Thomas R. Moore
Belfast Poet Laureate 2017, 2018
(Fort Hemlock Press 2010)
RED STONE FRAGMENTS
(Moon Pie Press 2019)
(Fort Hemlock Press 2012)
(Moon Pie Press 2016)
(Moon Pie Press 2021)
Stones was published in November 2021 by Moon Pie Press. Contact me (email@example.com) to purchase a copy. $15.00 includes shipping.
"Thomas Moore is a poet of luminous clarity. He records the subtle beauty of the physical world in language that is vivid and exact. The Bolt-Cutters also gives us a sense of the inner man as he moves through worlds of work, loss, life changes, sweat and celebration.
This poet knows New England, knows the land from working on and with it. He has also traveled in far places like Turkey and Greece, as well as in their history and art.
Like the students in one poem who suddenly wake up to Robert Frost, ‘and ask to hear the poem again, slower please,’ readers of Thomas Moore will want to linger in these poems, which give us the whole complex sweet-sad world, palpable and richly textured."
As a young man Tom Moore immigrated to New Zealand to work in Te Awamutu on a dairy farm and to explore Samoa, Fiji, Manu’a, and Tahiti. He taught at universities in both Iran and Mali as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and taught in Turkey for five years at Robert College and the Koç School. His first book of poems, The Bolt-Cutters, was published by Fort Hemlock Press in November 2010 and was one of three Finalists in the 2011 Maine Literary Awards competition. Two poems from The Bolt-Cutters were featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac in January 2011, and one was a 2012 Pushcart nominee. His poem “Calving in Te Awamutu” won first prize in the 2010 Naugatuck River Review's annual narrative poetry contest, and “Chet Sawing” won first prize the 2011 Maine Postmark Poetry Contest.
His second book, Chet Sawing, was published by Fort Hemlock Press in November 2012 and was also a finalist in the 2013 Maine Literary Awards competition. “Removing the Dross” from The Bolt-Cutters was featured on Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry in December 2013. In April 2014 he was the writer-in-residence at the Elizabeth Bishop house in Great Village, Nova Scotia. He has published poems in more than thirty literary journals. In 2016 he was awarded an Artist Project Grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowments for the Arts. His poem “How We Built Our House” was awarded a 2017 Pushcart Prize. In December 2016 he was named Poet Laureate of Belfast, Maine, for 2017-2018. He lives with his wife, Leslie, an artist and writer, in Belfast.
Former Maine Poet Laureate
“Stickiness, memorability, is one sign of a good poem. You hear it and a day later some of it is still there in the brainpan.”
"As in his other collections, the world of Saving Nails is a place you want your nerves to live in. It’s an assortment of comforting, honest, lucid, heart-piercing, warm, funny, bitter experiences right in the deep heart’s core. When poetry, in language so concisely handled, strikes my nerves like this I call it: very good poetry. Among the best I have read by practicing Maine poets within my reading reach."
The Kennebec Journal, OFF RADAR: Thomas Moore: one of Maine's best poets
CALVING IN TE AWAMUTU
When the heifers were birthing
and it was after midnight
raining and bitter and winter in July,
when the thick gorse at the paddock edges
shimmered in the flashlight’s beam
and the ditches were deep mud
and our raingear crackled as we searched for the cows,
when the calves, minutes old, shivered
on legs learning ground, learning grass
and the mothers licked their sticky skins
with barnacle tongues,
when the blankets we threw on the backs of the mothers
were heavy and wet
and we too shivered like the calves,
when a calf strangled in the womb
and I reached inside as far as my shoulder
to cut apart the dead calf with the serrated wire
sawing back and forth, back and forth
to save the mother,
when we took the calves away
and led the first-time milkers to the long shed
and they bolted and stamped and fought at the
and we attached the suction to their teats
and the milk flowed warm and smoking into the cooler,
when the bullocks were fenced by the road
to be sold to the knacker,
when we sat in the farmhouse for breakfast
of lamb chops and tea,
when we forked pungent silage onto the wagon
behind the blue diesel tractor
and forked it again into the paddocks for feed,
when the rain at last stopped
and we stood on the empty wagon
rolling cigarettes of New Zealand tobacco,
the morning sun was warm and all nature steamed.
The Naugatuck River Review (Winter 2010), and $1,000 First Prize in the 2010 narrative poetry contest.
Best Indie Lit New England (2010-2012)
When she told me
after she’d uncoiled the line
with the steel stakes at the ends
to set straight rows of peas
clad in her denim cover-alls
and tall rubber boots at seventy,
after she’d tossed garden stones
onto the long windrow
beyond the asparagus,
after she’d showed me
the ants climbing the peony stalks
to the hard buds and cupped hands
beside the kitchen propane tanks,
and even after years of stirring
green tomato mincemeat
on the yellow Glenwood
and tugging carrots
from the hot August soil
and snapping off ears of corn
and letting me pick clean
the tree of seckel pears—
the hard tangy red fruit—
even forty years after that Christmas day
when she smashed the third floor door,
the children listening below,
to find her husband inside,
dead by his own hand,
my grandmother was stunned
by her own telling.
