Peace on Earth

Winter in Gloucester Frederick Mulhhaupt (1871-1938)

Winter in Gloucester                                   Frederick Mulhhaupt (1871-1938)

I love the smell of evergreen
in a not-yet frost-covered Wood.
Mother Nature provides the forest scenes
that do our Spirits good.
I’m grateful for the sounds I hear,
like the music of my Grandchildren’s laughter.
A cherished gift my heart will hold dear
this Season, and ever after.
I’m grateful for the sights I see,
like the love in the eyes of my wife.
Special moments with friends and family
are the most precious gifts of Life.
No expensive present or shiny things
can fill my heart with mirth.
It’s the little things that Christmas brings
which provide my Peace on Earth.

 

 

jimmy-tarantinoJames Tarantino (Jimmy T.) is an exemplary outdoor enthusiast who heralds his love of family, his friends, and his passion for all things Gloucester.

October

Autumn at the Shore. Joseph Eliot Enneking (1881 - 1942)

Autumn at the Shore.                            Joseph Eliot Enneking (1881 – 1942)

The leaves are falling

The dense green wall of foliage slowly disappears

into yellows, oranges, mixed greens,

the growing bronze of towering oaks,

dots of scarlet here and there,

and in this thinning, vistas opening up:

more than we can,

for it is about us, of course in the long run

though we may not see it that way,

for the vistas opening here, always it seems

to the sea.

The sea that surrounds this island of Beau Port, Gloucester

or the sea tide that floods the marshes

our island sea

it’s sad for those who cannot open up

closeted in importance, or lost in drug fueled evasion

who can’t feel the ebb and flooding surges

of this sea in us and around us.

Kent Bowker
October 20, 2016

 

Kent BowkerKent Bowker started with poetry at Berkeley in the Fifties, then became a physicist working mainly in optics.  His new book of poems is Katharsis: Sifting Through a Mormon Past.  He lives in Essex, next to the Great Marshes and is treasurer of the Charles Olson Society.

 

 

Telling Tales: A Gathering of Stories by Eric Schoonover

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Telling Tales: A Gathering of Stories by Eric Schoonover

A Review by Peter Anastas

(Dogbar Publications, Gloucester, 2016, 142 pp.,  $15)

 

“We tell stories for as many reasons as we live. They celebrate the beginnings and endings of our lives. They are the hand that rocks the cradle, the hand that wraps the shroud. They give meaning to the long or short haul of our lives.” –from the Preface

 

In Telling Tales, Gloucester poet and novelist Eric Schoonover has given us a collection of essays as finely written as they are delightful to read.   Each essay explores an arresting theme and tells a particular story, so that in reading them we are doubly rewarded.

We experience the taste of dates in Egypt with their author, who shares his thoughts about the role of memory in our lives.  In an essay that dramatizes issues of class and companionship, we accompany Schoonover as a young college instructor, who travels from his Eastern American classroom to Washington State to join a fire fighting crew in the Palouse hills.  We’re with him in a car race in which a relationship is also explored, and we assist him in building “Tuva,” his Micro sailboat, which still plies the waters off Cape Ann (he also builds a bed for his grandson Jacob to whom the book is dedicated).  Most powerfully, we climb into the mountains of Switzerland, where Schoonover travels to scatter the ashes of his parents near the small Genevan village where the family spent several memorable vacations.

Yet for all their variety and Schoonover’s scintillating prose, these essays are seamlessly constructed, as befits the boat builder who wrote them.  The word essay comes from the French essai, which means “an attempt.”  In writing an essay one begins by setting down tentative thoughts about a subject.  In the process we may also be trying to discover what we actually think about that subject, and what we want to say about it once we begin to write.

Essays have generally been categorized as “formal” or “familiar.” Formal essays usually consist of an impersonal analysis of a subject, while familiar essays are generally written from a personal point of view and  tell us as much about the writer as his or her subject.

Our era may well be one in which we have witnessed the primacy of the familiar essay, through the popularity of personal essays and memoirs, the profusion of Op Ed columns, and, more recently, the explosion of individual blogs, in which writers write as much about themselves as they do about their subjects.  Yet the new digital technologies (not to speak of texting and Twittering) with their inherent demands to think and write fast, and therefore more superficially, have helped to create a literary culture in which care of construction and thoughtfulness of intent have often been eclipsed by the pressure to post or respond to other posts.  While this has arguably afforded more democracy of access and expression (everybody is now seen to be a writer), the inevitable consequence has been a sacrifice of depth.

