Hewnoaks Poems from July 2016
Poetry Workshop and Poetry Reading
We met at Hewnoaks Artist Colony for a third annual gathering of writers to enjoy poems by beloved poets and, using themes of the natural world and a wide range of techniques, wrote poems and shared with each other. Wind blew off the lake as sun warmed us. The following week, writers from the Hewnoaks workshop and others from surrounding communities read poems at the Charlotte Hobbs Library. Thanks to all participants and to the Charlotte Hobbs Library, the Greater Lovell Land Trust, and Hewnoaks Artist Colony for co-sponsoring these events. We hope you enjoy these poems.
Fragile, fading many stems bundled into then bending from the vase neck.
The bouquet Dakota finished that his mother started.
Early hepatica pushing up through the snow.
Chicory through the car window.
Cornflower eyes rarely out from behind dark glasses.
Flax atop feathery leaves.
The un-count-on-able blue of sky or water that follows its lead.
Indigo bunting landing close enough to touch.
Our skin when it's too late.
by Susan Welchman
Morning Blessings 2
Se’u marom eyneychem u’ru mi vara eyleh?
Lift up your eyes and see – who created all this?
Se’u marom eyneychem u’ru. . .
Before I open my eyes I know
the woods are full of life.
a honking goose flies up the lake
crows are discussing something nearby
and that woodpecker, nature’s jackhammer,
must have bored clear through that tree by now.
When I open my eyes I see
the quiet ones, the waiting ones –
the little birds,
and I know it’s time for the new morning ritual:
put out the bird feeder.
It’s a new ritual
because of the bear.
She came late Sunday night
darker than the dark
a massive black shape
under the deck light
a fluid, moving . . . nothing.
Feeling ridiculous, I stood
barefoot at the screen door.
“Shoo!” “Go away!”
“That’s bird food!”
She forgave my insolence,
raised her huge head
and studied me.
I noticed that her chin was brown,
her dark eyes glinted under the light;
her teeth (was she smiling?) were white.
I mended my manners.
“Good evening,” I said.
She stood tall,
pivoted with astounding poise,
embraced the bird feeder,
glanced back at me once,
gracefully stepped off the deck
and rode the feeder to the ground
as its iron hanger curved into a new arc.
I have not seen her since.
But each night,
as I bring the tooth-dented feeder indoors,
I scan the dark for her darkness,
. . . mi vara eyleh?
by Jo Radner
The forester says
our trees are dying.
You can tell, he says,
by the tears of pitch
their trunks are crying.
They hold each other up,
roots entwined, stems aligned,
branches stretching, pushing
back at relentless wind
but thin now, abashed, tattered
from years of needles falling
to soft brown carpet, tribute
to long labor and lost hopes
but kind to my bare feet
grateful for the cushion,
as I walk the old paths,
remembering those roots
entwined under me,
stout trunks now toppled;
I call them to mind
on these forest paths
as I shed my leaves.
by Jo Radner
Susan W. Golder
Spoons and cups clatter.
Clans sip and gab in a communal chant to the awakening day.
I steal away.
Measuring my steps until voices fade,
I go to the place that beckons me
to be still …
to be silent.
I land, as I mostly do, under the canopy of a mighty pine.
I watch its needles fly and float in silent homage to the dawn.
I feel its trunk, solid and strong at my back.
My feet settle onto its tangled and ancient roots.
I am still. I am silent.
Here, with the mighty pine, I am one.
by Susan W. Golder
A still lake in quiet slumber
lifts its gossamer veil of mist,
laps a gentle ripple,
then a rhythmic flow . . .
a hypnotic refrain.
A distant loon sends a tide of tremolos.
In silent witness, I wait; I listen . . .
Then, suddenly, in that space, I catch the call.
My paddle, slow and steady, leads me into the circle of morning’s song.
To my eyes in the past only a mass of green in the backyard.
One, an old friend, with three fonds, strong and bold, is a protector from bugs.
Now, here is a seductive lady friend, with black unshaven leg hairs and lovely curved eyebrows.
Her escort is regal, crowned, broad leafed, standing by the river edge. This hardy friend with stout green boots will be here through the winter.
A different fate from this summer companion who is the most sensitive of my new friends and recoils at the approach of cold.
