Tag Archives: Tom Sexton

‘Mr. Nason Skating on the Merrimack’ by Tom Sexton

Mr. Nason Skating on the Merrimack

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In March of the year we were in kindergarten,

Mr. Nason told us how on one cold night

he skated from Lowell to beyond Manchester

where we knew the river vanished with a sigh

and the moon’s breath was frozen to the ground,

a silvery rope he climbed to the distant stars.

Looking up,  we asked him how he got down.

He pointed to the arching Milky Way so far

away from where we stood. I imagine him

skating from canal to canal into the Merrimack,

a boy wearing a long woolen scarf skimming

over the ice, leaping fall after fall like silver

salmon of myth, a boy who will soon go to war,

a boy bathed in the light of Venus not Mars.

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—Tom Sexton, from Bridge Street at Dusk (Loom Press, 2012)

To order a copy, visit www.loompress.com

Bridge St at Dusk cover

 

‘Monoprint of the Concord River Mills’ by Tom Sexton

 

Our far-flung Western net-desk night editor Tom Sexton, once the Poet Laureate of Alaska and always a distinguished alumnus of Lowell High School, sent this new poem inspired by a work of art he bought from Bill Giavis, a legend at the Brush Gallery in Market Mills downtown.—PM

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Monoprint of the Concord River Mills

 

for Bill Giavis

 

Far from the scene hanging on my wall,

 

a few battered old brick mills remain.

 

I’ve seen trees growing out of their

 

sagging roofs as if strong roots can

 

keep their walls from falling floor by

 

floor into the river below, but in the print

 

every brick, every wall, glows as if

 

it’s made of light.  Is that bridge piling

 

rising from the river granite or a pillar of salt?

—Tom Sexton (c) 2014

monoprint Sexton poem photo

 

‘Manny’ by Tom Sexton

This poem, from Tom Sexton’s recent book Bridge Street at Dusk (Loom Press, 2012), connects to the “Moody Gardens” post below.—PM

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Manny

He was a minor god of the underworld

whose euphonious name brought no reply

if mentioned during the day, a lounge

singer, a god of sirens and bleary-eyed

last calls, of broken hearts and hands.

Still wearing his brushed velvet jacket

and heavy rouge, he joined us at the diner

that never closed, where laughter rang hollow

and everyone who came in eyed the clock.

His hair was dyed the color of Apollo’s,

and his voice was raw from singing requests.

He would sit on a stool at the long counter

or in a booth with men who might turn on him

once the night melted like lard on a griddle.

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—Tom Sexton (c) 2012

‘Milkman’ by Tom Sexton

On this snowy night, from Alaska comes a poem with a snowy owl, courtesy of our desk in the West manned by Tom Sexton. Here’s a Lowell memory for our readers. For those who don’t know, Tom Sexton is a distinguished alumnus of Lowell High School and former Poet Laureate of Alaska, as well as author of a short shelf of books.—PM 

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Milkman

The sound of a truck door sliding

open before the sun hit cobblestone,

footsteps on our narrow backstairs

light as a cat’s, a ghost’s, then

the bell-like sound of empty bottles

being picked up and replaced with

two regular and one homogenized

by a man who never failed to deliver,

a joke milkmen shared with each other.

He would appear even in the worst snow

storm of the year with his truck’s lights

glowing like the eyes of a snowy owl.

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—Tom Sexton (c) 2013

‘The Last Sunday Train’ by Tom Sexton

We have a new poem by Tom Sexton of Lowell and Alaska and Maine.—PM

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The Last Sunday Train

Little did I know back then when I walked

beside my father to the old North Station,

after Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain

pitched a doubleheader, that the Boston

Braves would soon call Milwaukee home.

We had tickets given to us by a neighbor.

There were six people on the Buddliner

when it finally pulled out of the station:

a man who missed his train to Montreal

and was spending the night in Lowell,

a woman who I was certain was a maid

because of her black dress and sturdy shoes,

a sleepy conductor with one eye on a man

with a pint of Four Roses not quite hidden

from sight in the side pocket of his jacket,

me waving my Braves’ banner by the window,

and my father who was anxious to get home

because he had to leave for work at 5 a.m.

Four Roses squinted at me and said, “Many

years ago the Braves were the Beaneaters.”

He said it as if he was telling me a secret,

which caught the attention of Montreal,

who thought Beaneaters might be an insult

aimed in his direction, like peasouper was.

He glared at Four Roses, and the maid moved

to the back to be closer to the conductor.

My father suggested they pass the bottle

around, and everyone seemed to like the idea.

He glanced at me and passed the whiskey

to the conductor without even taking a sip.

Before long, led by a now-smiling Four Roses,

they were swaying with the car past

dark station after dark station, field after field,

singing “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain,”

almost a lament, or so it seems to me now,

as we rode our earthbound comet toward Lowell

and its depot that was soon to be demolished.

