Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Category: Poetry (Page 1 of 7)

Eclipse – Poem and Essay: August 21, 2017

Within the path of totality

So brief, but spectacular

Not so much in our side yard

A pinhole viewer

I call it my “eclipse-o-meter”


I held the device

Pointed to the sun/moon eclipse

A tiny image, the size of a period

A smiley-face Sun

The moon bite

No telescope, no trip

No glasses

To totality lane



As sunlight dimmed

A resident rabbit showed itself

In my tomato patch

Aha. Now I understand

The bite marks on tomatoes

Two parallel lines – incisor marks


As full sunlight returned

Rabbit ran for cover

Total eclipse



My Eclipse Story


I recall sitting on the front steps of my boyhood home with a pin hole view box. I watched the event with some neighborhood friends. This may have been a precursor for my future career as a science teacher.

I made a lamination of exposed film and smoked glass for another eclipse in my late twenties. Custer Astronomy Institute in Southold gave away protective glasses for another event. I took several pair for my students. For this eclipse, I asked my librarian who said ”Try Walmarts.” Media latched onto this one because the path crossed the USA in a diagonal stripe like a NO DOGS ALLOWED sign.

I made an “eclipse-o-meter using tin foil, corrugated cardboard. News reports predicted millions of people would watch, some traveling into the path of totality.

The science, the hype, the scientist interviews…all built momentum for the 2 and ½ minutes of perfect moon coverage.

For me it isn’t the science, it’s others learning science and having a brief encounter with the solar system. This event is but a blink, Earth’s biggest shadow. People actually got outdoors, forgot about cell phones and smart pads. They made actual boots on the ground contact with nature.

There’s so much more up there at night. I have a love affair with the universe, seeing star constellations, planets, comets, meteors, and northern lights.

The hype is over. It’s back to the grind. Our totality isn’t total any more. We stood in moon shadow these short moments yet we cast shadows all the time. If anything, I’d suggest that people look more at shadows. Shadows illuminate textures of Earth. Life without shadows would be boring. We need shadows for contrast.


Facebook Rant – the poem

Facebook is not for me

I let myself get sucked in

Commenting with stupid stuff

And this takes away

From my longing to be engaged

With the natural world

To have my hands in soil

Planting things

Watching things grow

Hearing the wind and rain

How can facebook complete

with a real tree?

Its bark, its limbs, its leaves

Its shape, its shade, its oxygen?

I friend shrubs, mushrooms, weeds

I’m friends with rabbits and birds

I like clouds too,  nice big puffy ones

I want real faces like I see

Passing me on the street

Smiling faces, happy faces, serious faces

Facebook is a drug

Stop it facebook, stop

You will not tempt me

Nor seduce

Tell me facebook,

What is so social about “like”?

I can’t see a real person who says “like”

How is this social?

Are you afraid of being out in fresh air?

Try walking barefoot in morning dewy grass

See how your mouse likes that

Listen to a bullfrog grumble

A bullfrog has a face too

And no book and it stares at you

And you think it likes you

Not. It’s waiting for a dragonfly

So it can ambush with its long sticky tongue


No U-Tube video’s for me

No viral posts for me

No no no

No thank you

I want real faces

That make eye contact

That show emotions

I can’t fall in love

With electrons on a screen

Go ahead and send me a message facebook

See what happens.

