Poetry Friday: The ‘Finding Fall Gallery’

poetryfridaybutton-fulllWriter/blogger Carol Varsalona has been busy the last couple of months putting together what she calls her “Finding Fall Gallery,” a  collection of poems, images, and videos celebrating the most colorful of seasons. And I’m very happy to be a part of it!

So on this day after Christmas, why not relax and spend some time perusing all that she has brought together HERE. If you still need more poetry (and who doesn’t?) you can find all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings at Holly Mueller’s place, Reading, Teaching, Learning, where she’s celebrating poetry – and her birthday!

(Oh, and if you missed my review of the picture book, Song for Papa Crow (Schiffer, 2012) by Marit Menzin, I hope you’ll take a couple of minutes and check it out!)

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Good night”

It’s been a crazy week around here. We lost power and water on Sunday, and although we have both of them finally back as of today, we’re still without heat. Fortunately, we rely on the wood stove more than the oil furnace, so we’re doing ok.

Poetry_Friday logoThe reason I bring this up is because I’ve barely had any time – or even ability – to get any work done this week, let alone write. But as a writer, I’m always ‘working’, so I wanted to share this short little vignette which I wrote while thinking about the snow that was in the forecast for last night. As always, I hope you enjoy it…and be sure to visit Keri at Keri Recommends for today’s Poetry Friday celebration and a touching tribute to her dad from Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Good night

Like Mother’s whisper,
soft and low –
the gentle touch
of Autumn snow.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Cybils-Logo-2014-Rnd2Did 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!
PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

What I learned at the fair, III

As I’ve mentioned on Facebook and Twitter, I’m the live announcer for the Hopkinton (New Hampshire) State Fair. For the past four days, I have wandered from end to end and corner to corner, chatting with folks about everything from giant pumpkins and cattle pulls to fried dough and magic shows.

Over our public address system, I let the attendees know where the bathrooms are, when the next goat show is going to be, and how to get their tickets to the demolition derbies.

And I learn a lot!

That said, I’ve developed a tradition of sharing some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned from the fair here in my blog. Last year I wrote of giant robot dinosaurs and the most despised candies in the universe. The year before that, I mourned the loss of patriotism.

This year, I’ve learned all sorts of new things…

  1. The best time to smell the fair is the first few hours of the very first day. Having been the announcer for about 5 or 6 years now, I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed this before. During those first hours of the fair, each aroma is its own: the donuts, with their yeasty, sugary delicateness; the charbroil grills firing up; the fresh hay and manure. (Yes, fresh manure counts as a ‘good’ smell for me. For those of us who grew up in the country, it’s a very earthy, honest smell). Once the fair gets going all those aromas blend into one – and although you might be able to pick out individual smells, they are much more delightful and independent when you first arrive.
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  2. If your job can be done by someone else, make sure it can’t. Friday morning we had our stock farm tractor pull, where big, powerful machines attempt to pull heavy weights along a dirt path. The one that eventually goes the farthest, wins. Well, our usual announcer was unable to do it this year, so we had someone else fill in (you can see her hard at work in the photo).
    Fair - truck pullShe did a surprisingly good job; however, I’m pretty sure we’ll see Andy Mack, the regular announcer, back next year.
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    Consider this, though…if you’re doing a task that someone else can do, too, you’d better provide some added value to that task and show why you are capable of doing it better. Do you go above and beyond? Are you friendlier, smarter, more positive? Whatever the superlative, make it your own! Once they discover you’re not special, you’re toast.
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  3. There’s a new maple syrup grading system being put into place. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s a huge deal for maple syrup-producing states like New Hampshire and Vermont. For years, customers have been confused by the names of the types of maple syrup, which have varied state to state. What might be called “Grade A Fancy” in one state (such as Vermont), is referred to as “Grade A Light Amber” in another – and what Vermont calls “Light Amber” is different somewhere else. (And don’t even get me started on “Grade B” syrup, which is darker and more robust in flavor, but is just as high a quality as “Grade A”)
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    It’s taken about 10 years of wrangling, but it appears that a new grading system has been agreed upon between the states, and we’ll start seeing the new names in the upcoming spring 2015 sugaring season.
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  4. The less clothing you wear, the more trouble it is. This is one of those issues women seem to have to deal with more so than men. As I spent my four fair days walking from dairy barn to music tent, from horse show ring to funnel cake booth, I noticed something. Those who wore t-shirts, button-down shirts, or dresses appeared completely unconcerned with their wardrobe. On the other hand, those who wore tight-fitting, spaghetti-strapped, midriff-baring, cleavage-inducing tank tops were constantly pulling at themselves, pinching, pulling, adjusting.
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    I just don’t get it. If being sexy is that uncomfortable, suggest to your boyfriend that he try wearing that sort of thing sometime and see how he likes it.
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  5. Loaded baked stuffed potatoes are still the best thing about the fair. I wrote about this last year and it remains the truth. Pure heaven.Fair - potato
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  6. Patriotism still isn’t what it used to be. I’ve also written about this before. When the national anthem plays each day at noon, many folks stop and face the flag(s) on the fairgrounds; others will stand around, wondering what’s going on while others simply pay no heed and continue about their day. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but things like this really annoy me.
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  7. Souped-up pickup trucks with tractor tires are deafeningly loud. OK, so I already knew that. This was just a reason to post a picture of the mud race:

