Poetry Friday: Bantam, CT (July 1989)

National-Poetry-Month-Logo (2015)It’s Poetry Friday once again, and today I’m not actually here! I’m spending three days in Springfield, MA for the annual New England SCBWI conference. This is the conference for which I won the NE-SCBWI’s Marguerite W. Davol Scholarship, and will be getting a chance to talk about one of my manuscripts with an agent from a well-known house (the name of which I cannot divulge).

So as I was looking through some of my past writing to share tonight during Open Mic, I came across the very first poem I ever had published following college graduation. I make this distinction because I actually had a few poems published in local independent collections prior to and during college, but it was at this point I felt I finally had the education behind me and the knowledge inside me to know what I was doing.

Of course, I was wrong; none of us ever has ‘enough’ knowledge. But I was proud of the fact that this was a poetry anthology being published half a country away, in Texas, and that the editor felt it made the grade. Looking back on it, there are many things I’d do differently. I’d have used more internal rhyme, used less obvious word choices, and would have definitely been less…oh, what’s the word…histrionic, perhaps?

I hope you like it, though. It was inspired by a tornado touching down in a small Connecticut town in 1989 and was published in a collection entitled Visions by Metamorphosis Publishing.

Bantam, CT (July 1989)

How little you suspected
……….the cold, dispassionate rage of force
………………..Nature showed you.

Two days ago, a quiet small town;
……….yesterday, a furious maelstrom
………………..of rain and wind and stones from the sky;

today, quiet; too suddenly
……….silent, for a once-thriving village swallowed
………………..by an impassive, swirling vortex.

No lives lost, they say – yet
……….what do you see? A broken window lies
………………..beside a shattered rooftop;

overturned sportscar, once sleek and new,
……….wears the remains of a neighbor’s fireplace
………………..like a penniless child’s rags;

and the church – only as strong as the aged
……….bricks with which it was built – vanished
………………..like faith, replaced by its own dust.

This was once a soul,
……….your town; now it lay still as a corpse:
………………..cold, unmoving, conscious of nothing.

Here, amid the hills and trees
……….Nature took you by surprise…
………………..…and how little you suspected.

– © 1989, Matt Forrest Esenwine

My friend and fellow Poet’s Garage critique group member Renee LaTulippe is hosting Poetry Friday today at her blog, No Water River, so please be sure to stop by and check out all the links and fun!


Poetry Cubed logoWant to win a free book? A couple of weeks ago, I shared a new poetry challenge!

If you missed it, it’s my take on the Food Network show, “Chopped!” But instead of using surprise ingredients from a basket to create a meal, you’ll use three photo prompts to create ONE fantastic poem!

(Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re good enough…it’s just to have fun and stretch some brain-muscle. Winners will be determined by a random drawing, so no pressure! Get all the details HERE.)


2015ProgressivePoemIrene Latham’s annual Progressive Poem continues to grow! Each day, a different person adds a line to the poem – and today, that person is Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Then on April 30, it’ll be my turn to add the final line!

You can see how the 2015 Progressive Poem has been developing at the following blog spots:

1 Jone at Check it Out
2 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
3 Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe
4 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
5 Charles at Poetry Time Blog
6 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
7 Catherine at Catherine Johnson
8 Irene at Live Your Poem
9 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
10 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
11 Kim at Flukeprints
12 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
13 Doraine at DoriReads
14 Renee at No Water River
15 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
16 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
17 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
18 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
19 Linda at Teacher Dance
20 Penny at A Penny and her Jots
21 Tara at A Teaching Life
22 Pat at Writer on a Horse
23 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy
24 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
25 Tabatha at The Opposite of indifference
26 Brian at Walk the Walk
27 Jan at Bookseedstudio
28 Amy at The Poem Farm
29 Donna at Mainely Write
30 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Poetry_Friday logoDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!
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13 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Bantam, CT (July 1989)

  1. It’s good to capture those strong moments, even though it isn’t yours exactly, you must have been moved by the news. I love “vanished
    ………………..like faith, replaced by its own dust.” How lovely to look back at our words, trying to remembering what we were like then. Have fun at the conference.


  2. I love this stanza:
    “overturned sportscar, once sleek and new,
    ……….wears the remains of a neighbor’s fireplace
    ………………..like a penniless child’s rags”

    Just wonderful imagery. Great poem. Scary having a tornado in CT.


  3. That was a terrifying afternoon! I live about 20 miles from Bantam, and while we didn’t have a tornado, I do remember the intensity of the thunderstorm. My husband worked in Bantam at the time. Of course this was pre-cell phone, and, because there were so many trees down, I had no way of knowing if he was safe until he finally made it home, hours later. Your poem captures the destruction of the village vividly!


  4. Even though you might do things differently today, I’m sure this poem holds a special place in your heart… as it should. Hey, guess what, Matt? I came up with a little something for your cubed challenge. (Emphasis on “little.”) I’ll email it soon…. Enjoy your conference!


  5. margaretsmn

    Living in south Louisiana, I have experienced my share of hurricanes. This poem takes me back to 1992, Hurricane Andrew. I had taken my little ones to my parents’ in Mississippi. When we returned, the devastation we saw was remarkable. The town recovered quickly, but I’ll never forget the piles of debris and the feeling of loss. Your poem captures that feeling.
    I’m anxious to hear how your SCBWI conference goes. I went to my first last weekend in Houston. J. Patrick Lewis was a speaker.


    1. Thank you, all! I appreciate you taking the time to read it & leave your comments. I just got back from the SCBWI conference last night and apologize for not being able to respond more promptly. Margaret, what Andrew did was incredible – glad you folks were ok. How did you enjoy your conference? The one here was terrific!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Poetry Friday: A little bit of “patience” during Throwback Summer – Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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