|Poets Laureate can create poems to celebrate a town's achievements, honor special people, share the magic of a town's attractions, etc. Please read just a few samples of the many poems about Connecticut's towns. Do you want your town to be honored with a poem? Go to our Common Questions page to see how you can appoint a Poet Laureate!|
CONSIDER THE CAPITAL LETTER B
On the occasion of the inauguration of the newly elected and reelected officials in Bethel, December 6, 2021
by Cortney Davis, Bethel Poet Laureate, 2019-2021
B is a bold letter, first letter of the word Bethel,
which means House of God, a good house, our town
settled in 1700, carved from the forests and fields
of Fairfield County, incorporated in 1855, and guided
by visionaries and dreamers, realists and activists,
like those here tonight, those we have chosen to lead us
with wisdom and strength. We honor them and ask them
to consider the capital letter B, its strong backbone,
how it reaches up while standing firm. We ask them
to consider the two curved lines that reach forward from its spine,
then turn to join midway in the suggestion of an embrace,
creating space for hope and possibility. We ask them
to be bold, to aim high at the same time remaining resolute
in what is right, moral and possible. We ask them
to open their hearts as well as their minds, to differ
when they must, but also to turn and meet again, leaving room
for change and compromise, choosing what is best
for the citizens they've been called to represent. Tonight,
we applaud their achievements and offer our gratitude,
our promise to stand ready to support them. We charge them
to be brave in their duties, to build and not tear down,
to hold fast to the knowledge that Bethel is blessed
with a sweet and beautiful democracy which they now hold
in their hands. We ask them to cherish this precious yet fragile gift,
to tend it well. And, always, we wish for them?for all of you?
peace, good health, and happiness through all the days to come.
What the River Sees, What the River Knows
Collinsville, Summer 2015
By Virginia Shreve, Poet Laureate 2023-
This is the citizenry of the Town on the River.
A handsome man with kind eyes
walks his elderly pugs
along the riverbank
(later he drinks wine
in his small
and umbrella pines)
Two beautiful women
arm in arm
cross the bridge to the farmer’s market
they buy peppers, two kinds of goat cheese,
(they offer their visitor
so sweet and so cold)
Up the hill, the gentle painter
dreams in his studio
of light and Italy and the color of persimmons
sometimes a piano
The bearded man pokes under rock and rot
along the shore,
carapace and slime-gilded crevasse
finds all decaying things equally
he wants to see what the river sees
he imagines he knows what the river knows
River sees cloudless sky, rippled
only by the shudder of wings
August a deeper chiseled blue
than July’s hazy dome
shadows are longer, ripeness perched on its own trembling peak.
A golden hawk soars above.
River knows etude and opera
parasoled picnickers in clover wreathes
someone plays a flute someone sings someone
falls in love
Does water have memory?
unveiled sun glints off the silver pikes
which will bloody Kansas
and the hard wild rapture of destruction
thunderboned roar of rush and smash
the 55 flood uncorseting the river of bridge, rail, dam, road,
tearing the child from mother’s arms she will never unhear the fading scream
the river will steal your breath
crush your ribs
knows the knucklebone of infant
as well as the spine of salmon
knows how the boy tried to save the woman
her foot caught in the rocks her eyes white with terror
he pulled her so hard he lacerated
her liver but it was too late
the river is unforgiven
River soothes the suicide
ebb and flow like beat and pulse
it is all right to go
it is all right
These days the river is genteel, sedate.
Brown-limbed boys plunge gleefully off the crumbling
concrete pilings of the old bridge.
In a blink, they will be the old men
the train set in the museum.
But not yet.
Paddleboarders glide like brightly-colored
heavy-bodied water beetles.
Young women in kayaks
giggle at midnight.
Tonight the sky is Japanese pink
fog drifts like dream
below the lacy iron one-lane bridge
perhaps a lone fisherman up to his hips in
the slow cool water
as if he were waiting for his picture to be taken
or even painted
Now twilight is pearled, then indigo
There are ghosts in the trees
stars caught in the net
of branches, a web of willow
moon rises, sliver or half or full-
Reflects all beauties ‘til,
in love with themselves, they lean in
and just before touching
are once again swallowed
by the river
A handsome man with kind eyes
walks his elderly pugs
along the riverbank
A POEM FOR CLINTON
By Cathy Weiss, Clinton Poet Laureate, 2021 -
Summer breezes sweep through town
As fishermen haul in their catch.
