Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Word from the Corner - THE REPUBLIC GIVES THANKS by Amanda Gorman

The Word from the Corner

Shared on "North Andover Poets Corner" on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/northandoverpoets/permalink/968407760016148/
"The play's the thing". The same way that a play is in the performance, so it is with poetry. We can read a poem and "play" it in our mind, but it only really comes alive when performed and experienced. Shakespeare's line from Hamlet came to me when I saw Amanda Gorman, the US Youth Poet Laureate, perform a new poem of hers on CBS This Morning on Thanksgiving morning. It was written by Amanda for the occasion. Her words are shared below, but her words really sing in her performance and the beautiful production by the CBS News producer (at the link). Enjoy. ________________________________________________


CBS News: "On Thanksgiving, we reflect on the things and the people for which we are grateful. In honor of this tradition, we asked 20-year-old Amanda Gorman, the inaugural Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S., to write a poem about what the holiday means to her." “THE REPUBLIC GIVES THANKS” by Amanda Gorman In 1863, deep in the Civil War’s magnitude, Abraham Lincoln called declared a day of gratitude Shared by one heart and one voice of America. A proclamation for a nation in a nightmare, This Thanksgiving dared Americans To chime their thanks at a time many believed That they had no thanks to give. Yet is this quirky day now about turkey? About a plate full of food? Or is it about being grateful In more than just attitude? The Haudenosaunee/Iroquois remind us With one mind, to find the words That come before all else, because to give thanks is to live it. It’s not just in speech, But in each of our daily actions. It’s reaching across divisions towards a Vision of a long, strong house and table Where we’re able to gather together. If we dream past pilgrims and the mast of the Mayflower, It may empower us to bravely learn From the People of the First Light, To return to Lincoln’s fight, To furnish our might by uniting around Any piece of peace, no matter how small. We still hear all these first teachers, Called by the will of those still here on this earth, Like the Wampanoag, who show us the worthiest Way to give thanks for our blessings Isn’t to hog them, but to give them away. It’s then, full of this feeling, That healing can begin, because maybe To be American is to be a kin To a courageous hope: The trust that even if just for a moment We can, we must, close rank as people, One heart, one voice, one mind, created equal. Like two vessels meeting at a riverbank anew Under the sky’s greeting of bright, blank blue, You’ll begin beside the people who flank you. We come to these words before and above all dreams, Saying with more love and restored meaning: Thank you. https://www.pw.org/content/amanda_gorman_named_national_youth_poet_laureate

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Football poem "Before the kickoff"

Poetry before a football game? Well, of course!
I had the chance on Friday to introduce the North Andover HS and Westford Academy teams with a poem.
Thank you to Sara Durkin for being open to the idea of a football poem before the game. The Scarlet and Black chorus were lined up to sing the national anthem - and she gave me the mic:
"Two teams will take the field - Scarlet Knights, meet the Grey Ghosts.
To the captains - are your teams ready to give their most?
First honor sportsmanship, first honor fair play.
Then seek to be champion, then seize the day.
Both teams come here to compete,
both teams come here to win.
One will leave the field with the banner,
may all leave the field as friends.












PS
The idea for this little poem all happened last week. On Tuesday night, Gayle Heney, a past Poet Laureate of North Andover, handed me the email address of Ray Ahern, a cameraman for NA Cable Access. NACAM records and broadcasts the HS football games, and Ray thought it would be cool to have a poem at the coin toss. So I wrote these lines over the next few days. 

I arrive early to find Ray (who I had never met) before the game. As I talked to him, it was now clear that this was his idea only, nobody else there was on board. Like the PA announcer or Athletic Director or anybody. But he did have a good idea. And I had my little football poem. So now what? 


I needed Sara Durkin, NAHS Chorus Director. I knew that reading it before the national anthem would be perfect. Would Sara be ok with it? Since I'm on the board of the North Andover Music Association, the music booster group, she knew who I was.  So I headed to the HS auditorium, and found her with the chorus where they had just finished rehearsing. I explained what I wanted to do...she was a little confused until I said I was North Andover's Poet Laureate. Then it all made sense to her! She gave an enthusiastic yes. Thank you Sara. Should I do one for this Friday's next playoff game? (PS I did!)

