Inaugural Poet Laureate

Rick Bessette is Shelburne's First Poet Laureate


Rick remained as Poet Laureate until 2021.

Rick is a native of Shelburne, and was raised on Shelburne Farms.  He has been writing poetry for over 15 years, but with more passion the last 10 years.  Rick's poetry is a reflection of his Uncle Joe Thomas, who also wrote in rhyming quatrain style.
Everything he writes is real, something that was felt, heard, seen or touched. There is no make believe.  His poetry is simple and easy for everyone to relate to.

Rick feels if he can make someone's day a little better with a poem, then he has done his job as a writer. 
Rick is well known throughout the Shelburne community as “The People’s Poet,” having written the poem engraved in Shelburne’s Veterans Memorial (see photo below) and has shared his poetry with the Shelburne Community School, the Waldorf School, the Charlotte-Shelburne Rotary Club, and several retirement and assisted living communities in the area. His book of poetry, A Vermonter’s Heritage, Listening to the Trees, was published by local Wind Ridge Publishing. 

The town manager, library director and the selectboard adopted a Poet Laureate Program in the fall of 2015 to support and celebrate poetry and arts in the community.
The Poet Laureate Committee is pleased to have Rick Bessette as Shelburne’s first Poet Laureate, confident that his work will unite the Shelburne community and foster a true sense of community pride.

Veterans' Memorial Poem by Rick Bessette

Veterans' Memorial with Poem

All Poems by Rick Bessette

Our Flag
I stopped by one summer day
​Down at the village green,
​Just to watch the flag there wave
​And what those colors mean.
​Thought about what it stands for
​Colors red, white and blue.
​Thought about where she’s traveled.
​The battles she’s been through.
​ Her red, symbol of valor,
​ White stands for purity,
​ The blue, for perseverance,
​ A sign of unity.
​ Though she’s a little tattered
​ And showing signs of ware
​ Still waves with grace and honor
​ After all she’s had to bare.
Good Things
Though things are a little different
​ And we’ve had to change our ways.
​ Hours pass a little slower,
​ A week seems to have more days.
​There are some things I’ve noticed
​ That has remained still the same.
​ And even on my darkest day
​Just like an old friend, they came.
​ I can hear the song birds singing,
​ I can see clouds drifting high.
​ I can smell the scent of wildflowers
​ On my walks when passing by.
​ The moon and stars still light the sky
​ After the sun has retired.
​ And I will pause to reflect on
​ All the “Good Things" I've admired.
Frogs, Crickets, and Peepers
​ “Night Songs

​I will wait for the night songs
​ As evening drops her silent veil.
​Watch a full moon slowly rise
​ Casting shadows on hill and dale.
​ I’ll watch stars light one by one,
​ Feel the dew settle on my skin.
​Reflect on this days events
​ And how fortunate that I’ve been.
​ Frogs, crickets and peepers sing
​ Beyond a place I can not see.
​ Notes to soothe both heart and soul,
​ Feeling they were sung just for me.
Dove of Peace
​ Pure is its color
​ Soft is its sound
​ Keeps company with harmony
​ Where gentleness is found
​Time is its witness
​To love it has brought
​The keys to our universe
​ So many have sought
​My wish for you Is for peace all year long
​That your heart be opened
​By tranquility’s song
Chasing Fireflies
​ With fond childhood memories
​ In the dimmest evening light,
​ Holding jar and lid in hopes
​ Of catching fireflies that night.
​ In wonderment and excitement
​Your imagination soars.
​Nature and all its many gifts
​That can’t be found in a store.
​To run, to scoop those tiny stars
​That light for a second or two.
​ View their magic in that jar;
​ Setting them free when I’m through.
Another Day
​ With crescent moon low in the sky
​ A million stars would begin to light.
​ Peace settled over calm waters;
​The loons quieted down for tonight.
​ Shadows of the trees are mirrored
​ Along the shoreline across the way,
​And the night falls as a curtain
​ Bringing to a close another day. ​

​Our Pierson Library “A History”