Later, tourists will flood the marina searching
For lobster rolls, instagram photos, and sun kissed noses.
In the center of town a place for music, art, and
church fairs where families and friends gather.
The air is fresh yet crisp as we gather
under autumn leaves falling gently down
From the beautiful trees that abound
and grace our historical homes
The Stanton House and “Old Brick”
Where history and memories flow
Where three rivers peacefully flow
With as much love as in our hearts
Our sense of community thrives
As we take care of one another
Amid history, sea breezes, and sand
Everyone tries to lend each other a hand
Our town’s nonprofits extend a hand
To all those who may need to feel
their community’s arm around their shoulders
With grace our community thrives
Birds chirp happily one last time
before they return in spring
We wait for Ospreys to return in spring
sometimes like those birds we leave
taking our love for you with us
Knowing we will return again and again
To the place where memories were made
Summer blue fish and Christmas in Clinton
Even Santa comes back for Christmas in Clinton
Arriving at our beautiful Town Hall
Along the river with the gazebo lit behind
Though time passes and seasons change
The sun sets on another day in Clinton
A place we proudly call home
We catch the breezes at our sun kissed marina,
or along rivers that peacefully flow.
We return each season to gather again, and again
by Bessy Reyna
He came bouncing down the street,
heavy body, long hair, jacket and tie.
There was an oddness about him.
Then, as he approached
I heard the sound of maracas
coming from his pockets.
Was it candy?
I pictured hundreds of multi-colored sweets
crashing against each other,
he, oblivious to the crackling rhythm.
Along Capitol Avenue
our paths crossed,
lunch break nearly over.
How can I explain
being late for work
because I was following a man
who sounded like maracas?
A CUP OF COFFEE
by Bessy Reyna
"Watch me!" I tell Rob,
the lovely dark-haired friend
who has joined me for lunch.
"Watch me, I'll have to pretend
I don't know that the coffee is a gift from him."
We dance the tango
Ricardo, the Argentinian owner,
is so happy to see me.
It's been so long since I had lunch
at this small place
hidden on the second floor of an old building
Rob and I sit by the window
talking about books and watching
the people below us
as they stroll on Pratt Street.
Ricardo whispers to me in a voice
with the cadence of the pampas,
¿Querés un café? Do you want a cup of coffee?
I know I shouldn't
it would be one too-many for the day,
but I can taste the offer
bursting behind the smile
we dance the tango
"Watch me," I say to Rob.
I now have to pretend
that I want to pay for the coffee
and he will refuse to take the money.
The proper behavior
the warmth, generosity,
the nostalgia that engulfs me now.
In how many restaurants can you get free coffee
just because the owner is happy to see you?
A native language coming back
to rescue me
At lunch, we danced the tango
I say goodbye to Rob,
turn and give Ricardo gracias por el café
before I descend the narrow wooden stairs
that return me to
another culture my brave new world.
Around the corner
a homeless man awaits.
"Can I have a dime for a cup of coffee?" he asks.
His voice startles me,
"Come with me and I'll buy you a coffee,"
I tell him, pointing at the
"COFFEE AND PASTRIES" sign a few feet away.
"No! Not from there," he shouts annoyed.
"From Dunkin Donuts!!"
Of course, he does not want a cup of coffee.
I place some quarters in his extended hand
and walk away smiling
dancing the tango
having paid for my coffee after all.
By Julia Morris Paul,
Manchester’s Inaugural Poet Laureate 2014-2018
The boy’s eyes dart around a room
thick with knick-knacks: ceramic poodles,
flowerless vases, harlequin clown figurines,
arranged on dust-free shelves.
Sepia-toned portraits of whiskered men
and laced-up women stare down
from walls papered in a faded cabbage rose pattern.
He twitches in the horse-hair stuffed chair.
The woman time has shrunken
to his size sits opposite. The boy
with darting eyes is here for an assignment –
interview someone in your town; write an essay.
A town is shaped by its ghosts,
Thelma Woodbridge begins.
The darting eyes open wide, then settle.
Oh yes, ghosts! All around us,
the spirits of those who walked this ground,
worked this soil, whose bones are buried here.
