If you would enjoy some October entertainment that isn’t geared toward cheap horror or sugar highs, have I got a treat for you. It’s a little book of poetry called Pumpkin Chucking, by Stephen Scaer (Able Muse Press, 2013. You can get it here.)
I don’t remember how I ran across this wonderful volume, but according to my Amazon account I bought it in March of 2014. I read it in one sitting, which is not usual for me when it comes to poetry.
Read with me the first poem, and you’ll see why I fell in love with it:
Hannah at Ten
She hops Monadnock’s cliffs, a restless bird,
chattering nonsense to the April dawn,
not caring how the wind distorts each word
since she has words to spare. She prattles on
about the elms that twist to reach the sun
and rest against the ledge on gnarled knees.
They’re ogres, she pretends, and talks to one
who claims the mountain witch turned them to trees.
She pauses just a moment from her talk
to follow veins of quartz across a stone.
Her father’s grateful he’s allowed to walk
beside her, knowing soon he’ll walk alone.
In time he’ll wonder where the ogres went—
old trees, old men become irrelevant.
Some Washington Irving, much Robert Frost, all Stephen Scaer. I wipe off a tear, choke back a curse, look away at something else. And then to the book’s title poem:
Every Columbus Day
the locals bring their chairs
and watch a trebuchet
launch pumpkins at a fort
of tin, as engineers
at play attempt to crush
the record for the sport
of hurling giant squash.
It must have been a shock
when such a monster threw
silent rounds of rock
into the market square
hundreds of years ago.
But the Big Moons they hurl
today could only scare
the unsuspecting squirrel.
These fruits are much too soft
to crack a citadel.
Some prove, while still aloft,
unequal to the stress
of flight and send a hail
that’s tragically organic.
They spread a pureed mess
but hardly cause much panic.
In spite of all the gore,
there’s an unexpected grace
in how the pumpkins soar
over treetops and descend
like basketballs from space.
Though like all living things,
they meet a sticky end,
at least, they’ve had their flings.
So: poignancy, wit, fun, profundity. Who can resist? Looking for low humor? Try this:
An oyster oozes calcium
to hide its irritation.
Likewise, you have often been
a source of inspiration.
I might as well quote the whole book. The particulars of New England meet universal themes that span the emotions.
The blurb on Amazon says that “Stephen Scaer of Nashua, NH, is a special education teacher with poems published in National Review, First Things, Cricket, and Highlights for Children. Pumpkin Chucking was a finalist for the 2012 Able Muse Book Award.”
I think I see why.Published in