​ Shelburne’s post office held our books
​ Eighteen hundred eighty eight.
​ Books quickly worn and not returned
​ Left our town in dire straits.
​ In eighteen hundred ninety five
​ At town meeting it was passed,
​ To create a town library,
​ And trustees with vision at last.
​ The books were moved from house to house
​ Then on to the village green.
​ Once a parsonage then a store,
​ Fitting home for books it seemed.
​ July of nineteen twenty two
​ James S. Pierson left a gift.
​ His money and name to be used,
​ Hence….”Greek Revival” facelift.
​ Two thousand one the books would move
​ To what seemed a larger place,
​ But our growing town of Shelburne
​ Still needed a larger space.
​ The date, September Twenty ninth,
​ The year two thousand eighteen.
​ A ground breaking ceremony
​That would fill our hopes and dreams.
​ Finally a place to hold our books,
​ A “free” information store.
​Attached to our restored town hall,
​ All are welcomed through these doors.
​ We come as a community
​ On the fourteenth of September.
​ To celebrate and give our thanks,
​ For a day to long remember.

​Sugar Maker

​ Daylight fleeing as it does
​ And evening drawing nigh.
​The fire box now glowing,
​ Feeding sparks to the sky.
​Evaporating moisture
​Sent up the chimney flu,
​There inside the boarded walls
​Was smell and sounds I knew.
​ From levered pipe on the side
​ There flowed an amber stream.
​ The sweet odor from the pail,
​A sugar maker’s dream.
​“Time to fire”, someone says,
​ With slab of seasoned wood.
​ Its glowing inferno fed,
​ Warmth felt from where I stood.
​Hard labor and precious time,
​Traditions kept alive.
​Generations of stories,
​It’s how “sugaring” survives.

​Shelburne "My Community"

​ Recalling my childhood memories,
​It has always been home to me.
​ Shelburne, how I have watched you grow
​ Into the town you've come to be.
​My community, small but vibrant,
​Where wildlife still has a place.
​ Rolling hills and quiet forest
​Set aside as a protected space.
​On Sunday mornings a church bell rings
​ Down by the waking village green.
​ A young couple walks hand in hand
​ In country air still crisp and clean.
​ Peaceful sunsets over Lake Champlain
​ Quietly viewed from Shelburne Beach,
​Soothes the weary that linger there;
​Dream of tomorrow within reach.
​Majestic green mountains in the east
​Where a morning sun climbs the sky.
​To the west the Adirondacks
​Where the sun bids good night, good bye.
​To you, our future generations
​Please keep our Shelburne pure and clean.
​ Protect the heritage we have built,
​ Forever to be enjoyed and seen.

​A Tribute to the Silent Giants

​ “Eastern Cottonwood”

​ Farewell o silent giants.
​ We will miss your towering shade,
​ Where memories, dreams and footsteps
​ From our minds shall never fade.

​ Shadows cast beneath the moon
​ Danced on the quiet fields below,
​ Where sleigh and tractor passing by
​Trace history long ago.

​ With fond memories of Poplar Drive October 18, 2018

​The Planting of a Seed

​It starts as a tiny seed
​That falls to fertile ground.
​ Nourished by warm sun and rain,
​Begins life without a sound.
​ Its purpose to thrive and grow
​With its beauty to share.
​Lives a life content to be
​ With mother nature's care.

​What is there in a Tree?

​ O what is there in a tree
​ That gives a landscape more?
​ Standing sentry to the house
​ And shades a forest floor.
​ I know of a mighty oak
​ That held our children’s swing,
​ Within its gnarly branches
​ Songbirds would perch and sing.
​ Providing food and shelter
​ On dark and stormy night,
​ For the raccoons and the squirrels
​ In a burrow out of sight.
​ In the light of a full moon
​ Shadows lay on the lawn,
​ Proclaiming your greatness there
​ Until the breaking dawn.

This poem is dedicated to the bur oak that was in our front yard on the farm.  It remains to be one of the largest bur oaks in Northern Vermont.

