Tag Archives: Stephen Philbrick

Poems by Stephen Philbrick

As Though A Grocer Sat In His House

They need me, every hour they need me and I cried,
not because they need so much,
but because they need so bad.

They need me to ‘facilitate’
to call their crazy friend
not to say a word, but listen to a world.
Then there’s the mother cherishing her child
to the point of cleaning and folding and tucking his soul away
in a cedar chest,
to keep it safe from moths —
for never and a day.

How much they need.
How little it is, what they ask me to do.

It is as though a grocer sat in the morning light,
sat before he went to open up the store,
sat in his house and cried
because people are so hungry and all he has is food.

Just The Dark Of An April Moon

Passion riddles the familiar landscape.
Like some neighbor’s house turned inside-out
by police and ambulance light, by sirens and stretchers and questions.

Say you find a rusted-out Ford by an abandoned stone wall in the woods:
isn’t the body shot through with .22’s?
weren’t they pointed by some forgotten boys ?
and could the boys ever forget the thrill of the windshield
crazing and webbing and finally caving in
beneath stones cast for the sheer destruction of it?

Or: listen to the owls these nights;
what do the owls know?
The death-in-life and life-in-death that is their hunting?
Or the death-in-life and life-in-death that is their mating?

Look at the big hole in the woods
where once there was a small hole
where hornets passed in and out of their underground nest.
Then the skunk — who else?
impenetrable fur and fell claws and impossible smell: awefull! —
the skunk dug up the nest and ate the larvae.

Something is running through the swamps these nights,
tongue out, tail flat out, claws out,
testicles descended, territory defended,
eggs flecked and flocked and ready to drop;
hot on the scent, smelling like heat;
too deep in the dark to hear; too deep in the swamp to see;
but too deep in the blood to ignore.

The ridge resounds with it, through the feet;
the heart hears what the ears can’t and waits and hopes;
and all the quiet earth pricks up and heaves itself open.

Now, that’s passion.
It’s what we inherit;
it’s how we inherit.

And that’s just the dark of an April moon;
that’s just the spurt of spring,
the holy ghost of Easter passing through the husk of tomorrow
and the dry leaves that last year shed.


September 29: Stephen Philbrick and Patrick Pritchett

on Monday, September 29, 2014

at The Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, Wendell, MA

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sliding scale admission: $1 – $5

Lumberjack_1Steven Philbrick was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. He moved to the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts 35 years ago, where he still lives with his wife, the potter Constance Talbot. He was a shepherd for many years and nineteen years ago became the minister of the West Cummington Congregational Church. His books include No Goodbye (Smith), Up to the Elbow and THREE (Adastra Press), and a prose book,The Backyard Lumberjack (Storey Publishing), co-written with his son, Frank. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, New Letters, Mudfish, Key West Review, and We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For, among others. He writes, “I have been fortunate enough to make my living in the Hilltowns for many years. This means that I have received more than I have given. And I have given all that I have, although sometimes that was not too damn much of very good. The city boy has become a country preacher, because life in the Hilltowns is slow enough, steep enough, sharp enough and soft enough that I can apprehend some of it (I don’t worry about comprehending, just yet). All of these poems are love poems, if you know how to listen.”

Pritchett (2)Patrick Pritchett
 is Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Amherst College. His academic work focuses on poetry, disaster, and the messianic. Among his many publications are essays on Ezra Pound, George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, Ronald Johnson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Fanny Howe, Michael Palmer, and John Taggart. His books of poetry include Burn, Gnostic Frequencies, and Song X.