Poetry

Cold morning,

Snow-covered ground.

Sun rising slowly in a low winter arc,

Banishing gray predawn.

Then brilliance: the scene sparkles with jewels

Strewn casually, in great abundance,

More perfect gems than an empress ever saw.

After 40 years of working with technology, and nearly 30 of those living part-time in West Tisbury, Cynthia Bloomquist now resides there full-time, following guidance from her muse.

In moments of lust and passion play

you strew your wild seeds into the dark open night.

They burst forth blindly, no eyes without sight,

and fused into life in their own secret way.

A Bastardly Burden, a submitting heart betrayed

as you made your cowardly flight,

no more to know the lonesome plight

of the Nestling Newness left to decay.

The beauty and pride of your creation,

marred in the ugly smear of neglect

greatly diminishes your manhood.

Through lack of love and preparation,

the price to pay, your self respect,

gone, denied by your own flesh and blood.

Maurice Young has been writing poetry since 1963, when a poem he wrote as a seventh grader, lamenting the death of President Kennedy, “Our Captain Is Gone,” won a prize and was published in the Hartford (Conn.) Courant.

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Those who know me
know the tale
If reborn — I’d be a whale
Pacific foam
and deep blue sea
It’s life and breath
and home to me.
Struggle whalers as you might
Deep deep down — like starless night
The harpoons thrust — you throw with might
Can not redeem this soulless fight!
For though my blubber you may cook
And drag me out with bloody hook
Your heart, your mind, your conscious knows
you have no sight — in deep abyss
and the harpoon’s thrust — and whalemen’s wish
Need Greasy Luck
as Whales become this: Oil Reincarnate
Eternal Light.

Lenny Hall is a student and observer of life without formal credentials, who finds inspiration on Martha’s Vineyard.

On the bicentennial of Nancy Luce’s birthday

I have not understood

this world at all.

I am alone,

risen from the sands,

prolific in my words,

but much sickness,

and sad.

The wind. My head

cannot stand it.

The damage and the shock

of the damage.

The smell of quiet.

A color, oh, a soft

yellow of corn

for my little hearts

and for poor I.

Faint green of

fresh hay. The smell

of it. Blue, the sky

blue. White gauze

clouds. Cow warm,

chewing all night

in the back bedroom.

A small farm, a small

Jersey cow,

the most lovely of cows.

Chickens in the yard

in the afternoon.

A trip to South America

at night. Safe

under my house.

The Buddha says

there are 118 states

of consciousness

with no misery,

no suffering.

If only they were

all here on the farm.

People missing, people

gone. When I slip off

the cliff of life,

no one left for my

poor little hearts, please

kill the chickens, please.

They must suffer no

sufferings nor be

crueled in any way.

Chop off their heads

so they won’t live

to mourn Nancy Luce.

Jill Jupen lives in Vineyard Haven with her husband, four dogs, and lots of books.

(Scorching red-brick sidewalk

July hot

Ninety-five degrees)

Smooth French music

Bubbles up and floods the street

The cooling voice of Charles Aznavour

Pulls me

Down

Into

This sanctuary of shade

Mahogany and rattan

Table for one

Vegetarian omelet

Tall blue glass of clinking lemon water

Sips of Chardonnay

Nearby whispers

Hushed invitations

The Regatta, Old Sculpin Gallery opening, Yacht Club

dance,

Sunday afternoon lawn party

The huge white sheets of

Two giant schooners slide out of the harbor

The cool easy flow of money.

Below the white linen tablecloth

At my feet

A well-bred

Brown sparrow

Hops about

Politely

Pecking at almond croissant crumbs.

Cindy Douglas was a first grade teacher at the Edgartown school for many years. She now divides her time between Portland, Oregon, and the Island.

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Whirling, swirling,

furled leaves from nature’s wooden bedposts

blanketing Mother Earth in a patchwork quilt

preserving summer’s residual warmth

cobalt blue skies changing the temperature of my thoughts,

preparing my mind for the idea that summer will retreat

October winds blowing me backward

forcing me to accept the change of seasons.