Deep in this soil: arrowheads, broken bits
of carved and shaped stone –
tools of the Podunks.
Deep in this soil, shards of glass
from the Pitkin Glass Factory –
imperfect and grainy as memory.
Deep in this soil, the sweat of farmers,
tobacco pickers, factory workers, smithies and soldiers.
In the air we breathe in this house,
the ghost of Electa Woodbridge,
who fetched a cup of water
for George Washington when he stopped
at her daddy’s tavern, over there,
where the Shell station is now.
Electa went on to marry George Cheney;
their eight sons revolutionized the silk industry.
Their spirits are everywhere –
in the schools they built, the mills,
houses for workers, the mansions on the hill.
These buildings hold their stories.
Miss Mary, the daughter of the youngest
brother – you can almost still see her
riding down Main Street in her ancient car,
her driver deaf to the honking.
If you listen with your eyes closed,
you can hear the children in Miss Mary’s
garden – how they laugh and clap
and clamor for another story! Can you
see Miss Mary seated before them
with a picture book on her lap?
Her spirit is in the children and their
children’s children. When Miss Mary’s
paperboy was hit by a car, she paid
for his care, gave him, a poor immigrant,
money for college. He became a doctor.
Her spirit lived in him and in the lives he touched.
So you see, young man,
this town is shaped by its ghosts,
Dig deep in this soil.
Close your eyes to better see the sachems,
settlers, selectmen, silk workers.
Like the crooked tree in my yard
with its hungry roots, feast on the rich layers
of the past. Let the ghosts gather in you.
Listen well to their stories.
WALKING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
By James R. Scrimgeour, Poet Laureate, New Milford 2016-2022
Looking at the cute cuddly cloud
creatures drifting across clear blue sky
above the lime green willow tresses
weaving in the spring breeze — only
the lack of cars and the lack of people
remind us that we sheltering our eighty
year old bodies in place not that far
from an epicenter of the coronavirus —
such a beautiful spring day, such a
contrast between the surface beauty
of the natural world and the danger
lying unseen inside and on top of it.
The last time we had this clear a view
of heaven — it was nine eleven.
By James R. Scrimgeour, Poet Laureate, New Milford 2016-2022
On our first walk on the River Trail since
the onset of Covid-19 — orange day lilies
(and one bud for tomorrow) in the lower left
hand corner — four stalks of mullein stand
erect in the center, the yellow tip of the tallest
tickles, lights up the dark swath of current that
divides the rippling green, the inverted trees,
the gloomy brooding heads on the other side
that contrast so sharply with the mullein and its
healing blooms appearing one after another as
they climb their steps to the sun, make medicine
to relieve fever, cough, etc. — you can boil them
into a tea, rub them into your skin, or just sit still
and look — there, now don’t you feel better?
NORTH HAVEN, SO IT SEEMS
By Gabriella Brand, Poet Laureate 2022-
Who hasn’t worshipped, at least once,
in the vast cathedral of Home Depot?
Who hasn’t bowed before the big box stores,
the shrines to shopping, the holy labyrinth of parking lot?
Who hasn’t made a pilgrimage at one time or another
to Petco or Dick’s Sporting Goods,
or Chick Fil A, because even the devout get hungry.
This is the heart of North Haven, or so it seems.
And yet, right behind the bustle of Target,
beyond the noise of commerce,
another temple emerges:
the long and hallowed Quinnipiac, sacred to the tribes.
Leave your car behind, ignore the dumpsters, and approach the hidden marsh,
the serpentine sanctuary, quiet and still,
a refuge for osprey and duck, a nave of sky and water.
Night and day, the phragmites pray in the wind,
and the river swells and shrinks with the tides.
Drag a kayak down the steep clay bank
and head upstream through indolent bends,
through congregations of egrets, and
herons genuflecting in the reeds.
Paddle reverently, peacefully, undisturbed for miles,
the town unfolding somewhere beyond the muddy shore.
