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Stone and Land

Two Poems by

Tom Sheehan

Stone and Land - Original Poetry by Tom Sheehan

Stone Menagerie

What is inordinate
are the hippopotami of rocks
at Nahant,
unblinking, refusing
to mourn themselves;
a half-displaced
surge out of sand as if
they’ve lost their breath
in that terrible
underworld of salt
and constant push.

Their shoulders
beam as smooth as agates
from the iodized wash,
gray pavilions
of armor plate massive
in titillating breezes.

Some are remote,
the unknown at reunions
holding quiet places,
waiting for recognition
in a place in the pool,
a niche in the sun.

Only the sun
enters these huge hearts
and moves them,
only the sun
stirs the core where
memory has upheaval.

But in moonlight,
as the cold year ends down
and sand leaps to lace
as intricate
as six-point stitching,
the broad backsides
become mirrors
and a handful of earthquake
glows at rest.

The Barn on Blackberry Hill Road

Buried in a wash of vine and leaf,
dyed of mahogany and dead maize
left too long to the weathering,
rebuked it must seem of sunlight
itself, ripening under dark edges,
one barn on Blackberry Hill Road
promises itself this new century.

A hundred years of sweat stain
dark hardness of its oaken guts,
its boned, inner silhouetting; mock
residue now becomes too soft
for its own well-being, the stretch
of one creature across seasons
too fallible for the given mark.

I have hidden eighty years of life
under odd-cut posts and beams,
leaped here headless and heedless
of summer’s endings, fall’s too
short bits of sunlight in eaves
oh so full of August madness, sieves
of my dare deviling at dreaming

And soft crumbling oak wood takes
into itself, drafty combustion
of tree, leaf and solitary pod wind-
swept, flying so high and dry
one might think it’s all planned,
the documents scribed a hundred
years later on neat-line parchment.

Probably darker than it ought,
being so stretched out in centuries,
wearing years and hard self in grain
browned and kneeling down and servile;
has suffered longingly for cow and horse
and miraculous mule strung in straps
and old leather goods we can smell

As if they have left a bit of bite
for our odoring, luggage creatures
and skins’ last signature remarks;
pelt ink stains barn boards, salt bares
frosted elements, and hoof authority,
the awful and momentous authority
of shod hooves, carves out erosion.


Tom Sheehan served in 31st Infantry, Korea 1951-52. His books are: Epic Cures; Brief Cases, Short Spans; Collection of Friends; From the Quickening; The Saugus Book; Ah, Devon Unbowed; Reflections from Vinegar Hill; This Rare Earth & Other Flights. eBooks include Korean Echoes (nominated for a Distinguished Military Award), The Westering, (nominated for National Book Award); Murder at the Forum, Death of a Lottery Foe, Death by Punishment, and An Accountable Death. His work has appeared in Rosebud, Linnet’s Wings, KYSO Flash (with haibun and tanka poems), Soundings East, Vermont Literary Review, Literary Orphans, Indiana Voice Journal, Provo Canyon Review, Nazar Look, Eastlit, Green Silk Journal, The Path, and He has 28 Pushcart nominations. In the Garden of Long Shadows and The Nations (Native American fiction collection), were recently published by Pocol Press with solid reviews (see Serving House Journal.) Now in the Pocol production cycle are Where Skies Grow Wide, Cross Trails and Between Mountain and River, the last five titles from Pocol Press are all western short story collections. In addition, a new collection, Sons of Guns, Inc. was just released (print and eBook) by Nazar Look Books in Romania, which contains 7 western short stories among others.

Photo by Patrica Crisafulli

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