Poetry- PB

Sunday Service – Alonzo Gibbs

SUNDAY SERVICE                            

 The road
shaped to a slope

 Monhegan House, Trailing Yew,
Mrs. Cundy’s Cottage-
windows over
walls of darkened roses.

 We step from church
into our galaxy,
which here includes
the scattered lamps of town.
Our unspoiled night
can still declare God’s glory:
distant waves
sounding for all the world
like wind in spruce tops,
or wind in spruce tops,
sounding like the waves;
a smell of salt,
of drying fish-nets,
a sense of vast Atlantic reaches
under fixed or falling stars.

 With flashlights lit,
we find our ways,
in all directions,

 Alonzo Gibbs

Blessings – Gayle LaVallee


Barefoot and hair unbound.
in cotton gown I lean against the wood frame of my door
and watch the day bleed down to fill the wine-tinged sea

I close the door.
Now in my room and my small bed,
I turn toward sleep.

Above my roof, darkness moves in to mingle with the darkened spruce.
Clasped loosely in the blue-veined hands of night,
stars, like amber beads of Time, hang scattered in the sky

Wind whispers aves to the rising moon.

Gayle LaVallee

Supper- Marjorie Mir



 for Emma                                                       

This evening,
trees outside yellowing to winter,
inside, the ceiling lamp
lit against too-early dark,
round table
with papers pushed aside
to make room for a meal,
this evening descends
from one spent in your kitchen
where, at your round table,
pendant shade decanting light,
I learned a sturdy truth:
thick soup, contentment brimming
in the spoon,
salted, buttered baked potato
breathed and taken in,
are themselves the blessing,
themselves the perfect meal.

 Marjorie Mir

Villanelle: Looking Westward from a Distant Shore – Lawrence Wilson


 I have tried to find another island like you,
but such remote and satisfying solitude is rare:
windswept timeless rock in blue

 bright ocean. I had assumed that the U.
K. would be made up of nothing but islands, where
I could try (and have tried) to find another island like you –

 Outer Hebrides, Scillies, Channel – I’m through
seeking, searching, turning my face to compass points everywhere
for a windswept timeless rock in blue

 water. It isn’t to be found. True,
there are islands to be seen, enjoyed, here and there,
but not another island like you

 not one with a beating heart, a soul, a priceless view
of endless glittering waves and salty air,
a windswept timeless rock in blue…

 Perhaps I’m spoiled, or prejudiced, but I think I knew,
when last I left you, that I’d be hard-pressed to care
for any another island but you,
my windswept timeless rock in blue.

 Lawrence Wilson

Commercial Fisherman:an Excerpt – Pieter Dominick


She’s there at the dock
holding his child  an infant.
He squats on the deck in a clammy fog
touching his beard with wet fingers.
She’s pale. They’re Bible people.

      grace and peace be multiplied
      cast your care  the sea seeketh whom
      it may devour

Coming in over the shoals and the breakers
eyewitness to the majesty of divine nature,
on a clear morning a day star may arise
in your heart and you escape
the pollution of the world.

      some things continue as they were
      from the beginning of creation….

Pieter Dominick, from Seed Syllables, and Other Poems

Canada Goose -Jan Bailey


 All alone on the black ice pond,
long arched neck, banded cheek,
the Canada Goose turns his back
as I pull my way from the woods,
then swings half circle to face me.

 I feel noisy in my best silence,
a clumsy oaf in red down coat,
boots, silly snowflake hat,
and, though I stand at quiet
attention, believe he must hear
my stuttered breathing, the way
he cocks his head, then straightens.

 Three times this day pulled
to my knees by beauty, by
that which takes only what
is offered, is not crumbled
by aloneness: winterberry
against the spent snow, russet
rim along Manana, the goose,
wild song rising.

 Jan Bailey, from Heart of the Other, by permission of the poet.



Pumpkins on Porch Steps – R.A. Szostek

A striking contrast!
Surrounded by tones of white, gray and brown,
these seven orbs, in shades of orange,
pumpkins simply displayed,
with bright autumn sun casting shadows,
they sit, amid defined lines
of island cottage porch and steps.

 They prompt a recollection 
of autumn days going back to childhood,
landscapes of brown, gray and tired greens,
dry leaves rustling at my feet,
sky filled in smoky haze,
fragrance of burning leaves,
woodland and gardens
struggling for their last breath.
a breath they will hold
until winter has passed,
and spring brings new life.

Harbingers of things to come,
will they sit long enough
to be draped by the howling winds
in the blanket of the first island snow?

 Difficult to imagine
on this sunlit October day,
as the simple arrangement of 
of pumpkins on steps,
warms me in thoughts of
island autumns,
set in past and present.

R.A. Szostek

Monhegan Autumn – Gus Bombard

The air is cooler now,
And summer’s search for
Frantic pleasures has slowed
To heavier clothing, more gulls,
And shorter days,
In our little splash of time.