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Among the Names


The Word from the Corner Poets have an unfair - if not completely undeserved - reputation as a depressive, inward looking lot. You know, "We're all going to die...hey...I think I have an idea for a poem..." That line of thought. But if you come out to a poetry night (say on October 23rd at 7PM at the Tuesdays4Poetry open mic at Stevens Memorial Library), you'll get a very different take. Besides insight into what makes someone tick, you'll hear a lot of wry observations and social commentary. Funny stuff too. Really. But going with the depressive theme, at this time of year my thoughts turn to...cemeteries. My wife and I went on a tour of the 1st burial ground in North Andover on Academy Road. Stone by stone, historian Richard Hite walked us through the cemetery, and talked about those buried there who were involved in the witch trials of 1692. The graves of many are there - from the "afflicted", to the accusers, the accused, and the many people who came out publicly to oppose the charges. This opposition led directly to bringing the witchcraft crisis to a close by early 1693. The tour was hosted by the North Andover Historical Society. Here's a poem that I wrote a few years ago standing in that same grassy field. Like many poems, it took a turn of its own. Enjoy. _______________________________________________ Among The Names Standing on this cold field Surrounded by stones and names We get cold feet Unsure where we stand in this world Or the next Among the stones and names All we can do is listen, and stand in the quiet Among still grasses, standing stones, fallen leaves Among the dead Grateful for any message Unsure what we’d do if one came Still we listen Among the dead There’s an inside joke, perhaps a nod, an unseen wink An elbow in the ribs A stifled laugh, a quieting hand to shush the lips A secret smile They can no longer laugh out loud But they get the joke They get it For they saw the whole show Bought the ticket, paid full price too Standing among the names Their hushed unspoken message This message that they earned Silently is heard Ok, it’s ok Your time, enjoy This cold field, enjoy Your cold feet too Until you get the joke Until you find your name Among the dead Grateful be --October 2015 --Old Burial Ground, Academy Road --North Andover, Mass. --by Mark Bohrer ____________________________________________




Monday, October 8, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Still I Rise

The Word from the Corner

I spent the weekend up at a church retreat for the environment in Crawford Notch NH, at the AMC Highland Center. Great location, wonderful community of the spirit, powerful topic. Rev. Jim Antal was the keynote. Amazing speaker and leader. Look up his book. 


At the retreat, gave out a booklet of my favorite nature poems. One of those was by Mary Oliver. I was going to share that poem today.

But after the week that was, I can't do that. There have been very few times in my life when I wake up at 5AM and the first thought that comes to my head, there lying in bed, is the awful thing that those in power have just done. But that is the dark cloud that I'm under, and I know many others are feeling it too. Yes, I woke up thinking about the awful Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and the final approval by the Senate. The Senate did not do their job of "advice and consent".

Because of that, this week's poem is another one that I shared at the retreat. One by Maya Angelou. Just because it's a long road, doesn't mean that you turn back, or that you stop going forward. I have a list of my personal commandments, and my first one is "Thou Shalt Not Give Up."  #9 is "Vote". May it be so. Peace.


PS I included a link to the Mary Oliver poem below because we need that too.

____________________________________________________________


Still I Rise

BY MAYA ANGELOU

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don't you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou, "Still I Rise" from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems.




_____________________________________________________________________

http://billjohnsononline.com/mindful-mary-oliver/

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Marching Band by Brie Carter

The Word from the Corner I'm fresh from the marching band competition yesterday at North Andover High School - 16 HS and 2 college bands played and marched and performed. What a show. I love the smaller bands, but it's the biggest ones with more than 100 band and color guard performers that really amaze. Found a poem that captured one of those times, from the HS student's perspective, from the field. Enjoy. __________________________________________ Marching Band - by Brie Carter As the snare clicks My feet hit the ground Steady with the beat I can't look around To see the large crowd All eyes on us With an audience this size We better not mess up The adrenaline's pumping I'm ready to go We stand at attention Waiting to start the show The drum major counts off And the music starts We sound just fine The beat matches my heart I can smell the night air And the fresh cut grass on the field The best smells in the world To match the weapons we wield Friday night lights Go well with the band As we finish up The audience claps and then stands Mark time mark We march off to our seats My uniform is uncomfortably tight But I must say, our band is pretty sweet _________________________________________

Monday, September 24, 2018

It’s Time for Indigenous Peoples Day (poem)

It’s Time for Indigenous People's Day

First, it’s not true 
that I can only speak in rhyme.
I can’t talk that way on cue, 
and who has the time?
I can only say what I say, 
and for that, I’m not sorry.
Poets only arrange words this way 
when we want to tell a story.

