The Blizzards of 2015 – A poem by Ruth Maassen

Photo  Sargent House, Main Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts,  winter 2015,  by Bing McGilvray

Sargent House, Main Street, Gloucester, Massachusetts,
winter 2015, by Bing McGilvray

The Blizzards of 2015

The storms crawled by with fearsome power,

snow blowing sideways hour after hour.

Shovel a shovel-wide path to the door.

Oops, snowed again! Shovel once more.

Dig out the driveway, the car—what a slog.

Dig a path to the hydrant, dig a path for the dog.

Heave the snow high up over your head.

Try to forget what the weatherman said:

Another one’s coming! Man oh man.

With a bull’s-eye painted right on Cape Ann.

There go the plows scraping and rumbling

all through the night—we shouldn’t be grumbling,

we’re snug in our beds, while the heroic

crew on the roads, exhausted but stoic,

battle the stuff coming out of the sky,

ton after ton, but they never say die.

Another one’s coming! Can we hope for

a break between blizzards to get to the store?

No train, no T, no parking, no walking

the kids stir-crazy, the grouch not talking.

Trapped in a snow globe! Let me out, let me out!

the snowsick, slap-happy denizens shout.

At least we broke the record snowfall,

though that doesn’t begin to make up for it all.

The leftover filthy snow piled up high

no doubt will be gone by the Fourth of July.

So step aside, Blizzard of ’78.

You’ve had your day, you really did rate,

but you weren’t as gargantuan and messy and mean

as the Blizzards of 2015.

~ Ruth Maassen

ruth maassen (2)

Ruth Maassen, Rockport’s poet laureate, arrived on Cape Ann in 1980. She does proofreading and book design for independent authors.

Gin by Philip Levine (1928-2015)


Corner Card Game (detail) Philip Reisman (1904-1992)


by Philip Levine (1928-2015)

The first time I drank gin
I thought it must be hair tonic.
My brother swiped the bottle
from a guy whose father owned
a drug store that sold booze
in those ancient, honorable days
when we acknowledged the stuff
was a drug. Three of us passed
the bottle around, each tasting
with disbelief. People paid
for this? People had to have
it, the way we had to have
the women we never got near.
(Actually they were girls, but
never mind, the important fact
was their impenetrability. )
Leo, the third foolish partner,
suggested my brother should have
swiped Canadian whiskey or brandy,
but Eddie defended his choice
on the grounds of the expressions
“gin house” and “gin lane,” both
of which indicated the preeminence
of gin in the world of drinking,
a world we were entering without
understanding how difficult
exit might be. Maybe the bliss
that came with drinking came
only after a certain period
of apprenticeship. Eddie likened
it to the holy man’s self-flagellation
to experience the fullness of faith.
(He was very well read for a kid
of fourteen in the public schools. )
So we dug in and passed the bottle
around a second time and then a third,
in the silence each of us expecting
some transformation. “You get used
to it,” Leo said. “You don’t
like it but you get used to it.”
I know now that brain cells
were dying for no earthly purpose,
that three boys were becoming
increasingly despiritualized
even as they took into themselves
these spirits, but I thought then
I was at last sharing the world
with the movie stars, that before
long I would be shaving because
I needed to, that hair would
sprout across the flat prairie
of my chest and plunge even
to my groin, that first girls
and then women would be drawn
to my qualities. Amazingly, later
some of this took place, but
first the bottle had to be
emptied, and then the three boys
had to empty themselves of all
they had so painfully taken in
and by means even more painful
as they bowed by turns over
the eye of the toilet bowl
to discharge their shame. Ahead
lay cigarettes, the futility
of guaranteed programs of
exercise, the elaborate lies
of conquest no one believed,
forms of sexual torture and
rejection undreamed of. Ahead
lay our fifteenth birthdays,
acne, deodorants, crabs, salves,
butch haircuts, draft registration,
the military and political victories
of Dwight Eisenhower, who brought us
Richard Nixon with wife and dog.
Any wonder we tried gin

Philip Levine, one of the last working class poets in America, died on February 14 at his home in Fresno, CA. We post this poem in his memory.