Dick Greene
 Photo: Celeste Greene 

Dick Greene’s first book of poems, Explorations, shows him to be a man for all seasons whose delights and loves far outweigh his occasional moments of despair. The work in this book moves from the joys of childhood to the joys of immersion in the world of nature, then descends into a section depicting the horrors of war and its attendant defilings and destructions, from which it rises into a final section returning us to a world in which the poet’s continuing delight and love outshine his darker ruminations. Explorations is a book that will provide solace in a world too full of war, a book that will give great pleasure to those who have for years enjoyed Dick Greene’s Poems of the Week.

One reviewer has written as follows: “Dick Greene’s first collection of poems, Explorations, unabashedly celebrates the ordinary, the landscapes and fauna of our backyards and beyond, the seasons, childhood, youth, aging, family, domesticity.  Much of what he writes is suffused with memory enriched by the perspective of his now almost eighty years.  His verse is transparent but subtle, lyrical but contemporary, openly feeling but not sentimental, educated but not ostentatious.  It is informed by social consciousness and an acute sensibility to the realities of life and the imperfections of human nature but is, at the same time, leavened with wry humor.”

A retired international development program planner and manager, Dick Greene first became interested in poetry at age eight when his parents bought him a set of children’s books, one of which was a volume of poetry. Among the poems in that volume was Burns’ “To a Mouse,” which captivated him then, as it does still.  Introduced to Longfellow’s Evangeline in eighth grade, he was inspired by its majestic opening lines to try his hand at writing poetry.

 Cover photograph by Kent Miles

Soon after beginning his freshman year in college, he showed a sample of his work to a young lady in one of his classes, who declared it trite—his poem rhymed at a time when modernism was in the ascendant—and he stopped writing poetry for two years. Then in his junior year he encountered Henry Rago, editor of Poetry, who taught the section of a humanities course to which he’d been assigned. He began poetizing again. After college Dick attended law school and continued writing poems, but wrote few then or afterwards when he served in the army for two years and subsequently entered upon his 38-year international development career. Toward the end of that career, he began to write poetry again, enjoying the support and editorial wisdom of his wife, Celeste, and continued to write even more intensively after retiring, first to New Jersey and more recently to Massachusetts. He currently lives in Northampton.

Dick has had little interest in publishing his work in journals, preferring instead to email a weekly poem to family, friends and acquaintances, and to correspond with the many readers who send him their reactions. 

A Special Invitation: readers of this book who wish to receive the author’s Poem of the Week should send their names and addresses to greeneplace@gmail.com. Comments on the book and individual poems in it are also welcome and may be sent to the same address. In addition, readers are invited to visit Dick’s website, www.greenepage.net, where his weekly poems and other writings are posted.

Click here to read sample poems.

Click here to view Dick Greene’s upcoming events

Click here to read ancillary material in the Seminar Room


ISBN 978-0-9823970-5-3
Copyright © 2009 by Dick Greene

Length: 100 pages, 6" x 9" paperback



I was there
when you were squeezed
from your mother’s womb,
coming into the world
not like a deity,
clean, calm and complete,
but as a man does,
red, wrinkled and vulnerable,
looking bewildered and indignant,
like a turtle deprived of its shell.


Apple, blueberry, cherry, peach,
coconut custard, banana cream,
boyhood’s soft-focus dreams.

I used to stop at the bakery
on the way home from school
to buy an individual pie
one just the size for a boy
but an aunt with whom I stayed for a while
forbade me them,
deeming pies bad for one’s health.
Seeing me once munching one
as I ambled home
she gave me a scolding so fierce
I flinch from it to this day
when pie is forbidden me again
under the strictures of age.

Shades of Simple Simon,
Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn,
and maybe Adam too,
for what do you suppose was his favorite dish
after that first taste of sin?
Which leads me to a metaphysical question,
was pie designed for boys
or boys for pie?


Though winter is with us still
the birds have begun to sing
to the cues of spring,
first a cardinal, then a wren
and now this morning in early March,
as a chill dawn pinks the sky,
the wistful fluting of a mourning dove
which, after winter’s longueurs,
when few but crows were heard,
now finds itself bestirred
to loose its song.


Night having gathered the haze
woven by the heat of day
come dawn
has laid it to ground
adorning web and blade
with bright beads
while the sky,
stripped of its veils,
stuns with blue nakedness.


Crowds of geese
over the lake
this fall fresh afternoon,
flying helter-skelter
not in neat formation
but in ragged troupes
honking raucously—
like partygoers
blowing away the old year,
tooting in the new—
joyously free,
unbound by gravity,
nowhere they need to go
nothing they need to do.


Stepping outside I find
mere feet from my door
two large crows
in a leafless tree.
Too large for its naked branches,
with vitreous eyes,
they look like clockwork birds,
but in their gaze I see
wary minds
appraising me.


Just below a great snowy cone in the Andes
on a broad flat shelf of mountain
wild horses race
keeping pace
with wind-driven clouds overhead,
breath steaming
long manes swirling,
as if created
just moments before
out of the primordial chaos.


Who can look on Ayers Rock
without hearing songlines,
Stone Mountain
without Dixie or the Battle Hymn
ringing in one’s inner ear,
Angkor or Machu Picchu
without phantom voices,
boulders without mountains’ deep bass,
pebbles without the murmur of streams?
Who says that stones are mute?
They whisper, babble, boom, chant, sing.


My sister lives on a Caribbean isle,
little more than a dust mote on a map,
no realm of magic,
nor Ariel, nor Caliban
(though a touch of each),
no stage for grand drama,
merely the familiar theater of domesticity,

but birds flower there
and flowers take flight,
fish flash rainbows over the coral,
palm fronds sway to the wind
as if spellbound in dance,
and in the night
as you drift into sleep
you hear the waves upon the reef
intoning the ancient anthem of the sea.


Put boots on the ground, they said,
as if they were dragons’ teeth
which, sown, sprout spectral armies
that fade away, once battle is done,
leaving no blood behind.

They said nothing about
the men and boys
who would no longer have feet
to wear those boots,
or would wear them to their graves.


I was a soldier once
in a far away land
though not on death’s hallowed ground.
It was during an undeclared peace
and I went to an office every day
where I battled armies of paper,
and by night toiled in other ways
in beer halls and brothels.

There were field exercises, to be sure,
and Saturday parades
where we practiced maneuvers
unseen in warfare
since the redcoats were ambushed by the minutemen,
and our company commander polished
his patent leather holster
lovingly as an apple,
while we waited to march by
sharply aligned
as if all of one mind
our bodies going one way
our minds another.


as if some cunning craftsman
had spun metal
into silken thread.
It was chestnut brown when we met.
Her skin, all smooth then,
has begun to show fine webs
and is slack under her once firm chin.
But, when I look on her, I think
this is the girl I wed
and feel the need to kiss her cheek
or, if she’s bent over some task,
the nape of her neck
or, if she’s sitting with the hem of her dress
resting on her thighs,
to reach out and touch her knee.


I’ve taken in recent years to thinking about my funeral
and have decided to make one paramount request:
play jolly music at that ritual.
What good does it do to heap on dirges?
I won’t be there to be gratified by the grieving
and if I could tune in
I’d be happier to see those present have some relief.
Jelly Roll would be nice.
Joplin would be fine.
Something by Fats Waller would certainly do.
Those early jazzmen knew what they were up to
when they set about making funeral marches swing.
So swing me away, please, with a rousing tune.

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