Fair - mud race

Do any of these things come as a surprise to you? Am I alone in my enlightenment here? Anything you’ve ever learned while enjoying the local fair that you’d  care to share?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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Did 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!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “Message to Autumn”

I have to admit, I’m surprised I wrote this.

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAs I mentioned earlier this week, I’ve been extremely busy lately.  Between the voiceover biz, my children’s writing, taking care of the kids, and helping my wife market her new business venture, I’ve barely had time to blink. (In fact, I’m considering scheduling my blinks to make sure I have time for them)

The reason I mention this is I’ve had this photo, taken by my daughter, Katherine, sitting in my computer for awhile now. She took it in November 2010 – and the poor photo has been waiting patiently for me to write a poem about it. I’m not sure why it took me so long – I just finished editing it (for now) last night – but I’m glad I can finally give it some life! And yes, I realize we’re nowhere near autumn at this point – but I thought it might be nice to share my most recent poem with you, anyway.

Click to enlarge

Message to Autumn

Come, come, my friend, it’s getting late;
your leaves have turned and lie in wait.
Give up your faded, lifeless fate –

Old Man Winter’s at the gate.

© 2014, Matt Forrest Esenwine

For more poetry and all the Poetry Friday links, be sure to visit Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche!

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Did 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!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Thanksgiving Day: The one blessing we overlook

This post was originally published on Nov. 20, 2013, and because I am working on a limited schedule this week, I thought it might be appropriate to dust it off and re-post it for any of my followers who hadn’t caught it the first time around. I hope you enjoy your week, whether or not you’re celebrating Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and be grateful…that you have the capacity to be thankful.

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Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. will be here in two days, and everywhere you turn, people are talking, writing, and blogging about all the things they’re thankful for.  I, for one, am growing weary of it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong; it’s good to be grateful.  Indeed, we should be thankful – and display that thankfulness – every day of our lives.  We should reflect upon our blessings on a regular basis and never hesitate to show our appreciation for what we have.

My problem is not so much with the thankfulness; it’s that we’re missing an important reason to be thankful.

The Usual Suspects

Again, please don’t misunderstand me; I’m glad people are thankful for their blessings.  But there are certain blessings that show up on nearly everyone’s lists – our faith(s), our families and friends, our lives, our pets, our homes, our talents.

Some people may be thankful their loved ones made it home safely from being abroad; others may be grateful that they received a year-end bonus, or even have a job at all.

Even the poor and destitute among us may be thankful for things like the warmth of the sun or the kindness of a stranger.

I can say honestly that I am truly, truly, TRULY thankful for all these things…but you probably could have guessed that, even if you had never met me or had never even heard of me or this blog.

These are the blessings that most of humanity celebrates – and the acknowledgement that we should be grateful for these things is rooted in the love, compassion, and empathy that separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We recognize the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness.

A quick vocabulary lesson

Gratitude and thankfulness are not necessarily interchangeable.

I’m no lexicographer or linguist, but it has always been my understanding that these words had different meanings.  To be thankful means you’re appreciative that something that you wanted came about; to be grateful indicates you are appreciative towards someone or something.

