Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Month: February 2017

Man Cave

I’ve put on the mantle of cave man

Descending into the past, 4,000 years

In a limestone cave in Ireland

I come out into the light

Into the cold

Into survival mode

For food, water, fire wood

Tired of fighting off others who want my cave

I can start fire

Keep warm, watch the weather, stay close to the cave

My shelter, my home, my survival

I hunt with my sharpened stone on a spear


Oh to fast forward into the pleasures of a civilized life

I want to be a cave man on Wall Street

I wear a jacket, shirt, and tie

Cave life is tough, no question about it

I want the good life, to live large

Be able to grab a London broil

And throw it on a fire

To have a futon and warm blankets

When the cave gets drafty

And where are the women?

I have a club, I’m ready to grab one

By her hair and drag her into my cave

Share a meal of London broil with her

Let the fire dim down to romantic

Sleep with her, let her clean and decorate OUR cave

Protect her when another real estate agent

Comes by to check out the square footage

I can scout further away while she guards the cave

I can find food for US

Since she arrived, the cave is more comfortable

It’s not a man cave any more

Snow Hike -“The Hills”

It’s my oasis. I come to the “Hills” to escape the computer in my office. I come to experience the largest, natural, unfenced forest left on Long Island because it’s there. I don’t have to pay. I have only a compass and map. I can bushwack or follow well-marked trails. I am away from cloying noises. I can get lost at random. I have the chance to some upon magnificent boulders that stand out dramatically in a forest of pine/oak trees. I come to be with the lichens which have not diminished as they have further west due to clean air void of sulfur and nitrous oxides which lichens are sensitive to. I came to be with my pal with Mark. my hike companion.

The day was beyond a February thaw. I’d call it a “melt” there was snow cover but it is corn snow mush. I wore the wrong footwear, a pair of sneakers which soaked up water. I had the camera and note pad. Our plan was to walk east on Hot Water Street and turn left on #6. Number 6 is one of the north-south emergency routes that serve if a rescue is necessary. They are wide enough for a four-wheel vehicle. We found snowmobile tracks which helped our footing. My shoes sank into the soft snow.

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The World Of Dogs Museum – Prose Poem

The canine world all under one roof/sectioned into galleries –all dog / dog lovers can browse many galleries/listening room of barks with cute yips, scary growls/ a whole wing devoted to breeds/display of evolution from wolves, with specific branches where you can trace your mutts pedigree/ /great Danes, chocolate labs, hairless and shaggy/ all shapes and colors/ don’t miss the performance room – for the drug sniffers and the security guys/ a room set aside for the famous – Toto; Rin-Tin-Tin; Lassie; RCA Victor dog who tips his head to listen/video’s of dogs in commercials/a visitor center to record your favorite dog storiy/ films; interactive exhibits/ it’s all here under one roof/ an extensive research library/ a huge gift shop with over 50 different treats and any accessory/a large book section /tips on showing for those who want their dog to win best in show/ best breeder/ best agility/ obedience demonstrations on the hour/ dog history section/ “ask the Vet” service/ dog art/ a display of stuffed dogs/ dog cemeteries and where to find them/ information desk/ daily lectures/ membership benefits/ no dogs allowed in the museum, leave yours at home please.

Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – A Special Treat

Nancy and I attended on Pier 54 in Manhattan. “This is a one-time event for us.” The $35 entrance fee suggested to me that THIS BETTER BE GOOD! “Just once to get an idea.” Nancy added. Up to this point, I haven’t paid much attention to dogs. In fact, I have tried to avoid them after the day I toured the Babylon Animal Shelter to consider becoming a volunteer. It only took an hour to decide that being in the same building with 24 of the fiercest looking pit bulls I’ve ever seen that I’d pass. Taking nature walks in Gardiners County Park close by was another reason. It is a popular dog walker’s park. As I pass leashed dogs or they pass me, I gave wide birth…pretending to be afraid. I was trying to tell adult humans that I wanted this park for nature, not dogs, forgetting that yes, dogs too are part of nature.

It did not take too long to see dogs in a new light. Here, they are the center of attention. The show layout was L-shaped. One leg was the bench area, the other the ring area. There’s also a gift shop and exhibition area, and food court.

The bench isles are the staging area where dogs, owners, and handlers get the dogs ready for competition. Dogs are groomed by teasing and combing, blow drying, cutting, talking to, patting, and penning. Some dogs are sleeping. Many are on small platforms with leashed necks so they can be attended to. The bench area is organized by breed. There are over 200 breeds and 3000 dogs. Each bench contains the paraphernalia necessary to make their dogs glamorous.

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Snow Shoe

A pair of old fashioned (I prefer this to antique) snow shoes lay in the garage loft for 360 days. I acquired those 15 years ago in a trade. They have a hickory frame that is shaped like a droplet. They have gut webbing and leather bindings. I can reach them from the floor by grabbing the trail guides which help me stay on track when I’m walking.

