Poetry can be found anywhere. It doesn’t have to be something you do all the time.
A photograph I took of Thompson Hall on December 11, 1984, at 5:08 PM, using a tripod and cable release with my Minolta XGM (which my parents gave me for my UNH graduation in May 1982). I used Kodak 400 speed print film and a 50 mm lens. I cranked the shutter down to F22 and let the camera take as long as it wanted. The exposure took 25 seconds. The red sky was enhanced by a Mexican volcanic eruption which happened some weeks earlier. The sky was this way for a few days before I brought in my camera, so I knew it might be a rare opportunity. I had watched the sunsets for the previous days from my office in Sponsored Programs Accounting at the back of the 3rd floor. The lit Christmas tree was a renewed tradition that year as the string of large bulbs was found when Facilities Services renovated the Service Building. One of the other special circumstances of the shot was the good definition of the parking lot side of the building. This was possible because this was before the renovations of Thompson Hall. Some of the windows of what is now the President's Conference Room were still bricked over at the time of this shot. If they were clear glass as they are now, there would have been way too much light streaming out of that side of the shot. All of the detail on that side of T-Hall would have been lost. So, all in all, it was a very lucky shot.
This was the first poem that was published on the Barrington Star electronic web page.
Written May 20, 2000. This poem is about my father. He died on the Spaulding Turnpike on February 14, 1991 at 7:02pm just north of Exit 12 in Rochester, between Mile Marker 19 and Bridge 20. Ironically, it is just north of where the Spaulding becomes a divided highway with a guardrail in the median. He was driving south on the turnpike after a day of skiing (on Valentine’s Day, by himself) at Attitash (I carried the blood covered ski pass he used that day in my wallet, until July 2000). He lost control on black ice and crossed into the northbound lane. Another car hit the passenger side of the car broadside. I received the call from the NH State Police, as my number was the local one of the numbers in his wallet. I lived in East Rochester then. I called my two brothers in Claremont and told them to get up to my mother’s house, to beat the state troopers. I scraped the car and my wife and I went to Frisbie Hospital. I was lead by the trooper, Officer Houle, into an exam room to identify his body. He wouldn’t let Kathy join me. They opened the canvas bag. It was my dad. He was older than I remembered. His hair was whiter than it should be. He had white chest hair. His eyes and mouth were partially open, like the JFK autopsy photos. He made the front page of the 2/15/1991 Foster’s Daily Democrat newspaper, along with a number of other more minor accidents. On 2/15/91, Kathy and I emptied out the contents of his mangled car at the garage where it was taken. The police needed to look at the wheels. The passenger side of the car was all stove in. The unibody undercarriage was all bent. The license plate of the other car was between the driver’s seat and what was left of the passenger seat. Blood and brain matter were in the back seat, where the force of the accident had thrown him. His glasses were in the far rear corner of the trunk. His watch was in the other rear corner of the car. His wedding band was in his change purse, in the pocket of his jacket in the back seat. Attached to the jacket was his ski pass. We took all of these with us. When we got to Claremont, the funeral home took away the blood filled coat. The next week or more were a blur with family time. But, living in Rochester for a number of years more and now in Barrington, I go by that spot a lot. Because he died unexpectedly, because it was a selfish thing he was doing (at least on the surface), because so much was left unresolved, I have a lot of unanswered questions. This poems helps me say the words aloud in a sense. He can’t answer me; but he knows I asked. That’s enough. It will have to be, anyway. I sent the poem to my mother and siblings on June 12, 2000. Here was her response on June 12, “Hello Again: Got your poems on your last email-of course- they are very good - In &quot;June Morning&quot; I can picture the vapors raising from the water and can hear the morning stillness just before the birds stir. Yes, the wonders of Gods creation! &quot;Sunday Afternoon&quot; makes me feel the loneliness of the loon - although I don't know if a loon is lonely.... &quot;Mile Marker 19&quot; Was that the marker #? Those are the questions I've asked so often - and I ask again with the tears falling down my face and anger in my fingers as I type back to you..I'm so very sorry you and Kathy had to face this – to identify - and to carry this with you..Someday, we'll know when we meet in the hereafter - but not yet - no not yet.. You take care - don't dwell on what we cannot understand - God does take care of us if we let him in – but we must let him in - I do thank him that your Dad had let him in again with new vows...I love you Ray Mom Powerful stuff. Here was my response on June 13: Thanks for the note. Yes, that was where. It sometimes is hard driving by that spot in Rochester. Sometimes I won't think of it and other times I do. Sorry if the words hurt. They are questions I wish I could ask him, something I know I struggle with a bit. I guess none of us will totally understand. I definitely will ask in Heaven. Did he really know what he wrought? That was a special moment when you both were baptised again. For him to let his guard down and allow himself to be dipped in the water was a real step for him. I was so happy we could all be there. I have been getting closer to God these last few days. He and I talk a lot out there. Love. Ray On July 15, 2000, I spent 7 hours with my mother. We talked about this poem. She still hasn’t finished grieving about his death, or about the unanswered questions. At one point she said she would like me to take her to the spot on the highway. I said I would. I told her that I no longer carry his blood stained ski pass from that last day, after 9.5 years of having it in my wallet. She said she still carries his Thank God I’m 50 card in her purse. Talismans are hard to let go of.
