Irma Haggerty

Winter’s chill past, the lakeside dwellings
belong again to me. Quietly as deep water currents,
I kayak by them, share their space and reflect.

Behind a thicket, I have heard harsh sounds,
discordant engine-driven cuts delivering lumber
measured to fit precut logs, a rustic build,
its russet roof shingles finally showing
above the thinnest limbs of trees;

and often paddled by a tidy bungalow,
its splitting cedar shakes and Adirondack chairs,
gray as spit curls pinned by the aproned woman
sometimes sweeping splintered deck boards;
sometimes standing still as the watchful heron,
marking the brightening morning,
its slow pace and peaceful progression;

or docked at an untrimmed, walnut-stained house
settled within land shadows waiting to be razed (where
a permanent home, they tell me, will soon be built),
its six years of memories staying
as toeholds for those to come.

Each visit I trace the evolving perimeter, watch
lovingly over all the cottages as the shallows
become dense with water lilies,
their blossoms splaying under the platinum sun,
knowing that as the earth tips away,
ice will quiet overlapping wavelets that tease
rooted growth framing the pond,
and smoke will rise through cold chimneys
mingling with winter’s returning chill.

Then, and only then, will I surrender
all the seasonal rentals.

 

Parker Towle, Poetry

New Hampshire Notches in December

by Parker Towle

Crawford Notch—no views,
today watery snow
crusts the headlights, pebbles
the windshield. Deepening
ruts of a car that struggles
up ahead swerve with no center lines
to guide. When he stops
to strip ice, wet snow

swirls down his neck. Back inside
his reddened hands clutch
the wheel. It’s too late to turn back.
Wheel spins flick the speedometer.
Under Frankenstein cliffs
wind shifts lighter snow,
clears spots, jolts the car.
He shifts up on the flats toward

Bretton Woods and Twin. As
sudden as a shutter, snow
stops, no wind, clear
black. Within two minutes
or is it hours, millennia, a splash
rains down that wipers cannot wash,
roads glaze; He slows toward
Franconia Notch, more rocking wind.

 

 

Ann B. Day, Poetry

Winter Chores

by Ann B. Day

I trek to the barn
in the icy pre-light;
the frozen air stings
and pulls my skin tight.
Boots squeak on the snow
where footsteps have gone
into the sharpness
of a mid-winter dawn.

The cattle stand lined
in rigid regime,
their breath surrounds them
with frigid steam.
Frost etches the windows
and barnyard gate;
my kitchen stove smoke
rises thin and straight.

I fork hay to the cows
as the east shows a haze
where winter’s weak sun
begins with a glow.
Yet, in the dim light
and feeble rays,
the temperature stays
at twenty below.

 

 

Nori Odoi, Poetry

On Walking Through the Woods

in Deep Snow
    During a Blizzard
    Wearing Sneakers

by Nori Odoi

First observe:
That you have decided to do this
That the depth of snow varies
sometimes to your ankles
sometimes to your knees
sometimes to your hip
That there is an icy crust
sometimes it will hold you
sometimes it won’t
Sometimes it will hold you for a moment then break

That you can’t tell these things by looking
But only by taking a step
That you have decided to do this

When you look at your sneakers
See them transform into snowshoes
tight webs of sinew and ash
snow floating shoes
like the Hurons wove
Splay your toes wide
step forth broadly
step forth briskly
Fool the snow

Walk quickly so the crust will not collapse
But not so quickly you fall
Sometimes you will sink to your thigh

When this happens
do not fear
do not curse
be grateful for the moment
Breathe deeply and close your eyes
feel wind embrace you
feel crystal kisses covering your face
smell the purity snow brings
Then lift yourself and begin again

Do not look at your feet
Let them find their own path
Look forward, notice everything

See the twisted ruins of fern
how deep are they buried?
See the tangled knots of brush
can they support you?
See the snow hollows ringing trees
is there a surer way?
Let your eyes seek out your course
do not miss the silent guides
Do not miss the beauty

When you emerge, look back a moment

Breathe deeply
Give thanks for your journey
Let your laughter blow wildly with the wind

Then turn to the rest of your life

First observe:
That you have decided to do this
That life is sometimes shallow, sometimes deep
that you cannot tell this by looking
but only by taking a step
Let your laughter blow wildly with the wind
breathe deeply
give thanks
Do not miss the beauty

 

Parker Towle, Poetry

Remembrance

by Parker Towle

And so she puts extra leaves in the table, sets it
for us with old china from her mother and
silver purchased out of the frugality of the Great
Depression. Vegetables, as from her husband’s garden
steam on the stove. One great granddaughter in
crinoline skirt chases another in a tousled red wig from
room to room the way the three of us
boy cousins behaved in our aunt’s basement,
Thanksgiving years ago. The meal is set for
family and friends as it has been for many days for
centuries by this simple yet complicated
New England family in America. We bow our heads
to remember the empty chairs at the table and praise
our sense of duty and family, the devotion to labor,
passion of mind and body, the love of God
passed from our pilgrim kin like the heaped
platters of food around the table.