A slender candle burning at both ends glows in the low greenery, hiding under the open arms of tall lookalike neighbors, one with pointed finger tips and hairy armpits, the other, no hair and a rounded manicure.
This fellow looks a bit stiff: flat and fused at the shoulder blades, with a long, heavy tail.
Some backyard friends are not familiar faces yet. I know a few of their names: hayscented, wood, ostrich. The wood family has many lookalike siblings. I met evergreen wood and silvery glade just today. I hope I will recognize them when we meet again.
These fern folks are a few of the green people that enrich my life.
by Ann Johnson
The rusticator, with one child lost to the flu
and the one remaining a shameless cad.
Picked a hilltop with a modest view
of a distant drumlin.
Hope built the seven bedrooms;
possibilities the sweep of a porch;
potential the tumbling stone chimney
high above the lake in a song to the future.
The docks and boats a distant diversion over
the rise that the fourth generation
cursed each afternoon on the trudge
back to the house he called “Stonehenge.”
The conceit of the name redeemed
by a day in the garden where the
stone crop was ever the most reliable
perennial among the cutting flowers.
Gladiolas that spread in fanned vases behind
candles and glasses laid in the evening for cocktails.
Grandmother’s sparkling eyes and crinolined dresses
Mother’s perfume; Green and White.
This was the routine.
The end of the days of woodland hikes,
hopeful dangling of fishing lines,
canoeing to the shallows of the brook.
He wouldn’t imagine the angry end.
The boathouse fallen to the years of ice.
The tennis court a nursery to a forest of white pine.
The cutting gardens vanished in the forest.
Where the view has grown in.
© Jill Rundle
The days that open so softly
the pre-dawn cacophony settled
To the occasional alert of a chickadee
Water like a tabletop, air heating as the sun clears the eastern tree stands.
Before the stewing night weather unhooks from the western mountains
Disengages from the peaks and rushes down
The woods are full of the remains of the blow down.
Massive stumps pulled from their mooring,
eviscerated from the peaty earth.
Centurion trees in age and stature
laid out together, all in the same moment of the tempest,
all in the same direction bowing to the hundred year drama.
(C) Jill Rundle
3 Poems by Mia Kelly-Lanser
Sits still on the long, sturdy sill
Takes flight, gracefully gliding through the wind
The light blue silk of its wings
Only one, far away from the others
Flying freely across the morning skies
Over the forest she goes
Nothing but trees, to her delight
The hush of the wind
The rustling of the bushes
The love and joy of the world
True meaning of life.
Out for the hunt
Makes his way to the forest
Listens to the wind
Searches for his prey
Soon spots the bird
Follows through the woods
Quiet as the morning
Only the sound of the target bird
Waits for the right moment
Draws his bow and arrows
Aims towards the sky
Silence falls throughout the world
Shoots through the air
Makes its mark
A final note to the song
No more flight
All is still
A world of singing and joy coming to an end
The bird falls slowly to the ground
A moment of dread
The birds last breath
The bird is gone
The huntsman has won
The arrow has no more use
A new life to come
I call my husband over
To the porch
Where I was reading.
Listen, do you hear that?
He does not.
He pushes his ear against the wet screens.
Now he does.
A long screech, sad and eery.
Over and over.
My husband gets out his iPhone.
Together we listen to recordings of birds,
Our ears close to the little speaker.
Then our heads lift again to listen,
To the live sound.
Back to our recording.
There, that’s it!
A fledgling barred owl begging.
Pure poetry in one sentence.
We look at each other,
loving the words,
loving the porch,
loving each other.
by Anna Römer
Contrast at Hewnoaks
How fitting that contrast, the first law of all art, should visit us today.
It is a time for bonding with old friends and meeting new acquaintances.
Our attention vacillates between poetry focus
and the distraction of strands of hair blowing across our faces.
We progress from the stillness of poetry readings to the active exploration of the grounds.
Wandering about the bucolic landscape that is the Artist Colony of Hewnoaks,
we witness the dark clouds, interspersed with the bright sunlight;
we feel the chilly lake breeze interspersed with warm pockets of air ...
that kiss our cheeks, often in concert with the sun's warming rays.
We listen to the loud trilling of the songbird high in the treetops,
while enjoying quiet contemplation of surroundings;
We watch the bright whitecaps roll over Kezar Lake's waters, dulled by passing clouds.
