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Homage to the Lady with the Dirty Feet and other Vermont Poems

Stanford J. Searl, Jr.

A Poet’s Statement

These are poems under the influence of the great goddess, memory and celebrate those occasions when the goddess whispered in my ear -- and somehow -- however faint and indirect, I heard something thanks to Mnemosyne's influence. Memory has given me access to scenes and people from the 1950's in the small town, then still a Woolen Mill town, of Ludlow, Vermont, where I grew up at 100 Main Street, raised from birth by my father's parents, Clyde and Daisy Searl.

 I think of memory as a way to be connected with the goddesses if only through waiting, listening and metaphor. Initially, I thought that these poems would be "Vermont Kitchen Poems" about baked beans, dandelion greens and hanging out in the kitchen at 100 Main Street, listening to the radio, drinking and talking. However, in addition to being in the kitchen, these poems reflect overall aspects of the place, including the Black River, portraits of unique, remarkable people such as the Lady-with-the-dirty-feet, the Gold Star Mothers, my second mother, Elizabeth Sweet Pease, my own mother and father and instances of what it meant to split wood and shovel snow at 100 Main Street.

I think about the goddess, Mnemosyne as a psychic, dreamlike builder of different bridges who provides passageways back and forth between the present and the past, infused with the streaming, dreaming realities of the past, now become present. It's as if memory opened up soulful, heart infused bridges to allow the poet to be present to the Black River or Aunt Sally or Mrs. Pease and my grandmother and others, creating a certain resonant metaphoric bridge that shimmers with energy and delight at times.

These poems celebrate the bridge building power of memory -- here a version of the imagination -- to discover and uncover fleeting presences of a challenging mother, of remarkable characters and people who represent some of the present-day  meanings of small-town Vermont's 1950's understood through the spectacles of the goddess, Mnemosyne. Within the context of memory, then, these poems explore the themes of family roots, the power of memory, and the significance of the past and how poetry can be the occasion for uncovering the multiple layers of identity -- heart, mind and soul -- all centered and integrated as in these poems

From the book:

Dandelion Greens

Those bitter

but useful herbs,

taraxacum officinale,

infused her whole body with acrid bitterness,

bringing the earliest spring greens

into the middle of the kitchen at 100 Main Street,

as the huge pot of steaming greens

brewed on top of the electric stove

while Nana sang

(even though she couldn’t carry a tune),

prancing around the kitchen

on an early May morning,

strengthened by that mess of dandelion greens

and imbibing their liquid nectar

as if she had died and gone to heaven.

Meanwhile, her husband, Clyde,

read the newspaper

and gazed out the kitchen window to the west

at the river,

while she drank the dandelion liquor

as if she had joined that odd Amherst recluse, Emily Dickinson,

tasting a liquor never brewed

or meant for the rest of us,

intoxicated by the energy of another Vermont springtime

as the dandelion juices infused themselves into her liver,

flowing into the gall bladder

touched by the watery, streaming energies,

provoking the earth itself

to open up to this early springtime tonic.

About the Author

Stanford J. Searl, Jr. lives in Culver City, California and for twenty-five years taught as a Core Faculty member in a person-centered, interdisciplinary doctoral program for Adult Learners at Union Institute & University. He's married to Rebecca Maris Warren of Whittier, California and taught as an English Instructor for the Weekend College Program (Instructional Television) in the Los Angeles Community College system.

Raised from birth by his father's parents, S. Clyde and Daisy Godfrey Searl at 100 Main Street, Ludlow, Vermont, Searl graduated from Ludlow's Black River High School in 1961 and has a Ph.D. in English from Syracuse University. He has published two books about Quaker silent worship, including Voices from the Silence and The Meanings of Silence in Quaker Worship. He co-edited a book that presented formerly unpublished essays by the intellectual historian, Perry Miller, entitled The Responsibility of Mind in a Civilization of Machines. He published Quaker Poems: The Heart Opened in 2014.

Homage to the Lady with the Dirty Feet and other Vermont Poems

is a 100 page hand-sewn paper book with spine. $16.00

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Homage to the Lady with the Dirty Feet




Homage to the Lady