Mianus Village poems by Jack T. Scully

picture of Jack Scully
Photo by Beltrami & Co. Photography.  

Jack T. Scully’s Mianus Village presents nostalgic and vivid poems depicting the trials and triumphs of growing up in a VA housing project beside Connecticut’s Mianus River in the wake of World War II.  About the book, David Huddle (UVM Professor Emeritus and distinguished writer) has written this: “Jack T. Scully’s Mianus Village both celebrates American innocence, decency, humor, and family life and also mourns their loss. The poetry here is lucid and straightforward, and the spirit of the book is that of recalling the ‘forgotten debris of forgotten years.' A reader feels refreshed and grateful for what Jack Scully has accomplished in these pages."

And this from Peter Shea (outdoor writer and cartographer, author of Long Trail Trout, Collateral Trout, and the award-winning guidebook, Access America: An Atlas and Guide to the National Parks for Visitors With Disabilities): "Jack T. Scully is going to sit you down in the easy chair of your mind. With metric simplicity and an uncanny choice of evocative words, Scully will take you to Mianus Village—a real place for sure, and the setting for many autobiographical tales, but also a place that is emblematic of the commonalities within all of us … For those of an age, there is a universality and nostalgia to the tapestry he weaves. Whether it is fretting over the fear of 'llockjaw' when he first heard about it at age six, or pounding a baseball to pieces until it trails threads like a jellyfish, Scully hits his own home run in Mianus Village, while taking us on a leisurely jog around its bases." J. Chris Davala, former Greenwich, CT Radio Talk Show Host and President of Smart Talk Inc., echoes these sentiments, adding ”almost every verse conjures up vivid images brimming with behind-closed doors tales.”
   
  Mianus Village cover image
  Cover photo by Inga Skuratovsky.

Jack T. Scully is a longtime writer of fiction, non-fiction, and professional papers. He has penned numerous poems and stories, the blog Pilgrim’s Rest, and currently, with J. Chris Davala, the website and Facebook page Beyond Gridlock and Greed. Following service in the U.S. Air Force, he worked at a number of newspapers before entering the high-tech industry. He eventually co-founded a successful high-tech company, which pioneered enabling technology for new medical procedures. Now semi-retired, he lives with his family in Vermont. This book of poems found its genesis and inspiration in the author’s boyhood home in Riverside, CT, where he came of age in a VA Housing Project for returning GIs in the years following World War II.

 

Mianus Village’s website is now live: https://authorjacktscully.com

 


Click here for selections from the book.
Click here to read reviews and learn about upcoming events. .

BOOK STATISTICS

ISBN 978-1-943826-84-1
First Edition, 2021
104 pages
$18.00

This book is available at all bookstores
including Amazon
and can be ordered directly from the author:
Jack T. Scully
P.O. Box 470, Colchester, VT 05446.
Send $18 per book
plus $4.00 shipping in VT
and $6 shipping outside VT,
 checks payable to
Jack T. Scully.

 

Sample Poems
copyright © 2021 by John T. Scully

Mianus Village

 

A gold coast
hung on the bank of a tinsel-
glistening river
but nobody knew that in 1946
when the VA
bought the land cheap,
bulldozed a strip through
the green woods,
built 40 matchbox houses
—750 square feet each—
and rented them
to WWII veterans
who couldn’t otherwise
afford a place
in the sun.
Daddy qualified
when he got laid-off
at the nail factory
and we arrived
at this launching pad
of our lives
when I turned two.
That spring mother planted
a bed of purple iris—
whose iridescent petals
brightened our days
and the kitchen table
every summer
of my boyhood.
Within a week,
Daddy cut a gate
in the chain link fence
with pointy tips,
built by the government
to save us
from drowning ourselves.
Nobody died
but Jeffrey Bell
once got seven stitches
in his throat
after bayoneting himself
on a razor-sharp prong—
a foolish
thing for sure
because two black labs
had already dug
a trench beneath
the lower rail
deep enough
for a teenybopper
to do the limbo.

 

7 Years Old and Doomed

I remember sitting
at the kitchen table,
smelling chicken wings
in the frying pan
and staring at my broken arm,
ten minutes after falling off
Mr. Morano’s stonewall.
My little arm
looked like a bridge
that had collapsed
at midstream, fingers trembling
like the petals
of the purple iris
in the vase beside me. Mother
kept saying, “Saints Save Us,”
as she dialed Annie Wolfe.
I bit my lip until it bled,
sure I was ruined—
a one-armed bag of woe,
a beggar on the sidewalk
of life rattling a cup
for small change.
Pretty soon
Annie, breathing hard,
appeared with a bang of the door.
I stared at the black curls
on her moist forehead.
as she wrapped
my arm in a cotton bunting
and tied it off with blue ribbons
after diagnosing
two clean breaks
with no danger
of compounding.
She patted my head
and said I would be fine—
as long as there were
no complications.
Right away my brother Dennis,
grinning slyly,
tapped mother’s arm
and asked if that meant
he’d get the bedroom
to himself
if there were
complications.

