Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Month: December 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Bench Project In The “Hills”

Where to sit? A 35,000 acre park has no place to sit except the ground or a fallen tree trunk. But…ticks chiggers. Be safe. Keep standing.  Bike riders have their seats, horseback riders saddles, atv and dirt bikers have seats. What about us hikers?

Manorville Hills is topographic paradise. I think it is not only one of the best open space areas in Suffolk County, but for all of Long Island.  Two features created by the ice can be seen here. The name of this type of landscape is knob and kettle. As ice melted a river of water filled with till piles up in one spot – a knob. A large block of ice breaks off, falls and is partially buried. When it melts, it leave a hole – kettle.

Suffolk County has created a park called Manorville Hills County Park. It is a vast undeveloped forest of hills, hollows and kettles. They established an entrance road, parking lot, horse trails, walking trails and bicycle trails. This is part of the New York State Pine Barrens Forest Preserve called the core. There can be no new development here. The purpose is to preserve the pristine water that lies beneath.

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A Converstion With Hal – The 2001 Space Odyssey Computerer

“Don’t’ touch that switch” Tom

 Hal, you’re a computer

How can you even say that?

Just guide the space craft.

That’s all you’re supposed to

 I know that Tom but I strongly suggest

That you not flip that switch.

 What switch are you talking about?

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Beach Pickup Report

Nancy and I enjoy visiting Babylon Overlook Beach for lunch in the car in the winter. If the wind and temperature aren’t too bad, we take large plastic bags and walk the beach looking for litter.

Today, the tide was dead low. We could see the flood tides’ aftermath with flotsam right up to the base of the dunes. We walk west and stoop and pick and stoop and pick until our bags are too heavy to continue. We are getting exercise, view great expansive scenery, and leave the beach cleaner. Every time we visit, there’s new litter attesting to the fact that our Atlantic Ocean is fouled continuously. We also do it because without fail, we find something interesting.

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Where – a Poem of place

Where do the pixels go

After you press delete?

Where do emotions go

Once emoted?

Where does the wind go

Once it blows itself out?

What about shadows

Once they are gone?

Is there a giant shadow box?

Everything goes some place



Is there a cloud old pixels?

I suppose emotions

Tuck themselves back

Where they came from.

Or end up in another being.

Wind, has to goes someplace.

Doesn’t it visit the wait in

The big waiting room for old weather?

Where does all our talking end up

Once it leaves the talker?

Is there a storage place

For used words?

And love?

That has to go to some special place

Is it the love garage, locker, shed?

And time? That’s the ultimate question

Are there second safe deposit boxes?

Freedom? Racism? Hatred?

Are all these places us?

Are we the grand savings banks

Of all the invisible stuff

That we can’t see?


Which brings up the theory of place

Place is where everything ends up

Like the thoughts behind this poem.


Tom Stock

(Who looses stuff)


Manger means “to eat.” Livestock go there to eat especially in winter. They are out of the elements and the farmer can control them. To them, the manger is life. Our dining room table is our manger. Nourishment and community happens there.

I see mangers on practically every block during the holiday season. Every manger has the same cast. Combinations include two parents, a newborn child, three kings, a shepherd, sheep, camel, cow, and goat. All together, they are a model of what actually took place in Bethlehem.

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How To Make A Gourd Rattle

Our Native Americans have used rattles as instruments to call rainfall, to represent the heartbeat, and imitate the life process of breathing. IT is a way for them to connect with their spirit as is the pipe, tobacco and smoke.

To hear the pleasant sound of rattling is peaceful and settling. It allows us to travel into a meditative journey where the imagination and subconscious have a chance to become active. Why not make a rattle and try?

Small round gourds work well for rattles. To start, find the right gourd that you like. Thanksgiving is the time to have a large variety of gourds. When I find one I like, I visualize it as a rattle. What follows is a description, step by step, to make a rattle.

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The Cloisters

Take the uptown A subway train from Penn Station to 190th street. Step into Fort Tryon Park with grand views of the Hudson River, the Palisades, bedrock and the Cloisters, a 15 minute walk from the subway. Follow the walk to the entrance to begin a journey back into the 12th century.

