Celebrating Six Seasons of Reading Local in Vermont: STICK
Stick poetry from “It could be verse”
“It could be verse” began as a monthly poetry column first published by The Chronicle of Orleans County in Barton, VT in April 2007. Each column features a poem of season and place by a Vermont writer. The purpose of both the column and this website is: to put poetry where people can find it. Another goal is to help Vermonters to “Read Local” (as a natural continuation of the “Buy Local” and “Eat Local” campaigns). Because there are so many extraordinary writers in our communities, the column serves as an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the diverse poetic voices in this state, our literary terroir. This website features a selection of 18 of the 50 original columns (published in The Chronicle from 2007-2011). In January 2012, the monthly poetry column became a syndicated project issued from this site, offered gratis to all Vermont newspapers to publish at their discretion.
by Hayden Carruth
It’s true we live
ho we say drive the wedge
while the henhouse needs cleaning
this was the world foreknown
like our extreme white birch
what saves the undoubted collapse
coming and seeing her move
Hayden Carruth, as he entered his eighties, looked like a feral Santa Clause, ferocious and paternal at the same time. I hear both the macho stoic and the tender man in his poems, especially in ‘Concerning Necessity.’ Though he was born in Connecticut, and died in New York last year at age 87, he wrote the poems I love best in Johnson, Vermont, in a house hunkered over by Foote Brook.
One of the sweetest aspects of composing this monthly column is re-typing the poem. In doing so, it’s like trying on another’s mind. When I was a kid I’d strap on my mom’s fancy shoes and stab around the room in high heels, believing I was someone new, for having new attire. This is a similar pleasure, pretending, as I transcribe, to have a deep knowing voice, digging into an indictment of hard labor and hard seasons, and by the end, being soft and struck by the beauty in it all.
by David Budbill
Where do you enter a circle?
Sere gray. Sere brown. The bare trees,
Five o’ clock: almost dark. Chimney smoke lies
Bank on bank of clouds, like the folds of a
I hate November– I hate the emptiness, the bird-less mornings, the loss of brilliant color, and the dead end of the growing season. A friend of mine loves November. She loves the dim grayness, the hollowed out hillsides of no leaves, and the coziness by her woodstove. And hunting. Ok, that’s two opinions. Let’s ask poet David Budbill, of Wolcott, Vt, what he thinks of this austere month. Within his collection of narrative poems, Judevine, Budbill has a series of 13 poems, one for each month, chronicling the loop of a year. He begins and ends with “November.” As I read the poem over, I keep trying to find evidence, that yes, he too despises it. But I can’t. His language is neutral, but evocative. The details (I love details) are simple: the fog clinging to a woolen shirt and chimney smoke crawling like a “soft snake.” If I had to guess, I’d reckon that Budbill judges November neither glorious, nor abominable; he just accepts it. What do you think?
My Father’s Whistle
by Jim Schley
On a darkened bus
“My father could whistle
the aisle lights
throat and mouth
the first whistle came free
filigree in air
By the time you read this our total daylight hours will number nine or fewer. While we were harvesting the gardens, shuttling children, trundling wood, and voting, minutes, then hours of daylight flaked away. In his book of poems As When, In Season, South Strafford poet Jim Schley begins his poem ‘My Father’s Whistle’ with a simple phrase: “On a darkened bus…”
Aren’t we are all passengers in November’s darkened bus riding toward the longest night of the year? Like the simplified late-autumn landscape, the stanzas of Schley’s poem from his book As When In Season (Marick, 2008) hold only a few things: the memory of his father’s talent for whistling—“like a breeze coming home/ through a spruce,” and a beautiful image of the darkened bus: “the aisle lights/ glinting like valves/..of a black clarinet.”
At the end of his poem he uses the word, “filigree”—a word that connotes light, shiny-ness… reminding the reader that on days no brighter than candlelight, our sense of sound, even the uttering of notes holds greater value. In the stillness and dimness, long after the robins are gone, a memory can bloom and sing, as in Schley’s mind, his father’s strong twittering.