The mists are bathed in
Golden fall glory, so
Except for the coming season,
Nothing much has changed:
Art and beauty remain constant,
As do the rocks and sea,
Human intrusion notwithstanding.

 Gus Bombard

Lady on the Boat with Flowers – Sally Woolf-Wade


The October sea is rolling and
the Laura B backs away,
full power astern, then swings around.
On deck is a white-haired lady with flowers. 

The summer waitstaff sailed out on an earlier boat
among friends waving wildly from the shore.
They scattered flowers over the rail
to ensure their island return someday. 

Today the white-haired lady clutches flowers tight.
She holds Zinnias, Cosmos, Black-eyed Susans —
treasured gifts from someone’s garden,
not pilfered from the island meadows.

She sways on deck with others who
hesitate to go below.
She lifts her hand and waves although
no one on shore returns her gesture

Folks have trickled off the dock.
Trucks have lumbered up the hill.
Her flowers do not flutter over the side.
There is no decent word for goodbye.

Sally Woolf-Wade

Reprinted, with permission, from Animus, vol. 14, Midwinter 2005.

Wind After Storm – Carol Tashijian

Wind After Storm

The wind tears at the shutters
And rattles the doors.
The wind converses in many voices,
Low and reverberant.
The wind tosses the crows
Up the incandescent sky.
The gull teeters on the cliff’s edge
And plunges into the wind
Which bears it away.
The wind polishes the day
And dries the puddles
Remaining from the recent storm.
The wind hurls the waves
That spout iridescent spray
Into the moving air.
The wind tugs at my hair
And whispers in my ears.
It carries the scent of sun-struck pines.
“Fly”, it says. “You can fly.”

 Carol Tashjian

Pebble Beach – Betsy Bunn


The pebbles are still here, of course,
Piled up as they have been for eons-
Stone against enormous stone
Heaped on the edge of the world.

I like to think
that giants once played ball with these rocks          
or marbles, or bowling-          
Maybe a round or two of bocce ball.         
Perhaps they built a fort
With all the ocean for a moat,           
And seals like loving Labradors.

The rocks are silent now-
No sound except the laughter of the gulls against the sea.
We balance here like toys
And watch the farther islands rise
As the tide goes out.

Betsy Bunn
September 2010

Last Day on Monhegan – Sally Woolf-Wade

Columbus Day, 2002

The mist dribbles down, heavy with salt
stirred around by wind from the East
scooped up from spray on White Head, Black,
Burnt Head and Lobster Cove.
Surf explodes skyhigh like geysers 
with shuddering, thunderous terror.

A child and her father run down the road
in haste to board the Elizabeth Ann
the girl’s yellow poncho behind her
like butterfly wings catching the wind.
A fog curtain descends between us
and the mainland
the final day of the visitors’ season.

The island heaves a sigh of relief.

Sally Woolf-Wade


A Walk on Monhegan – George Anthony

  A Walk on Monhegan: an Excerpt                       

 The path opens to tote road
leaving wood-dusk with the sweet 
odors of fir balsam
and skunk cabbage. 
A wood-cock churrs.

 The village is washed and fragrant
(fresh home-made bread and butter
in the garden)
The morning-glories and the lady
of the morning glory,
the loping young man
in floppy rubber boots share
no emotion he can share
no thought except themselves except
themselves they share
opening like the open air,
pleasing him by knowing his name.
The brown-haired girl
(as the hair rumples down
sunlight brushes gold)
grows to a daughter as she turns
her head to look,
her smile to answer.

 George Anthony
from The Road to Deadman Cove.
Reprinted by permission.                        

Six Knots Tied on Pulpit Rock – Matt Kiell


(A Painter Observes…Then Paints)

1) What is this isolation
That he feels? Alone
He sits upon this rock
And conducts communion
With song birds perched
On thorny branches
Singing plaintive songs
That carry past the trees.

2) What is this isolation
That he alone feels?
Are these clouds a portent
Predicting life’s harsh storms?

 3) What is this? Isolation,
Yes. He feels alone, abandoned
Lost on a breeze
That yet may lift him away
To a safer place.

 4) Does he question every breath,
Every motion, every thought?
Is this really isolation?
Though he feels alone, abandoned
Tossed by a breeze
That may cast him down
Onto a rocky shore,
He yet has song birds perched
On rich green branches
Singing hopeful songs
That soar beyond the trees.

 5) Are these clouds a comfort
Protection from life’s harsh rays,
From what is, from this isolation
That he feels…this abandonment?
Can song birds perched 
On deep green branches
Sing soothing songs
That might carry him away?

6) And what might I do for this isolation
That he feels? Alone
I sit upon this rock and
Create a cloud, a branch, a somber figure,
A rocky shore, and songbirds
That may lift him to a sweeter place.

