Tom Sexton: A New Poem

Tom Sexton, a frequent contributor to this blog, sent us a new poem that he worked on for some time. The length of a poem doesn’t guarantee that the composition was written swiftly. In the title, Yellowhead is the Yellowhead Highway, a main route in Western Canada. I like the way the poem folds back on itself with place names and bits of history. I learned things when I read this poem. Many of our readers know Tom is from Lowell, and was honored as the Poet Laureate of Alaska for one term and also ranks as a distinguished alumnus of Lowell High School. His book Cummiskey Alley includes the best of his Lowell poems and is available on or or at lala books on Market St., downtown Lowell. Please consider getting a copy for yourself.—pm

Tom Sexton: New Poem -

On the Yellowhead, Kandahar, Saskatchewan

by Tom Sexton


I drove past the sign for Kandahar in a highway daze

before the name registered and I turned the car around.

There wasn’t much to visit. The only person I met claimed

the town was named by railway executives for a British victory

in Afghanistan during bug-eyed Queen Victoria’s reign.

No Empire for him. The first settlers were Icelandic,

drawn to Canada by the promise of land close to

the train line and Big Quill Lake. He was gathering quills

to sell to calligraphers which reminded him of a story

about Kandahar’s first postmaster, Thorvidor Halldorson,

who taught the birds Icelandic by reciting the Sagas

to them spring after spring when they returned to Big Quill.

It made him and the others feel at home in this place.

It was the Fall of 2010. Kandahar about to fall again.

One Response to Tom Sexton: A New Poem

  1. Charles Gargiulo says:

    Great essay on baseball! Damn, I remember the old days in the 60’s when baseball was king. I got to play for the Cardinals team in some pee-wee league at Carrick Park in Dracut that my dad coached. We used to go to Eddie’s ice cream stand on Lakeview Ave. and get a banana split every time we won a game. Of course, the best times were just going to any ball park with my pals and linking up to buck up teams with anyone hanging around. What was cool back then was EVERYONE played baseball, much like anyone can find a game on most outdoor basketball courts that are well-kept now. So you could always play a game of baseball. Kids can never do that now unless they are with their school or an organized league.
    As I get further away from the 60’s, I noticed that following major league baseball is a great indicator of how the brain works when one gets older. My long term memory seems far more advanced than my short term memory as time seems far more compressed through the years. For instance, why can I literally recall every single starting player on the 1965 Twins or the 1968 Tigers, but ask me which DECADE Mo Vaughn starred with the Red Sox and I can’t remember if it’s the 80’s or 90s. Now, I’d be lucky to remember who the Hell even played for the Red Sox last year besides Xander Boegarts and Rafael Devers.