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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
All Poems by Rick Bessette
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Daylight fleeing as it does
And evening drawing nigh.
The fire box now glowing,
Feeding sparks to the sky.
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
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-
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
|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,
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.
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,
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,
It is the prelude
To an approaching Winter storm.
There are no birds
At the feeder,
No wind to make
The leafless branches
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?
A certain time
If I could turn back time
Make up time
Lost in time
Find the time
Needs more time
Where did the time go?
Time has a way
How many times?
Share your time
Time to heal
Out of time
Time is up
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.
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.