Guest Poet C.Lawry Brown

North Haven Revisited
		In memoriam Elizabeth Bishop

The islands still lay the same
As the summer you came to tea,
The memory of greetings still 
linger with the scent of new mown grass,
The sun behind the Camden Hills.

Voices mingled over crepes and shuffled cards,
Over the rustled wind
Brown's Head Light warned of fog.
As the afternoon grew softer
I put another log
On the fire.

You spoke of the fields alive
with lustrife and daisy,
The scents of summer never changing.
"Two no trump and more tea,"
Cal smiled, 
As the afternoon light was fading.

Chairs were moved, tea cups rattled,
You stuck your head through the kitchen door
And said good-bye.  I let you go,
You and Cal so much a part of me
Too late, we didn't even know.

January, 1999

C.Lawry Brown's Questions:

In this memorial poem to the late Elizabeth Bishop, I tried to write in the slant rhyme that she was so skilled at.  I tried making the third and last lines rhyme or almost rhyme.  Do I achieve the "Bishop-like" flow?  This is also a subtle good-bye to Robert Lowell.  Is it too subtle or by showing them together here and knowing of their friendship, is it enough?  Do I achieve the sadness for the loss of these great poets, that I am looking for?  North Haven is an island in Penobscot Bay in Maine.  Both poets and many others spent their summers there.

Correspond with C.Lawry Brown at
with your ideas about this poem.

The Clock

It sat in the corner
Abandoned, covered in dust.
Its deep, rich wood
Dull and lifeless,
A relic of the past.

Its face smudged, blackened
From countless winding,
The hand-painted numerals
And tarnished soul
Silently, patiently waiting.

The bottom of the glass door
Bore a picture -- a tree,
A lake and a white house
With a picket fence,
Symbols of peace and serenity.

Many times over the years
For whatever reason,
Without warning, it would chime.
Just once, no more
As if wanting recognition.

After one such plea
I contacted a clock maker
To investigate the possibility
Of a cleaning and repair,
To resuscitate its ticker.

Laid carefully on its back
With the heavy weights removed,
This family member was taken
To a very special doctor
To fix this one we loved.

While cleaning and mending
The doctor carefully investigated
The writings and dates inside.
It was over 150 years old,
How well the clock had lasted.

My grandmother always said
When my great-grandmother was born,
The clock was loudly chiming.
Its pendulum swung over the past
Covering lives that now are gone.

It now sits, polished and dusted
In a very special place
In the dining room, with all
The family memories and pictures
With a gleam on its face.

January, 1999

C.Lawry Brown's Questions:

Do I portray this as if it were something that was a living family member?  I am trying to show the importance of something that was here twenty years before the Civil War, that chimed during the birth of countless family members and still keeps on going.  Does it show endurance?  I am also trying to rhyme less and concentrate on content.  I do rhyme the second and last lines of each stanza, not perfectly in most cases, which is on purpose.  Does this type of rhyme work for this piece?  Is the last line all right or is it too corny?  I wanted to show that this beloved family member is with all the other cherished pictures and momentos of the family and that was the way it should be.

Correspond with C.Lawry Brown at
with your ideas about this poem.

The Albany Poetry Workshop