Bury Me in BlackRoseCity
An elegy for Norwich, CT
By Frederick-Douglass Knowles II, Poet Laureate Hartford,
Inaugural Poet Laureate of Hartford, 2018-
When I die, bury me in BlackRoseCity,
where Mahan Elementary taught me how to
daydream, sitting at my desk, behind the piano,
Ms. Gilluly's 5th grade class, feigning for McDonalds'
from across the street, chicken McNugget sweet; where Salem Turnpike
turned into Great Skate, zooming in & out of electric poles, where every
colored complexion caught disco-light fever to roll; where stories were told
-too many to capture in my eulogy. Bury me in BlackRoseCity, where
Teachers Memorial Junior High field tripped me to Boston and New
York City, strawberry schnapps spilt in the back of the
bus, streaming down the aisle, young, 8th grade
and wild, with Artie, Kevin, Katie, Tara,
Yolanda and Hwa-Chin, where our
infinite bond began, and I found
a handful of lifelong friends.
Bury me in BlackRoseCity,
on the hill between Jane Arms
and Oakwood Knoll, behind Bonanza's
and Zayre's, and let me stare into the Valley of
Thames, where the squirrels will engrave our
names into the coat of their acorns. Bury me, in BlackRoseCity
on the West Side, on the apex of Summit Street, back
when Aunt Nancy's neighborhood was a cultural
crock pot: Jews, Blacks and Browns stirring
the stew, before the recipe eminent domain(ed)
into Dan Jenkins Park. Bury me, at the Block
Party in '83, The Bridge Is Over blaring
into the field where the brothas forged
like steel, whenever New London
knuckleheads tried to jump bad,
but headed back down Rt. 32,
mumbling through fat lips
about what they should
of and shouldn't do.
Bury me, in BlackRoseCity
next to: NFA, Mohegan Park,
Hamilton Football Field, East Side,
Laurel Hill, Lake Street, the Red Rabbit,
Sportsmen, Portuguese Club, Johnson Sand Pit,
Bowling Alley birthday parties, Greenville, Taftville
Carnival, Norwich Tech, Young Folk's Shop, Gordon's,
Palace Theater, Norwich Cinema 1 & 2, Barkers, Kings, Ames,
Marcus Plaza, Benny's, Two Legs, Norwichtown Mall Arcade,
Caldor's, Beauland Church, The King Center, Spaulding Pond,
Mohegan Park Zoo, St. Peter & Paul Fair, Uncas, Buckingham,
Veterans, the Sheraton, the Golf Course, Malerba's Farm, Melrose Park,
the Dirt Bike Trails, Forward's Pond, East Great Plains Firehouse, Delia's,
Vocatura's Bakery, Seafood Etc., the first Kentucky Fried Chicken, the PLAV,
VFW, American Legion, Pings, 783, Woolworth's, G. Foxx, the YMCA, Otis Library, King Wah, Oaktree, Olympic Pizza, nickel night at the Village Green, Mohegan
Park Apartments, the Maennerchor, A&P, Bee-Bees, both Friendly's, Fairlawns,
Reid & Hughes, Elizabeth (Wood) Street School, the Rec, Masonic Temple,
Principal's Mansion, freshman football, Coach Spayne, Coach Mignault,
Mr. Iovino, Ms. Agrenawich, Mrs. Hendle, Mr. Fields, Mr. Blackstone,
Mr. Snitkin, Mr. Sorello, Mr. Tarka, Mr. Kotraba, Mr. & Mrs. Osko,
my mother, Mrs. Knowles (who took no shit from no student,)
Ms. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Turner, Mrs. Hogan, the City Dump,
Wawecus Hill, Norwich Motel, Charlie's Supermarket,
Scooby's, Radio Shack, Thom McCan's, Genovese,
Uncas on Thames, the State Hospital, Backus,
Crocodiles, Indian Leap, McDonald's,
Friday Night Burger King Parking
Lot Fights, The Falls, Montville
Road, Pizza Hut, TVCCA,
Wal-Mart was a
Bury me in BlackRoseCity, in Maplewood Cemetery
next to Gammy, and Eve Montgomery, and Ms. Macy too,
and maybe my roots will seep through the soil for my Saige to see,
how my grandbaby is an extension of legacy, a branch of the Fullwood Tree,
teach her like LaForest Knowles taught me; how to strap on your armor and leave
the battlefield bloody. Let me gaze at a Mohegan Sun eclipse; tell the city I did it
for them, and I'd do it again, when God gives me a new strategy to play the game
again. I did it for my family, yours and mine, and when it's my time, tell'em
what I told'em, then tell'em again; that the petals of my city wilt and
renew like a season, leave them with a reason, to garnish the rose
that grew through concrete, Tupacian Philosophy, we've shed
so many tears in this T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E., Dear Mama,
thank you for making me, and raising me, so one
day they bury me, in BlackRoseCity.
