Thomas R. Moore

 Belfast Poet Laureate 2017, 2018

THE BOLT-CUTTERS
(Fort Hemlock Press 2010)
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RED STONE FRAGMENTS
(Moon Pie Press 2019)

Red Stone Fragments was published in February 2019 by Moon Pie Press. Contact me (tmoore41@gmail.com) or the publisher (moonpiepress@yahoo.com) to purchase a copy. $15.00 includes shipping.

CHET SAWING
(Fort Hemlock Press 2012)

SAVING NAILS

(Moon Pie Press 2016)

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STONES
(Moon Pie Press 2021)

Stones was published in November 2021 by Moon Pie Press. Contact me (tmoore41@gmail.com) to purchase a copy. $15.00 includes shipping.

 

Bio

"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.

Betsy Sholl

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

                                            Dana Wilde

Garrison Keillor

 

Listen

The Plymouth on Ice,

At the Berkeley Free Speech Café,” and

Finding Everything have been featured on
Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac

 

Contact

 
 

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

     stanchions

     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)

HER TELLING

 

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—

     in October,

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)

SUMMER EPISCOPALIANS

       ~ 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)

CHICK MAGNETS

 

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)

CHET  SAWING

 

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.

HOODWINKER

 

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)

PALIMPSEST

 

How immodest we are

for the deer-tick check,

 

surveying mysteries, 

displaying imperfections.

 

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

expeditions.

 

 

 River Styx 93 (2015)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

DISTINCTIONS

 
  • “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.