New England Song

Mayflower

17 April 2022

On Friday, 15 April, HTBS published an article about our poet, Philip Kuepper. He had been video interviewed by Mystic & Noank Library Director Christine Bradley for the library’s Local Author Series. Among the poems Philip read was “New England Song”, which we publish today. Enjoy!

“New England Song”

By Philip Kuepper

(for Michael Meyer)

New Englanders are a rocky-souled people.
There is spirit in our sweat.
We brook streams, not nonsense.
We need more than nonsense
to endure winters, here,
where woodpiles stand, gold,
for embering hearths.

Storms come with eyes, round as lassos,
to whirl and throw round our necks.
We buck when caught.
We buck our ways loose
of the lasso’s grip,
and watch the eye of it shrink,
and trail, limp, out to sea.

Trawlers haul cod to docks,
their flesh the found pearls of sustenance,
the ocean’s depths being what have kept
atick the clocks of our bodies for generations.
Trout, arc rainbows,
turning the air into prisms we catch.
Bass being the air, a silver we mine.

Schools of blues azure rivers
when chased, by prey, out of the bays.
And seeing my shadow fall on the water, darters
explode in every direction at once,
like a depth-charge in the shallows.
Our collective energy is like the darters,
threading know-how through every soul.

Deer pass through woods, requiems of quiet.
They pass, alert, to our presence.
They sense our hunger for the meat
of their beings, sense our prayer
that they be ours. But the owl
will have sung the wood with warning,
will have sung, solo, the wood with warning.

New Englanders are a rocky-souled people.
We learned spirit ways from native tribes.
We learned that coyote could as easily be
a shaman teaching us how to survive time passing.
We stepped off the Mayflower, onto the Ascela.
We are the journey.

(5-6 September 2021)

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