Why Gunner Drank Warm Beer

Daddy said Gunner
was a natural born killer
but I didn’t know
what that meant
until one Saturday
about dusk
when his daughter Lisa
screamed, “Snake”
and we all ran to
her backyard
to see a Copperhead
slithering across
the gray bark
of an oak tree.
Pretty soon
half the kids in the village
were staring at its bronze bands
and flickering tongue.
Right away
Gunner pushed us aside,
took one look
at the snake
and decapitated it
with a hatchet,
then aimed
his bloodshot eyes at us
and belched, “Now git
the hell outta here—
all of ya.”
Later that night
Gunner showed up
with a rattling case
of warm Schaefer beer
that daddy said tasted
like horse piss,
but kept swigging anyway
because he loved
to get Gunner talking
about machine-gunning Nazis
from Normandy to Nuremberg.
By 10 o’clock
I was in bed
crooking my neck
for another story
when I heard
Gunner crying like a baby
and mother whispering to him.
Sobbing between words,
he moaned,
“Sonofabitch, Mary,
I’m so goddamn scared
agoin’ to hell,
it’s killin’ me”
to which she replied,
“Just because you been
to the devil’s gate,
Joseph,
don’t mean
  you gotta go in.

 

Sister Annunciata

Never killed anyone
but I expected
death that day
when rosary beads rattling,
she swooped down on me
just as I let fly a spitball.
Unlike most nuns
who were meek and mild
brides of Christ,
this one was a reincarnated
bride of Frankenstein
who worked her ruler
like a switchblade
and cut my knuckles
until they bled.
Bobby Wizenski,
a born wise guy,
got it bad
one Wednesday morning
during a Catechism Bee.
I said a prayer for him
when he drew the question,
“What are the Eight Beatitudes?”
He smiled at sister and said,
“They’re the new family
that just moved
to Riverside Lane.” Well
she was on him like Jesus
on the moneychangers,
breaking
her ruler
on his raised arms
then hitting him
with a haymaker
that would have floored
Floyd Patterson.
It wasn’t funny,
of course,
but Bobby started
carrying home
his Baltimore Catechism
after that.

When Krissy Lee Stood Up

the first day of eighth grade
to answer a geography question,
I nearly swallowed a peach pit.
I always knew she had
nice legs and a pretty face
but now she had breasts—
round, high riding ones that quivered
when she sat down.
I could see the white straps
on her bra and knew
we would never catch fire flies
or play hide and seek
again. She held her
head high, not turning
or even blushing
when horny Phil Vecchio
snorted like a pig at her.
She was the kind of girl
you wanted to slow dance
with but were afraid to ask.
I’d sit there in class, drawing our initials
in Cupid hearts
as teacher, her draped upper arms
blocking half the blackboard,
droned on and on
about crops and animals
and minerals
of Ecuador, Paraguay
and God knows where else.
When we changed seats
for the new year,
I ended up beside Krissy,
all the time feeling
this pain in my stomach
cured only by a shared glance
or a fleeting smile.
Then one day I saw
a high school boy’s class ring
on a chain
around her neck and
my heart skipped a beat.
All that was left
was the numb recognition
that she’d never
ever fall asleep
in my loving arms.

                                                                        EPILOGUE

Tod’s Point

In that tender time
between sheet and sleep,
wrapped in sacred darkness,
I still see my mother,
young and happy
in a summer dress,
facing her smiling sister.
They’re spreading
a red checkered tablecloth
on a picnic table
at a grassy meadow
overlooking the long sandy beach.
Up the coastline
stands a red and white lighthouse,
even then a subliminal symbol
of hope, refuge, and strength.
High tide, the wind light,
a gray haze has cleared
and the water
is smooth as glass.
We have just come from
a swimming lesson. Today
they were teaching me
to do the doggie paddle
and float on my back.
Widowed Aunt Veronica
gives me a hand squeeze
while humming
that haunting lost love song,
The Tennessee Waltz.
Daddy and Uncle Bud drink beer
in the shade of a tulip tree,
boastful about another
subway series between
the Yankees and the Dodgers
whom daddy hates
because “dem bums”
will choke like last year.
He reaches
into the icy water
of the Scotch Cooler
for a bottle of Rheingold.
Even then I pray
it’s empty. Mother
serves me a grilled hot dog,
her eyes shining
in the sunshine. Today at least
no rain clouds
or arguments
will darken the waters.
Without a care
in the world,
I dangle my legs
under the picnic table,
remembering
this one day
over and over
and over again.