Celebrating Six Seasons of Reading Local in Vermont: STICK

The News From Poems Stick

The News From Poems 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.

Concerning Necessity

by Hayden Carruth


It’s true we live
in a kind of rural twilight
most of the time giving
our love to the hard dirt
the water and the weeds
and the difficult woods

ho we say drive the wedge
heave the axe run the hand shovel
dig the potato patch
dig ashes dig gravel
tickle the dyspeptic chain saw
make him snarl once more

while the henhouse needs cleaning
the fruitless corn to be cut
and the house is falling to pieces
the car coming apart
the boy sitting and complaining
about something everything anything

this was the world foreknown
though I thought somehow
probably in delusion
of that idiot Thoreau
that necessity could be saved
by the facts we actually have

like our extreme white birch
clasped in the hemlock’s arms
or the baybreasted nuthatch
or our mountain and our stars
and really these things do serve
a little though not enough

what saves the undoubted collapse
of the driven day and the year
is my coming all at once
when she is done in or footsore
or down asleep in the field
or telling a song to a child

coming and seeing her move
in some particular way
that makes me fall in love
all over with human beauty
the beauty I can’t believe
right here where I live.

The News From Poems Mud
*It could be verse:
The beauty…right here where I live.

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.
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on October 7, 2009


by David Budbill


Where do you enter a circle?
When there is no beginning where do you break
Say November. Here. Enter through the

Sere gray. Sere brown. The bare trees,
their skinny fingers darkened by the rain, stretch
against the sky. The earth is dank and chill
as an old deserted cellar. Barren. Without song.
The sky is empty, the birds are gone.
Everything is waiting in the rain.

Five o’ clock: almost dark. Chimney smoke lies
crawls across the meadow like a slow, soft snake.
And he, he just come in from the woods, stands
The cold fog is silver on his woolen shirt.

Bank on bank of clouds, like the folds of a
layer over the mountains.
The sky steals light from both ends of the day.
This is the day the lead gray sky comes down.
Say good-bye to the ground. In the morning:
It will snow all night tonight.

The News From Poems Mud
*It could be verse:
Who likes November?

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?
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on November 21, 2007

My Father’s Whistle

by Jim Schley


On a darkened bus
on Thanksgiving, I was

“My father could whistle
like a breeze coming home
through a spruce,”

the aisle lights
glinting like valves
down the length
of a black clarinet.

I was
through my teeth
and with tilted lips

throat and mouth
a looped sigh

the first whistle came free

filigree in air
that remains–

The News From Poems Mud
*It could be verse:
Do shorter days enhance our other senses?

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.
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on November 26, 2008

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