THE SPIRIT LIVES
Celebrating the “Spirit of Dr. King” on January 16, 2023
By Barb Jennes, Poet Laureate, 2020-2023
When the woes of the world set us to worry, set us to wonder,
if all goodness is gone, we need only to look around.
The spirit lives in Ridgefield.
Dr. King said, “Not everybody can be famous but everybody
can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”
That spirit lives in Ridgefield.
“You don't have to have a college degree to serve,” he said.
“You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve,”
“You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
That spirit lives in Ridgefield.
And didn’t Dr. King have the audacity to believe
that “Peoples everywhere can have
three meals a day for their bodies,
education and culture for their minds,
and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits?”
That spirit lives in Ridgefield, too.
We’re small but mighty.
Angels1 often come that way, you know.
Take 11-year-old Ruby Weiner, who built pop-up pantries
all over town. They’re shaped like little houses—
the kind that invite you in to give what you can,
take what you need.
And what about that small-but-mighty diner2 that’s served
nearly 6000 meals to those in need?
That’s hardly a “hollow” achievement.
Or those meals that come on wheels3 365 days a year.
Or the mobile pantry4—a veritable grocery-store-on-the-go—
that welcomes all come fill their cupboards once a month.
Three meals a day for their bodies,
and no mind can be hungry here either,
not with our warehouse of words and wonder5,
where ideas and knowledge are yours for the asking.
All you need is one small-but-mighty card.
And when it comes to “dignity, equality,
and freedom for their spirits”
there’s a better chance6 here in Ridgefield—
a place of great prospects7, a home of great pride8,
a sphere9 of love and inclusion,
including that lion of a lady we honor today.
The spirit lives in Wendy10.
We are neighbors helping neighbors11–just ask
the very moving man12 who delivered Thanksgiving meals
to scores of families and helped an elderly Ridgefielder
move to her new home, never stopping to ask
for a red Ridgefield cent.
Or that mean green man13 who delivers toys and smiles to kids
each holiday season, turning fun into needed finances,
sure as a grinch getting its wings.
Isn’t he proof that the spirit lives in Ridgefield?
That the spirit thrives in Ridgefield?
That the spirit IS Ridgefield?
Which is why the spirit lives in me.
“I am what I am because of who we all are.”
And “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
So be audacious. Make the spirit live in you.
“You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
All you need is “A heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Footnotes refer to:
1 Angel of Ridgefield
2 Wooster Hollow Diner
3 Ridgefield Meals on Wheels
4 Ridgefield Social Service’s CT Foodshare Mobile Food Pantry
5 Ridgefield Library
6 Ridgefield A Better Chance
7 The Prospector Theater, which hires developmentally disabled adults
8 Ridgefield PRIDE
9 SPHERE (Special People’s Housing, Education, Recreation, and Employment)
10 2023 Spirit of Dr. King honoree Wendy Lionetti
11 Neighbors Helping Neighbors
12 Ezra Zimmerman of EZ Moving
13 The Ridgefield Grinch, a special project of the Ridgefield Father’s Club
By Ira Joe Fisher, PL Ridgefield, 2023-
Let my sleep be just enough.
Let my sleep clarify the day
And give it open-eyed noticing.
Let leaves, against gray and sinking clouds,
Let leaves toss in the giddy wind.
And let that wind flutter the fur
Of the fox, of the dog.
Let the fox be caved and safe,
Let the dog click home along the berm,
Scents and sounds enlarging
Within his small and sacred brain.
Let grass ripple, let grass ripple
And let stars spin silver-pricked and far.
Let the pond shudder.
Let the lilies bend.
Let the clarified day show all there is
To worship. And let it show me
One sweet gift
It has never shown before.
SOUTHBURY, CT, DEFEATS LOCAL NAZIS IN 1937
by Sandy Lee Carlson
I. Invoking the Muses
Hear the voices of Southbury’s leaders
Recalled for their moral courage at a dangerous time.
