The ballad of Hadlock:
the Seal Hunter Showman
(a fictionalized account of the life and death of Captain Samuel Hadlock, Jr)
writer: Robin Clifford Wood
producer: Penobscot Theatre Company, penobscottheatre.org
voice actor: James Konicek jameskonicek.com
audio engineer: Neil E. Graham
I am excited to report that the following poem won a 2nd place in the Writer's Digest Annual Competition in the rhyming poetry category:
Mother’s Day at a distance:
Many daughters and their moms will spend this Mother’s Day
Adapting to the distances that keep them far away.
We’ll call and chat by video or maybe send some flowers,
Instead of hugs and clasping hands and chats at bedtime hours.
And some of us will be with Mom through deft improvisation,
Since no one yet’s perfected afterlife communication.
Instead of Zoom or video, I go outdoors to link;
I take a breath and listen hard and stare without a blink.
I still can feel my Mom’s caress, her knobbled hands on mine.
I don’t know if it’s God or Earth, but surely it’s divine.
I feel her by the pond where I hear peepers gaily cheeping;
I smell her in the garden where the greening thyme is creeping.
I hear her voice in cardinal song and gusty breezes racing.
The sun and moon and turning earth will be our shared embracing.
I speak to Mom with heart and soul, and surely she can hear me;
She taught me – the unfolding world holds wonders ever near me.
Dear Mom, if you were here on Earth, I’d tell you of my cheer:
My daughter had a daughter, Mom, who’s spunky, bright, and dear.
She opens wide her little mouth, delighting in her world.
A sense of awe and wonder fills me as her life’s unfurled.
My Nellie’s now a mother, Mom, as both of us have been.
I’m watching her become a mom, and two new lives begin.
And there you are again, you know, your love, your strong embrace.
When Nellie lifts her baby girl, you’re there, in Nellie’s face.
June 18, 2020
The threshold of summer, at last, reaches north,
Where summery mornings sing busily forth.
For when they arrive they announce themselves loudly,
With flowers abloom and puffed birds preaching proudly.
The goldfinches flit and the peonies droop;
The bullfrogs harrumph and the tree swallows swoop;
A duck family glides on the still-water pond;
Two muskrats are feasting on lush cattail frond;
The maple leaves, backlit by dawning sun’s rays
Surpass stained glass windows in summoning praise.
My breath catches short and my heart goes ablaze
For all that is lovely in Earth’s glory days.
April 24, 2020
Trapped Too Long Alone
Another day of staying home,
the sun has arced its course,
traversed the soaring blue-deep dome
with quarantine in force.
How was your day? What did you do?
The question seems to scold.
I ate, I walked, I tied my shoe;
the day and I grew old.
Without a job or task in line
or friends’ reflected gaze,
I cannot seem to self-define;
my self has bled to haze.
In isolation’s empty hours
our steam-vents jam and groan.
The inner self erupts and cowers
when trapped too long alone.
Jan. 18, 2020
Impeachment reflections in verse
I wonder if you’ve noticed that my blog avoids the news.
I’m quite aware of all the mess, the falses and the trues.
Impeachment is enormous, then again it’s sort of not;
With Trump as head of state we hear unheard-ofs quite a lot.
My paucity of politics is not a blog mistake.
The rest of life continues, is the point I’d like to make.
I hope we’ll all work hard to tell the real news from the fake,
But also we should give our frazzled faculties a break.
No matter who’s in power, we all work and rest and eat,
And love our friends and family and give furry friends a treat.
Oh yes, work hard for goodness! Be a beneficial force.
But also we are human, and we must refresh our source.
The sun comes up, the moon goes ‘round, the seasons flow and ebb;
Breathe deeply in the whole wide world; shut down the World Wide Web.
Reserve some time to be an independent self, alone.
There’s wisdom in our natures, if we’ll just turn off the phone.
Here is a very Maine-based poem I wrote a few years ago:
A New Year Contemplation
I went out walking yesterday –
new crampons on my feet.
The well-timed gift gave me a way
to grip ground slicked with sleet.
A sheet of ice two inches thick
had blanketed December.
It was a trial, a Christmas trick
we all will long remember.
I tramp out back into the field
three dogs slip-sliding near me;
they splay their toes on ice congealed
but cannot anchor, clearly.
In spite of all our trouble, though,
I cannot help but see –
the ice-encrusted world of snow
is also heavenly.
The open stretches and the hills
are shiny like meringue;
I breathe in deep, my cold nose fills
with scent of wood smoke’s tang.
Each filament of twig and grass,
adorned with icy sleeve,
is capped with snow and gleams like glass
all bound in fragile weave.
But many suffer, well I know,
beneath this armored shell.
This heaven fantasy of snow?