​A Firefighters' Prayer

​ Give me the strength and courage ​
​to respond without delay- ​
​to answer a call in need ​
​No matter what time of day- ​
​May you guide my every thought ​
​and every step my boots take- ​
​Accept responsibility in decisions that I make- ​
​I will wear this uniform with great pride and dignity-
Honor those past volunteers ​
​That served our community- ​

​Awakening ​

​​The sun climbs up the eastern sky, ​
​ ​Bringing life to a new day. ​ ​
​Rolling meadows velvety green, ​
​ ​Budding leaves are on their way. ​ ​
​Waiting pastures welcomes its herd ​
​ ​After milking time is through, ​ ​
​For it’s there they graze in comfort ​ ​
​In fields watered by dew. ​ ​
​Green mountain peaks have shed their snow, ​ ​
​A clear blue sky hangs overhead. ​ ​
​Nature greets us most sincerely, ​ ​
​We have nothing here to dread. ​
​ ​From my tractor seat this morning ​ ​
​ I see a world full of good, ​ ​
​And knowing that time is precious, ​ ​
​ These treasures are understood

Rick Bessette, Poet Laureate

Rick Bessette, Poet Laureate
Rick Bessette with children
At the Feeder
​ Each morning they come
​With the sunrise they fly.
​Looking for breakfast
​To the feeders hung high.
​ Finches and bluebirds
​Cardinals, swallows and doves,
​Darting and swarming,
​Nudges turn into shoves.
​ And there on the ground,
​Squirrels impatiently wait
​For the seed kicked out
​ At an alarming rate.
​This show takes a twist
​As dominance sets in,
​Yes big daddy squirrel
​Rules the turf once again.
​Best of luck to those
​Thinking you’ve got them beat.
​They’ll climb anything
​With those sharp little feet.
The Land - "Way of Things"
​ As the sun dips below the great
​Adirondack mountain peaks
​I stand in silence looking to the land,
​Spread out before me atop Mount Philo.
​I see patches that are similar to that of a checkerboard. Patches of “Clover Green” in rolling meadows.
​Tree Islands dot the Fertile landscape
​With Hardwood and softwood trees.
​A land rich in history written in the journals of time.
​In the distance there lies a magnificent body of water,
​Lake Champlain.
​ Its tranquil blue waters calm the soul.
​The land has its seasons.
​In the Winter the land sleeps,
​It is a quieter time, a time to reflect.
​We wait patiently for the arrival of Spring.
​It brings new life,
​Bringing color to our lives in the wildflowers
​That push their way up to find the warm sun
​Watered by the dew and rain.
​We thrive on the land in Summer.
​Gardens of fresh flowers and vegetables.
​ In the Fall we prepare for shorter days, longer nights.
​We put our gardens to bed and firewood in the shed.
​The land also has its hardships.
​A time of drought, a time of flood,
​A time of excessive heat, a time of extreme cold.
​The land suffers from climate change.
​But, the land somehow still continues to give.
​Let us….. in these very troubling times give.
​Give freely to those in need.
​Give back to the land with the stewardship
​We have been taught.
Farewell to the Monarchs
​Over windswept fields of autumn
​ Monarchs drift and flutter there.
​ Their internal clocks reminding,
​ It’s migration time, prepare.
​ On delicate wings they journey
​ Three thousand miles away.
​ Mexico their destination,
​ From this route they’ll never stray.
​ We shall miss their gift of beauty
​ But with anticipation,
​ Knowing they will return to us,
​ It’s natures gift, migration
Let Us Not Forget
​Let us not forget these names,
​ Their sacrifices made.
​ Let us not forget the past,
​The price they all have paid.
​ We know not scars you carry,
​Of comrades you have lost.
​ Let us try to understand
​What freedom really cost.
​ We can only give our thanks
​To those with us today,
​ And to honor those we’ve lost
​ In a respectful way.
Our Goal
​ Is it not our goal in life
​ To be happy – to be free?
​Not to be just content,
​ But be all that one can be.
​ A need to be successful,
​ The road to riches fast,
​But know in the end
​ It’s guaranteed not to last.
​ Let patience be your virtue,
​With sunrise meditate.
​ In silence be receptive,
​ In silence learn to wait.

​Colonel Carroll A. “Bud” Ockert

​ Our town, our state and our country
​Extends to you our grateful hands,
​For dedication and service
​ Reaching far beyond your homeland.
​From Germany to Vietnam,
​Clear across our United States,
​With leadership and commitment
​These, honorable, humble traits.
​Colonel Ockert, we salute you
​On this, our Memorial Day,
​To let you know how proud we are
​In a most sincere, thankful way.