Senior Goalie Sean Matile holding his stick up in triumph, as he and his UNH Wildcat teammates have just won the Hockey East title on Senior Night in the Whittemore Center, March 6, 1999, completing a regular season with no losses at their home rink and winning the 200th game for Coach Dick Umile (UNH Class of 1972)
Poetry Where You Live 1
Poetry Where You Live Ray Foss Barrington
Most of the poems in this presentation were written in this cabin on Harper’s Island in Swains Lake
<ul><li>40 years old </li></ul><ul><li>Accountant at UNH for 16 years </li></ul><ul><li>Barrington resident since December 1997 </li></ul><ul><li>Amateur Photographer – website with over 2,200 pictures of UNH buildings and sporting events (http://pubpages.unh.edu/unhbdg.html) </li></ul><ul><li>Interest in Presidential Succession Law </li></ul><ul><li>Member of Budget Committee - 3/98 to 3/00 </li></ul><ul><li>School Board member since March 2000 </li></ul><ul><li>Poet since April 2000 (thanks Marcy) </li></ul>Who is Ray Foss
Why I started writing <ul><li>I read a poem I wrote at the April 17, 2000 school board meeting and I liked the response. </li></ul><ul><li>Because of my interest in close-up photography, I see parts and pieces of things. </li></ul><ul><li>At work, I have been accused of being wordy. Poetry is the opposite. </li></ul><ul><li>It is a way to say things in a crisp, direct way. </li></ul><ul><li>Writing poetry is a great way to express and share feelings. </li></ul>
People say that a picture speaks a thousand words. With poetry, I can paint a picture, capture a moment, a smell, a scene in a handful of words.
Poetry I have found my voice. Moments captured in word and rhyme. Free form verse And stream of consciousness. Spell check off, Why spoil the mood. Where did the words come from. Where were they hidden. Why now. I am free. To share thoughts untold. To open up. To live.
Because I have seen the world through a camera lens for 18 years, almost as an extension of my eye, I have taken a lot of pictures. I have tried to be just as visual with my poetry.
The second poem here, Swains, was about 2 canoe rides on Swains Lake off Young Road in May. After a hard day at work, a late afternoon canoe ride can be like medicine for a headache.
Swains Life is simple. In my canoe. Strokes in the water propel me forward. I chart my course around the cove. Stress melts away. The paddle bites into the tawny depths. Shafts of light illuminate the newborn waves. Wind and wave push back. I tack into the breeze. Muscles turn to the task at hand. Shoulder and forearm, Biceps and back. Familiar work, instinctive in time. Left, right. Alternating sides of the hull. A ribbon of water streams off the blade. A beaver dives into the cove. We glide together toward the bridge. He and I know the way. Measured distance preserves the spell.
An army of turtles drop into the lake, Escape their only defense. Each on their own, a ballet in the water. A slow elongated dive, glinting in The reflected light. Silence in my own little world. Water, wind, muscle, motion. Form and function as one. Panorama of a sunset, Purple, lilac, amber and gold. Clouds and pine outline the sky. Ripples on the water shimmer with the failing light. The trill of the loon, haunting and pure. Goldfinch, oriole, grackle join the chorus, Bullfrog and cricket too. Heron and osprey soar overhead. A halo of blackflies silhouetted on the sky. A fly kisses the surface. On shore again. Canoe in its place. Life is simpler, still After a paddle on Swains.
A Bit of Down The edge of the water’s surface Cupped a bit of Mallard down this morning. Shed and forgotten by its owner Adrift to float with the ripples. Caressed by the surface But never breaching it. Part of the water But not in the water Beads of dew clung to The spine of the feather Marking each fiber. The bent quill left some Of the fluff dry, Murmuring in the Gentle morning breeze. A sail to guide the Feather on its journey.
June Morning Dawn on the lake The world is still. Water like a mirror. Land and water blur. Bold bright colors in the morning light. Steam rises from the still surface In wisps and swirls, Soon to evaporate in the warming air. Birds and I stir Ready to face a new day. Above a chorus Joins my world. A flock of Canadian geese A squadron of at least Twenty-five land off the point. Squawking and trumpeting Their arrival. Tea on the porch Soaking it in, The wonder of God’s creation. Oops, time for work.
Nightfall The sun drops behind the shore, The sky aglow. Nightfall on the water. I pull and push The canoe away from shore. Longing for the warmth. The great blue heron Perched on the skeleton Of the ancient pine, Silhouetted on the Oriole sky. The skin of the lake Ablaze in orange, yellow, and black. Waves swelled and fell. The canoe pitched and bobbed. The paddle blade leaves Bright eddies on my side. Colored lights on a deck Elvis on the stereo Easy laughter from a porch. Failing light, all in shadows. Dark houses, silent waters A beaver before me. He slaps his tail and dives Shallow near shore. We cross again, Repeating the dance. A light from my window Guides me home. Dark around me All is still.