For this reason Eric Schoonover’s Telling Tales is all the more welcome.   The personal voice is here in these wonderfully luminous essays, which are both autobiographical and a history of the sources and growth of a literary sensibility.  We come to understand who the author is through the gathering details of his life—fishing with his father as a child; experiencing his first misunderstanding by a teacher in the rural Western Massachusetts school he first attended, in a town where he was the only paperboy; teaching English and literature in a variety of settings; and traveling to remote places whose cultures fascinate him, with his family as a child and later as a mature traveler and writer

With this collection Schoonover has in effect restored the essay to its proper place as an invaluable yet ever flexible mode of expression and exposition, a means of coming at the world in multiple ways, while sharing with the reader what the writer has discovered during the journey.

In describing what he has set out to achieve in this rewarding book, Schoonover quotes Joseph Conrad’s own reason for writing: “I want to make you see.”   And we do see through Schoonover’s eyes some of the world he has experienced and remembered, just as we feel through language that rises to poetry what he has felt and wishes to share with us.

Telling Tales may be a slender book in terms of page length, but it is brimming with the kinds of wisdom, humor, insight and sheer intelligence that are certain to make a lasting impression on the reader.

 

eric schoonover

Eric Schoonover is a writer, boatbuilder and watercolorist, who lives in Gloucester in a small 1735 Cape Ann cottage with his wife, also a writer. He is the author of the award-winning The Gloucester Suite and Other Poems and a novel, Flowers of the Sea. His latest book, Telling Tales, has just been published.

A Gloucester Rengu (linked haiku)

Digital Collage by Bing McGilvray

Digital Collage by Bing McGilvray

The bronze face stares
Out, beyond breakwater’s edge,
Yellow moon rising..

Squawking roof ridge  gulls
Gossiping, suddenly rise,
White-black globs falling

Bronze hands hold the wheel
Tight against the bashing sea
Heavy rain forecast.

Wildly tumbling gulls
Diving  behind a trawler,
Pierless occupation.

Lost fishermen’s names
One hundred on George’s Bank
Record Catch report.

Where pink beach roses
Edge rocks, furious seas break,
Gabbianos peck.

Children anxious,
Have all the boats returned?
Widow’s walk crowded,

San Pietro coming
Held high by six owners, wobbling,
Sinking memories.

The swift sweeping tide
Rushing past Annisquam Light,
Madly tacking, pushed back..

Ferrini moon danced
Olson delivered mail
Thunderous acclaim.

Babson’s tales in Maximus
Olson’s great poem,
Rants in the G D News.

Only lobsters now
Great cod landings a memory,
Avaricious failure.

Smiles passing by on main street
Fresh bread, Sicilia’s,
Fog lifts slowly in the morning.

Soaring  high hunter,
Quick, red tail searching Dogtown.
Silent lobsters crawl.

Sea waves never stop
For famous Cape Ann’s Artists,
Loving the beauty.

Great granite ledges
Quarried deep swimming pools,
Delicate Heron.

Kent Bowker 5/24/2016

Kent BowkerKent Bowker started with poetry at Berkeley in the Fifties, then became a physicist working mainly in optics.  His new book of poems is Katharsis: Sifting Through a Mormon Past.  He lives in Essex, next to the Great Marshes and is treasurer of the Charles Olson Society.

It’s Boiling Hot

On Pavillion Beach. © 2014 Jeff Weaver (b. 1953)

On Pavilion Beach.                                                                                            © 2014 Jeff Weaver (b. 1953)

Its boiling hot, they’ve gone to catch the wind 
at high tide when you can sail the tidal river 
above the sandbars, when the scope is wide 
room to tack and reach, as we try to reach to the far 
points in our life where you are the self you wish to be 
away from the effigies others might prefer 
beyond the expectations of correct behavior and pieties 
free of the sand bars in our circumscribed environment 
the enclosing freeways that bind us into pockets 
webs of mercantile definition, malls of distance, 
the all-together loneliness of the social web. 
This is not the place for me. 

Where can one go to be free of this American entrapment 
where black and brown and white can live in harmony 
where all beliefs, intellect and toil are respected, 
was our Cape Ann like that, not entirely but enough 
the classes did mix, brawls were plenty enough 
but the morning light broke bright on sea calm water 
where rancor stills and the gulls cry instead. 
Perfection of a sort sadly doesn’t last 
the tentacles of wealthy desire slowly penetrate 
crawling over the bridge, tourists who end up staying 
and driving up the rents, buying the cheap houses; 
improving them twists the old mix out  working people 
can’t afford to be here any more, to smell the same sea 
air, feel the tidal sweep over the marshes 
swim in the warming creeks. 