Columbus explored, 
for that he’s rightly known,
But as we’ve learned some more, 
our knowledge has only grown.
In the story we all learned, 
some chapters were left out.
Other people here, they yearned
to be heard, without having to shout.

Columbus changed the world, 
and in our alma maters, 
one thing will never change,
he’ll remain an important man. 
But as history has unfurled, 
the distance has made things clearer.
As we get farther from that 1492 meeting,
We’re seeing a bigger picture.

That’s why we don’t want the lesson shortchanged – 
We want our kids to learn, to truly understand.

We want our kids to read from all the missing chapters.
We want our kids to heare from every voice, completely.
We want our kids to know that books can have many authors.
We want our kids to hear the story of our entire human family.

If that means we change the name, 
from time to time,
of some of our favorite holidays,
then I believe, if I may claim,
we shall be a little better, 
and in the end, 
I believe, we shall even be, ok.

North Andover Mass., September 2018

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Good Bones By Maggie Smith

The Word from the Corner Sometimes it's hard to know whether to go up or down. What is needed. Anyone who loves how words can capture a thought or a moment learns to go with what the moment says, and what is needed. And step out of the way. Sometimes down is up, you know? You gotta laugh sometimes. Or cry. Or both at the same time. Here's one by Maggie Smith that did that for me. Enjoy. I hope. Peace. _____________________________________________ Good Bones By Maggie Smith Life is short, though I keep this from my children. Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways, a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative estimate, though I keep this from my children. For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird. For every loved child, a child broken, bagged, sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world is at least half terrible, and for every kind stranger, there is one who would break you, though I keep this from my children. I am trying to sell them the world. Any decent realtor, walking you through a real shithole, chirps on about good bones: This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful. ____________________________________________ From "The Best American Poetry 2017", edited by Natasha Tretheway and David Lehman. The Best American Poetry 2017 Find more poetry in the North Andover area here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/northandoverpoets/




Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Western Canon In Haiku

The Word from the Corner September 16, 2018 A challenge for you this week. At this past Tuesday's Frost "Hoot" at Cafe Azteca, I had some some fun with haiku. I presented my take on the great books: The Western Canon in Haiku. It can be done! Here are some of mine below. Can you come up with some of yours? Email me and I'll post. Rules of this game: - Theme: Great books and ideas of the Western Canon (as expanded in recent decades, thankfully, beyond the "dead white male" authors...and beyond the Western world...) - Loose haiku form - not restricted to the 5-7-5 rule - Try for 3 lines, max of 4, limit to 16 words (try) - Can rhyme or not - Short, punchy Jim Knowles who hosts the Frost Foundation Hoot suggested these tweaks to the form. He reasons: "The Japanese rules on syllables and topics tie into their grammar and pictographics. American English is a multi-lingual festival of thievery.....and mixed metaphor. We need a short form to celebrate that!" Go for it! What can you come up with?

The Western Canon in Haiku

All those books to read
Skip the Latin, skip the Greek
Here is what you need!

Knowledge, truth, beauty!
Here’s the Canon in haiku!
Wisdom! Brevity!

A rhyming haiku!
How many sy-LAHB-els?
Against form, the purists cringe
Haiku – it must follow form!
Even I must twinge

When I don’t say the prayer
In holy five-seven-five,
That sin I must bear

But onward we go,
For the rest won’t be rhyming
Class! Let’s start the show…

The Old Testament
In the beginning
God gave his people a land
Messiah? Still waiting…

The New Testamant
Jesus was made man
He walked on water, died, rose
Paul made the franchise

Homer’s Odyssey
Odysseus sails
Ten years pass, mom has suitors!
He’s back! Tragedy!

Divine Comedy by Dante
Dante circles hell
Not much of a comedy –
It’s a hell of a world!