Preaches the Reverend Felix Manley
Of Southbury Federated Church:
“Un-American inhabitants can
Not tear down what has been built so slowly
At so much cost.”1
Insists Jennie Hinman,
The town’s leading citizen and oldest
Taxpayer: “The display of emblems indicating
Allegiance to a foreign power on
Public roads or streams in this community
Shall be prohibited.”2
Resolves the Reverend M.E.N. Lindsay
Of the South Britain Congregational Church:
“I am compelled by the nature of my office
To warn my people of the evil consequences
Of such movements, and to this end,
Must address myself at the time of discourse
During the Sunday morning worship hour.”3
II. Southbury Lays Down the Law
Consider this response to well-placed words:
Well-organized Yankees lift their voices
To defend rural Southbury–their home–
From American Nazis’ gaining ground
In Kettletown, by calling constables
To stop Nazi camp construction on a Sunday in 1937.
First, blue laws; next, new-cast zoning policies
Protect a farming people at peace
With hard-won freedom, inherited truths
That make no way for hatred’s marching tunes.
Southbury makes the rules, then plays by them:
No training camp for fascist families here.
The lesson: Know what you stand for; then, stand.
Community thrives when respect for law
Frees every citizen from hatred’s thrall.
After the slaughter of European
Jews and the leveling of landscapes,
Eleanor Roosevelt warns us to learn:
“We let our consciences realize too late
The need of standing up against something
We knew was wrong. I hope in the future,
We are going to remember that there
Can be no compromise at any point
With the things we know are wrong.”4 Learn it:
“Those who treat life as their toy, death as their
Tool, if these men be immune, the law has lost
Its meaning and we must all live in fear.”5
What will you do when the menace draws near?
An elderly Jewish survivor
Recalls this pivotal childhood moment
When he fled Hitler’s war for a new world:
“The fog lifted, and there it was after all:
The Statue of Liberty,
After all, after all, I see it all
Now, after all these years,
The taste of freedom, here.”6
1 “Elderly Woman Helped rid Southbury of Nazis in 1937,” Republican-American. 11 November 2012.
archives.rep-am.com/2012/11/11/elderly-woman-helped-rid-southbury-of-nazis-in-1937/. Accessed 11November 2022.
3 Lindsay, M.E.N. Letter to the Editor of the Republican-American. 18 November 1937. EHRI Project, EU. portal.ehri-project.eu/.collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn90002#?rsc=144123&cv=4&c=0&m=0&s=0&xywh=-133%2C954%2C5009%2C3281.
Accessed 11 November 22.
4 "Speech before Women's Division of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York ." Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Volume 1. Encyclopedia.com. 9 Nov. 2022,
5 Prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz in his closing argument at the Nuremberg Trials
6 Survivor Joseph Hilsenrath in Ken Burns’s 2022 documentary The U.S. and the Holocaust.
DECEMBER IN THE YEAR OF IRRUPTION*
For Cheri Wood, 2020
By Pegi Deitz Shea
Hiking in the Belding preserve, I’m felled by the sight
of trees, criss-crossed on the forest floor
as if gods had forgotten their pick-up sticks.
Trucks had hauled other trees away to…where?
Canopy gone, the onslaught of air is unbearable.
The State prescribed the decimation to thin
mature oaks and destroy invasive spruce,
to make room for oak seedlings and native pitch pine,
to loosen the earth for worms and bugs,
to woo back warblers, towhees, Baltimore orioles.
But I see, hear nothing beyond the dying and the dead.
Yet deeper in the woods, smells evergreen my nose. Burbles
of waterfalls tether my terrier and she greedily drinks.
Trails diverge. Flickers invite me up a beaten path
where boughs of ribbons dangle ornaments—
glass spheres without spikes, glittery spirals twirling
in a space of positive pressure. The corridor
of green has ladders of light. My eyes climb
to a rare red crossbill calling come, come, here, here, here
here is enough for the long dark winter.
*An irruption is an uncharacteristic, large migration of animals
to a different place in search of nourishment.
(Poem first published in Connecticut River Review, 2021.)
VERNON VACCINES 2020-2021
(to the beat of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “My Shot” © 2015 Hamilton)
by Pegi Deitz Shea
Science gotta get a Covid — shot!
We just gotta get a Covid — shot!
We’re distancing and masking,
sacrificing and we’re asking,
will there ever be a Covid — shot?
