For Nancy Fischer: 1949-1973

Nancy died in seventy-three
She was only twenty-three
She was a gamer
She was a good one

Gifts for All, Good Tidings for Vineyard

A t the Animal Shelter of MV

The dogs were barking with great glee,

And the cats were purring to beat the band,

For they sensed, in the air, that something grand

Was about to happen — to bring delight

To all Martha’s Vineyard, which is right.

In the sky above, they sniffed reindeer

Getting ready to land and to bring good cheer

Not only to shelter dogs and cats

And gerbils and guinea pigs and pet rats

In need of homes and loving care,

To a Shucker

To a Shucker

Green side up

Knife goes in

Cut it clean

Top shell off

Thumb on guts

One smooth swipe

Next the meat

Sweet delight

Eye in air

Mystic tale

Scallop king

Holy grail

Bloaters swell

Beans all night

Shuckers wage

The endless fight

Thanks Taken

What if you wrote you are God’s elect, self-chosen

to bring order into a “new world,”

settled by natives seen as stray commas,

or apostrophes, in illiterate forests, a wilderness

hostile to your godly virtues of order and control,

a wilderness whose trees you fell to make

your home?

What if the few who traveled on the “sweet ship”

Mayflower,

The Ballad Of Boomin’ Ben

Note: The  Heath Hen, once a plentiful bird throughout New England, was last seen by James Green in West Tisbury on March 11, 1932.

The Ballad Of Boomin’ Ben

(The Tragic Tale of the Last Heath Hen)

I looked for my lady,

hoped she was near

playing “hard-to-get” games

in the Spring of that year.

I searched and I searched 

under brush, by the sea;

Day’s End on Eel Pond

Day’s End on Eel Pond

Sunlight falls through holes in the clouds

spotlighting the marsh grass here and not there,

whitening a sail out on the water, leaving

others in shadow, shining the transom

of the moored cat boat, its bow disappearing.

The bobwhite calls its name without knowing it.

Sparrows and swallows, fussing and twittering.

line up like deacons on the deck railing,

A Toast to Rabbie

A Toast to Rabbie

If a Scot be ripe for toastin’,

If a Scot be fit for praise,

If a Scot stands high above the rest

For the way he spent his days,

Let’s raise a cup now, all about,

And celebrate the cheer

That Rabbie Burns has brought to the world

Now for two hundred, fifty years.

Nay, no poet was ’ere as fecund or fine

Budding

Budding

In our neighborhood the Russian Olive

Is first to extrude its buds.

Along its slender branches, and at their tips,

Ten thousand tiny commas and apostrophes

Suddenly appear in March.

Within them,

Deep down,

Are ten thousand unborn berries

That burst out in tart profusion

For me to gather on a September stroll,

To make my lips pucker in delight.

Preparing Oneself for Dying

Preparing Oneself for Dying

Compulsively,

I strive to find a method

for a confrontation with what must be done

to save my children from the task of doing it when I die.

Make lists.

Make lists.

I sharpen pencils with an out-damn-spot intensity.

In shaded rooms,

on yellow pads,

I hide myself from sun

to settle my affairs:

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

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