The Works of William Shakespeare
Will wrote sonnets, plays –
comedies and tragedies –
yes, Will wrote them all

The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Orphan boy, cruel world
Please, sir, may I have some more?
Says Bumble: No more!

Walt Whitman
He wrote “Leaves of Grass”
He’s America’s poet
We don’t read poetry

Emily Dickinson
More than nobody
She would not stop for death
But I stop for her

Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
Sad anna, sad wife
Run away with your Vronsky
A train? Now we’re sad!
(spoiler alert: yes she throws herself in front of a train)

Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis
Oedipus complex?
Id? Ego? Super-ego?
It’s just a cigar!

Jean-Paul Sartre and Existentialism
Condemned to freedom!
To be alive, we must choose!
I still don’t get it

The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Yes, one of the giants
Eventually she will be
The future knows, trust me

The dolls are the pills
Three girls seek fame, don’t find it
It sold a lot of copies

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Frodo has the ring
Sauron searches with his eye
Three movies to rule them all!
(no six! Eight? Eleventeen?)

And one more – this is by my daughter Jillian:
(caution - spoiler alert!)
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (book 6)
by J.K. Rowling
Pensieve shows the past
Horcruxes must be destroyed
Snape kills Dumbledore!

Thus ends the Western Canon
Our lesson is done
You may not know it all
But at least you know some

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Amy Lowell and Ted Kooser

The Word from the Corner

     (originally posted on Facebook "North Andover Poets Corner" 11 Aug 2018)

Two poems about travel this week. One about traveling away from one you love, the second about traveling together. Didn't want to have one without the other. Peace.
______________________________________________
The Taxi
By Amy Lowell (1874–1925)
When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?
























_________________________________________________

A Map of the World
by Ted Kooser (b.1939)
One of the ancient maps of the world
is heart-shaped, carefully drawn
and once washed with bright colors,
though the colors have faded
as you might expect feelings to fade
from a fragile old heart, the brown map
of a life. But feeling is indelible,
and longing infinite, a starburst compass
pointing in all the directions
two lovers might go, a fresh breeze
swelling their sails, the future uncharted,
still far from the edge
where the sea pours into the stars.
_________________________________________________
Both are from "The Best of Poetry In Motion", edited by Alice Quinn, selections from the continuing NYC MTA program that started in 1992 and posted art and poetry in the NY subways.



Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Word from the Corner - AUTUMN BY RAINER MARIA RILKE

The Word from the Corner

The weather seems to want to turn toward fall...but the temperatures haven't been cooperating, not yet anyway. But I'm ready for fall, and I found this poem by Rainer Maria Rilke. And then I found about a dozen translations from Rilke's original German! Which one is best? Since I don't speak German, it's hard to tell, but I liked this one by Margarete Münsterberg, first published 1902. I include the original German for those who do know the language. I'm not an expert on the art of translating poetry...but it's pretty clear that you don't translate a poem, you re-author it. You need to be a poet yourself, one who's darn good enough to capture the allusions and imagery in the new language. Oh yeah, and get the rhythm and rhyme while you're at it. How is that possible? But some poets out there are good enough to do it. I hope our autumn arrives soon. Enjoy. ______________________________________________ AUTUMN BY RAINER MARIA RILKE, 1875-1926 (Translated by Margarete Münsterberg) The leaves are falling, falling as from far, As if far gardens in the skies were dying; They fall, and never seem to be denying. And in the night the earth, a heavy ball, Into a starless solitude must fall. We all are falling. My own hand no less Than all things else; behold, it is in all. Yet there is One who, utter gentleness, Holds all this falling in His hands to bless. ______________________________________________ Herbst Die Blätter fallen, fallen wie von weit, als welkten in den Himmeln ferne Gärten; sie fallen mit verneinender Gebärde. Und in den Nächten fällt die schwere Erdeaus allen Sternen in die Einsamkeit. Wir allen fallen. Diese Hand da fällt. Und sieh dir andre an: es ist in allen. Und doch ist einer, welcher dieses Fallen undendlich sanft in seinen Händen hält.



Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Word from the Corner - Emily Dickinson - As imperceptibly as Grief

The Word from the Corner Grief is a long emotion. The loss of someone we love leaves a mark on us, a wound. If the passing is sudden, unexpected or violent, the wound can be deep and longer lasting. Hard to overcome. We find ourselves at the bottom of a wave, suddenly underwater. But we float. Somehow we surface. The same wave and water that drowns our purpose then allows us to the surface. Ride the waves. Find yourself floating, gently, in the sea. Here's one on grief from Emily Dickinson. Peace. _____________________________________________ 1540 Emily Dickinson As imperceptibly as Grief The Summer lapsed away— Too imperceptible at last To seem like Perfidy— A Quietness distilled As Twilight long begun, Or Nature spending with herself Sequestered Afternoon— The Dusk drew earlier in— The Morning foreign shone— A courteous, yet harrowing Grace, As Guest, that would be gone— And thus, without a Wing Or service of a Keel Our Summer made her light escape Into the Beautiful. _____________________________________________ [I had to look up perfidy - "deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery."] This poem was written, probably in 1865, near the end of her most creative and prolific period. It was one of 4 sent by Emily to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, an author, literary critic, radical abolitionist, and Unitarian minister. After Dickinson died, Higginson collaborated with Mabel Loomis Todd in publishing her poetry. "The Homestead" in Amherst, MA, is the house her father built, and is where she lived for her whole life. In this picture, Emily's room is on the 2nd floor, the left two windows above the long porch.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

You Should Go Where You're Going (poem)

You Should Go Where You’re Going

         (A rap: all in a rush, breathless)
I met some other people –
The people that I thought were the same,
turned out to be different,
and the people that I thought were different,
turned out to be the same.
Which threw me for a loop,
‘cuz I was ready to join their troop.
But what troop was that?
The people who were the same
I wasn’t sure I liked ‘em anymore,
but the people who were different
instead of wanting to dislike ‘em,
now they were fourscore, yeah, fourscore.
They were cool. Turns out, we went to the same school.
I was all mixed up. What is this? Am I now grown-up?
Maybe it wasn’t so bad. But after all these years, I been had?
Still I wasn’t sure, so I turned to her, and if you can’t trust her
who can you trust? She said I was – that I was – 
well you know, that it was good, it was good, and besides,
you should trust what’s right, inside, outside,
listen to what’s right, don’t fight,
don’t fight what comes to you,
when you learn something new,
for you might learn something new
when you meet some other people.
 (Brakes on, full stop)
Yeah –
Yeah –
I met some other people.

North Andover  June 2018


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A limerick

A limerick: A veggie or a fruit?

I once ate a veggie named “fruit”.
It was odd but also a hoot.
It was different than most,
And delicious on toast.
It was from the same planet as Groot!

Alternate finish:
It tasted like plum, berry and root!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Good In-Land Town (poem)

A Good In-Land Town
       Read to the North Andover Selectmen on June 18, 2018

In August 1702, Judge Samuel Sewall wrote about his travels
to Andover – what is current day North Andover –  in his diary:
   “…rid with Mr. Woodhouse and Smith to Andover,
    a good In-land Town, and of a good Prospect.”

A good in-land town,
she shares her name with her British twin.
But no ruler here wears the crown,
for we are home of the citizen king.
Her citizens, now or years ago,
famous or not yet so,
share in her renown.

From strands of bell, bronze and maker,
from mother, muse and meter,
from wool and woven time,
from service made sublime,
from these we make our rhyme.

A.B. the poet, you know her name,
walked to the meetinghouse,
that first simple frame.
With words, her soul did search,
and thus made poetry her church.
Simon, the well-known man,
the Mass Bay governor, was her spouse.
Yet today, the greater fame, Anne commands.

In 1806, Revere and Son poured the bell.
Lifted high in the fourth steeple by Captains Johnson and Stevens,
in the new fifth meetinghouse soon it would dwell.
When the church was the town, it called from its tower.
These tones still carry over tree, town and common,
but for all people now, it keeps the same hours.

The 19th century mills were cut – whole cloth –
        from New England’s ingenious habit and spirit.
But it was the men of North Andover who made the mills,
        with Davis and Furber as the ratchet and sprocket.
In this yarn about wool,
        from the corner of Water and High Streets,
their shop sent machines to weave their twill
        to every state, and to the world.
In the rhythm and thrum of the mills,
        these men were the heartbeat.

