Fred Andrews uses the nom de plume Nando and has been writing poetry for more than 30 years. Active at the Gloucester Writers Center, Fred has studied with Rufus Collinson and other local poets.
I watch you as you stare out to sea,
Looking for your fellow fishermen who have gone the way of the fish
I wonder what you really see;
Do you see your comrades’ remains after they died?
Or do you see their Spirits as they wander the other side, do you see the fishing boats sinking?
Do you commune with the bodies they left to the tides?
Or with their Spirits on the other side?
Poseidon takes what is his and leaves the rest to feed his fish.
Just what is that you see out there, as you persist in your constant stare?
Perhaps you stand to watch and warn the fishers out at sea,
Guiding them home so that they can come ashore once more, free to be!
Oh, mysterious wheelman what do you see?
If I ask enough times will you really tell me?
I see what is happening now to your comrades and I weep.
Do you se that, too?
Frozen white lace drifts by my window, falling from the sky.
How pleasing the white lace is to the eye,
As it softly covers the earth covering the dirty ground below.
Now that I am old and have no particular place to go, frozen white lace is a beautiful wonder I know
But when I was young and had places to go,
Well then I just called it snow!
I awaken to the sound of a seagull’s cry as it makes its way across the sky,
And pushing through the sodden earth crocuses struggle for all they’re worth
To break the winter crust of the earth.
All early signs that soon the days of spring will abound
Here in ancient Gloucester Towne.
So we will begin the dance of spring as other birds begin to sing,
Soon outlined against the clear blue sky, sails will also spread their wings
And the harbor once again will be filled with signs of life
For those of us in Gloucester Towne
Old and young will smile as sunlight mild shines on us and we again enjoy the joyful things
That are the harbingers of a Gloucester spring.
* * *
Larry is a dedicated, long time poet, self-taught at Sawyer Free Library. He noted that the “poets on this site are either published, winners of a contest, or both. I am neither.” He is too shy and and deserves both space and readers.
Hypnotic pairs of still eyes
continue to mesmerize
through the dark.
Beacons, obscured by glass,
reflecting glossy memories
of the past.
Birthday and Christmas gifts,
unopened like a story not read,
guard empty rooms.
Sentinels awaiting to proclaim,
without words, the return
of children’s hands.
Yesterday clothes and toys
still scented with innocent lives,
serve broken hearts.
Substitutes, not thrown away,
screaming echoes messages,
“Don’t let me go.”
Another day ending
like a falling star.
Another day beginning
bringing rest until dawn.
Matrimony: An Epithalamion
Let us accept that whatever we so soundly say
in verse today may be freely used against us.
All the syllables are untrue stanza by stanza
but in this purest form may be assume as true love.
Let us be aware as we enter into this unholy matrimony
that we make a commitment to play the mind games
changing the rules when they betray us
and realize it’s not if we dis or honor the rhyme
but how we obey the meter.
As the authors of this wordy poetic event
union of literary voltas
rings of linguistic ornaments/metaphorically speaking
let us respectfully/individually communicate to them sitting
in pews of misunderstanding and varying opinions.
You-our guests as the pastor stresses
share in this transformation.
We share in this transformation
and there is something to transform
other than the formal decorations.
Can we get an Amen?
* * *
K. W. ERICKSON
Ken Erickson is another longtime poet who has not won any contests but deserves to be read. In his nature poems, the evokes strongly Cape Ann and the sea, especially Ipswich Bay, a valued neighbor.
First frost strikes as
sentinels sign the outbreak of unrest;
brigades of sumac, sugar rich and ripe,
cast off green hoods, run rust from head to chest,
paint broad faces amber, breach the slanting sky
aside an old foe, the flagrant maple,
flying ruddy-plumed rebellion.
Today they hold
high hills. Scouting parties flare the valley
as southern winds intrude, white-flagged and warm,
proclaim a truce in air too lush for war;
an ease of summer settles on the storm
and peace presides, the colors magnified,
caressed by clever breezes to disarm,
cast off their wasted warrior skins and send
the severed husks to rest and rot in earth.
It comes to this
once sacred interlude, a namesake now,
like speckled corn. In memoriam
defiant woods lavish this last display
of life grown wild and pure and free,
an insurrection in the waning sun,
miraculous, as if celestial hands
had reached into this radiant, thinning shroud
and spilled fall’s palette, sparking all aflame.
Across these hills
the story is replayed, a way of life
about to be betrayed.
Sunset Over Ipswich Bay
Curved arrowhead of granite chipped to form
The outer bank that shores carved in-cut bay,
Wide-ribboned water flashing last light’s swarm
Of amber ease as sun signs end of day;
Descending west an emblem of what’s done,
Six decades passage to this farther side,
So many increments through seasons run
Seem now to blend and form one rising tide;
A world stripped down to elements – brushed blue
Through sky and sea, curled cumulus huffed high,
Taut sails bent home as cormorants accrue
On rocks below, wings arched in wind to dry:
In perfect balance, vision matching mood,
Out of such simple things we are renewed.
In Gloucester a seagull named Scum
Chased fishing boats just to steal chum.
Now he’s hungry and sour,
‘Cause the clocks sprang an hour,
And the boats left him dockside to bum.
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind)
Winslow Homer, 1876
A nimble catboat heeling hard
in afternoon toward Eastern Point
not far from Ten Pound Island
where he spent a summer shifting
black and white to watercolor,
light refracting out of sea and sky
in weightless clarity compelling
wave and cloud to undulate around
a brace of boys forever borne
on steady sea breeze heading home.