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—Tom Sexton (c) 2013

‘On the Death of Seamus Heaney’ by Tom Sexton

Poet Tom Sexton is a great friend of this publication. He sent a poem tonight from the other side of North America, where, in his Alaskan home, he got the news about the passing of poet Seamus Heaney of Ireland and the world.—PM

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On the Death of Seamus Heaney

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He is crossing those four green fields now.

On the horizon, blossoms white as snow.

A chorus calls his name. He does not break stride

toward a small house. He hears his mother’s sigh.

Now he eyes his father holding a tall ladder,

and at the top of the ladder stands his brother

skimming the gable, shaping the letters S. H.

in new plaster. It covers his hands and knees

as blood did on the day he died. They turn

and go inside, listen to butter being churned.

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—Tom Sexton (c) 2013

‘A Ladder of Cranes’ by Tom Sexton

sexton book cover

 

From one end of the continent to the other, here is a poem by Tom Sexton, written on the road last last spring as he and his wife, Sharyn, made their way from Maine back to Alaska for another season. We do have our far-flung correspondents. Tom Sexton is a former Poet Laureate of Alaska and on the list of Distinguished Alumni of Lowell High School. He is the author of many collections of poetry.—PM

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A Ladder of Cranes

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On a Sunday afternoon west of Winnipeg

without a truck on our tail for mile after mile,

 

past fields still covered with melted snow,

beneath a sky so clear it seems about to disappear,

 

while we’re listening to a soprano singing

Schubert’s Ave Maria on the car’s radio,

 

a ladder of cranes lifting, moving away

above a windbreak with almost visible leaves.

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—Tom Sexton (c) 2013

‘Church of the Immaculate Conception’ by Tom Sexton

Church of the Immaculate Conception

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Because the massive side door is slightly

ajar at 6 a.m., I decide to pay a visit,

to inhabit my past. Inside it could be night.

Old women kneeling. Perfume thick as mist.

To my surprise the man with the purple-red

stain on half his face, a birthmark or a wound

from his war, is still sitting alone at the end

of a pew, a man who disappeared as soon

as Mass was over, barely pausing to bend

one knee, his close-cropped hair now snow.

Penance is the only coin that’s never spent.

He could be only a shadow or even a ghost.

I genuflect. Touch the pew. Turn around to go.

Unclench my fist. Drop a few coins in the box.

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—Tom Sexton (c) 2012, from Bridge Street at Dusk

Tom’s book may be ordered at www.loompress.com

web photo courtesy of jenandtommy.com

Writers Roundup at the Old Court, Feb. 23

The 2nd Annual Lowell Writers and Publishers Winter Roundup is set for Saturday, February 23, 12.30 to 4.00 pm, upstairs at the Old Court Irish pub at Central and Middle streets in downtown Lowell.

Publishers and writers attending include playwright Jack Neary, poet and memoir-writer Judith Dickerman-Nelson, Sweeney-and-Seawell creator Dave Robinson, John Wooding of UMass Lowell and COOL (with his new Vanderbilt Univ. Press book about higher education co-written with Kristin Esterberg, as well as books from Baywood Publishing), Ryan Gallagher and Bootstrap Press, poet and writer Chath PierSath, our own Dick Howe Jr (whose book on Lowell Legends is due in March) Lloyd Corricelli and Sons of Liberty Publishing, Steve O’Connor of two-book fame, Julia Gavin of the Artists League of Lowell, fiction and essay writer Kassie Dickinson-Rubico, Matt Miller (whose prize-winning second book of poems, “Club Icarus,” is now available), and my Loom Press with books by the above-mentioned Judith, Dave, and Matt, as well as Tom Sexton’s new book of Lowell poems and titles by Al Bouchard, Bob Forrant & Christof Strobel, Kate Hanson Foster, Paul Hudon, and other authors with ties to the city and region—with more signing up every day.

2012 Writers and Publisher Roundup at the Old Court [Photograph by Joe Marion]

 

Tom Sexton Reading New Lowell Poems & Signing Books

On Saturday, October 13, at 3.30 pm, Tom Sexton will be at the Parker Gallery of the Whistler House Museum of Art reading from his new book of Lowell poems, “Bridge Street at Dusk,” and signing books for his loyal readers as well as those who have just discovered him. The event is at 243 Worthen St., a stone’s throw from the Old Worthen Tavern. Joining Tom at the reading and also signing books will be artist Richard Marion, whose paintings and drawings are featured in the book.

The reading is part of the Kerouac Literary Festival, which starts in a few days. For the full schedule, visit www.uml.edu/artsandideas and select the Kerouac page or go to www.lowellcelebrateskerouac.org

Tom will also be reading his work at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill on October 16. Here are details.