The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review (Winter 2010)
~ notes from an introvert
They are more self-confident than I,
and even though I’m one of them,
they rattle me when I overhear their spiels
in deli about imported Swiss before
choosing Champagne Brie, or when
these women, white-haired, blue-blooded,
chat so self-assuredly in coffee and tea,
their crisp tennis dresses showing
their pedigree, their baskets full of organic
pears, natural chicken thighs,
and English breakfast tea. The men
are clean-shaven with jaws that say
prominent, sailing tans melding
into winter’s Merlot seas. Their
faces are almost names. I dodge
into canned vegetables and flee.
Cookbook for the Soul, St. Francis by the Sea (2013)
It’s the Patriots’ home opener
and I’m at a poetry reading in Maine.
The Pats are playing the Cincinnati Bengals
yet Tom Brady is here at the poetry reading!
Tom, I say, why aren’t you in Foxborough?
Oh, he says, I’ve always liked poetry and
I’m making seventy-two mil
so I can do what I want—
Coach Belichick isn’t too happy though.
The poets read about Cranberry Island,
mice in bread boxes, dragon-flies,
Morocco, eating oysters in Grand Central Station,
summer cottages, and, well, you know,
the kind of stuff poets write about:
heartbreak, and a lot of asters by the side of the road.
This Savory and James is good stuff, says Tom
after the reading, smoother than Bud Light.
And being here is a lot easier than throwing passes
—his right knee twitches and lifts slightly—
and getting trashed by the Bengals’ defense.
Plus, these poetry readings are real chick magnets—
you and I are the only guys here!
Turtle Quarterly (2010)
Barefoot each year until the snow, his
ice-man’s rubber apron girding tattered
shirts, skull-capped Chet braces one knee
against the three-foot circular blade,
draws a file over each tooth, adjusts
a valve, cranks, and the ancient one-lung
engine backs, then catches, the fly-
wheel gaining, and the twisted black
belt begins its thwop-thwop-thwop lashing
the air as Chet, eyes aflame, swings
the logs on the moveable carriage
into the terrifying blade, the oak ash
maple we cut from the forty-acre lot and
along the dark edges of the fields. My father
shoves the logs to Chet, my brother tosses
the stove-lengths, some to the splitting pile,
some to me to pitch through a cellar
window. I am nine, astonished at men.
The thwop-thwop-thwop falls and rises,
falls and rises, the saw-rig stuttering on its
spoked wheels, the Model A to tow it still
attached, the earth blurring, shaking,
the stench of red oak and gasoline, and
Chet, iron-age man, calloused feet deep
in fresh sawdust, bending to the wood,
bending to the saw that in twelve years
will receive him when he falls.
The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review (Winter 2012)
First Prize in the 2011 Maine Postmark Poetry Contest.
No wife, no mother, so I hoodwinked my son,
a damaged kid. I wore grayish talons and
the penalties have grown stiff—no balms and
only wisps of grassiness sewn into dreams.
Woo Woo sings Joni, thin and high. Drifts
curve behind the boat-house and one cedar
hangs like a falling axe over the snow. I took
him up, led him on, and left him in a white
metal crib. But there was no thicket, no ram,
so I was the trickster. Was it my voice? Was
there no chapel for prayer? The seasons go
round and round and O, it weights me—
I led the way. May I investigate miraculous
repentances? May I forgive myself?
Bellevue Literary Review (2014), and finalist for the 2013 Marica and Jan Vilcek Poetry Prize
HOW WE BUILT OUR HOUSE
~ for Leslie
We built our house of wind and salt,
of seeing and touching. Our shovels
bit in, our wooden-handled hammers
beat rhythms. We learned berm,
window spacing, roof pitch. We
chain-sawed joists to length, then
spiked with a kind of awe at our
dexterity. We felt the mystery of plumb,
and when rains blew in we smelled
the pine. The rafters became our heart
and we nailed high the green bough.
Now grace shines off the gray metal
roof and together we listen to the barred
owl’s call, watch the blossoming peach.
Pushcart Prize Winner (2017)
How immodest we are
for the deer-tick check,
Such stuff, we laugh,
is for the shower
or the dermatologist,
but we strip,
offering each other
our pocks and moles,
scars and protrusions,
thirty years after love’s
first shy scouting
River Styx 93 (2015)
“How We Built Our House,” Pushcart Prize, 2017.
“Acadian Wild,” $300 First Prize in 100 Words for Acadia 2016 contest in celebration of Acadia National Park’s centennial.
Recipient of $1600 Individual Artist Grant, Maine Arts Commission, 2016.
Writer in residence, the Elizabeth Bishop House, Great Village Nova Scotia, April 2014.
“Hoodwinker” a finalist for the Bellevue Literary Review’s 2013 Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry
“Palimpsest” a finalist in the 2013 Maine Postmark Poetry Contest.
Chet Sawing (Fort Hemlock Press 2013), one of three finalists in the 2012 Maine Literary Awards competition.
Writer in Residence, Berwick Academy, April 2012
“Calving in Te Awamutu” a 2012 Pushcart Prize Nominee.
“The Plymouth on Ice” a 2012 Pushcart Special Mention.
“Chet Sawing” First Prize in the 2011 Maine Postmark Poetry Contest.
“The Plymouth on Ice” and “At the Berkeley Free Speech Café” featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac in January 2011.
The Bolt-Cutters (Fort Hemlock Press 2010) one of three finalists in the 2010 Maine Literary Awards competition.
“Calving in Te Awamutu” $1,000 First Prize in the Naugatuck River Review's 2010 narrative poetry contest.
“hunger,” co-winner in the 1974 Worcester Review Contest.