Poem for Orthodox Easter

A special poem for National Poetry Month. Thomas Fitzsimmons (1926-2017) was born in Lowell and attended Lowell High School (he left to join the Merchant Marine but later earned a diploma elsewhere). Here’s a bit about his life from his obituary in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper: “He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Karen, his son Sean (Lisa), granddaughter Caitlin, son Ian (Jean), grandson Duncan. Thomas served in WWII as an underage merchant seaman just after Pearl Harbor and was discharged from the USAAF just after Hiroshima. A lifetime renowned poet whose work was celebrated by both Japanese & American musicians, Thomas was a writer/editor for The New Republic magazine and feature writer for The Asahi Daily News (Tokyo, Japan). The author, translator, or editor of more than 60 books including a series from Univ. of Hawaii Press: Asian Poetry in Translation: Japan and Reflections, Thomas was the Emeritus Professor of Literature, Oakland University, Michigan. He received many honors including 3 National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and several Fulbrights to countries in Europe and Asia, and under the auspices of USIS presented a 16-month, 18-nation poetry reading / performance / lecture / workshop tour throughout the Pacific, South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.” 

I don’t remember how I heard about Tom, but in 1982, he sent me the poem reprinted below to publish as a broadside/poster by my Loom Press. Artist Susan Gaylord lettered the poem, which was then printed in reverse on a black background. I have a few copies of the broadside left if anyone would like a copy. The poem was reprinted in the RichardHowe.com ten-year anthology, History As It Happens, in the poetry section. The book is available at the National Park Visitor Center in downtown Lowell. I’m sharing the poem here for our friends celebrating Orthodox Easter. — PM

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Rainbow Poem

When I was a kid

playing hooky

spending my dime on a loaf of Greek bread

to eat dry

high on a hillside above the Merrimack River

outside Lowell, Massachusetts,

I did not think I

would be sitting on Parnassus slope

above Delphi

eating my loaf of Greek bread

with feta, black olives,

& retsina

looking down thru temple valley and time

to when I was a kid

playing hooky eating my bread

dry on the hills above the Merrimack River

outside Lowell, Massachusetts.

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—Thomas Fitzsimmons, Dephi, 1976

One Response to Poem for Orthodox Easter

  1. Anonymous says:

    Funny, I first heard you recite this poem years ago. I’ve all this time remember the poem as referring to “bread, feta cheese and olives”. My own whatever, I guess.

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