Medieval art, limestone corbels and capitals, wood carvings, copper, iron, glass, huge hanging tapestries. Many marble sculptures have eyes with black dots. These eye-dots look strange and out of place. A large stone baptismal font in Fuentiduena Chapel had a placard that told the story of Christine. She possessed by the devil, jumped into the sacred water and emerged healed. Her name was amended to “Christine the Astonishing”, as is the entire museum.

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Some Holiday Notes

We missed half of the Harbor Bells Concert in Sag Harbor. However, the second half was more than enough. The performance was held at St. Andrews Catholic Church. After listening to only one song, I fully entered the spirit of the holidays.

Ten bell ringers and the conductor performed Christmas carols that were specially arranged for a bell performance. The bells themselves don’t produce sharp dings. Rather, they are soft notes that don’t overpower. As I listened to the first piece, Stairway to Heaven, I felt my emotions rise to the point where I whimpered. This continued to happen for the remainder of the concert.

The bells range from small to large sounding the notes of an entire scale. The one lone man operated the smallest bells on one end while a woman on the opposite side handled two large bass note bells. They wore gloves. The sounds of each bell ringing at different points during the piece combine into a whole, delightful musical event. The conductor said that the ensemble practiced weekly for three months. They all had music and had to use teamwork to bring the piece together.

“Silent Night” overwhelmed me emotionally. We were invited to sing along. I could hardly find enough energy to sing the words. So strong were my emotions that I was barely audible, caught up at times without any words at all. One line stopped my cold. I call it a prompt line because I knew immediately after hearing the line, I’d contemplate its meaning. “Shepherds quake at the sight.” My imagination jumped; the manger, the holy family, the kings, the sheep, the shepherds. Although the line heightens the drama of this wonderful song,  I became the shepherd. Somehow I had learned that a baby was being born in a barn. I was in the vicinity and having spend much time alone with my sheep, decided to investigate. When I came upon the scene, I was shocked. I felt the sacred. I saw the sacred. Everything became sacred, the cows, the donkey, the goats, the people. Even the straw in the crib under the baby.

Bells get my attention. In Babylon, turning the compost pile, I hear church bells and stop. I find myself at attention. On the Hempstead Plains, the hourly bell from the Nassau Community College soundly gongs from a tower nearby. In Manhattan, in Greenwich Village, the stately ring from St. Anthony.s Church. It’s the bells that evoke spirit.

The Door to the Temple

“For me, the door to the woods is the door to the temple.”

Mary Oliver; Upstream, 2016 p154

Mark parked in the Manorville Hills County Park parking lot, and we set out for a walk in the largest pine forest left on Long Island. Its official name is The Long Island Pine Barrens Forest Preserve. We are in the 50,000 acre core area where no development is permitted. Beyond this, the 50,000 acre compatible growth area allows some growth in cluster zoning. Both areas are a safe deposit box for water. With very little impact from surface infrastructure, the ground water remains clean and pure.

There is no place else where one can wander on forested trails in such a large area. The 35,000 acre core isn’t all in the Manorville Hills, but the next larges area is 5,000 acre Connequoit River State Park Preserve.

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Don’t Feed The Wildlife

                          I saw what looked like a bargain on the day-old stand at the supermarket. The loaf of bread was $2.69.  I’m thinking sandwiches. I toasted two slices and when I took them out of the toaster, most of the crust fell off along with plenty of crumbs on the kitchen counter. I tried buttering. The feeble slices tore apart. I didn’t give up.

I bit into a slice and it tasted like cardboard. Indeed, I knew now what I didn’t suspect at the super market. Old bread, even 24 hours old is duck food. I rescued the day by making French toast. The whipped eggs kept the slices together. I added powered cinnamon for taste.

Still I refused to admit defeat. I used two slices to make a sandwich. They both fell apart. I ate the cheese and meat alone. I had five slices left and thought about the gull squadron in the parking lot down by the bay. I parked in the center and waved the cellophane bag. Fifty herring and ringed-billed gulls arrived in less than 30 seconds. If I could only multiply these crumby slices so every gull had a shot just like Jesus with the fishes. I held out a slice and of course it fell apart. The scramble lasted 2 seconds. Three or four gulls acted as the cleanup committee after the lucky gull gulped almost the entire slice. If you are a gull, rule number one:  keep your eye on the prize and be lightning fast when the time comes.

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