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Lake Passagassawakeag

by Douglas

This is a series of poems that I wrote while staying at Camp Fairhaven, on Lake Passagassawakeag in Brooks, Maine. If you enjoy this series, you might want to check out my series of stories and poems inspired by mountain hikes. That series starts with this poem: Cadillac Mountain Sunrise

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on July 17, 2008
"This is a description of an evening in my cottage at Camp Fairhaven on Lake Passagassawakeag.

This is iambic pentameter, which is most often used with alternating lines in rhyme. For this, though, I left out every second rhyme, so each quatrain has only one rhyme (on the second and fourth lines). This gave me a little more freedom, and made the rhyming a bit more subtle, which I thought would work nicely for this subject."

Jazz Ensemble

Like shards of ice, the broken moonlight floats
In fragments on the gently tossing wake:
A shattered line of silver in the dark,
A gleaming spotlight twinkling on the lake.
And all around in shadowed splendor stands,
The audience of grand, majestic trees,
With arms upraised in quiet eagerness,
And broad, green leaves that murmur in the breeze.
The shrubs and grass, like children, also wait;
They bend and turn with every passing blow.
The breeze rebukes them with her hushing sound
As all the lights at last are fading low.

The jazz ensemble waits in nature's halls
And listens for the nighttime's silent pause,
Then in the darkness takes the center stage,
Amidst the soft and rustling trees' applause.
So first appears - their fanfare soft but clear -
The horns and saxophones, with raucous score:
The happy sounds of children's laughs and shouts;
Their trilling echoes call from distant shores.
So softly now, the fiddlers tune their chords,
And nervously they put the strings to bow:
With trembling touch and ragged chirrup sound
The crickets add a high and gentle tremolo.
At last, beneath it all, the bass begins;
Its underpinning lends a rhythmic trail:
A lone and lonely frog with sadness sings
A downward rumbling melancholy scale.
And then the breeze, delighted with the sound,
Returns and calls the eager crowd to sing;
The softly lapping waves and whispering trees
Provide the hi-hat's soft percussive ring.

The voices rise, expanding o'er the calm,
With songs that turn on jarring dissonance
And in between, those hidden tastes of joy:
Delightful bursts of sweetest consonance.
But then the trilling saxophones grow mute,
As darkness deepens o'er the thrumming tune,
And children lay their silent heads to rest
While lonely frogs romance beneath the moon.
So I, as well, am lulled by gentle songs;
Though loathe to hear this murm'ring concert end,
I'm borne away by soothing, misty dreams
Of frogs and trees in sweet, harmonic blend.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on July 18, 2008

Space Walk

Silent weightlessness -
Timeless stars envelop me:
Back-float on the lake.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on August 11, 2008
"This is my third poem (and the second haiku) written about the same location. The other two are: Jazz Ensemble and Space Walk"

A Slab of Concrete

A slab of concrete,
Gray, wet, and ever churning:
Rainfall on the lake.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on August 13, 2008
"Being on a lake seems to inspire poetry as much as climbing mountains. :)

This is blank verse. Iambic Pentameter, no rhyme."

Hillside Sentinel

The misty ghosts of vapor slowly spin,
And churn their mournful way across the lake.
Pursued by daybreak's warm and bloody hues,
They slowly, and in silence, disappear.

And high above the placid, rippling waves,
A wooden cross with cracked and peeling paint
Is fiercely touched by morbid crimson light -
A grim and solitary sentinel.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on August 14, 2008
"This post is a riddle. I left this posted for a week without the solution, so people would have a chance to try to figure it out. One person solved it, and said, "It's the kind of riddle that, when you finally get it, you pretty much know for sure that you got the right answer."

Try solving it first, then scroll down in the comments to find out the real solution!

Clue: Even though this was written at Lake Passagassawakeag, the solution really has nothing to do with lakes!"

Steadfast Mutes

As steadfast mutes, we utter not a sound,
Yet in our silence speak the words of God;
With steady stance we lightly touch the ground,
My twin and I, like peas that share a pod.
And though I seem to be the same as him,
Some diff'rences the watchful will divine;
His face, though lovely to be sure, is dim,
When placed beside the brilliant cheer of mine.
Though I'm the lesser one - I must admit -
I say with kind and brotherly affection,
He is my perfect mirrored opposite,
A haunting, strange, ephemeral reflection.
I wonder, can you solve the mystery
Of who or what my twin and I might be?

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on August 15, 2008
"Today is my last day here, so this will (probably) be the last installment.

