Tom Stock

Poet, Essayist, Photographer, Naturalist

Month: October 2017

My Favorite Shirts

Many unworn shirts hang in my closet. This is because I have two favorite shirts that hog the show. These two shirts are the go to ones. I am wearing them out because I wear them almost all the time.

Shirt #1:

A long sleeved, buttoned, gray, very strong material, some elbow wear, IT was made in Sri Lanka, size large, Craft & Barrow label. The shirt is warm and it fits. Nancy, wife #2, bought it at a garage sale for .50. As soon as I tried it on, I knew I might as well discard the shirts in the closet. It is an excellent travel shirt because it’s all I need.

Shirt #2:

A forest green sweat shirt. It was a gift from Ted as a thank you for helping him. It is warm and comfortable. I wear it inside out. Recently I discovered  a picture and words on the front:


Look both ways before you cross the road.

Be a good listener.

Know when to lay low.

Tread lightly on the earth.

Take time out to browse.

Leap over obstacles.

Don’t pass the buck!

I resonate with “Know when to lay low.” Deer are not the type animal that thrives on the paparazzi. Their fur blends in so that they seem to dissolve before your eyes when they leap into the woods. The fawns have white botches to match dapple’s light in the forest. Deer spend the day resting and chewing the night’s worth of vegetation. They speak to me saying: “Tom, chill out, lay low once in a while. You’re too high profile. Take a back seat once in a while. Don’t hog the spotlight.”

”Leap over obstacles’ also gets my attention. Go at them head on. Don’t let them stop you.  Be proactive. The high arc of leaping deer is a sight to behold. For a brief moment, the animal seems suspended in air. This ability allows them to bypass heavy brush.

All animals are teachers. When I’m in Ms. Deer’s class, I sit in the front. I don’t to miss a single thing. She tells us how deer signal danger. Lift your tail. How simple is that? I don’t have a tail. How shall apply this to my life. Ah ha. I have it. I’ll shout at the top of my lungs. HELP DANGER WATCH OUT, DUCK. Deer as so much smarter than us.



Tom Stock                                               October 30, 2017

Let’s Take a Big Gulp of America

Sandwiched between Mexico and Canada
America, our country in the heartland of North America
Take a big swig, gulp it down
Keep on drinking
Swallow and do it again
There’s plenty big to choose from
Corn fields in Iowa stretch to the horizon
Soybeans, cotton reaching infinity
Huge chunks of open land in the southwest
Sod farms for instant lawns and chemicals
Homeowners can look like the most wealthy people in the neighborhood
Farms with big ass tractors that take bites that are county-sized chunks
Trucks with tires 12 feet high

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Combustion Chamber – the poem

It is hot and it’s dark
I huddle inside a piston chamber
Of an 8 cylinder Cadillac engine
The piston rises, my space diminishes
Just when I think I’ll be crushed
The piston drops
A spark plug explodes gas vapor
A chamber with crushing pressure
Give it gas, step on it
Pedal to the metal
Anger builds
Ready to explode
Into carbon dioxide
Then it starts again

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Hunters Garden Association – Report

Twice a year, on the third Thursday in May and October, men gather for lunch. They have met for the past 184 years, On my 78th birthday, I decided to attend their biannual clam and eel chowder lunch.It took place deep in the Pine Barrens of Southampton north of route 51. A long dirt road leads to a clearing. There is no running water nor are there bathrooms and therefore, no women. The association has a truck which holds boards for tables and seats. A small group of men set up the cooking area. A railroad rail holds five cast iron cauldrons. The lead chef directs the cooking. Two kettles are used for the clam chowder and three for the eel chowder. A garbage can propped over a fire was used for coffee.

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A Basket of Finds

Mark Harrington gave me a basket full of nature objects that he  collected. I’d never received such a gift before. I rummaged through it and left it until I decided to write this post.

I don’t have my collection of nature things in a basket. They are here and there. A turkey skeleton and sea robin head on my nick knack shelf, bottles or garnet and magnetite sand in the garage and scattered here and there.

Of the 45 items, one of these was Florida shells. I could only remember the scientific name, Fossor donax. A google search produced the AH Ha…Coquina. These tiny shells accumulate by the millions in Florida and become combined by lime which glues them together. They have reached the Long Island shores.

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Notes on my 78th Birthday; October 19, 1939 – Present

I’ve seen lots of water go over the dam this past year. Projects come and go. Some actually reach completion. There have been droughts, deluges, and cracks in the dam. I am holding up, maintaining sanity, enthusiasm, and outlandish pranks.

I am still very much focused on the natural world. I recently found a huge patch o Honeysuckle vines which I collected for my basket making class at the Gallery North Community Art Studio where I am on the faculty. I found beautiful little fruits on the Honeysuckle, collected some, sketched them, and will try to germinate them (new project)

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Fire – the poem

A frozen stream from
A magnesium rim
Meandered on the ground
From the scorched hulk of a car
In Santa Rosa, California.
Abandoned when a wall of flame
Rushed in and past
They ran to safety
Just in time

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Lunch – Babylon Overlook Beach

It only took about ten seconds for a herring gull to snap up a crust from my sandwich. Ten seconds later, two more gulls winged in. Things are tough for sea gulls. The alpha gull chased the other always and waited. I tossed another peace. Bingo! In less than a second, the gull grabbed and swallowed. There’s no time to wait. This is survival. The bird was ultra patient. It hung around for a half hour before it left. No more bread I’m outta here. Looking head on, gulls have huge mouths. They are swallowing machines.

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Notice o All 8 Digits – a poem

Both hands and their fingers

And thumbs

Can drum on a hollow surface

When boredom wants something to do

Those vice grip thumbs

Ready to help their partners

Eight fidgety fingers

Each with their own little brain

So many things they can do

How about make a basket?

Train your fingers to make something useful

Keep up the good work

Keep those nails clean and trimmed

Don’t forget your fingers

Where would you be with even one missing digit?

You are incredible

You do a thousand things

Without us even thinking

They are so automatic

Good job fingers

Good job


Tom Stock – basket and mat maker

Visit To Robert Moses State Park: October 2, 2017

Four birdwatchers perch on an elevated platform observing and counting migrating hawks. The air is clean and cool. A gentle sea breeze lazes north. Balmy full afternoon sunshine – a fine early fall day.

The bay is flat; the ocean casts 12 inch breakers on the sand. The sand is glistening light tan and fine. Robert Moses is one of the finest beaches in the world.

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