An 11 inch snow yesterday woke them up. I have the 9 hole golf course ½ mile walk from the house. I was anxious to try the new bindings. I brought the old bindings to Angelo, my sweet 90 year old shoemaker and he made new ones for me. I strapped the shows onto my boots and looked out over a perfect unmarked snow that draped over gentle hills, filled sand traps, stopped at the edges of water hazards and hid the greens.

With full sun and enough wind to wisp snow off the surface and twirl it into little vortexes and gauze curtains. The white pines are magnificent and stand out as icons. On the edge of the fifth green, a mature willow tree is remarkable. This is paradise. Snow storms come as surprises, wonderful opportunities to connect with snow.

I intended to tramp a figure eight, and then repeat my tracks in the opposite direction to pack an 18 inch track that I can cross country ski later. I have to work fast. Snow doesn’t last. The first day on the ground is the best…dry and fluffy with lots of air. This is what I encountered as I stood on the edge of a grand white blanket.

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Don’t Try This At Home

In fact, don’t try this anyplace
Don’t put yourself in danger
You can’t imitate that you saw on TV
The person who says this knows something you don’t
Trust them
If you saw this on the stage in “real time”
Stay safe
Think before acting
This is for your own good
Take it from me, I tried this at home
Don’t you make the same mistake
It didn’t work
Something unexpected happened
I’ll never do stuff at home that is scary
That might explode
Try someplace else if you must
It’s OK to try things
That’s how you learn
Your home should not be a place for dangerous experiments
Which you have no idea what will happen
Your home is your safe haven
You should not be trying risky experiments
Google first, do your research,
Ask the person who did this in the first place
Use common sense
Know the difference
Between what you think will happen
And what might happen
Take care of yourself
If you’re not sure
You ought to read this poem first
Try this poem at home
When someone suggests “Don’t try this at home”
Take them seriously
They know what’s going to happen
You don’t
Listen. They are concerned for your welfare
They don’t want to be blamed if you try this at home
And it blows up in your face.
Just because they did it
Doesn’t mean you can
This is their save harmless clause
They are protecting themselves and you at the same time
You’re not a scientist
Rather to be safe than sorry
Ask advice from a friend first
Don’t take chances
This warning is to protect you
Don’t put your family at risk
If you must try, notify your doctor
Notify the police
Tell your neighbors
Tell your pharmacist
Tell your lawyer
Your neighbors too
Wear safety goggles
Check your smoke detector
Make sure you have good water pressure
Have a fire extinguisher at the ready
Take every precaution necessary
Ask yourself, “It this worth doing?”
Just because a magician
Shoves a sword down their throat
Doesn’t mean you have to
You might kill yourself
Read the manual
Follow the instructions
Know the consequences
Maybe leave home
Leave town
Leave the country
Go someplace isolated
Try this at your own risk
Yes, be daring
Yes be on the cutting edge
Yes you are taking your chances
Yes you are on the frontier of t Ruth
Yes you are on a journey into the unknown
But NO… don’t do it.
If you must
No explosions
No unidentified chemicals
Try the garage
Try a forest
Keep trying and don’t give up
There has to be another way
So YOU don’t have to say
Don’t try this at home
Have a plan B

Precept From “The Nature of Things” by Lucretius

1. Everything is made of invisible particles.
2. The elementary particles of matter –
“the seeds of the things” – are eternal.
3. The elementary particles are infinite in
number, but limited in shape and size.
4. All particles are in motion in an infinite void.
5. The universe has no creator or designer.
6. Everything comes into being as a result
of a swerve.
7. The swerve is the result of free will.
8. Nature ceaselessly experiments.
9. The universe was not created for or
about humans..
10. Human society began not in a Golden Age
of tranquility and plenty, but in a primitive
battle of survival.
11. There is no afterlife.
12. Death is nothing to us.
13. All organized religions are superstitious
14. Religions are invariably cruel.
15. There are no angels, demons, or ghosts.
16. The highest goal of human life is the
enhancement of pleasure and the
reduction of pain.
17. The greatest obstacle to pleasure is not pain;
it is delusion.
18. Understanding the nature of things generates
deep wonder.


‘”If all the individual particles, in their infinite numbers, fell through the void like raindrops, nothing would ever exist. But the particles do not move lockstep in a preordained single direction. Instead, “at absolutely unpredictable times and places, they deflect slightly from their straight course, to a degree that could be described as no more than a shift of movement.” p. 188

The slightest swerve sets in motion chain reactions. “Whatever exists in the universe exists because of these random collisions of minute particles.”

from: The Swerve; How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt

The Art Of Tearing Paper

Your shredder broke down and you have some private papers that need to be destroyed. You tear the pieces as small as possible and drop them into trash like new-fallen snow. With no envelope opener, you tear open your mail. Excited children rip off wrapping from Christmas presents. Your want to save a recipe from the newspaper. On a public bulletin board, your tear off one of the advertising stubs. At the theatre, an usher tears your ticket. And on it goes

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