Spring Took the Long Way Around poems by Brooke Hereter James

picture of Brooke James
Photo by David James  

Brooke Herter James’ Spring Took the Long Way Around is a beautiful collection, each poem resonant with the strum of country life. These are poems of gentle reverence, skirting on the “dark edges of... wildness,” the awareness of shadow giving each moment depth. They speak of family, of nature, of adolescent angst — she deftly captures this in the tone-perfect “Southbound, Maine Turnpike, Labor Day” — of illness and death. These quiet, skillful poems help us to slow down, to savor and notice. Sit down with this book, enjoy the peaceful acceptance of what is now, and of what we all will one day lose. Bask, for now, in James’ gentle spring.  – Laura Foley, author of Why I Never Finished My Dissertation
  spring took the long way around cover image
  Photo by Sam James

Brooke Herter James won her first creative writing award in eighth grade and her second many decades later. In between, she followed a circuitous path that included college, graduate school, public health nursing, and raising a family. Eight years ago, she remembered that grade school story and decided to circle back to what she loves to do most. Spring Took the Long Way Around is her second collection of poems. She is also the author of the children’s picture book Why Did the Farmer Cross the Road? She is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a student in the Gotham Writers’ Workshop, a graduate of the Yale Writers’ Conference, and an enthusiastic member of the Woodstock Poetry Group. She lives in a very old house in Vermont with her husband, two donkeys, four chickens and a dog named Mack. (Actually, the donkeys and chickens live in the barn.)

Click here for sample poems.
Click here to view upcoming events.
Click here to read ancillary material in the Seminar Room.


ISBN 978-1-943826-56-8
First Edition, 2019

6" x 9" paperback, 38 pages

This book can be ordered from all bookstores, including Amazon.



Copyright © 2019 by Brooke Herter James


It’s Quiet Here


I am going to sit all day
on this hay bale. No better place
to be. Here in the barn,
spiders drop down from dusty
rafters on invisible threads,
chickens scratch at rotten cucumbers
from last summer’s garden,
the donkeys stand side by side,
their faces to the warmth
of an early October sun. It’s quiet here. 
Maybe in an hour I will wander
back to the kitchen and refill
my cup with coffee.

At the Edge


So certain he is by day,
his job to flush chickadees
from the crabapple tree,
chase leaves as they
float off the maple,
dig holes under the porch.
When his work is done,
the food bowl is full,
the water clean and cold,
the praise abundant and tender
as he sits and stays.
If only when deep darkness comes
they would shut the windows,
draw the curtains,
read aloud to one another
as he lies at the foot of their bed
trying not to hear
the yip, the howl, the bay
at the pitch-
dark edge of his wildness.



Once she had cancer.
It tried to eat her cell by
cell from the inside out.
She rode the conveyor belt
of malignancy eradication,
nudged along by white coats
and silver machines,
stumbling off at the end of a year,
blinking into the sunshine,
snipping off her plastic id band,
hopping into the waiting car,
speeding down the highway,
windows open.
Lunch at Five Guys: juicy burgers,
salty fries. And then
Lake Street Dive came on the radio,
the very same song she heard every day
lying alone in a room so lit up
everyone else had to leave.
She heard the first chords and had
to pull over while she retched her insides
out into the purple chicory.

I wonder if this is what survival feels like -
the sour taste in the mouth,
the shudder, the revulsion
at the piece of us that’s already
surrendered to the death
that hasn’t yet happened.


It All Matters


The next time someone says
There’s no There, There,
as in Whatever or Who Cares?
I will respond by saying
(politely) au contraire.
And then I will point
to the  period at the end
of this sentence.
See that? I will say.
That, right THERE, is the
size of a moss piglet,
a moss piglet that might
very well be on this page
right now, or in the rain drop
on your window screen
or swimming  at the bottom
of your coffee cup
or napping in lichen
on the north side of
that log you meant to cut
for firewood last summer.
Right now, right here is a jolly
and fat and puffed all day long
like a marshmallow-man
moss piglet that loves to cuddle
with its partner in the Himalayas
or swim 4000 meters under the sea,
and, oh, did I mention it has survived
all five great extinctions, and will be
most certainly riding a teardrop
down our collective cheeks
if we don’t stop the sixth?
Okay, now you’ve got me
on a rant, when what I really
want to say is: It’s all Here, Here
and it all matters.


Love in the Time of Cancer

After nearly forty years
whatever space remains
between them, gone.
His body wraps
around her so,
his ten fingers
lie atop each of hers.

Sweet air slips in.
When she wakes again,
curtains open,
coffee on the bedside table,
she hears the screen door open.
A dog barks.

Then summer happens after all,
picking raspberries,
swimming in the pond,
and before they know it,
it’s Standard Time once again
and Thanksgiving’s on its way.




I see you
touch your tiny finger
to the green rubber tip
of your sneaker as you say
and I think of my father
in the last year of his life
tapping the clean trimmed nail
of his right pointer finger
against the car window,
reading out loud every sign
as we pass by.
     Route 495
     Hebert’s Candies
     Wissel’s Junk Shop

Then at dinner
he’s quiet,
having lost the word
for the dish of vegetables
he wishes to try.
If only you had been there
to prompt him,
across the table
in your highchair
onto the wooden floor.

     Ah yes! Peas!
He would have laughed, too -
you and he
unlikely confederates
in the ordination of this world.



Every Morning Now


the donkey wanders
from the barn
to the apple tree
on the path
they made together.
She stops
just shy of the fence,
leaving room for her
misplaced donkey friend.

I imagine you
or I
will do the same,
will forever
pour coffee for two.