​To a Friend (for Chief Jim Warden)

​ There are many things about you
​That folks came to trust and know.
​ Your love of this community,
​Our grateful hearts, we bestow.
​You always had a funny tale
​ To bring laughter to our day.
​You could settle those in distress in a firm yet calming way. For thirty years you gave beyond
​The call to serve and protect.
​ From people to dogs you were there
​To resolve abuse and neglect.
​With wisdom and understanding,
​ Controlling situations,
​With a compassion in your heart
​To avoid confrontations.
​ We wish you all the very best
​ On lives journey as you go.
​You will forever be a friend,
​ And one we are proud to know.

​ First light’s sky,
​ An orange fiery
​glow In the east
​ That will give way
​ To a rising sun.
​ In The western sky,
​ Darkness looms.
​ It is the prelude
​ To an approaching Winter storm.
​ There are no birds
​ At the feeder,
​ No wind to make
​ The leafless branches
​ Dance.
​ Change is on its way.

​The Shelburne Falls Sycamore
​ “A Witness Tree”

​ Written somewhere long ago
​ In the lost journals of time,
​ A seed laid unto soil,
​ Was fed by rain and sunshine.
​Having escaped storm and drought
​And mans desire to build.
​Saved from sharp teeth of the saw,
​ And your limbs from being milled.
​ A witness to changing times
​Where secrets and dreams were made.
​Perhaps where young lovers kissed
​Beneath its plentiful shade.
​Symbol of strength and beauty,
​Your crown reaching for the sky;
​ A monument to nature;
​ Something your money can’t buy.


​ Do you have the time?
​ Save time
​ Spend time
​ A certain time
​ If I could turn back time
​ Make up time
​ Gain time
​ Wasting time
​ Lost in time
​ Loose time
​ Find the time
​ Needs more time
​ Where did the time go?
​ Schedule time
​ On time
​ In time
​ Time has a way
​ How many times?
​ Share your time
​ Time to heal
​ Out of time
​ Time piece
​ Time is up
​ Time clock
​ Look at the time
​ Time is money
​ Go back in time
​ You can’t buy more time!

​Blossom Time in the Orchard

​In the stillness of this morning
​I walk between the parted rows.
It’s blossom time in the orchard,
Where the apples will come to grow.

​ A cool north wind whispers softly
​ Through old gnarly and weathered limb,
​ That has been kept within its bounds
​ By those skilled hands that shape and trim.

​ Honey bees will begin their work,
​ Pollinating is what they’ll do.
​ If not for their delicate flight
​ The blossoms wouldn’t have a clue.

​ And when the leaves begin to turn,
​ Daylight hours soon to fade,
​ For those the apples left untouched
​ Have promises of “cider made”.

For Nick and crew at Shelburne Orchard

​A Tribute to the Ticonderoga

​She is the last of her kind,
​Saved by a woman and a dream.
​A journey of two miles,
​Moved by a brave and daring team.
​Twelve, thirty one, fifty five,
​She was winched across frozen ground.
​Taking sixty five long days,
​Reaching her new berth safe and sound.
​Her days now spent near a friend,
​The lighthouse from Colchester Reef .
​Now you can stand between them
​Scratching your head in disbelief.
​Her grand staircase and hallways
​ All masterpieces from the past.
​Hand carved and trimmed by craftsmen,
​ Built with pride and skill to last.
​The walking beam and smokestack
​All a symbol from bygone days.
​Her whistle can still be heard
​As if the TI was underway.
This poem is dedicated to Electra Webb and Ralph Nading Hill for their vision and passion for the TI And for the craftsmen past and present.

​I recently found out a member of our community lost her husband a few months ago. In his final moments she quietly asked him, "Where can I look for you and still talk to you?" In his weakened state and with a soft voice, he pointed to the night sky and said, "Look to the North Star, that is where I'll be". May we all find peace when we look to the evening sky.

Evening Sky
​ The slow crackling of a campfire
​ And night songs of the peepers,
​ caress the weary heart and mind
​ From sounds of phones and beepers.
​ I look to the stars in silence,
​ North Star having its own place.
​Constellations play hide and seek
​ And shooting stars sometimes race.
​ Sparkling like a thousand diamonds,
​ Lighting up the midnight sky.
​Keeping company with the moon,
​Soothing to both you and I.
​Another day now behind me,
​Reflect on things I've done and said,
​And hope perhaps that all is right
​ Before I climb into bed.