My determination to resist has no effect,

so I accept the terms and wait for the next phase,

now determined to embrace October,

enjoying her harvest,

wrapping her patchwork quilt around my senses,

breathing her crisp, celestial spirit,

bathing in her moist, foggy, artesian dew.

Apple pies and woodpiles fill my dreams,

food for thought and warmth for my bones.

Living in October feels like home.

We all prepare —

plants, animals and humans —

prepare for the dormant life, biological freeze.

So live in October, laugh in October, love October.

Press its juices into the sweetest cider

then rest,

knowing winter’s arrest will not stop

spring’s renewal

or summer’s passions.

The cool and blustery wind

the seasons cycle spin

we’re living now within

stop the wheel.

Begin

living in October.

Lenny Hall is a student and observer of life without formal credentials, who finds inspiration on Martha’s Vineyard.

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I remember who is gone, and who remains.

I remember their names in the coral dawns

And saffron sunsets walking on the water

With the wind across winter’s green, green sea.

I see their bodies refracted in the green light of summer,

In the dancing leaves and afternoons of thunder

When sudden rain relieves the humid weight of memory,

In dangling webs and ladders of moonlight

And village streets lit by windows’ narrow beams

Upholding midnight vows and pleas

To Hold me, hold me please. . . Hold me,

Don’t let dreams keep us from our waking sleep.

Their faces in my mirror, graying hair, blue eyes

I see in skies reflecting gravity, in the deep

Black in black behind starlight’s roses and thorns,

In the hot day’s lilacs of noon suns, in sweat and wonder

As they come and go through me, that another sudden winter

Comes, will come out of tomorrow’s unborn snow.

I remember it all like stone cut from a forbidden quarry,

The words they spoke, the lips, the hands that stroked

And held, working through rough flesh and bone,

And the laughter that came after each disaster

Of a living world without answers, of remembered love alone.

A resident of the dank and moldy primal forests of West Tisbury for 32 years, Lee H. McCormack has reportedly been seen, usually from a great distance through high-octane vision-magnifying devices.

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Definition

A man

is a person

who invents the clock so

the bomb will know when it’s time to

go off.

Growing Old

The thing

to do is sneak

inside yourself and find

the one place left for being

beautiful.

Moths

Daily

life, that slow flame:

each of us turns and twists

in it. It takes a whole lifetime

to fry.

A retired anthropology professor turned landscaper, the quixotic George Mills (1919-2001) was a well-loved figure in the Vineyard poetry community. Until his death George and his wife Florrie shared a small home in Oak Bluffs where they hosted frequent gatherings of poets, musicians, activists, and other thinkers.

Fan Ogilvie of West Tisbury read a poem at the Grange Hall during the Gay Head Light poetry book launch. — Brooks Robards

Supporters of the Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Project gathered at the West Tisbury Grange Hall last Wednesday, August 27, to listen as more than a dozen poets read works inspired by the Gay Head Lighthouse, which is endangered by erosion.

Annette Sandrock.
Annette Sandrock.

Lighthouse Keeper Richard Skidmore acted as Master of Ceremonies, introducing the poets, who each read a poem they had written about the Lighthouse. Those who participated were Steve Ewing, Chris Legge, Paula Lyons, Arnie Reisman, Fan Ogilvie, Susan Puciul, Cynthia Riggs, Brooks Robards, Annette Sandrock, William Waterway, Richard Weiss, and Lynn Whiting.

Legacy of Light: Poems for the Gay Head Lighthouse, the recently published volume of Lighthouse poems edited by Alexander Weinstein, Keith Leonard, and Fan Ogilvie, is available at Midnight Farm in Vineyard Haven and at the Gay Head Gallery. For more information, visit gayheadlight.org.

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Rabbi Balfour Brickner and Marina Tempelsman (one of the four winners), at the 1999 ceremony for the Reading of the Poetry Winners. — Kristin Maloney

When Elisa Brickner died at age 17 in a 1973 horseback riding accident, it was a tragedy for all who knew and loved her.

But thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of her father, the late Rabbi Balfour Brickner, that heartbreaking loss became the impetus for a gift that even now, four decades later, continues to touch the lives of many. It is a moving example of a bereaved parent turning loss into an opportunity to bring joy and benefit to others.

Wishing to memorialize his young daughter in a way that would be meaningful and reflect something of who she was, Rabbi Brickner that same year established and funded the Elisa Brickner Poetry Corner at the Chilmark Public Library. The Rabbi and his family were longtime Menemsha summer residents. Because Elisa loved poetry, he sought to foster that same love in other youths and all who would visit the little library, both in summertime and year round.

Today, the Elisa Brickner Poetry Corner collection contains well more than 1000 volumes for both adults and children, thanks to the rabbi’s significant generosity. But that was only the beginning.

In 1993, Rabbi Brickner approached the library again, sending a letter with a new, far-reaching proposal.

“We feel it is time to expand the memorial in a new and challenging way,” he wrote. “We propose the establishment of an annual poetry contest to be known as the Elisa Brickner Annual Poetry Contest.”

One year later, in 1994, the contest for junior high and high school students was launched and immediately attracted hopeful young poets, dreaming of recognition for their creative work.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the well-loved competition, which is now underway, with entries accepted until August 11.

In addition to honoring the winners, the Elisa Brickner Fund, to which the rabbi added from time to time, enables the library to award them substantial cash prizes. Usually given to only the first and second place winners, this year a cash award will also be presented to the third prize winners in observance of the anniversary.

According to Kristin Maloney, the library’s program coordinator, from the very beginning the contest has drawn 35 to 50 entries each year from both year-round Islanders and summer residents. She said that many of the previous contest winners have gone on to be actively involved in writing endeavors, from poetry to novels and plays for both stage and screen.

This year’s judges are John Maloney, Donald Nitchie, and Laura Wainwright. Marlan Sigelman, summer library assistant who is also a poet, will join the usual three-judge panel for this 20th anniversary contest.

Judging takes place promptly after the deadline date and winners are invited to read their pieces at a library ceremony on Monday, August 18, at 5:30 pm.

“One of the special parts is the ceremony and the reading of the winners’ poems,” said Ms. Maloney.

For many years Rabbi Brickner would faithfully attend the ceremony, serving as emcee and announcing and congratulating the winning student writers. Since his death in 2005, his son Rabbi Barnet Brickner participates whenever possible.

Ms. Maloney said that previous winners and family members often attend the ceremony to meet the successful contestants and hear their poems. She added that earlier prize recipients have told library staff how meaningful it was to have their poems chosen, and both they and their families have fond memories of the occasion.

“The kids say how honored they were to be acknowledged and taken seriously,” Ms. Maloney said. “They say how important it was to them.

“Kids don’t really have an arena to be celebrated for writing poetry, unlike sports or performing arts. This ceremony spotlights their talent and who they are. They’re really appreciated.”

Winning poems have been displayed in a scrapbook since the beginning. As a special feature of this anniversary, the library will publish a book compiling all winners from 1994 through 2014. The volumes will be given to the contest winners, all local schools and libraries, and will be available to the public.

The contest

The Elisa Brickner Annual Poetry Contest invites entries from students in two age categories: Junior High School (entering grades 6 through 8), and Senior High School (entering grades 9 through 12).

Contestants may submit one original poem: any length, style, or subject, typed or printed on 8 1/2” by 11” paper. The writer’s name must not appear on the submission. A cover sheet with name, grade category, and contact information must be attached.

First prizewinners in each category will receive $200; second and third prizewinners will receive $100. Winning poems will be read at a ceremony on August 18 at 5:30 pm.

The deadline for submitting poems is August 11 at 5:30 pm. Entries may be mailed, faxed, or delivered in person.

For information, call 508-645-3360 or visit chilmarklibrary.org/youth.php.