Archives for posts with tag: New England

salisbury ma
Riders to the Sea
by Richard L. Levesque

We arrive at the beach
post sunset, after the storm
rolls out into the Atlantic.
The asphalt
has a wet sheen,
almost like a black mirror.

Cigarette butts float
in deep puddles
that reflect neon signs.

At a nearby bar,
a cover band
is trying to be ZZ Top.
I fumble quarters
into an ancient
parking meter.
My friend calls
her son,
checking in.

Sneakers and sandals
come off,
pants are rolled up.
And we walk
on damp sand
behind the old Pavilion building.
The floodlights there
reveal an angry, churning sea
high above wooden pillars.
Against the night sky,
rolling waves rise
and slam against the shoreline.

My friend and I gasp together
and, in that moment,
I don’t think about why I’m there.

I don’t think about
my mother’s diagnosis
or my family’s denial.

I only think about music–
Anna Calvi’s
“Rider to the Sea.”

The instrumental
swells and breaks
just like the waves in front of us.

It’s all feedback
and noise,
then it is silent, calming.

I stare at the waves,
the music in my head
tearing emotion from my heart.

I have never seen
the ocean
in this context before.

we whisper
before walking away.

I tell my friend
my mother probably
has a year.

She predicts
I will be back home
before then.

(It is a prophecy
that comes true
in six months.)

We don’t dwell on this,
but continue up the beach instead,
putting the storm at our backs.

PHOTO: Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts (2010) by 6SN7.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2013, my mother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and I went back to my hometown in Massachusetts to assess the situation. Things were not looking good and it was starting to get overwhelming. One night, just to get away for a minute, I asked a friend to take me to Salisbury Beach. A storm had just blown out to sea and the surf was breathtaking. I’d been going to that spot ever since I was a kid, but never had that kind of reaction before. The memory has haunted me in a good way ever since. Because of it, I can usually find the one good memory in just about any situation these days.

PHOTO: The author at the Blue Ocean Event Center (formerly the Pavilion) on Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts (Sept. 11, 2022).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard L. Levesque is a poet who lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife Lorrie. His previous chapbooks are Bone-Break Psychobilly Stew and Fetal Graceland. In his spare time, he enjoys tinkering with computers and watching roller derby.

house-lawn copy
To Do List
by Midge Goldberg

The mud room door latch doesn’t always work.
Old and bronze,
sometimes it sticks,
and you fiddle with it
on your way out.

When the back door opens,
the air pressure
changes, makes the mud room door
open on its own—it floats ajar
till someone comes along
to shut it.
I’ve seen you push it gently closed
with your fingertips.

Other times
it seems to lock itself
and no amount of key-jiggling or curses
unlocks it.
I know that thud on wood, the sigh,
when you finally give up,
go around through the kitchen.

Though you always carry
a Swiss Army knife,
I tell people, you’re ornery,
you like the door like that—
unpredictable as the weather
that broke it,
wore it down,
then slips it open with a breeze.
You’ll never fix it.
I know you.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Living in an old house gave me many opportunities to imagine all the people that had lived in it before, and what it was like to live there in 1880. Was there a road, neighbors? How isolated was it, and how did they live day-to-day? What did they eat? Did they grow all their own food? Where had they come from? There was always a special feeling in that house, and the doors seemed like the magic wardrobe by which I could enter back into those early times.

midge-goldberg red dress summer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Midge Goldberg received the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award for her book Snowman’s Code, and the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Measure, Light, Appalachia, and Poetry Speaks: Who I Am. Her other books include Flume Ride and the children’s book My Best Ever Grandpa. She is a longtime member of the Powow River Poets and has an M.F.A. from the University of New Hampshire. She lives in Chester, New Hampshire, with her family, two cats, and an ever-changing number of chickens. Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter @midgegoldberg.

We Lived on Monmouth Time
by Richard L. Levesque

Rt. 495 from Amesbury, MA to Portsmouth, NH
Rt. 95 from Portsmouth, NH to Lewiston, ME
Rt. 202 from Lewiston, ME to the town of Monmouth, ME

lines drawn in asphalt
my father traveled
without a compass or map

his strong hands steering a bus
more black primer coat and rust
than machine

my mother sipping coffee
at a plywood table
that would fold into a bed

my sister and I tucked into bunk beds
forged from two-by-fours,
beer, and sweat

we would travel this way
120 miles
before the sun ever thought of rising

and come to rest
a mile off the main road
beside Annabessacook Lake

the night air seeping pine scent
through the window screens
as a soft breeze lulled us to sleep

we would wake in the morning,
my aunt and uncle greeting us warmly
with coffee and eggs

and The Munsters on a small television,
rabbit ears plucking signals out of the sky
as the campground birds paid homage to another day

then it was time to feed the fish at the dock,
my cousins and I skipping Trix cereal off the water
and dangling pieces of hotdog between our toes

or swim at the cove
where you could walk out for yards
and the water would magically never go past your waist

the afternoons were for exploring
the abandoned cabin of a five and dime dynasty
left to overgrown ruin beyond a stone wall

inside, magazines of four boys when they were Fab
were the only markers of time
as the mounted heads of forest game stared at us blankly

at night we would return to our bus
mother, father, sister, brother
and say goodnight to each other in the spirit of The Waltons

we all lived simply back in those days,
traveling through our moments with youthful steps
like ageless wheels on a long road

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: No photographs exist of us on vacation in Monmouth, Maine, but we seem to have plenty of the bus that took us there. This photo was taken in Amesbury, Massachusetts. The date stamped on the back is September 1977.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: If you were part of a working-class family back in the day, you didn’t take trips to Disneyland. That was never in the cards financially. So you made do. My father traded in a full-size bus for the mini bus he wound up renovating and painting himself. In addition to the folding bed/table, he built bunk beds, cabinets, and a sink. We also had a portable toilet, a VCR hooked up to a car battery, and a Coleman stove. If you threw in a cooler, you had all you needed to take a few days off and head to Maine. And those were our vacations. We just went to my Aunt Therese and Uncle Bill’s cabin and parked in their driveway. It was every bit as good as Disneyland to us because that’s all we ever knew.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard L. Levesque has been writing and publishing poetry since 1991. He is the author of two chapbooks, Bone-Break Psychobilly Stew and Fetal Graceland. He is currently working on a third chapbook, Carriagetown Frogs, about his life growing up in Amesbury, Massachusetts. He currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife Lorrie.