Monday morning we ventured out to Bartlett Farms. Looking at the map it didn’t look far from the bus stop. We decided since there was a poetry reading we should dress nicer for the occasion. Little did we know we still had a two-mile walk to the farm. With the sun beating down on us and flip-flops knocking against the pavement we finally made it to the farm with a few minutes to spare.
We were greeted warmly by Tom Mallouk, author of Nantucket Revisited, and his wife. Tom has been coming to the Island since the 1969 choosing to vacation on the island every year. With the sun beating down on us we listened to Tom’s melodic voice. He joked about how all poets read aloud the same and he did not want to be that type. His poems were accessible and clear to understand not only did they evoke a strong visual image but also they tapped into the five senses. I felt as if I was standing on the shore as he read about fishing on Nantucket, I could even taste the salt on my lips and feel the mist in the air. Never being a fan of poetry I was surprised to find my self lost in his words. And I am not talking about lost in the way we were in school when were trying to find the hidden symbolism. I was lost in the beauty of visual image that he had put in my head.
As the hour went on I came to know Tom on a personal level not just as an author. He shared of the year he had opening up about losing his best friend. I felt a sense of honor when he shared a very emotional poem about the experience and heartache.
As the reading started to wrap up Hannah and I sought out shade to figure out what else there was to do on this part of the island, there wasn’t much, we decided to sit under the umbrella before setting out again. As we were settling in Tom and his wife were nice enough to inquire what we were doing for the rest of the day. With only meeting us an hour before they felt comfortable enough to ask us if they could give us a ride up the road to the bus stop. The kindness they showed was just the icing to a perfect Nantucket morning.
The poem below Tom was nice enough to email to us after sharing it at the reading.
By Tom Mallouck
First, have a good life.
Then remember it as better than it was.
Surround yourself with people
who support your benign illusions.
Believe you are loved.
for all photos of family and friends.
Write a scholarly treatise
that explains cruelty to strangers
and ties up loose ends.
Drive in the flow of traffic.
Think well of those
following too closely behind.
Take pleasure in the toll roads and cart paths
of your vagabond mind.
Ignore long-term care promotions
that seem too good to be true.
Have many children
to increase the odds
one will want to take care of you.
Be upbeat about blood tests
and digital exams. Discern the affection
beneath your wife’s tone.
Tip generously. In
vite someone to
join you who is sitting alone.
Keep in mind truth is
a tyrant, explanation a friend.
Be kind to all dogs.
Their lives are brief
to school us in the lessons of grief.
If you want to check out Tom’s book I found it listed here on Amazon.