Kent Bowker 
July 7, 2016 

Kent BowkerKent Bowker started with poetry at Berkeley in the Fifties, then became a physicist working mainly in optics.  His new book of poems is Katharsis: Sifting Through a Mormon Past.  He lives in Essex, next to the Great Marshes and is treasurer of the Charles Olson Society.

COMMON IRISH VALUES

Lane's Cove. Antonio Cirino (1889-1983)

Lane’s Cove. Antonio Cirino (1889-1983)

Spring morning bright

shining grass

alone

around Lane’s Cove

 

Mail Lady arrives

hops out

breaks up treats

Dog in truck

sniffs for more

 

Sun through

yellow tulip petals

dropping shadows

 

An hour on a flat rock

behind the wall

near his easel

with infrequently met Eddy

was in The Lorraine sleeping

when it burned down

lost two hundred paintings

didn’t matter so much as

the people of Gloucester

were so giving gave each

thirty five hundred dollars

I gave a small truck bed

filled with winter clothes

 

Eddy was married to a WASP

When they went out to dinner

she wouldn’t look at the servers

She was brought up that way

Her family wore clothes

with holes in them

Ridiculous!

And had an old station wagon

How did you know?

Brought up with them

After the fire

my ex let me stay with her

for as long as I liked

She had a huge place

Children?  Horses

 

My life to him his to me

Common Irish values

Chelsea and Cambridge

 

Joe Roderick said

When I broke my elbow

it didn’t heal right

See these bumps?

My buddy was jumping

off his roof onto the porch

and I didn’t have time

to pull my arm back

broke folded the wrong way

pieces of bone everywhere

They gimme a cast

but I cut it off

It was smelly

I was lobstering at the time

Bait got in it

 

Can I play goal with

one arm?  Yah!

Hangman?

Hint   It’s near my shoes

and it’s red

Water Bottle

This is done outdoors

Bouble Play!

 

Melissa de Haan Cummings

May 10, 2016

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMelissa de Haan Cummings majored in French and English Literature at Bryn Mawr. She has published poetry in a number of journals.  She describes her interests as including, “much small boating around Cape Ann, love of Charles Olson, Hatha yoga practice since 1969.”

THE HOPPER PAINTING

(Rooms by the Sea, 1951)

By Dan Wilcox

Rooms By The Sea. 1951 Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

Rooms By The Sea. 1951 Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

I get up and go to the window,

The sea is right outside

there is no beach, only the sea.

The white is not foam, it is light

the sun reflecting from the high side of the waves

while the deep part is blue, bluer.

Where the black blue meets the white sky

is the same line as the wall that meets the ceiling.

I sit on the red couch and think

of immensity, of infinity

of the edges between the door and the sea

the two pieces of the sky, the doorknob

the latchwork of the jamb.

I walk from the window, around

the wall to the door

step into the light

watch the shape change.

If the door closes, I will fall into the sea.

 

(Dan Wilcox will be reading from his new collection of poetry, Gloucester Notes, at the Gloucester Writers Center, on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 7:30 PM. Reading also on the program will be Alan Casline.)

 

 

dan-wilcoxDan Wilcox is the host of the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center in Albany, N.Y. and is a member of the poetry performance group “3 Guys from Albany”.  He is a frequent visitor to Gloucester and his book of poems Gloucester Notes is forthcoming this year from Foothills Publishing.  You can read his Blog about the Albany poetry scene at  dwlcx.blogspot.com

 

GREEN WEED

"View from the Ledge" 1975. Nell Blaine (1922-1996)

“View from the Ledge” 1975.
Nell Blaine (1922-1996)

Green weed

Tawny tufts

were flowers

Mushrooms climb

a listing tree

Carpets of oak

and brown pine

needles over gray

rock and root

A light shower

accelerates the dogs

The tie to my hoodie

sways

December pansies

loving the mist

the fog horn

from the lighthouse

South easterly gusts

darken yesterday’s

northeasterly swells

suck back around

smooth and ancient

boulders by thistle

and bitter sweet

green weed

Melissa de Haan Cummings

17 December 2015

melissa2bcummingsMelissa de Haan Cummings majored in French and English Literature at Bryn Mawr. She has published poetry in a number of journals.
She describes her interests as including,“much small boating around
Cape Ann, love of Charles Olson, Hatha yoga practice since 1969.”