You will not get an answer from me

You will get nothing from me

Go get help. Join a support group

Take some time to smell the flowers

You are isolated facebook

You are nothing but a bunch of circuits

Try breathing, heartbeat

And other bodily functions

You are silly, stupid, sick, time wasting

Self serving, irrelevant, disturbing

You preach escapism

No no no

Not for me facebook

Try meditation, cooking, jogging

Try limiting internet time to 20 minutes a day

Go start a family

Go to church

Mow the lawn

Do volunteer work

Don’t be an idiot

Get a life

Try other forms of mindless activity

Like watching sports, sleeping,

Go for a bike ride

Get some exercise

I feel sorry for you

You have ruined millions of lives

You are not a social program

You are a machine

That steals people lives

Shame on you facebook

This Morning

Time to put on pants

And start the morning

Get things done

Anything is possible


Ready for action

Underwear phase is over

Time to do something

Bed time has ended


I woke up

Had my coffee

Read the paper

Covered my legs

Now it’s do time


August 16, 2017


Conditions have to be perfect

For the eye to catch a speck of light

A reflection so perfect,

The angles just so

For sunlight to bounce through a pupil


A car windshield, three miles away

Crossing the Captree Causeway Bridge

Catches a ray, transmits it to my eye

A silver shard of sun

That instantly dissolves


With daughters at Robert Moses Beach

A single quartz grain on a sand castle

Becomes a mirror

A molten silver second

Comes and goes unexpectedly


I catch the glint of a her timid smile

Is it meant for me? Of course!

Right time, right place

Only lasting a second

Does it carry great weight?


She lifts champagne to her lips

Her diamond ring sends its message

She is the beacon

A broadcasting lighthouse

Transferring her light to me


I pick up the morning paper

See a constant beam of sunlight

Reflected off a rear view mirror

So bright I can see radiating strands

Of thin muscles of my iris


Glints are moments of intensity

That rarely occur

When they happen

I know for sure

I’m connected to the Sun





Pick Tomatoes

Cruise the tomato bed

Look for red ripeness among green

Spread vines, “Ah, there’s one.”

Stoop and fondle the candidate

Feel its weight and softness

Say to yourself, “Ah, this one is heavy with its juices.”

Hold it firmly, twist to break the connection


Recall all the work to reach this point

This fruit carries the history of the seed it came from


Digging compost

Starter trays with sterile mix

Planting seed, nursing seedlings

Watering, mulching, weeding

Planting, staking, trolling progress

Waiting, waiting, waiting,


Bring that perfect fruit into the kitchen

Slice it, sprinkle a few grains of salt…

In The Herb Garden

Lots happening in mid-July

Perfect timing for insects and herbs

It’s as if they were waiting for this moment

Heat, growth, water, all converge

Who is attracting whom?

Cabbage butterflies congregate in lavender

One thinks food, the other continuity

This frenzy at midday

Essential oil aerosols and manic wasps

On bee balm flower heads

Flies, bees, beetles

It’s a carnival, a feast

A homecoming medicine cabinet

Jane Ann’s Cake
















OCTOBER 30, 2015


Three Hundred Sixty

Smack in the center

Of fifty growing beds

I make a slow clockwise turn

Looking and listening.


The remnants of last seasons’ leeks and kale

An open landscape with sky and trees

A water tower where ravens hang

A tall brick building on the west

Small aircraft drone overhead

Granite gravestones just beyond the compost pile

A double line of Norway maples

Beyond that, the Dominican cemetery

The hoop house, tool shed, garlic building

The port a potty, the processing station

The utility shed and distribution tent


What is all this without the people?

Farmer Don, Director Elizabeth

The interns, work/ share holders

In a collaborative symphony

Of grace, friendship, and cooperation

All part of a great turning

Of a world integrated

Alive, relevant, and intelligent

And most of all, one person

A Dominican nun

Who invites us to come home

And we have.

His Laugh

It bellows with volume

You sure can hear from quite far off

The whole farm laughs with him

What could be better than to fertilize

The soil with laughter

To weed under the hot sun with his laughs

It nourishes the produce

A chuckle is for sissies

A hearty laugh.. the whole world hears

His diaphragm is strong from laughing

It pushes up full strength air

That vibrates those vocal cords

With bombastic, full sized, firm laughs

He defines laughter

Vibrating air that comes from joy


Poem From a Plowed Field

Up from the soil – out of the darkness

Chocolaty loam – the womb incubator

Velvet loam – soft, fertile, ready

Seeds just planted – water to soften their coat

Seedlings first primal leaves, then true leaves

Farmers boots – walks by checking

Compost – decayed organics, full of nutrients

Sunshine – warmth for growth

Weeds – rushing in to take their place

Hands – volunteers weeding, planting, tilling


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