Celebrating Six Seasons of Reading Local in Vermont: SUMMER

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Summer 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.

Cicadas

by T. Alan Broughton

 

In the evening of the season
when the locusts left
their bodies, I took my paper bag from tree to tree gently

plucking the smoky
shells. The carapace clung
to wrinkled bark,
unwilling to give up.

I hoarded them
on my beside table,
peering backward through bulbs
of eyes, the vacant head,
ghosts a small breath
could disarrange. I was told
they could still be heard
rasping even in the heat of day
but I never saw them.

Through slits in their backs
souls had escaped, singing
now, singing always into the night..
They gathered near my window
calling out to their bodies,
those frail shapes
that held them once

The News From Poems Mud
*It could be verse
August ghosts

Nerd Alert: in The Songs of Insects, a book compiled by Lang Eliot and Wil Hershberger, I gaze longingly at photos of the “Slightly Musical Conehead” (Neoconocephalus exiliscanorous), a kind of Katydid indigenous to the Mid-Atlantic states. In the deep of winter I stick in the companion CD and relax to the chirps of the Handsome Trig (Phyllopalpus pulchellus) and the Confused Ground Cricket (Eunemoibus confuses). And when I’m really in a funk, I bust out the map at the back of the book, where Linnaeus’s 17-year Cicada brood charts (Magicada septendecium) show exactly when and where each of the 12 bug broods will begin their electric- scissor singing. I wile away dark winter nights plotting my 2014 visit to Brood III in Iowa, so I can hear these insects emerge for the first time since 1997, as they fill the air with a sound more grating than World Cup vuvuzelas.

But what do you know, I’m not alone–Burlington poet, T. Alan Broughton is also susceptible to the alien –faced arthropods. In a poem from his book, Preparing to Be Happy he relates his fascination with the exoskelton husks left by these late- summer singers, harvesting their empty bodies as if he were picking black berries.

Perhaps Mr. Broughton and I treasure these beings and their ghost relics, their artifacts of transformation, because as humans, we also outgrow ourselves, but often there is less to show for it. And though it is a different medium than the dentist drill riffs of cicadas, Mr. Broughton, and other poets, also want to sing.

“What makes a poem a poem?” readers often ask. My best answer is: Line Breaks. Listen to how his story is slowed to a near chant, as if the writer were tiptoeing through his song, three to five words at a time, to convey the eerie magic.
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on August 4, 2010

Finally

by Marian Willmott

 

Finally―no wool hat,
summer, after a long winter.
I rub on sunscreen,
spray on insect repellent,
tuck long pants into high socks,
pull my hair up off my neck
and fill a water bottle.
On the way I pick a large fern
to fan myself and swat away
a circling horse fly,
but mosquitoes find my eyelid
and a spot between two fingers.
A breeze lifts the leaves, offering
a brief glimpse of a field far below.
Am I never satisfied?
I miss the frozen landscape,
its silence, its vistas―
glittering valleys merging with the sky,
floating moon –white mountains
casting spells.

The News From Poems Mud
*It could be verse:
Within me an invincible winter?

Astonishing isn’t it, the transformation of the roadsides? From under those waist high banks of dingy snow, after all those months, grow the spires of purple lupine, followed by spritzes of indigos– vetch and alfalfa flowers, along side mauve colored clover, and the egg yolk dribble of each black eyed susan petal. Was this largess really with us, in remission throughout the dark cold December, January, as the snow banks rose?

Whereas Albert Camus’ realized, “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer,” Hinesburg poet, Marion Willmott finds within her something more like an invincible winter. In her poem ‘Finally’ from her poetry chapbook, Turnings, Wilmott exclaims the qualities of this sultry season: beginning with what she has shed (no wool hat) and what she has added (layers of bug dope, sunblock). And as she pauses on her walk through June, July… the easy months, as I think of them, she experiences what the Portuguese call, “saudade,” an untranslatable kind of homesickness, sadness, nostalgia, insouciance, longing all piled up in the big inner snowbank of her being.
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle on July 20, 2011

White Peaches

by Mary Ruefle

 

Someday I’ll be dead, in no need of
a smoke, cash, bread, completely
indifferent to poetry.

Why not nag now, push the little I
around while I can,
backed up by the whole language
peeled in one strip, a dazzling case
of deft motion?

Because there are days
the scent of white peaches reaches me
in bursts, and I lie down, alive,
completely indifferent to poetry.

The News From Poems Mud
*It could be verse
A dazzling case

Astonished by bunches of white ruffles, my father asks, “How do these peonies turn clean white when all they’re growing out of is dirt?” He has interrupted his endless list of tasks (weeding, staking, mowing,..) to succumb to these miraculous, mysterious peonies. Bennington poet Mary Ruefle also suspends her itinerary (the pursuit of “a smoke, cash, bread”) as she surrenders in awe, in this case, to the fragrance of white peaches, in a poem from her book, Cold Pluto.

Though I am inclined to drive “my little ‘I’” around, with grim satisfaction of all I am accomplishing: the laundry, the recycling and ah yes, buying more dog food, I too may be ravished by the sound of wind whalloping the leaves, or the look of a lake from the hilltop, its gleaming silver oval, or the spectacle of a bumble bee scrambling in and out of the belled spire of sapphire delphinium. Oh to be ransacked, hijacked. and mugged lovingly by ordinary miracles. And then, as novelist Davis Stephen Mitchell exclaimed recently in an interview, to participate in another miracle:“…that there’s this means of transmitting it. Just little ink marks on squashed wood fiber. Bloody amazing.”
*column first appeared in the Barton Chronicle in July 7, 2010

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