Vaughan Had a Stroke Last Week

Poetry continues.  Not trying to bury the lead, but our aged canine fellow Vaughan recently had a stroke.  Before you read this and freak out (family), he’s OK.  We had a little “is this it?” time,

Bo and Vaughan
Bo (left) and Vaughan, our howling wolves. Believe it or not, being a Samoyed/Lab mix really *does* mean you can howl. Or at least be very talkative.

but he’s recovering well.  And wow, what an amazing dog he has been and continues to be.



Fourteen and Counting


Twelve years ago

You lost a bet with a truck

Dr. Kenney rebuilt your hip

With a floating socket technique.

Friendly games of tag and flights of stairs

Became slower and smarter,

You held your leg up and, like a tripod, hopped on. 


Ten years ago

Cold March and cancer took your mother.

You have her warm brown eyes,

Gentle way with small children and smaller dogs.

Of my Birthday mates, you most channel her

Grace, substance and dignity.


Three Octobers ago

Your sister had a heart attack

On the living room floor mid-family relocation.

You grasped our new home as your old,

Sleeping, your head on Chris’ pillow,

Coming out of our bedroom

Blinking like you craved morning coffee.


Last summer you decided

Deafness and blindness the perfect excuses,

Overseeing farm chores from the truck seat.

Weekly hay trips now revert you to joyous,

Timeless puppyhood for six whole seconds

Before cozily napping on the bench seat.


Three nights ago

With a great stumbling crash

A stroke took your balance and your bark,

But not your wag.

Yesterday you ate hotdogs

Today it was cheese and meatloaf.

You even scaled the truck seat this morning,

Though it was touch-and-go getting out.


Twelve years ago I learned

Never bet against a dog who wants to live.


JJC 4/11/16

Updated 4/17/16


April is Poetry Month

The Sugar Makers Song--learn it, spread it, sing it!
The Sugar Makers Song–learn it, spread it, sing it!

Recently, I had the opportunity to read some of my poetry at The Black Krim in Randolph along with a group of other farmer-poets.  So amazing and humbling to hear how other people see some of the things that I see and write about, and how they choose to express it.  Some of the poets clearly write words to be performed aloud (slam!) and some feel perfect to be part of a tea-and-comfy-chair-on-a-rainy-afternoon experience.  Some of my co-poets are nationally recognized and published (in this week’s New Yorker–gasp!), some are musicians (now we know the Vermont Sugar Makers Song, a nearly-lost archived song from the 1930s, which we all sang together), one was recently feted in Seven Days for being a farmer poet for hire.  Backing up the whole experience was the lovely Krim, which was full to bursting with smiling faces enjoying dinner, a cocktail and the ability to support us.

Because I do my best work at the very last minute (I try not to let it be that way, but there it is), I wrote two poems on the day of the reading.  I rewrote some bits from several earlier poems, too.  I don’t know if other people write and rewrite their poems, but I sure do.  No “one and done” for me.  That said, I also tried working away at a poem I’ve been developing for two weeks about a ewe I had to euthanize and it just wasn’t coming together.  Maybe that will become a prose story for another time.

To finish out Poetry Month, I’m going to share some of the poems written for this year–Enjoy!



"Waiting" was written about 720, who gave birth to twins less than 24 hours later. So timely.
“Waiting” was written about 720, who gave birth to twins less than 24 hours later. So timely.



Thousand-mile stare

She shifts from hoof to hoof,

Audibly creaking,

Eruptively she groans

Settling her bulk

In a shallow trench

Dug by toes and impatience.


Her belly’s mysterious contents feel like

Christmas, Birthday, Halloween, presents

Entwined together with legs and tails

Prepared to suck and leap and doze in piles of

Newborn fur and milk drunkenness.



She stands

She leans

She stares

She ruminates

She waddles

I scratch her chin

Her pregnant pause.


JJC 4/11/16

Updated 4/17/16