Fearful friends and families crying.
Without a cure, deaths keep climbing.
No sports, live tunes, fine dining.
We really need a Covid — shot!
We’re straining with crazy schooling,
losing jobs, our homes, our cool and
we’re starving — we ain’t fooling!
Hurry up with that Covid — shot!
Warp speed vaccine, but mumbling—
too many too fast — there’ll be bungling.
Leaders silenced some of the grumbling
by stepping up to take their — shot.
Science has a couple Covid — shots!
We just gotta get our Covid — shots!
We’re distancing and masking,
sacrificing and we’re asking,
when and how to get a Covid — shot?
Number one: hero doctors and nurses,
first responders, healthcare workers,
surely had to be the firstest
to get their Covid — shots.
Number two: crowded homes with habitees:
some already with disease,
the aged, ill, and special needs,
had to get their Covid — shots.
Feds and states, where’s the planning?
Who comes next? Who’s been manning
VAMS websites, phone lines jamming
with the rest of us needing — shots?
Vernon gathered surrounding towns to
help the elderly, rural, and poor who
lacked laptops, internet, and rides to
arrange their Covid — shots.
The library filled with volunteers
taking calls, calming people’s fears
in 36 languages, making it clear
that everyone will get their — shots!
With healthcare networks, Vernon could
run mobile vaccine clinics that would
hit churches, centers, neighborhoods
to deliver the Covid — shots.
Then word got out to TV crews
and Vernon landed on national news
showing America different ways to
get everybody Covid — shots.
Pharma’s gotta make more Covid — shots!
Cause we gotta get our Covid — shots!
We’re still distancing and masking,
sacrificing and we’re asking,
when will the rest get Covid — shots?
Number three: Connecticut teachers next.
(We’re indebted, they’re forever blessed.)
But essential workers and sick folks stressed
they desperately need Covid — shots.
Our turns will come, so heed the guides.
After all, we’re on the same side.
Where the least of us breathes, we all abide.
With patience, we’ll get our — shots.
No one’s sure how long it will take
to conquer Covid’s many strains.
Friends, stay vigilant, kind, and safe.
and make sure you get your Covid — shots.
(Poem first published in Coming Out of Covid Anthology, 2022)
By Dennis Barone
No temples to Apollo built
in West Hartford, no incense
to Apollo in recent years burnt.
But then up from Beach Land
did arise a path for bicycles:
tribute to azure.
At the coffee bar in Blue Back
one said to the other:
to have done something well once
is no accomplishment, but
to have done it well a thousand
times, now that is something!
And after the twice unhappy
the exception doesn't prove the rule,
the exception proves that the rule is wrong.
Meanwhile, the number of lacrosse
enthusiasts increased precipitously.
Everything runs outside
to see and to taste
and nothing remains within
but a thirst to be vanquished
far from Lethe and Trout Brook.
(from Sound / Hammer, Quale Press, 2015)
by Tony Fusco
Independent, thickheaded, citizens of Allingtown
we never thought of ourselves as part of West Haven.
The town trucks and police hardly ever passed our
small farm, just plenty of trailer trucks rumbling
back and forth on the Boston Post Road, targets
for snowballs and local girls sitting on the top
of billboards waving to the drivers. We had our
own center, triangle green, a hub for buses that
could take you somewhere important, New Haven
Lighthouse, Savin Rock, Bridgeport. They rolled
over routes that once were trolley and train lines
The Derby New Haven Railroad, Milford–West Shore,
Yale Bowl. We waited in Faters soda shop whose
ice cream and wax bottles of syrup made the time
between transfers pass quickly. Right next door
Rocky’s Barber Shop’s a small horse on a chair
in the window lured the less than eager of the
Howdy-Doody set, and at Sal’s bar, dads could
grab a fast beer. There sat the man everyone
called the mayor of Allingtown, Mr. Tamborini,
photos on the walls of former boxers, Tony Carlo
Joe Harvey, Joey Pep. Where was West Haven?