For some, a scene from hell.
“We have no power,” many say,
and heat is necessary.
The roads are slick, limbs block our way
and even walking’s scary.
“We’re in the dark,” “Mom took a fall;”
“An accident’s reported.”
“We planted trees and lost them all;”
“Our generator shorted.”
But still I cannot help but see
when walking in my field,
that nature’s frozen fantasy
is like a gift revealed.
The beauty takes my breath away
and I must pause and stare,
as sparkling diamond tree boughs sway
and crackle in the air.
How do we reconcile these two
At once, two different points of view
demand our brain’s attentions.
It strikes me that this icy strife
is like a mock rendition
of every aspect of our life’s
A New Year starts for us today;
it’s time to look ahead,
and we can choose the hopeful way
or cloak our minds with dread.
Our government’s embattled state
will muddle on as ever,
and global wars may not abate
despite our best endeavor.
We’ll fight against injustice
with our webs of information,
and refuse to let grief bust us
even faced with desolation.
Our little globe is fraught with icy,
but even when life’s dicey,
its magnificence remains.
The glory and the burdens all
inhabit us together.
We must decide that we’ll install
equipment for all weather.
As we go forth, as this New Year
reveals its rising dawn,
see beauty when it does appear,
and keep your crampons on.
Older than the hills – poem
By Robin Clifford Wood
June 23, 2018
Written in an English garden, behind the The Galaxie Hotel in Oxford, England
(originally published in the Bangor Daily News)
Why is it that we frantically resist
Acknowledging the passages of time?
We cling to fading youth with knobbled fist
Instead of recognizing the sublime.
A friend of mine completed sixty years,
But when they called him “senior” was appalled.
I’d like to give appeasement to his fears,
Despite the fact he’s old and growing bald.
“He’s old as time;” “He’s older than the dirt,”
Say Hallmark cards that seek to entertain.
But time is infinite, and I assert
That dirt’s as precious as the sun and rain.
I’m only just beginning to be old,
And on my bucket list of future thrills
Is that I’ll still be vital when I’m told
That I am someone “older than the hills.”
Just think about the years a hill abides,
Beginning as a jagged mountain tower.
Millennia have beaten down her sides
Reducing both her grandeur and her power.
But contemplate the hill from off some distance --
You’ll see the greater strength she’s gently wearing.
Through quiet observation and persistence
The hill exudes a wise, eternal bearing.
A rocky mountaintop lies starkly barren
Without the flourishing of earth’s erosion.
It needs the stream, the birch, the wolf, the heron,
In order to engage in life’s explosion.
Upon a hill there’s rich and fertile soil
Where beast and forest multiply and thrive.
From gnat to bear entanglements embroil,
And hills engender everything alive.
I’ve had my days of jutting high with pride,
But I don’t mind the calm that age fulfills.
As agents of eternity, let’s glide
Toward noble lifetimes, older than the hills.
I heard the news the other day –
An aging friend has moved away
To places where the sun shines clear
For more months than our sun shines here.
Is that source of why they say,
When someone’s going old and gray
with knobbly hands and drooping mouth
that so-and-so is “Going South?”
No doubt we cannot fight the cold
or skip across an icy road
as once we did with careless ease
without concern for broken knees.
Or does the phrase mean that we sag
From gravity’s relentless drag?
Towards earth our velvet bodies strain
Like sodden grasses after rain.
But “Going South” suggests all bad –
A sliding down, a fall, all sad.
In contrast, I would like to sing
Some praises of this aging thing.
Haven’t we accomplished much
In all the lives our lives have touched?
Isn’t it a great relief
To laugh at spinach in our teeth?
We are no longer so undone
By little griefs. We cherish fun.
We’ve come so far in peace of mind,
Intangibles youth yearns to find.
It’s not just south; we’re going forth
To east and south and west and north.
The truth is that we’re on the rise,
Free gliding in our calmer skies.
Thanksgiving 2013: Find a Quiet Spot
Even while you scrub a dish or stir a boiling pot,
Or panic when the food is cold that should be steaming hot,
Or seek that thing that's always there and suddenly it's not,
And guests are due at five but come at seven on the dot...
While all the ruckus roils around you, find a quiet spot.
You may be lighting candles, peeling carrots in the sink,
Or toasting at the table as your family shares a drink,
Or playing silly games like "Inky Pink" or "made ya blink,"
Or airing out the dog room to alleviate the stink...
But find a quiet moment, and remind yourself to think.
Your quiet spot might only be a place inside your mind;
An isolate escape -- before or after you have dined.
For just one pointed moment, leave complexity behind,
And maybe through good fortune, in that solitude you'll find...
A deep and true, abiding, loving thanks--the finest kind.