To America and to the world,
women and men from this town went forth to serve.
Women and men heard freedom’s word.
They saw a common foe and risked their lives to fight it.
They saw a wrong and tried to right it.
And those who paid with limb or life,
their families and townspeople still observe.
What these men and women gave, may we honor it.

In a good in-land town,
history is not done,
no final bell has rung,
her story is still young.
Time offers more renown.

Those who serve the town,
in public place or private space,
serve it well if one must tell,
when History and common good are the guide.
Then we may go on to say
that in a good in-land town
and in America today,
the voice of the citizen has not died.

June 2018  North Andover, Mass.
Read at the North Andover Selectmen's meeting, June 18, 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

Connected (poem)

Connected

Every pore
every cell
every breath
every heartbeat
connects me to all that is.
When I spin,
is it I who turn?
or is the entire world turning
around my stillness?
I am here with all my kin
only separated by this thin veil of time
only separated by this thin veil.
You touch the whole world.
The whole world touches you.
You are inseparable.
You are one.
Go forth and act
knowing the power you have
connected.

April 2017  Johns Island, South Carolina

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Poetry Is (poem)

Poetry is
reality, distilled.
It’s not the transcendent,
try capture, and fail,
or all wonder,
well-imitated, but pale.
No.

Poetry is
reality, distilled.
It starts with the corn or the rye,
the simple things at hand,
already born, ready for the fire.
Yes.

Poetry is
reality, distilled.
It’s the bottle with a rag,
in your hand,
ready to throw –
light it.
It’s the alcohol –
ignite it.

March 2018   North Andover, Mass

Waiting In The Colonial Churchyard (poem)

Waiting In The Colonial Churchyard

Waiting in the churchyard
For something to save me
Waiting in the churchyard
Stillness comes to me

Here is the quiet steady God of Franklin and Jefferson
Persistent as the field grass
Good unbidden, though not undeserved
Mine to have, yours as well
God in the world
To be gathered like wild wheat
Nature’s honey or free grown grapes
Like the colonist’s self-reliance
I am better saved if I save myself
But isn’t that gift of salvation
Still freely provided, wildly sown for me?
To be saved from myself, by myself
God still rightly gets the kudos
God in the world
God of the world
God for the world
God in us
God of us
God for us
Stillness in the churchyard is what I see
Quiet goodness is what I feel
I am glad

June 2014 North Andover, Mass.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

A Bell Rings Thus (poem)

A Bell Rings Thus

    One bell rings from First Church.
    The Revere bell rings out,
    calling across common, town and wood.
    One bell rings from First Church tower,
    calling out, one bell, distant and plaintive,
    rising and falling on the wind,
    plain to me.
    Counting time, counting forward, counting back,
    one bell rings from First Church,
    carrying time, carrying me, bearing me back.

Oh beautiful sound,
turning me from my desk,
turning me from my task,
rolling into my room above the ancient town,
calling across open air, into this open dormer,
you open a direct line from the cathedral tower.

From the cathedral tower, the bells are
calling falling ringing singing.
Calling above the old town, the bells are
bringing the morning, bringing their matins.
Ringing above gray streets, gray walls, gray folk,
reaching all, reaching me, the bells are
turning gray to gold.

Ringing ringing,
ye harmonies hidden in the air,
you are a standing ovation of angels
singing on assignment, a posting from heaven to us,
announcing your mysterious angelus.
Bestowing, naming or knowing?
Perhaps all, none or thus.


Ringing in tune, each bell is
turning spinning clapping laughing,
joining in harmony, together creating
this standing ovation of joy.
Assembling in the air above the town,
pouring into my ears, your sound is
standing angelic in the air.

My music teacher, you remind me
of heaven’s harmonies in our world.
You are here all along,
but I forget, so I was sent
this ringing reminder.

Oh beautiful sound,
poured into the bells by the master bell maker then,
you are pouring your sound into my ears today.
Your first pouring is still ringing ringing.

The bell keeps ringing long after it was struck.
Now I am struck by your sound,
calling to me above the town,
ringing on your direct line.
In tune with yourself,
you are in tune with the world.
You do not need to be struck to ring.
You ring,
bringing gold to the gray town,
turning me from my task.
Ringing ringing,
oh beautiful sound,
a bell rings thus.


October 2015 North Andover, Mass.