Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Pumpkin Chucking


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:

Pumpkin Chucking 

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 Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 6 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Excellent. Thanks.

    • #1
    • October 21, 2019, at 5:45 PM PDT
  2. Full Size Tabby Member

    Oh. I thought the post was going to be about trebuchets, air cannons, and other implements for chucking actual pumpkins at targets or for distance. 


    • #2
    • October 21, 2019, at 6:26 PM PDT
  3. AQ Member
    AQ Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Wonderful. I wiped a tear, too.

    • #3
    • October 21, 2019, at 6:40 PM PDT
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    The first poem is very poignant, while the second is a rousing good fun variation on my image in “Alright People: Post or the Pumpkin is Pulp!

    We have three opportunities still open for this month. Yes, the days are past, but we like to try to fill out the dance card, so you have a no-pressure opportunity!

    I have not yet rolled out bears or outhouses as part of October’s theme: “Trick or Treat!” Do your part to keep it that way! Treat yourself and your friends to a post, nothing tricky about it. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    I’ll roll out November’s theme Wednesday.


    • #4
    • October 21, 2019, at 6:54 PM PDT
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Sweet, poignant, fun. Thanks!

    • #5
    • October 22, 2019, at 6:05 AM PDT
  6. James Hageman Moderator
    James Hageman

    A fun thing to do is find Mount Monadnock on Google Maps and zoom in on the satellite view. You can see the cliffs, and, I daresay, sense the ogres and witches.

    • #6
    • October 24, 2019, at 8:01 AM PDT
    • 1 like