Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Category: Poetry (Page 1 of 5)

Give Me A Blank Notebook

Nor sheets of paper

I have done all that

Lost myself in words

Filled journals

Written letters

Sketched

Collected tear outs

Taped them on pages

Pages that keep on coming

Since the 60’s

Daily notes –

What I did

What I cooked

Whom I met

Why?

Don’t give me scrap paper

Don’t supply me

With pen or pencil

I can’t stop and

Why should I?

After more than fifty years

I’m approaching the starting line

Browsed dozens of journals

Looking for November, 2002

I need some details

Or do I?

 

Spume

A polar vortex ripped down from Canada

And tore lace off cresting breakers

Just west of the Shinnecock Canal

 

A string of bridal vales that head toward the sea

Only last a second, but the thrill…

I stand with wind at my back and watch

 

The biggest breakers have the finest embroidery

Conditions have to be just right for spume

the direct contact of wind on wave takes some of their energy away

 

Huge heavy, cold air masses head south from Canada

Meteorologists also call them arctic clippers

The prevailing westerlies carry them to us

 

They clip right along cold and strong

Tearing off the edges of a cupped breaker

Sending it flying like confetti

 

 

Lawn

A proper lawn requires an army

this is war

to look like artificial turf

mow them down

with machine gun rat ta tat

merciless fury

give them brush cuts

all the same height

to be soldiers in turf

a large swath of pure, refreshing green

this is the army

every blade in its proper place

right face right, attention

always at attention, you’re army soldiers

be proud, be strong, stand up and be counted

do your job

make the owner proud

he wants to look wealthy

wants to have the perfect lawn

landscapers are here to help create his image

total control,  in charge

just like the neighbors

keep up with the Jones’s

the work doesn’t take long

quick, in and out

we have other landscapes to trim

we scape the land, scrape the land

we rape the land

mow it, mow  mow it, mowt

blow away stray leaves

Suck up grass clippings

in large white canvas bags

tossed into the big truck

a landscapers stock in trade

which drags a big aluminum trailer

loaded with mowers, trimmers, blowers

shovels, rakes, extra gas

all customized to make noise

eardrum shattering, decibel breaking

music of power mowers, grinding, growling

blowing, sweeping without brooms

it’s drill time

up and at ‘em, fall in

each blade a private in a suburban army

to stand at attention,

no slouching

we will cut you down to size

landscapers are the generals, five star

men with colorful bars on chests

boasting their great lawn battles they’ve won

tiny, thin blades of green

humbled, unnoticed, following their leader

the owner man shops at Home Depot

in the gardening isle

big bags of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides

to feed his lawn, he cares about his lawn

he feels a sense of accomplishment

a satisfaction that he has applied his will

my lawn will be the best lawn

this is his slice of nature

he’s out to kick the face of ecology

his war against diversity, against bald spots

no dandelions – those little yellow spots

dotting his green empire

dig them out, spot spray with poison

finally, his little paradise

looks like a sod farm

look neighbors

look how much I care

this is my castle

i have bent each blade

trained them all to make me proud

this is just about the only thing

I can control. I won the war

Niagara Falls On His Chin

White whiskered words

Long strands, on and on

Leaves and lawns

Farms rolling to the horizon

A beard full of crumbs

Lyrical crumbs. Musical crumbs

Poetry sea to sea

Ocean to Ocean

Fresh, seaming, artisanal breat

The gravity of falling water

The rumble, the mist

 

Whitman’s cascade of phrases, stanzas

I am multitudes. Take my photo

One image of me is an image of us all

Read me

Every whisker of my poetry

Are your whiskers as well

My songs of praise, of love

My songs of history, or working people

Visit my birthplace

Visit Camden

Come and see me

 

Peek inside my bedroom

We are all horn here

Splayed across his chest

The wide scope of his beard

A white tumble of chants and lists

Whisker upon whisker

“Whoever you are, come forth.”

His chin hairs grew as his verse

He pleads, he instructs, he howls

His barbaric yalp

Don’t every shave, Walt

Your beard covers our nation

Let is grow, it is our forests, our grasslands,

Our lakes and creeks

Stroke your beard alt, release those crumbs

Your beard is out bible

Literature falls from your chin

Your hair crosses on Brooklyn Ferry

Across the Delaware

Into print shops in Brooklyn, school houses on Long Island

Into hospital hallways in Washington

Into a loft in Huntington

Where you print The Long Islander

Out of your Niagara Falls, Leaves of Grass

My Boulder

A BIG, GRAY GRANITE ROCK

A MID-SIZED STATION WAGON

HALF BURIED IN PINE BARRENS SOIL

 

ONE DAY, I SPLAYED MY BODY

ACROSS ITS BROAD BACK

RIDING THIS ELEPHANT

OVER 10,000 YEARS

WEATHERED TO THE PATINA

OF A GRAVESTONE

 

I LAY FACE DOWN

TO STARE AT TWO SQUARE INCHES

A SMALL CITY OF LICHEN, ALGAE, TINY MOSSES

 

MY TOUCHSTONE

MY KEYSTONE

MY OASIS

IN A BROWN/GREEN FOREST

CLOSETED IN ISOLATION

 

