The Orchard House poems by Richard Shaw

Image of Ricahrd Shaw
Author photograph by Stephanie Craig.  

Wally Swist has this praise for Richard Shaw’s new poetry collection: “The Orchard House is a transcendent book replete with lyric poems not just regarding the human interface with nature but something infinitely more.  Richard Shaw’s poems are meditations that develop into mystical experience through keen observation.  His vision is akin to W. S. Merwin’s in his book of odes, Present Company; and his sensibilities viv à vis the natural world remind one of Theodore Enslin’s or Mary Oliver’s. The Orchard House is a book to savor; in it, Shaw creates an enduring image of the fortitude of our heart being similar to that of a lighthouse that contains ‘one enormous reflector / like the one we sometimes feel / at the back of the chest.’ The aesthetic ethos of The Orchard House might be best represented in the conclusion of the poem ‘August Stars,’ whose startling sidereal beauty is ‘an annunciation / electric / through twilit air.” 

And this from Donald Platt: “What better abode for a nature poet than a house in the middle of an old apple orchard? As Emily Dickinson would put it, Richard Shaw has learned to ‘see—New Englandly—.’  The natural world of New England quickens within him in these quietly rhapsodic poems.  His unpunctuated lines convey breathlessness, silences, and ecstasy.  As for Dickinson and Robert Francis, those New England poets who are his forebears, solitude is his muse.  He places his poems ‘in the chipped / upturned bowl // time spent alone / has fashioned me into.’  What a generous vessel is this poet, this book that contains fox skulls, Bach cello suites, scarlet tanagers, tiger lilies, Vermeer, black ice, katydids, rain, stars.”
The Orchard House cover image
Front cover painting by Arthur Dove: “Me and the Moon, 1937” courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library and The Phillips Collection.

Richard Shaw was born in New Jersey and earned his B.A. from Bennington College.  He has spent most of his life in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts, where he resides in a venerable New England orchard on Horse Mountain, above Haydenville.  A former dancer and choreographer, he maintains a private practice as a Rolfer,® balancing, aligning and making more spacious the human body. The Orchard House is his first collection of poems. For more information, please visit

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ISBN 978-1-943826-54-4
First Edition 2019

6" x 9" paperback, 90 pages

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


Copyright © 2019 by Richard Carlyle Shaw




This golden light
just now unfurling itself
down the face of the western hills
after a long night of arctic air
unwinters something in me

beauty’s quiet urgency
shouldering in
for position

an old pas de deux
our beseeching the world
through astonishment
it unveiling and veiling
around us

freshening now
as it composes itself
towards dawn
            velvet pillow
carrying the crown
of the Queen


Floating World


The red of new buds
bleeds through the fog
then fades
bleeds through
and fades
up this wet path

out of which
shapes emerge
become tree trunks 
trail markers
moss covered stones

peals of birdsong
echo through
draped woods
on tips of spruce needles
droplets build
and release

a thrumming
of wingbeats
sweeps overhead
as silent blackbirds pass
flying by feel
with reflections in their eyes

at the summit
the woods open
and fog begins to lift
swirling mists
rinse the air
a polished silver

I squint in the brightness
and am a young boy again
holding my mother’s hand
fingering her diamond ring
transfixed by its prism
in the noon sun’s glare

Los Cerrillos, NM


Kneeling on parched earth
sharing this patch of high desert
with scattered bunches of
yellow wildflowers which
smell of lemon when crushed

I’ve memorized a single
flower’s pattern
star cluster from deepest space
in order to look it up later and
discover its name

majestic cloud formations plume
slowly transforming
their architecture in silence
their distant magenta shadows
move like veils across the desert floor

the stillness around me
is a quilt made of air
each passing moment weightless
and bell-like the gentle swaying
of one into the next

Three Summer Openings


A stream’s
water flute
calls over rocks
but after
dawn’s vermilion gate


Wild turkeys single file
a noontide orchard
heads bobbing
above the clover
like swimmers in a river

follow that fresh trail
to an entry in the hemlocks
push through boughs of
deep shade
into timelessness


July heat wave
tiger lilies in bloom

tiny lanterns of fireflies
light the meadow at dusk

Horse Mountain


Sumptuous June night
doors and windows open
drawing blossom fragrant air
reading by lamplight
moths and junebugs
patter the screens

at dawn
I wake to meet the gaze
of a large stag
standing in the orchard
we study each other
eye to eye
            a full minute
before he slowly ambles away

I make tea
go to my bookcase
pick out favorite poems

all day I am a released arrow

at dusk
and by nightfall
watery trill
of a wood thrush

my small orchard house
is a ship launched at night
which sails out under stars
to moor again at first light



I’ve watched
that clear pond
far edge of the meadow
put on its summer sky mask
take it off
for its falling stars mask

observed it
over weeks
shuffling through others
            rippled surface
            mirrored wood’s edge

upon each new guise

Entreaty to Psyche


Weave wondrous dream
unite me with your realm
let me traverse
the ceaseless unspooling
of your visions

when waking tugs
I will ferry us to surface
where you may slip free
into the opulence beneath

nape of my neck
still carrying
the guiding touch of your hand
from the shining dark
where worlds meet

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