Three Poems about Brattleboro, Vermont, May 2023

Ethan Goffman
Loveliest of Weeds

The B & B keeper told us
there are foxes here, bald eagles,
an occasional bear.

Perhaps these fearsome predators
scare away deer.
We see none here
unlike our Maryland suburb
just outside the beltway,
where deer
grow thick as weeds,
bound through yards, streets,
our concrete Metro station,
unhampered by predators—nature’s pesticides.

Deer, loveliest of weeds,
bounding, darting, sinuous, graceful
loveliest of weeds,
common as rats.

But we see none in Brattleboro.

Hiking by the West River

Endless light,
ripples on water,
glimmering bouncing shards,
a living impressionist painting.
Perhaps Monet would sue,
were he alive today,
spurred on by some grasping law firm.

Our footsteps are incessant, the path even more so,
the birds a sonic canopy, thick
as the sky of branches overhead.
A sonic canopy,
long, short, prolonged, short
a-whee, ah, oowheee-ah, ah,
to our feet’s rhythm.

Occasional human voices
patter in the distance,
tiny bird songs.
This is not yet the silent spring,
although in the distance a motorcycle coughs,
a little disturbance of man.

Bird songs ripple above tiny waves,
the canopy of sky interlaced
with branches,
with water.

Fragments, light, shadows, sky.

I ripple, flow, tweet, sing,
lose myself in the woods, dancing with the light.

Retreat Tower

The tower glares at us
from infinite height.

Or stands iconic,

I’m terrified to look up,
fear gazing at the infinite,
fear the finite even more.

What is it about towers?
Alone in the woods, atop a hill,
thousands erected in centuries past.

Jungian Monoliths 
for us apes to gape at.

This particular tower
displays a plaque 
in letters of stone
and more than stone.

Around the black, oblong door,
quartz squares parade.

The rest of the tower
is gray granite,
irregular, misshapen, jagged,
stretching to the end of space.

Thus Spake Zarathustra soars, thunders
as the tower glowers.

Humans shrink to nothingness.


  1. Having spent much time in Vermont, I never really thought about the lack of deer presence until now! Think you're on to something there. Good work, Ethan, as usual. . .

  2. gazing at monolithic monuments ...deers that abound like weeds in Maryland but none in Brattleboro....mmmm. Wondering wonderful poetry!


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