A MAN WITH A CAN OF BLUE SPRAY PAINT

DECIDED ON A MAKE OVER FOR MY BOULDER

HE SQUIGGLED CIRCLES

HIS INITIALS

HIS BEARDED FACE

HE STOLE MY GEM

MY ISLAND RESPITE

MY JEWEL IN THE CORE

Regularity – the poem

Right on time

Like it was yesterday

Dependable

Necessary

No wait time

You call, we answer

No voice mail for you

Heartbeat, yes

Breath, yes

It’s all there,

The rhythm

The rhyme

It’s going to happen for sure

On time

Every time

24/7

The moon

The sun

The tides

It’s all clock work

Regular

You know it will happen

Before it happens

I like it that way

It does what’s it’s supposed to

I know you’ll be there

When we agreed

It is what it is

One bodily function

Needs a tune up

Needs regularity

Fiber, more fiber

 

To Dr Jeffrey Ashkin

 

Tom Stock

Vape Me

Lay your cloud on me

Let your cloud ascend

Like the smoke from

A peace pipe

A Native American tradition

A lot less primitive

Their cloud is spiritual

Yours not so much

Allow your cloud, vapid one

To join with real clouds

Up there is the sky

Where all clouds belong

Let them pass overhead

As those with their heads down

With their faces illuminated

By glowing hand-held screens

While fabulous big, bulbous

Snow-white cumulus clouds

Glorify the day

Bringing us alternate patches of blue

Fair weather clouds they are

Yours not so much

From your vape sticks

Artificial clouds

Right there in your vape lounges

Add your cloud to the

Great mother of all digital clouds

Where data lives

 

Point Blank

A finger at the ready

On an ak-47 gun stock

A tad reach to the trigger

Only takes a second to fire

To kill, to injure, change everything

Pull, press, boom,

Or turn a toaster knob

To choose your darkness level

Or press the darken/lighten button

At the Staples Xerox department

To select the level of darkness

Like on an antique TV set with its dial

To change the brightness of the image

It all boils down to us

Who can lighten up or darken down

The mood, the circumstances

A finger to swipe, a click, a touch

Turn a page, or to kill

It only takes a finger

To point to ourselves and choose

 

Accelerate: The Poem

Faster internet?

That’s so 2000

Fast isn’t fast enough

Keep accelerating

Like how else will we reach

Trappist – #1 star to check out

Only 476 million light years from Earth

An earth-like planet

If we don’t go 100 times

Faster than the speed of light

We’ll never get there in our lifetime

Which lasts about ten seconds

Like a runner nearing the finish line

The sprint, the pour it on, pump it up

Fast enough to win a mile race in 4 seconds

Talk faster so you

Can talk about the next fast thing

No more calm, no more slow dance

Music performances so quick, you don’t even hear them

Work faster

Play faster

Do everything faster

There’s no time left

Time is running out

Rush rush rush

No more fast lane

Time for blur lane

Cars aren’t passing any more

They’re flying, like meteor streaks

Texting so fast

Fingers are sore

Finger tips hurt

A split second takes a nanosecond

e-mail so fast, the message gets there

Before it’s sent

Earth is rotating faster

We have to keep up

Time has been redefined

An hour only a second

Days weeks months, years

Much shorter as we wiz through lifetimes

Five minutes old – that’s like birthday number 7,900

The odometer on the dashboard

Starts at 220 MPH

The speed of light – way too slow

Birthdays so fast you’re and can’ blow out candles

Run on sentences the size of 1000 page book

Gotta go, gotta accelerate

Speed is everything

No time to stop and smell the roses.

What happened to the time? You ask

Daylight savings, forget that

Century savings is more like it

World trade center elevators – 3 seconds up and down

Two hour movie – one second, better pay attention

Heartbeat – 200 beats per minute

Breathing rate – no time for that

Go go go – phases of the moon

It’s full all the time

Can’t slow down

Gotta keep up

LIRR to Penn Station from Montauk – seat belts required

Cross country flight – there only jiffy flight

Clocks are having a problem

My nap is over before it even starts

Tom

All I have are photos

To imagine your life

I’ve read some of your books

And the books of others about you

I want to know you, befriend you, hang with you

 

I want to enter your cell to see how you sleep

To lie on your bed

Watch you at prayer

Follow you on walks in the meadows and hills of Kentucky

To attend you’re mass

Watch you write

See you look up and pause in thought

See where and how you dine

Hear you lecture to young monks

Stand beside you as you light a fire in the hermitage

 

But all I have are pictures

And books and poems and journals and letters

I want to be you Tom

Watch you take photos and see them

Hear you sing chants before daylight

Stand behind you as you write your novel in the rental cabin on the hill near    Olean

 

Eves drop on your conversations

See you kneeling, sitting, and working in the forest

Catch your smile, a Merton smile that lights up your whole face

Be at your bedside when you were hospitalized in Louisville

Stand on the corner of Fourth and Walnut when you had your revelation

 

Oh Tom, come for a visit, you’re invited

Yet all I have of you is on my shelf and a favorite small copy of a painting…

A small icon of you in lotus posture with a gold halo behind your head

You’re not a martyr, you are a holy man

I want to be in the Abbots room when you are there

 

I only met you when I was 63

When a friend Carl told me about you

I am blessed to have your name as well

 

 

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