Some say this light is unlike any other,
granite headland hues of pink and gray
infusing blue and white and slate,
but restless summer rarely stays for long,
nomadic spirits in fair weather rolling
over islands seeming much the same
illuminate a moment and are gone,
and in their wake ghost strokes hold fast
an evanescent voyage without end
upon a day that never fades to night.
* * *
Though she grew up in Germany, Lisa has been living in Gloucester for over thirty years. Poems have appeared in The Gloucester Daily Times. Lisa’s work, often in traditional rhyme, is thoughtful and direct.
It has a way to make you sad,
to make you happy, friendly, mad,
it has a way to change your day
no matter what you do or say.
it makes you smile, it makes you frown,
it turns your whole world upside down,
it makes you wish you weren’t around
but dead already, underground –
the mind can be your friend or foe
but oh how little does it know
and thought it claims to be quite smart
the wisest teacher is the heart.
The Lucky Ones
We are the lucky ones
we play at life
we arrange our small trivialities
first in a line, then in a circle
only to topple them over
and arrange them once more –
though of course in the end
we will lose
like all the others
who cannot afford to play –
and yet, we are the lucky ones.
* * *
Lydia is a longtime accomplished poet. Acknowledged in the Quarterdeck Poetry Contest, her poem “Beyond Home” appears elsewhere on this website. Even though Lydia is not completely new to the site, here are two fresh poems.
A Gloucester Psalm
Near Cripple Cove, a dragger’s engine revs up,
spurting noxious fumes.
She’ll putt past the harbor’s breakwater
beyond my smell,
herring gulls following in her wake,
screaming, hoping for fish guts thrown behind.
Closer, I see cormorants dip under the waves,
pop up farther away, fishing too.
I breathe in the salty, bracing air,
whiff of old gurry from wharf-tied fishing boats.
(God, please keep Cripple Cove within your care.)
Huge green buoy behind me, propped up on land,
it says “CRIPPLE COVE,” (some rules beneath)
rough granite rock beneath my butt,
braced leg stretched out,
the rising sun slanted across my Red Sox cap-
Cripple Cove is lop-sided too, but, like me,
is full of life. Early-rising kids swing
in the gated playground near to me,
piping voices mingling with the gulls,
parents giving deeper counter-point.
(God, please keep Cripple Cove within your care.)
I remember another cove down south,
in the humid air, a saltier smell,
Clearer, greener seas, strange colored fish,
and shrimp boats at work, with shrimpy smells-
but Gloucester, Massachusetts, is my home.
(God, please keep Cripple Cove within your care.)
I’ve heard of other coves,
Desolate and bleak, pollution rife,
Abandoned boats and shacks,
Fish floating belly up,
And all birds gone. I ask,
“How can this happen, God?
Are you in all things, here and there?
And in the dying fish as well?”
(God, please keep Cripple Cove – and other coves – within your care.)
And thank you, God, for gurry smells, for gulls aloft,
For dead and living fish and the fishing types at work,
for playing kids and inky cormorants at rest,
and for the seat-shaped granite stone that welcomes me.
I trust that you have kept and will
Keep, O God, Cripple Cove (all others too) within your cosmic care.
The Power of Now
“it is what it is”
It’s a vacuous saw from long ago, I used to feel.
I had gritted teeth when people used it on voiced grief or pain.
But now, I wonder. A luminescent glow
of many hues of green of trees and grass,
amid the grey rocks and hurling seas
of white of omnipresent snow, when blizzards howling pass and go
(The blizzard stuff’s what it is, right now.)
and it’s all allowed, say presumptuous I,
whatever seasons bring, snow, rain, ice or wind,
as long as cozy shelter holds, and spring holds hope.
“It is what it is.”
So prayers for those whose “now” holds no hope.
Such as they, in dark places all, are isolated ant alone.
May those whose help works for them,
be with those folk in a most effective mode.
“It is what it is,”
may then reflect, in an off-beat, askew
way God’s glint within, beyond,
around the presence of all-encompassing now. Amen.
* * *
Bradley Smith, a poet in his 80’s, grew up in South Boston, Gloucester, and Rockport. A Korean War veteran, he proclaims a love for both Marilyn Monroe and William Shakespeare. The two sonnets here are from his collection, Gathered Signatures, published by the Cricket Press in 1985.
To me, these many years within our share,
Cannot be measured by the rule of use
Or by the ordinary role of care,
That follows, day by day, in swift abuse.
We see each other in a special way.
And yet, and not as all the world pretends,
Where love’s a flame of passing temporal day,
Too small, too frail; two strings without their ends,
Too often broken by the twist of time,
Too blind for faulting that which each can be,
Too soon, too late, too out of scheme and rhyme.
Unlike the rest, for us, for you, and me,
Our memories stream through clouds to stars above,
“But once to love yet always be in love.”
I listened to a wise man in a cave,
While eating prunes and plums on silver press’t,
Those figs and dates my heart did crave,
Yet gave and urgency to my request:
To hear the word, to know the world, without
That grey insanity that eats you up
And spits you out without a word or shout;
All simmered, savored, in a savory cup.
He looked at me, we looked at me, and mine,
He checked his Rolex time, his Gucci shoes,
The diamond whispered “Buy DeBeers soo fine.”
I watched his Kuppenheimer clothing moves. ”
Just take the cash and let the credit be,
For who will lend to fatal vanity?”
MARY PAT BUTTERFIELD
Originally from Baltimore, Mary Pat Butterfield arrived on Cape Ann after a stay in Great Neck, Long Island. After a career in the business, she now pens her poems in Rockport, MA.
A Perfect Leaf
Squandered by their stately wood host
The rustic jewels float around the street
Turning brittle then into thick layers
Their outstretched arms akimbo to the sky
Huddled together on the sidewalk
One leaf floats upward
Take us home, keep us forever
We are the story of your life.