Today's poetry for today's world

Tim Applegate



Tim Applegate's poems and essays appear in The Florida Review, The South Dakota Review, Lake Effect, The Briar Cliff Review, and numerous other journals.  He is the author of Blueprints (Turnstone Press) December 2015,  At the End of Day (Traprock Books) and Drydock (Blue Cubicle Press). He lives in the Willamette Valley of western Oregon.



Click the book cover to buy Blueprints.





Like many other families of the time,

my mother’s English ancestors were named 

for the work they performed, clearing stones

and boulders from the neighboring fields

so the local farmers – landowners – could

plant their crops.


Years ago my cousin Raymond traced

the Stanfields back to the Norman invasion

of 1066, but as I clear our upper acre to plant

a small family vineyard this morning,

little, it seems, has changed.  The sun rises

over a tapestry of farms.  At the bottom

of the hill a rooster crows, which wakes

the dogs, who start barking.


And as the ghosts of my ancestors

gather in the shade of a nearby maple

to light their pipes and comment on my

progress, I unearth stone after stubborn stone

with a mattock, a shovel, and my hands.








At sixty, Franky’s not sure how long

he can keep this up. Laying carpet. Pounding

nails. Finishing this room addition

for the Lake Oswego socialite who instructs him

not to park his truck in her driveway

because “it looks like it might leak”.

He parks on the street.


Not sure how long, because after

a lifetime of such work the body

starts to give out, a leaky engine, while the mind,

once so focused, strays, recalling with an ache

the trout streams of his youth, the elk

in the mountains, the baseball games

down at old Multnomah Stadium.


And the women, yes, always the women. Their

lovely names on Franky’s chapped

lips – Blanche, Peggy, Paige – as he

clinches the last nail, gathers up

his tools, and limps back to his pickup

in the dying light of day.




Published in Windfall.







for Clemens Starck  



For half an hour, nobody says a word; instead we ride that

necessary silence -- still bleary from last night's bourbon --

through the same patchy farmland we've been riding through

all of our lives: bayonets of spring corn spearing the loose soil,

endless rows of soybeans on the margins of the one-silo towns,

a chorus line of poplars flinging the capes of their shadows

across the curve of a country road.


Finally outside Martinsville the new subdivision

looms into view -- the bare beams and rafters

the bones of some mastodon suspended in

thin air -- and by midmorning the truck is unloaded

and the rural calm shattered by the steady whine of our saws.


In a hundred years, no one will remember

a moment of this.  Not Sam-bam the drywall man, dead

within a year of cancer.  Not old George Dobson, still painting

baseboards on his seventy-three year old knees.  Not Jimmy, our foreman,

who is having an affair with the unhappy wife of the rich builder

we all work for.  Not Charles, cement finisher and frustrated artist,

who now scrawls his initials into concrete slabs.


In a hundred years, no one will remember a word, or a gesture,

or a moment of this, though perhaps with good fortune, in this room

we're now framing, a young couple will make love, slowly

and with care, afterward opening the windows to lie

in the cool evening, to share a silence broken only

by the distant whisper of a river, by a sigh of wind in the trees.




Published by The Florida Review.     





Click the book cover to buy At the End of Day.





On a small white canvas

an artist is sketching

a Japanese flower


which seems, at first glance,

an abstraction, the

idea of a flower

and not the thing itself.


Then you notice

how the brush

imagines the petal, how

ink roots the stem.


And now the canvas

is a page, the page

a white field

stitched in the middle

by Shushiki's haiku


                                Dead my old fine hopes

                                and dry my dreaming but still . . .

                                iris, blue each spring




Published by Laughing Dog.

Writer's Tip:  For what it's worth, my only advice to an aspiring poet would be this.

Travel, fall in love, grow vegetables, climb a mountain, fish a trout stream, read the

masters . . . and then write.        



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