We observe the contrast of dark wood and light stucco facades on the cottages,
and the majestic pines towering over the minuscule insects we spot as we sit on lawn and log.
We apply black pen to white paper …
or is it soft fingertips applied to laptop hardware?
We tweak our rough drafts into smooth lines of poetry;
We share our compositions depicting care for the present estate and reverence for its past.
We begin our poetry writing with an idea, our alpha;
and end the morning with round-table readings of our art this day, our omega.
My first poetry workshop shall not be my last.
(c) 2016 Mary Anderson Ginder
3 Poems by Mark Cadman
The fog sea flows in the valley
Lapping at the mountains shore
But it will subside
As though with the tide
Until daybreak comes once more.
A moving hulk, moss covered stone
The snapping turtle stands alone
Traveling far from its watery abode
Crossing field, farm and road
To lay pearl-like eggs in warming sand
A new generation close at hand
This slow moving relic of eons past
A dinosaur that was built to last
A tank built of leather scute and bone
Yet graceful and free in its watery home
A testament to the great mystery
Of God's greater plan for turtles, you and me.
Ducks on the Porch
The springtime beauty of ducks of the wood
Rivaled only by the stately merganser with a hood
Mallards and black ducks, blue-winged teal
Canvasbacks and pintails, could this be real?
With rain this heavy and a bit of luck
My front yard will be home to frog, turtle and duck.
We’re out talking about herons, our paddles
dripping, as we nose toward your canoe,
the eagle, immense and looming, returned
to perch on your towering pine, its nest
a distance up the shore from which we hear
squawks and squeals, the young? or are they
fledged? evident in a huge mottled bird
we see skim out dipping toward water.
No loon chicks swim on the backs of the parent,
but a grandchild is due for you, David and Nell,
and Mina up on her hands and knees rocks
toward crawling; our Julian orbits in his cardboard
spacecraft, the teen girls, sleek in their fashions,
hair pressed and toes painted, lean and lure.
Our boat tips lift lily pads, send up
nets of dragonflies, a hushed music of motion.
A winged shadow circles and swoops,
and we with our aches and creaks, our retirings
and survivings, our long memory of weather,
glide on: the day is clear, a wisp of wind,
white clouds nudge peaks of the Carter range.
by Judith Steinbergh
WILD RIDE HOME
Mazzy’s in his booster in the back seat,
rolling home from pre-K,
discussing his day, well... me asking,
him mumbling something, as we drive through flickers
of late fall; scarlet and golden leaves tumble along
the roadway, while dusk sweeps blue away.
We curve, we bend, we turn toward East
at the main road by the college; students cross,
flashing caution lights behind them;
fuchsia streaks adorn a grainy dusk,
the Reservoir holds silver in the evening light.
Far beyond, a flash, office tower set aflame
from western setting sun, each pane its own
conflagration, a wavering beacon
silvers as the sun descends.
Then huge as Jupiter approaching,
translucent as a Chinese lantern, papery,
ephemeral as a luna moth...
What the heck! we shout,
driving toward the rising moon, born
out of earth, dripping from the sea, emerging
from the road ahead, obscuring
city towers, palming the horizon.
The circle of the pond is milk, the moon
agauzy haze; Oh gravity, set free and let
the pallid face of moon arise...
as we near home, safely
tugged by family tides.
J udith Steinbergh
Flight446, East Coast
Just a little off the earth
the continent flattens to paper,
needle to pine to green black thumbprint
lake to pond to mirror to sequin glint
sandy cape to bent arm to curl of hair
From 6 miles up,
Barrier islands, are mere eyelashes of the continent
wisps, calligrapher’s curve, brushstroke
beaches, pale line of chalk, a thin hem
to the cloth of the continent,
Little breaks, thumb of sea pushed in – blue into sand,
black up the tidal rivers, brown into the lowland marsh.
What keeps the sea at bay? a stone jetty, a splintered pier,
sea wall andsea grape, sand bag and jellyfish stranded,
shingle of shells, eel grass, cedar shack
corn rows, tobacco sheds, shoots of rice?
The sea encroaches, licks away familiar shapes,
Spring tide and neap tide
sea suck and storm surge.
Wake up, traveler,
Do not shutter that portal
that tethers us to the land’s embrace,
our continent, so easily
by Judith Steinbergh (Muddy River Review, sprg 2016)