Sunday Afternoon The Loon and I Alone on the Lake Below the Threatening Sky. He Watches Me Warily. His Red Eye Afire. Am I a Predator. He Doesn’t Know. He Drops Below the Waves Bobbing Back up Again. The Swallows Dart and Dive Skimming on the Wind Dimpled Surface. Too Early for Boaters. Too Late for Fisherman. Quiet on the Water.
Alone in the Rain I am alone on my porch, in the rain. Nightfall is closing in. Now, the island is lonely. The world is muffled. The rain falls on the porch roof. Two mourning doves twitter as They go from tree to tree, Branch to branch. Now they coo and call To their mate. The water shimmers As sheets of rain Disturb its surface. A small yellow warbler alights On a branch before me, Ready to add its cheerful song to the mix.
Rain now falls from the roof The staccato of the heavy Drops on the hard ground below. A lone boat courses across the water, Eager for home. It leaves but a wake, lost on the rocks. Mist obscures the shoreline. Loons steer by me. I am still, writing these lines. But I am anxious. How I long for the sun For the warmth to join me again In my rustic cabin in the lake.
The next slide is of another kind of poem, about using poetry to deal with open issues. It is about my father. He died on the Spaulding Turnpike. These are questions I can’t ask him. It was the most difficult day of my life.
Mile Marker 19 I drove by the spot again Today, this afternoon. Where you lost control. Where fate found you Tired, and unprepared For eternity to call you. What went through your mind That night in winter? That split second of time. Anger, surprise, fear Or were you asleep Unaware that the ice Held your destiny?
This next poem, Dew in the Morning, is very visual. So, I have included some images that may set the mood.
Dew in the Morning It is 7 am And the world awakes. There’s dew in the morning. Every tip of the serrated Wild strawberry leaves is gilded With a morning’s tear. The crown of each green Blueberry clutches A single dewdrop.
The carpet of moss is softened By the morning mist. Small spider webs in the Lawn hold pearls of dew, Outlining their maker’s artistry. New birch leaves Are ever greener. Panes of mica in the Granite underfoot Hold a special sheen. The world is brighter When there is Dew in the morning.
Wind The paddle and I Out in the middle of The churning lake. The wind pushed the bow Turning me around. I pitched into the wind, Back erect, leaning Against the blow, Making for shore . The paddle, 24 years old, Fit comfortably in my palm Familiar pressure, angle and form The varnish worn and cracked. The shaft and handle darkened With my sweat, dirt, and age. The blade narrow for river work As it was on the Allagash Split and chipped From years of use. A treasured memento Of a wonderful trip.
The waves broke and pitched. The canoe moved Like a cork on the water. Paddle left, back paddle right. The splash of the water As I fought to gain control. Progress slow but real Cutting along the edge of shore Easy to measure Foot by foot. Away from shore again Buffeted by the air once more . An hour from home Muscles taut And cramped Torso twisted Fighting the storm As I contort To steer the canoe
The Ledges Eight silent canoes Pushed off onto the still waters At 2am on a July night. The full moon and stars To guide us across the lake And down river. The loon and bullfrog The only sound Save for the sound of The bite of the paddle, The drizzle of water off the blade, And hulls breaking the surface. No one spoke, None of we sixteen. Lost in our own thoughts Not wanting to break The spell The night and the water Held on us all.
Mates The mallards Paddle before me Male and Female Two abreast One wake.
Apricot and Periwinkle Apricot and periwinkle Robin’s egg and salmon. Moments of Yesterday’s sunset Frozen in my mind. No Nikon or Kodak, No disposable or instamatic. Images captured on Rods and cones this time, Fine grained And enduring. Synapses growing.
Soft shadows And wispy clouds. Bands of color and mood Share the sky With small birds And a damselfly Before the dark. Stars create a canopy After the light fails. The sunset now A part of my Memory. To cherish.
Moonlight Board meeting over Stars and clouds call. Alone on the lake, Time to unwind. 11 o’clock under A moonlit sky. Away from shore Out onto the Still water, Hushed air.
Moon before me Shore behind. Paddling silently To hold The stillness. The moon A bright plate On the water Then a filament Twitching on The waves.
When I turn And pull On my paddle It becomes an Oscilloscope wave Bouncing along The surface. Caught between Deep night and day Muted shadows and A hint of blue under The moon.
Fall is Coming Still nights On the calm water. Late summer on the lake. Crisp nights Fog in the morning A chill in the air. Rocks exposed, An empty boat launch, Full-grown ducklings. Leaves of crimson and gold Join the yellow Lily pads. Fall is coming.
Winter too soon Sean Matile As UNH won the Hockey East Title March 6, 1999
The last 5 slides are images from a canoe ride August 5 th of this year. It is funny sometimes the things that catch the eye.