Sweet New England

by nmtoomey

Headed east for a wedding last week. Just got back this morning. Reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years back, inspired by a Jonathon Richman tune. I wanted to write an opposite, and a truth. A coming to terms with the coast I was born to. An attempt to articulate everything I love and fear about it. I’m still learning how to best articulate this. Here are some images from my recent trip. I stalked the neighbor’s clothesline, thinking of this poem the whole time. The napkins and table cloths that were hung out to dry, had tiny crimson crosses stitched into them. It really was terrifying up close. Again, the sound is an issue. Press mute:) And imagine an old woman reading the text, or a young girl, or me. Imagine the text stitched into the linen. That would have been something.

The history of New England is full of the horrors

that have turned life into gloom, joy into despair,

naturalness into disease, honesty and truth into

hideous lies and hypocrisies.

Emma Goldman

Sweet New England

Look at you there

all stately,

ghost towned

all blueberried

all bare.

You built libraries

for us to sit in,

memorials for us to kiss.

You have bugs in the summer,

whales in the spring.

Your country stores,


your universities,

make us want to go driving.

We forget about

the women you’ve burned.

We turn our heads

to the stones you once threw.

Like this one here,

used to split and bruise

baby skin.

From you we learned guilt.

From you we learned lying.

Look at us watching

all cross legged


all brave.

Tall and long necked

as an apple tree,

we wear a black dress.

We picture a light house,

an orchard, a steeple,

a mill.

You like it best

when we picture these things.