Tom SheehanTHOMAS F. SHEEHAN   (1928 -     )   is the consummate local poet. Beginning with The Saugus Book (Francestown NH: Golden Quill Press 1984), and continuing with poems about, among other locations, Lynn Woods and Nahant, Sheehan has consistently written poetry about places in Essex County. He is a lifelong Saugus resident, a graduate of Boston College, and served as a war correspondent during the Korean War. Since his retirement from Raytheon in 1990, he has devoted himself to his writing, winning prizes for his short fiction and nonfiction and garnering eighteen Pushcart Prize nominations. He has also edited A Gathering of Memories: Saugus 1900 – 2000 and its sequel Time and the River. Master of many genres of writing, Tom Sheehan has for years used the Internet to effectively attract new readers to his work. To see, go to: Recently Korean Echoes (poems) and The Westering (short stories) have become available from MilSpeak Books, a non-profit independent literary publisher of electronic books written by military people. To learn more, go to:

In 2000, Tom Sheehan read "Sleeping Under Pines in Lynn Woods" as part of the Celebration of the Poetry of the Lynn Woods cosponsored by Lynn Museum, The Friends of the Lynn Woods and North Shore Community College. It is published for the first time on this website, The Poetry of Places in Essex County.  In the poem, Tom Sheehan describes spending a night in Lynn Woods and bonding with the forest floor.

Hear and see Tom Sheehan recite his poem Sleeping Under Pines in Lynn Woods




The spastic rib cage
of their gnarled roots
rises ominously,
as if the corpse
is on the move.

High in cranky limbs,
white with bomber’s moon,
the lone evening star
suspends itself
in drift’s appointment.

The cold eye above
and bizarre bone beneath,
at quick yardstick ends,
have their mad ways
on this act of sleep.

One is a light flung
from a cave pit of darkness
in an order of science,
the other as much
accident as me,

curling and edging
around resistance,
trying to get by,
waiting night to tie
the optic knot.

The nonsense of noise
loose in leaf and limb,
crickets and peepers locked
in dark industry, in the
chaotic madness of beauty,
the world coming apart

where it comes together
under a bronzing moon,
becomes, upon itself,
the hierarchy of signals,
sovereign of the ebon airs.

The boned ground’s a soft
act of attrition, my down
stuffing aptly squashed
to a standstill, buried
under buttocks, earth-bending.

Legless, I will wander
these absolute mysteries,
dream my to and fro as likely
as that grave Genovese
who set himself adrift.

Then, just as time
threatens the being of sleep,
as it leaps its grand leaps,
I will hip a hard root
near alive on the ground
and find assurance.

Even as I count
the hundred years of its
endless watered crawling,
its aimless dry agonies
and long-dread dowsing,
the roots and I come together
in the continuum.


courtesy:  Tom Sheehan