We drove through it on the way to Savin Rock,
to Turk’s and the stock car races, Sutcliff and Gambino
red Ford number 4 and blue Dodge number 5 waged
demolition war for 50 laps in dust and oil on Friday
nights. Santa gave out gifts in the firehouse on Admiral
Street the same room Aldo took dancing lessons
where the firemen might let you climb in a pumper truck
and ring the bell. Saturdays with a dollar each in pocket
we’d walk down US 1 past the old county home
to the Forest Theater for a matinee movie, three cartoons,
the dollar covering admission and a box of snowcaps.
Forest School waited for Monday across the street, its two
entrances, one for boys the other for girls carved in stone
lintels. We went to Lincoln up the hill, built in 1925
shortly after residents voted to separate from Orange.
Manhole covers still proclaim: Property of the town
of Orange, but they are wrong. There are signs you could
read from the bus crossing the West River:
Welcome to West Haven.
But they are wrong too. Anyone that has ever lived here
knows, like we knew then, its not on any map,
yet within these lines, lies Allingtown.
(Written with memories from Connie Sacco
-Long time WH Head Librarian)
by Tony Fusco
We knew at blackberry picking time
the berries would be ready for us.
Together, we were always together
my friends, husband and wife, neighbors.
He would lead our way with his walking
stick. We with our saved strawberry baskets
meandered in the middle of the dirt road
whose path followed the West Riverbank.
Water polluted now, but not so long ago
Pristine, the water hole we called the lagoon
full of laughter and joy when the children
from the county home marched from the hot summer
dormitories’ in neat lines down the old Post Road
to relief, to swimming lessons to some natural
ground underfoot with chestnut trees to the right,
on our left, the bushes. Large branches packed full
and tight with berries, huge and black
sweet and sour juice that exploded
and squirt into dry mouths, that darkened
lips and purpled teeth.
Plenty for all, a bush for each of us.
Intent on our picking, berries drop in chunks,
overfill the containers, all others forgotten,
all things were lost in the moment.
until we met again on the road
with smiles and baskets. Pie crusts at home ready
on the kitchen counters. Lemon juice or tapioca
or both? Fresh berries pie, tasteful with tea.
We take turns, tomorrow I will bring them my pies
The neighbors are gone now, I no longer go
there, the road blocked off, broken glass
and trash strewn, once even a body dumped.
Still some summer days I imagine some full
blackberries still fall to the ground, eaten by birds
and carried high to heavens and clouds.
I remember the river and the way it was,
and smell those baked pies on the kitchen window sill.
AN ODE ON FRED THE LIBRARY CAT
By Sandy Lee Carlson
Like our self-starting founder Ben Franklin–
Statesman, diplomat, thinker, believer
In books as the building blocks of a thinking
Nation of free people–
Our Fred the Cat
Shed the stark limits of her humble birth
For a lettered life at 269
Main Street South.
Like young Hermes arrived on
Olympus, ready to do big things, Fred
Filled a gap in the lives of old people,
Kids, other cats. Yes, Fred was a delight
To so many old and lonesome people
And children, offering homework assistance
And challenging her neighbors and the world
To talk openly about our values:
Do we stick with our own kind or open
Our hearts and minds to those who are different?
Serve the greater good or surrender
To an angry voice shooing Fred away
In a letter to Governor O’Neill
That the governor shooed back to our town?
This would be a local conversation
Among town letter writers young and old
Until the Gray Lady, like Athena
Put it on the wire and people read
About Fred from Maine to the Philippines
And wrote in with a single, humane voice:
I suggest a little cooperation among the species….
I am pleased that a member of the animal
Kingdom has received such wide attention
And approbation and has set such an
Excellent example for your younger patrons….
Thank God there are people to help lost and helpless animals….
A Las Vegas feline, lawyerlike, made
A case for the value of workplace cats.
Another took a philosophical
View in line with Hippocrates: Do no harm.
On the tenth year of Fred the Cat’s employ
At the library, Woodbury’s lawyers
Found there was no case for kicking cats out:
Fred had earned her tenure as the town’s feline,
Earned the right to call her library home.
Closing this lesson on civic engagement,
The selectmen voted their agreement.
The world again wrote to Fred, offering
Hats off to residents of Woodbury,
Connecticut, for allowing you to live
The rest of your natural life
In the only home you have ever had,
Wanting to live in the library
Shows good taste, it sets a noble example
For us all. Would that more of us spent more time in the library!
THIS OLD TOWN HALL
By David Bibbey, Woodbury Poet Laureate, 2018 – 2021
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