Until next summer."

The Hikers You Meet on the Trail

Aside from the sheer pleasure and joy of standing at the top of a mountain and looking out over the rolling hills, the rivers and streams, the sprawling villages with their needle-like church spires, and the distant craggy peaks, one of the other delights of hiking is meeting others who are going to or returning from those same wonderful destinations.

Sometimes the climbers you meet are rugged outdoor types who look like they haven't washed in a week or two, with several days of scraggly growth covering their dirty jaws. Others are city folk venturing into the wild for the first time, without preparation or expectation.

There's a sort of community feeling among hikers, though; it's rare to meet a hiker who doesn't want to stop and talk. Common questions include "How are the views at the summit?" and "Where are you headed from here?" Sometimes those chance visits make a good excuse for a lengthy - and much needed - rest.

This morning Tom and I started out bright and early on our hike, and we didn't expect to meet anyone. We were climbing up over the steep, boulder ledges to the hilltop where the wooden cross stands sentinel over the camp. The dew was heavy, and the moss was slippery, but the sunlight was already heating up the bare rock face, so we were confident that we could keep our footing.

But we certainly didn't expect, this early in the morning, to meet someone climbing down.

I think we saw him before he realized we were there, so we got a chance form a first impression of him before he could size us up. I went through various impressions of him over the course of just a few seconds. My first thought was, he reminded me of a punk rocker with piebald hair coloring: streaks of dyed blond hair mixed in with the darker, natural color. His was an unkempt Mohawk that was in desperate need of trimming and shaving.

My second impression was of a lumbering, beefy outdoorsman - a surveyor, or a lumberjack, perhaps - out examining the forest lands where he would be working today. His steps were plodding and careful, but surprisingly agile over the jagged boulders.

Then the hiker saw us, and things got really bizarre. Both of my earlier impressions vanished in a moment, and I immediately thought of Harrison Ford, playing the part of the doctor on the run, being chased by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie The Fugitive. The hiker suddenly dived sideways across the rock face, climbing horizontally now, instead of vertically, as though in fear that we would chase after him. It was both surprising and bizarre to watch. He kept dodging behind boulders in hopes that we would not notice him, or that we would forget he was there. Eventually he simply slipped in between two giant boulders and waited until we passed before continuing on his own journey.

We never did find out what that strange hiker was doing out on our ledge so early in the morning, but I don't really mind so much; I don't have much of a fondness for up-close-and-personal porcupine quills.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on July 1, 2010

Missed Opportunities

There's a photo at dawn that I really should take,
Of ephemeral mists rolling over the lake,
But alas! I can't capture that billowing heap,
For the pale morning fog is more fleeting than sleep.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on July 1, 2010
"In the style of Ogden Nash, I have chosen to alter the pronunciation of a concluding word, in order to make the rhyme. :)"

Lake Passagassawakeag

There are folks who suppose it's a difficult game
To precisely and properly say this lake's name,
But the truth is, the name is as easy as pie,
And most everyone gets it who gives it a try;
Just breathe deep and remember this speech diagnostic:
Lake Passagassawakeag is quite anapostic.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on July 9, 2010
"Normally I like choppy water; waves are a lot of fun. But when all I want to do is float peacefully, serenely on my back, I don't enjoy it so much."

Cow Tongue

The wind turns the lake to a great roiling mess
Of slobbery, watery cow tongues that press
On my legs, arms and face, without any finesse,
And have all of the charm of a bovine caress.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on August 3, 2010
"I'm quite sure I've written another piece about the mist over Lake Passagassawakeag,'s another. :)"


The gentle breezes stir the ghostly mist
That slowly churns and rolls across the lake,
And though I cannot see what lies beneath,
I hear the quiet murmuring of the wake.

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Douglas on August 4, 2010

Storm on the Lake

Beneath the high and airy ceiling of
God's vast and grand unsteepled dwelling place,
The rain, like whispering, praying supplicants,
Lifts up its pleas too private to be voiced -
Undifferentiated wash of sound
That sibilates upon the water's face.

Then deep and booming comes the preacher's voice,
The sudden, thunderous crack of judgment's storm,
That peals above the quiet congregants
Who shroud themselves in fear like helpless worms
While fearsome streaks of jagged flame appear
And call them to repentance and reform.

But hark! Now listen as the rumbling ends,
And leaves begin to rustle on the vine;
The supplicants, no longer bound by fear
With susurrating tread approach the shrine
Where love and cruelty collide, and there
Partake of mercy's bread and grace's wine.

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