 M. Kiell

Communion – Jan Bailey



 I am the tuck of turquoise water.
the slap of spray on ocean rocks.
I am the boat, the effort
of her engines, the voice
of the captain pointing out
the woman whipped against the cliff
by wind, her red cap.
I am the trails of bindweed
at her feet, the labyrinth of roots.
I am the wind that whips
the woman bent to her words.
I am her book of poems and it is I.
I am the pages in it, both written
and blank, the knapsack she drags
behind her like tradition,
her can of cola, her plum.
I am the doe she startles on the path,
the mud mire she skirts,
the stump she stumbles over,
her fall among the stones.
I am the blue door she opens,
the kettle she rinses,
the tea she sips to warm herself.
I am the warm.
I am the purple bruise rising
on her thigh, the salve 
she will apply at bedtime.
I am her bed with its shroud
of prickly wool, the bedsprings,
the dust that shapes them like a shadow.
I am the last word she reads
before sleeping and I am her dream
of no words, but of drifting
on a blue-green ocean until she
dissolves, then settles like lichen
along the narrow fissures of the rocks.

 Jan Bailey

Then and Now – Ann Carson


Four years since fog and roses.
So much to take in, as I set off on the road,
barely making it to Carina, once the first stop.

Sinking to a bench, still smiling,
greeting old friends, arranging for provisions,
the temporary relief from pain passing for contentment.

Yearning pulls me up and on to the foot of Horn Hill,
bare of all but dew,
translucent drops on grass and Ladies Mantle
glisten in the early morning sun.

And then I see her, striding up the hill,
walking stick to ward off thistles and overhanging branches,
not, as mine is now, wielded to steady and support.

She looks back.
I raise my cane and she smiles, waving,
and disappears, as she had come, into the hill.

A year later, desire calling me back again,
I have accomodated, as they say.
I walk the Underhill Trail through remnants of orchard
to Burnthead, look north, glad to remember
the roar of Squeaker Cove at high tide on a windy day,
the triumph of looking out from Blackhead and Pulpit Rock.

More often I walk the lower shore road,
less demanding, yet nearer to the foam of curling waves.
I practice a closer, more intimate regard
and wonder at the birthing strength
summoned to still that other force.

We meet each other often, my Artemis sister and I,
as she turns to walk a different but no less lonely path.
Sometimes we sit together on a rock
linked timelessly through ancient stone and sea.

“An old woman talking to herself,” they say.

Ann Carson

Returning – Irene MacCollar

I dream of my return
to that place:
dusty roads, cliffs
that for just a moment
make you believe
you can fly, and fog
weaving between tall
trees. In my dreams
I sneak between
weathered cottages
and boathouses
and pick my way
through strands of
retired lobster buoys
until at last, the little
harbor reveals itself
and says,
“Welcome home, Artist!
Lose your pain
in my beauty.”

Irene MacCollar

Two Fogged-in Friends with Differing Attitudes- Matt Kiell


“Damn, when will this fog bank lift
so we can see something,
the Lighthouse perhaps,
which I know is up there on that hill,
which I can’t see  either,
or at least the cupola on the Island Inn
or the boats bobbing in the harbor?”

“Look! Five minutes ago
even those trees fifty yards away
were ghosts in the grayness.
Now see the layers–
the trees in the foreground,
dark and almost defined,
then the ash gray haze of the forest’s edge,
fading to near-blizzard white
until the trees turn into mist.”

“How poetic!”
But it doesn’t change the matter at hand–
that it’s all…just…gray,
and our boat leaves in an hour — if we find it,
and I’ve barely touched any paints on my palette
except black and white
with a soupcon of green
for three days now, approaching four.”

“My only regret, sitting here, looking out
enveloped and blanketed so thoroughly
all these days
that we thought would be a wealth of vistas,
is that I never learned
how to mimic the movement of low ground fog
rolling across the water and sifting through the trees.”

Matt Kiell

The Ripening – Thais Gloor


Oh, where’s the pail?
No, the berry pail..
Ah, there it is –
Grab it and run

The sun is high
It is warm 
It is
the end
of July

I am dreaming of pie!

Toasty warm,
blueberry pie

from my toasty warm,
blueberry patch kind of day

Thais Gloor

Blueberry Hill – Leonard Eskowitz


Out of That Squalid City
Oh, we share that dream. You were a
young lady in a linen dress growing up
in light, white-washed days in Maine, a tom-
boy, probably; closer somehow to earth and sea,
left behind. And I, wanting to be out of this
squalid city, there; and seeing in your briny
gray hair, child frame bent with years of Northeaster,
one cocky, impulsive, hardy. Picking blueberries,  shopping
the oyster houses, walking the docks. Burnished
and bending, only, in that blustery weather,
a sea grass, plentiful, indestructible, there.
I’d like to go back to that place in mind, too.
I’d walk in the sea breeze.
I’d like you to come, too.
We’d pick blueberries together.

Leonard Eskowitz