Poetry Friday: “Stone-Kicking,” from the Donald Hall tribute anthology

I don’t know if it’s because the pandemic has made us all nostalgic for our “pre-Covid” life or what, but I was looking through some of my previously-published poems when I realized I’d never shared this here on my blog.

Two years ago, in the summer of 2019, Encircle Publications of Maine published the poetry anthology Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall, which included my original poem, “Stone-Kicking:”

The actual road I was walking when I first began formulating the poem. Note Mt. Kearsarge, a mountain nearly synonymous with Hall, gazing down at me in the distance. I had no idea at the time that this poem would end up in such an appropriate – and important – book.


I kick my dreams
like stones in the road
watching them bounce
happily ahead while I
dawdle behind.
Dirt road, still
damp from yesterday’s storm
smells of pine and mud. Gravel softly
sticks to slow feet while sunlight tries
through thick poplars
to warm a meandering path.
I kick another stone, watching it
quickly skip, kissing ground in its
own wayward curve…
The joy, of course, comes not
from picking it up, carrying it,
keeping it…
but from watching where it goes,
how far it rolls,
and, when it veers
to the slick road’s edge,
setting it aright
with my foot
and flicking it
back to the

© 2019 Matt Forrest Esenwine, all rights reserved


This book pays tribute to former U.S. and New Hampshire Poet Laureate Donald Hall by featuring poems by 35 New England poets who have been influenced by Hall’s work. It includes poetry by such accomplished poets as Jane Yolen, L.R. Berger, David Giannini, and many others – and yet, somehow I managed to sneak in!

10% of proceeds will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of Hall’s late wife, poet Jane Kenyon, so click HERE or the cover, below, to order your copy. (and let us know if you’d like me to sign it!)

…I can finally spill the beans!

That’s right, ANOTHER new book, coming out next fall from Beaming Books, the folks who published Once Upon Another Time! And there’s a very cool behind-the-scenes story about how the book came to be – involving poetry, rejection, tenacity, more rejection, and a willingess to shift gears, rework, revise, and say “yes” whenever possible – which I’ll be sure to share as we get closer to publication date!

For now, though, it’s Poetry Friday – and Margaret Simon is hosting the complete roundup at her blog Reflections on the Teche with a spotlight on an unusual poetry anthology titled Bridge the Distance, Teacher-Poets Writing to Bridge the Distance: An Oral History of COVID-19 in Poems. The book is an ‘oral history’ of life during the pandemic written by teacher-poets, and margaret shares her contrib ution.


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You can purchase personally-signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018)and nearly EVERY book or anthology I’ve been part of!

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Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send a comment to the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH requesting my signature and to whom I should make it out. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


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12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Stone-Kicking,” from the Donald Hall tribute anthology

  1. Congratulations on the new book announcement! I’m feeling a niggle of resistance to the speaker of the poem about what’s the joy of kicking stones. I’m thinking about all the times they land somewhere unseen—and I think maybe that’s the joy for me: the not-knowing where they land, the mystery. Thanks for sharing the poem!


    1. Thank you, Irene! It’s interesting that you say that, about kicking the stones and what joy comes from it. I’ve had several people share with me their thoughts on stone-kicking, why they might do it or why the speaker might do it, or the general impression they get from the poem… and I just find it very interesting that everyone who reads it seems to disregard the first line. The poem, you see, is not really about stone-kicking, at all.


  2. Congratulations on another book-in-progress, Matt. Good news is always great news.

    Your poem/anthology story felt like deja vu for me. Do you have another poem in this collection – or inspired by that road? Your photo caption about actual road and Mt. Kearsarge, a mountain nearly synonymous with Hall… felt familiar. (Very odd.)


    1. This is my only poem in the collection. I did share the news about the anthology and my poem when it came out a couple of years ago, but never shared the poem in its entirety until now… perhaps that’s where you are remembering it?


  3. Denise Krebs

    Matt, congratulations and congratulations. I love the rock-kicking poem as Mt. Kearsarge looks on. Beautiful. It is exciting to have your poem in the collection with all those others; you deserve it. I’ll look forward to hearing more of your story of tenacity and the new book. Exciting!


  4. Congratulations on your new book, Matt! I’m looking forward to hearing more about how it came to be. When I read your reply to Irene, I had to go back to the beginning of your poem. Somehow, although I knew your poem was about kicking dreams (I even paused and thought what a wonderful simile as I read it!), the images of kicking stones took over. Ahhh- the power of rereading to go deeper and deeper! This is a poem that needs to be read more than once. Thank you for that reminder.


    1. Thank you, Rose… I appreciate you re-reading the poem in order to get a better sense of what I was saying. As much as I love Hall’s work, I’m also a big fan of another famous New Hampshire son, Robert Frost, and his use of what he called “ulteriority” – many of his poems, although seemingly about one thing (like a road not taken or a dust of a snow), are actually about something else entirely.


  5. margaretsmn

    Exciting things happening for you. Teach me something about persistence, will you? Your lovely poem reminds me of William Stafford. The profound in just wandering in nature.


  6. Matt, congratulations. I remember when you gave us a teaser but now the whole poem is right before our eyes. Kicking stones is a common practice by oh so many but reflecting upon the process is very special. Your thoughts are inspired by the walk.


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