Poetry Society of Vermont
founded in 1947
photo by Linda Tyler
Spring Workshop Poems
by Popular Vote
May 2016


  1. Marta Finch – Proverbial Thoughts

They said to take one stitch—it would save nine;

as if that’s all I’d ever have to do

for everything in life to turn out fine.


It felt secure, being told what easy sign

(some minor snag) to pay attention to.

They said to take one stitch: it would save nine;


but hidden defects often undermine

a mend. Were they mistaken in their view

that everything in life would turn out fine?


What of indelible ink, or blood, or wine?

Why was it just to me and not to you

they said to take one stitch? It would save nine,


they kept insisting—as if to draw the line

at ripping up whole cloth to start anew.

For everything in life to turn out fine,


I need not seek an ancient anodyne,

since I see now that it was never true

(when they said take one stitch, it would save nine)

for everything in life to turn out fine.


2. Ann Day – Back Road to Tinmouth, 


The back road through Danby Four Corners

is shrouded in fog and damp muggies,

maples are distant shadows in pastures, 

swamp grasses bend with wetness.

Light rain begins to spot the windshield,

I don’t close the windows.

I drive up the hill toward a farm:

white, paint-peeling house on the right,

gray-boarded, tin-roofed barn on the left.

I slow as a tan, black-legged Jersey 

saunters across the blacktop.

I stop, turn off the motor and wait.

She stops --gazes –waits,

in the middle of the road.

In a moment, the rest of the resident herd 

erupts from a dark opening

under the rusted, over-hanging barn roof.

Black, white, red-spotted, manure-rumped bovines

wander down the road past my parked car,

empty udders swinging with their lazy pace.

A wet, pink-pimpled muzzle

is thrust into my open window.

Another cow inspects the left rear tire;

others stand and stare, tails swinging,

until the rubber-booted farmer

quietly moves his herd 

down the road toward the pasture gate,

his face wrinkled with a smile.

Rain splats on the pavement.

I begin to roll up my window.

The farmer looks my way and waves,

“Nice day,” he says.


3. Janet Burnham – The Job of Crows, 


The crows began holding court

in February.

 Considering,

They sat in council like conferees,

Like black flags at meeting

in the tops of trees.

Dark sentinels of the gate,

Doorkeepers,

Masters of the lock.

Not greeters,

A jury of deciders…

Whether to let the fool in or not.

They take themselves so seriously.

It could go either way.

Don’t blithely expect Spring…

Until the crows have had their say!


4. Karen Richardson – Senior Princess of So Many Springs, 


Bluets pushed up in a little array

in our yard. You walked up the hill 

with a falter. This was a new wrenching

thing, this stumble, a lean and a catch

 

to your walk. By the lone purple crocus,

you padded to pee, a too slender calico

old lady. It was your time, but I asked if


you could wait for a last good day. I knew

you were wondering, as you went to the door, 

Is this it? This day? No, Dear, it is

cold, windy and rainy, only a harbinger 


of your good day. So you waited, snug

on a heating pad, in your home hospice

care. You look good, they said. Except 

for today, when finally the air through 

the earth drew us both outside. Barefoot, 

I followed on spongiform but sunny ground 

and grass. Unseen to me, urine trails 


of interlopers you dismissed with a flick 

of your tail. Stalked, stumbled, sniffed; 

in Royal fashion, you surveyed and I 


humbly followed the tiny marvel of you 

in such outside largess. That last good day, 

O’, Senior Princess Of So Many Springs,

the decision of highest love for you, I made


5. Regina Brault – A Nest of Dreams, 


Like serpents

my dreams postpone their birth

until all eyes are lidded

all minds distracted, limp.

They slink in suddenly

and I

reliving the primitive awe

of ancestors

am struck dumb by their presence.


These unblinking trespassers

upon my fertile ground

have mastered immortality

increasing in size and power

shedding skin to accommodate

a new and unfamiliar flesh.


And when they plot to braid themselves

into my hair

I pile pillows on my head.

And when they order me to kiss the cobra

like a Burmese charmer

I force my frozen voice

to pierce the darkness with my screams.


Awake and shivering

I touch my tangled hair

dry lips, cold skin

and contemplate the old belief

that when a serpent swallows prey

it becomes that which it has consumed.


Curled tightly in my nest of sheets

I lie in wait for slants of rising sun

to slither down my skin

and show me who, or what I am.  


6. Ann Cooper – Dandelions

Why would we want to poison the earth

to kill a dandelion?

Signs of rebirth, bright yellow cheer

in a sea of spring-new green after winter’s monotony

of brown, grey , white?

Who cares what the neighbors think?

Is value truly set by

a conformity of green?


Dandelions, like us,

grow old and grey,

but unlike us do so to

delight and propagate.

Wisps blowing in the wind, 

propelled by gusts or children’s breath,

glimpses of the Holy Spirit,

settle to earth, seeding future growth.


Dandelions—yellow hope, 

reminder of nature’s resilience, 

if it’s not too late.


Think of the grass, the so-called weeds

that spring up in sidewalk cracks, around the city’s trees.

Even if we, by our indifference or lassitude

allow the death of what we take for granted now,

and too much ignore how much we love,

even then, 

even then there will be spring and newborn green

and yellow resurgence.

There are dandelions in Chernobyl.