This Weather is No Womb is the first full-length poetry collection by Franconia, New Hampshire poet and neurologist Parker Towle, M.D. About the book, Sydney Lea writes as follows: “Parker Towle takes us as far afield as Asia, Central America, the Caribbean; but more importantly, in poem after moving poem, including those with the far-off physical settings, and especially in those that treat of family and close friends like such gems as ‘Love Poem’ or ‘Sometimes It’s Luck’ — in poem after poem, he reminds us of another, more local context for his work: less his beloved White Mountains, which do rise as vividly on the page as in actuality, than the region of the human heart, in this good doctor’s case a truly noble one.” And Edward Field has commented that he is not surprised the doctor has “turned out to be a masterful poet: the exact observations of the clinician are combined with an artist’s eye and a poet’s humanity.” Others have been equally enthusiastic. Dana Cook Grossman writes, “Parker Towle’s poems engage both mind and soul. He writes poignantly about love and longing, youth and death, drawing the reader into incidents that are at the same time universal and yet very personal, even intimate.” Stefan Balan adds this: “Each poem has an exhilarating physicality that makes the book a celebration of life. It lacks pretense, and it is deeply personal in the New England understated way.”

Parker Towle has published three poetry chapbooks and has edited an anthology of unpublished poems entitled Exquisite Reaction. As an Associate Editor of The Worcester Review, he has edited special features on Frank O’Hara and Stanley Kunitz. For twenty-five years he was on the board of The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire, and taught at its summer festival. A member of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic, he teaches and practices neurology in the north country of New Hampshire and Vermont. In the 1990’s he founded a Free Clinic in Littleton, New Hampshire, and volunteered at medical clinics in rural Honduras. He has written and lectured on the interrelationship of medicine and the arts. With family and friends, Parker Towle has hiked since childhood in the northern New England mountains.

The Antrim House seminar room offers notes, ideas for discussion & writing, images, and/or additional poems. Click here to read the seminar offering for This Weather Is No Womb.

Click here to read sample poems.

BOOK STATISTICS

ISBN: 978-0-9792226-2-7
112 pages, 6" x 9" perfect bound

 

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BIKING REMEMBERED

That first one had narrow tires. Dad held the seat.
Off I went down the maple-lined street.
The first breath of freedom drew into my mouth.

The next year I got the balloon-tired Schwinn,
Wide handle bars and a Worcester Telegram
Route. Balance mastered, six mornings a week

I learned the meaning of dawn and cold, till
Vacation, the strain of hours uphill,
The exhilaration coasting down, the cramps

Of the long road and the rewards of gaining its end.
Endurance, sure, but the logbook of youth filled
After school on John’s Evening Gazette route:

A daily conversation of spinning sprockets,
Flying papers, shouts, and jousts, experiments
Of flight over curbs and mounds,

Down lawns, through trees and brush. The bikes
Rarely broke, even on full speed leaps
To overhead limbs or piles of fallen leaves.

We rode railroad beds, dirt roads and ditches.
We raced no hands, double, down steep mogulled
Lanes; chased girls and every lower animal

Species. Nothing held us back. Dust
And grass stains, grime and breathless glee shot us
Clear through those years until

Girls caught us unprepared, tore us unawares from
Our wheeled steeds. We ate the apple of the future,
Clicked into the numbered shackles of sport,

Opened books, kissed the girls and
Put away the bicycles, our cult of speed,
Went to work, married, had kids and

Bought them…skinny-tired bikes.

SOMETIMES IT`S LUCK

You were buoyant as a polar bear cub
when we capsized in heavy current
over a submerged log. Drawn under,
you hung on and grappled up
for air. You did not drift

away. Now, full man, you lead
and clear the way in a mountain rescue.
I follow on the stretcher lunging
back to that year you clung
while I leaped to save the canoe. Further

back when you were three, you bubbled
down in a pool when I was turned away.
Soon enough I whirled around,
dove, and flung you on the edge. Sometimes
it’s luck or God. We live at the rim

of the spun world. In the labor
of birth your head would not pass
the pelvic ring. For years I heard
the rush of bottled blood,
the thud of swinging doors,

no news. You waited
for a forceps turn, then
molded and crowned up pink
and fat, my rescuer,
lumped, and whole.

BUCK

Cockeyed speculation, his old lady called it
when he said in his next life he’d return
as a deer. “Young buck with a big rack
of horns?” she smirked. He grumbled a deep cough,
shuffled out with the care arthritic limbs demand
and stepped off the deck. Inside, later
a chill hovered. He grabbed the shirt
over his heart and twisted. Pulseless
he slumped to the floor like the bags of potatoes
he’d stacked his whole life, wrinkled and soft
as the last sack in spring ready to split and seed.

The death simmered down, people went home
and she settled back in the house by the pond.
“I miss the old guy to haul wood. By Jesus,
this house leaks as bad as a pail left
two years on a stump.” She was warmest
in the upstairs bedroom, heat rising
from the kitchen below. Sun once in a while
beamed through the dormer that looked
at night like a one eyed fool winking
over the lake at those “ice fishing idiots,”
she, alone, stitching on a quilt.

One night she’s about to snap off the light.
“Clomp, clomp” on the deck, so she flips the switch
and gazes down on the boards streaked with moon
reflected off the snow. The buck looks through
the glass dining room doors, wood stove
cracking red flame around its draft. Damn.
He turns by the kitchen door, makes
a feeble, clumsy hop on the steps and ambles
down the shoreline, picking his way,
an old man, head high, half blind
and hungry, out for fresh air and a smoke.

“KTAADN”: THE PREMIERE

Wire-beard, you move through seated players
to the podium. Large man with the grace
of a bull moose, you loom to full height
and lift sixty instruments with your arms.
Beneath that rumpled jacket,
spinal muscle ripples and draws
as it did below the summit wall,
as you hauled packs to Chimney Pond.

Crafty Black Bear, you composed
that spring at a garage piano, your bulk
squeezed among magazines, lawnmowers
and junk — hovered over paper, pen
and parts while spongy trails to the north
puddled below tree line from snow`s
slow trickle out of its shaded crust.

Back in city rehearsal rooms
you harangued each instrument for us
who came to your house the night before
to splash gin and stuff good food.

Thunderous crack, head tilted back —
is this a storm outside the hall
in Philadelphia or a stack of white
to gray over Katahdin, its tableland
of rubble rock, a flow of ice, the sacred
loaf? Clouds gather in the valleys, stones grind
under foot, tumbling to the sea.

Applause and standing bravos fill the hall:
you stride into the wings, come back to bow
then vanish from the stage, to a hush of sound.

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