Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

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The Mourning Dove

I hear sad, moaning calls from an overhead wire It is daybreak when I usually fetch the morning papers. The sounds seem to come from a hollow voice box. I see a pair silhouetted as the Sun’s tip just cuts above a distant bank of trees. Their back and forth calls come out of quiet dawn.

My daughters called them “Oh Oh birds.” Mourning Doves mourn. It is a sad call. Who are they mourning? Could it be their relative the Passenger Pigeon hunted to extinction? Could it be air pollution, water pollution, pesticides and herbicides? And maybe even all the thousands of chemicals that my cause cancer? I mourn with them.

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Glint

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

 

 

 

 

Accessing My First People Genes

1500 years ago, our Native American brothers had a vastly superior technology than ours today. They communicated by smoke signals with no phone bills. They traded, bartered, made wampum, no savings bank, no ponzi schemes, and no retirement. Don’t call their technology primitive. They had no landfills, no pollution, didn’t bottom out their source of nutrition. They didn’t have to go to a lumber yard to buy materials to build a shelter. No traffic jams, no air pollution, no junk yards, no assisted living. Their hobby was survival. Herbs became medicine and on and on.

 

The earliest people learned the old fashioned way…no internet, yes trial and error, yes to passing on their skills and knowledge to the next generation. This doesn’t sound like savage living to me. They observed their environment without having to look at a screen. They learned the physical properties of plants and animals and learned how to use them.

They found stones that could be chipped into arrow points. They found bushes that had straight stems and used them to make arrows. They found hickory trees and found them flexible enough to bend to make the skeleton for a wigwam and bows. Deer skin became clothing. They found tobacco, burned it, and as it rose, gave thanks for nature. They were not materialistic. If they wiped out a species, they’d have to move. They learned how to fish, build canoes, and weave baskets from vines.

 

Fast forward to today I had a recent experience that might parallel their process. I happened to accidentally break off a branch of a bald cypress tree. This is a rare tree here in Babylon but found in abundance in the bayous of Louisiana. I wanted to inspect the needles. I noticed that the bark split where the break occurred. I tried peeling off the bark. It came off easily and in long pieces.  The bark didn’t break. With more experimentation, I scraped off the outer bark. What was left was a tough, flexible inner bark. I tied one in a knot. I’d accessed my Native brothers skills. I’d found a plant that could help me tie a wigwam structure. No lumber yard necessary.

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

HER DIVINE CAKE,

WALNUTS AND CRANBERRY

MOIST AND TASTY

SITS ON A TABLE

¾ GONE, KNIFE NEARBY

OTHERS KNOW AS WELL AS I

JANE ANN HAS BAKED A LOAF

BROUGHT IT TO HOMECOMING FARM

 

OH THE JOY OF TAKING A BREAK

FROM WEEDING OR HARVESTING

TO SIT A WHILE, SWIG SOME WATER

AND…

ENJOY A SLICE OF JANE ANN’S CAKE

 

OCTOBER 30, 2015

POET IN RESIDENCE, TOM STOCK

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

 

Look To Soil

In an open, brown field,

Dark brown from recent rain.

Furrows run north-south.

It rests in early November

From roots that have sucked its fertility.

I stand in its center,

Look in all directions,

Feel feet sink into its softness.

This triggers a longing

To return to the garden

To press two fingers against thumb,

Push them into the dirt,

See if it is dry enough

To transplant, make furrows, dibble holes

Rake, cultivate, fertilize;

Plant, weed, harvest.

 

 

 

 

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