Expansive Poetry & Music Online Contemporary Reprint

Thomas Carper

Thomas Carper sings in Renaissance trios, summers with his wife in the Loire Valley, is a professor at the University of Southern Maine, and is otherwise thankfully mysterious except in his vivid, elegant poems, some of which are included here:

From Fiddle Lane by Thomas Carper
Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995

Hide and Seek
        by Thomas Carper

In the large living room the game began.
Bubby would close his eyes, and then would call
The solemn numbers loudly as she ran
Into their father's study, or the hall,
Hiding herself, but hoping to be found.
He always found her--trembling with delight
When he would move the door, or come around
Behind the chair. Then she recalled the night
When she became an only child, the day
Bubby was placed before the fireplace,
Before being taken finally away,
When she had stood tiptoe to touch his face
And turned to Mother, sure she should be told:
"Bubby needs a blanket now. He's cold."

        by Thomas Carper

I stand, and look, and see where I am now.
The sloping street is inches deep in snow.
Because traffic must have its way, a plow
Will surely come along; its blade will throw
A sheet of scrapings sideways with a roar,
Shaking the ground beneath me. I'm aware
Though, now, that someone I have known before--
A neighbor--blocks away appears to stare
In my direction. I am in a town
Where I may, an observer, be observed,
Captured in image, even noted down
In words. "He stood at Fiddle Lane and served
To demonstrate how distance makes men small.
I saw the face. The name I can't recall.

From From Nature by Thomas Carper
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997

Sisyphus's Pet Rock
        by Thomas Carper

I have my rock, my hill. So, every day
My task, though hard, is known. And as I roll
My rock, its weight seems always to convey
A certain satisfaction to the soul.
Near sunset-time, just before I can see
The highest point, I purposely let go.
My rock responds and, thanks to gravity,
Takes its own way back to the plain below.
I follow willingly, our duties done,
And grateful that another day's in store,
And glad to think my rock and I are one
In labor and in meaning. Surely, more
Is not to be expected; surely we
Will have our task throughout eternity.

Encountering the Painter
        by Thomas Carper

There is no mystery to the mountain, though
Weather transforms each image of a tree,
Each outline of a pinnacle, and so
The painter must discover what to see.
The rocks are rocks, the branches that extend
Beyond the cliffs are branches, but the scene
Is blurred in mist and fog as colors blend
Into a wash of gray and grayish green.
So while we watch the artist paint, and share
His wish to capture what the mountain is,
The shapes and textures alter as the air
Deprives the clearest sight of certainties,
  Though careful brushwork labors to convey
  The solid world within the shades of gray.

From Sparrow
        the annual journal published by 
        Felix Stefanile

Lord Buddha's Leaf
        by Thomas Carper

I didn't choose it. Picked up from the ground
Where it had dropped to earth beside a shrine,
The bo tree leaf was one my guide had found;
With friendly gestures he had made it mine.
It is a large one, brown and yellowish green,
Spotted by fungus on the underside,
While on its leathery surface can be seen
The hair-thin veins with which it lived and died.
How manifold they are! I turn the stem
And watch the smallest, vivid in the sun,
Disclose their separateness--though each of them
Is finely joined to others to be one.
It is a grateful gift from Buddha's tree,
A small light, an enlightenment, for me.
        Thomas Carper

Don't miss Thomas Carper's books, Fiddle Lane and After Nature, both available from Grolier's, Amazon Books, and from Johns Hopkins University Press, which had the good sense to publish them.

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