(Any English professors in the house?  Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

The reason it’s important to know the difference is because gratitude is directional; thankfulness is not.  Feed a hungry animal and it may be thankful it received food, but it might not be grateful toward you for feeding it.  I know pet owners will disagree with that – having two dogs and two cats of my own, I’ll admit that some animals probably are grateful to the person taking care of them – but how many of these animals understand what it means to be grateful or thankful?

And therein lies the rationale for my previous statement that our recognition of the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness is one of the important qualities that elevates us above the rest of the animal kingdom.

Little blessings, and the BIG one

As I ponder this, I come to the conclusion that the human condition of feeling gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation is itself a blessing.

Yes, I’m thankful for all those things we talked about earlier.  I’m thankful for my family, our friends, and our pets.  I’m thankful I live in a country that promotes freedom of speech, religion, and personal excellence.  I’m grateful to God and Jesus for their love and sacrifices; I’m grateful to my wife and family for supporting me as a self-employed stay-at-home dad; I’m grateful to Al Gore for creating the internet.

(I’m also thankful – or grateful – to whomever or whatever was responsible for getting my 2-year-old to finally stop waking up at 5am…daylight savings time really screwed up the poor little dude’s internal clock for a couple of weeks!)

But I don’t want to overlook this very important aspect of our humanity; that is, the recognition of the importance of gratitude and thankfulness.

Thankful…for being thankful?

Yes, that is basically what I’m saying.  Chuckle if you’d like.  However, when you actually think about what it means to be thankful for having the comprehension of what gratitude, appreciation, or even indebtedness mean…I hope you will understand why I believe it is so important.

We humans are not simply grateful, or thankful.  We comprehend – and celebrate – the importance of being grateful or thankful.

So this Thanksgiving Day, while we’re giving thanks for all we have, think about why you are thankful.

Think about why you are grateful.

And give thanks that you are.

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: Seasonal haiku

poetryfridaybutton-fulllHere’s something brand-new I wanted to share: it’s another poem I’m considering including in my Autumn-themed collection.

I tend to title all my poems, including my haiku – which is technically a no-no, as haiku are not supposed to be titled. So I’m gritting my teeth here, trying not to tell you the title is “Protector.”

Dang.

Oh well, try to forget the title and just enjoy the poem, if you can now…and be sure to visit Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. for the complete Poetry Friday roundup!
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Winter’s first snowfall
arrives just in time to catch
Autumn’s last leaf.

– © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “After the Harvest”

Sometimes, you just need to quit while you’re ahead.

About a month ago, I wrote a poem, shared it with several folks who write & critique poetry all the time, and received all kinds of feedback. Some of it was good; some of it was contradictory.  The reactions varied from “incredible” to “confusing” – so I went back and completely rewrote it, paring it down by 50%, removing what I thought were the problem areas, and even going through a half-dozen different titles. After all, it’s a fine line between poetic ambiguity and utter befuddlement, and I wanted to make sure I was not engaging in the latter,

I then showed both poems to a completely different group of equally astute people, who resoundingly preferred the original.

>sigh<

That’s why I say, feedback is great, but ultimately it’s the poet’s poem – and eventually you need to just stand by your convictions and hope for the best. Having said that, I hope you like it! The first version is the original, which I prefer, and the second is the revision. I do thank ALL the folks who read it and provided their thoughts – even if I didn’t use their suggestions, their feedback was valuable to me.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts.  And for all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings, make sure you stop by Teacher Dance and say hi to Linda Baie!
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“After the Harvest”

Past cornstalk stumps and pumpkin patch
and corners unexplored,
they plowed through hedges, crops, and grass
to reap a fine reward.
Tender treasures offered up
were quickly snatched away
‘til soon the field could yield no more
and night turned into day.

Then hastily, they disappeared
on fleeting, little feet
to feast upon the fortunes gained –
their plunder now complete.
The only things they left behind,
those swift and hungry souls,
were rows and rows where nothing grows
and empty candy bowls.
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“Scavengers”

Past cornstalk stumps and pumpkin patch
they plowed through hedges door by door,
for tender treasures offered up
until the field could yield no more.
Then all at once they disappeared,
those swift and hungry little souls
who left behind a barren stretch
of rows of empty candy bowls.

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– both poems © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid 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!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week – on Tues. and Fri. – so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!