We are honored to have the Poet Laureate of Bethel take over the helm at our Poetry Corner.  He has an exciting vision for this space and he shares a bit about his vision in his first column below.

Take it away Rick, and WELCOME! We sure are grateful you are here.

Hannah Lipman

Managing Editor

Bethel Grapevine


Welcome to the Bethel Grapevine Poetry Corner! I am Rick Magee, the Poet Laureate of Bethel, and the secretary of the Council of Connecticut Poets Laureate. I started writing poetry when I was nine, but took a too-long break from it while in college and graduate school. A few years ago I went back to poetry and have been having a wonderful time writing and talking to people about poetry.

Poetry Corner will be a regular feature here at the Grapevine, and I plan to use this space to push my passions: helping people realize that they do, in fact, like poetry; sharing poems that I love; and helping other poets (especially young poets) share their work. Poetry is a vital force, and its voice can be intimidating and powerful, and I want to knock down some of that intimidation while boosting that power.

I’ll also talk about poetry events and publications. April is Poetry Month, and Byrd’s Books will be having a number of events, including one coming up right away, on Friday, April 5th. At this event in the Spring Poetry Series, five featured poets will share their work: Amy Nawrocki, Jack Powers, Laurel Peterson, Van Hartmann, and me. The reading runs from 7 to 8:30 at the bookstore.

As I am writing this, we are experiencing the return of winter after a long period of days that teased us into believing that spring had arrived, so I want to share one of my favorite poems about spring, E. E. Cummings’s “[in Just--]. To say it is about spring is a little misleading, since it really focuses on the lives of children on the cusp of something threatening and dangerous, but it is set in spring. In this poem, the children play their games and enjoy the spring weather that adults find tiring and disgusting. Cummings comes up with two of my favorite compounded words to describe the setting—“mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.” Both of these words evoke the joy that kids can find in the muddy, dirty outdoors, when you can judge how good a day was by how dirty you are at the end of it. Grown-ups think of tracking mud in across just-cleaned floors while kids think of the great splashes they can make.

In the background, the eerie and creepy little balloonman “whistles far and wee,” signaling the eventual end of that innocent joy. The balloonman is tempting—what kid doesn’t like a balloon?—but also terrifying—why oh why does he have goat feet?!—and that ambiguity is what we feel when we long to return to our simpler childhood. We rush to grow up but regret it when we have it.

Read this, and enjoy the rhythm of the language and the way Cummings can trigger so many feelings in so few words.


in Just-

spring          when the world is mud-

luscious the little

lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come

running from marbles and

piracies and it's


when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer

old balloonman whistles

far          and             wee

and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and






balloonMan          whistles




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