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Nahant: Poetry by the Sea



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 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 co-edited A Gathering of Memories: Saugus 1900 – 2000 and its sequel Time and the River.  Recently, he has published a mystery novel, Death For the Phantom Receiver and a memoir, A Collection of Friends. His latest book of poems is This Rare Earth and Other Flights (Falbrook CA: Lit Pot Press 2003).  For years, Tom Sheehan has used the internet to effectively attract new readers to his work. To see, go to, www.press53.com.

In his poems about Nahant, Tom Sheehan shows how his sensitivity to nature is stimulated by being in Nahant.  In “The Stone Menagerie,” he brings oceanside boulders to life, and in “Transworld Flight,” a gull’s flight is likened to a lover’s.





In dawn’s wing-lift, when great gulls
tell time, he let go her hand.  She
counted syllables rounding up silence.

Onto the damp, fashionable driveway,
slabs of it powdered by salt, she heard
a gull drop a noisy quahog for openers.

Feathers filled her mind, flight elements,
a warm thermal climbed upon, migrations.
Now all my birds are flying, she said.

A last time she held him, his bones fled,
heart at smithereens, never looking back.
He was an auk, open mouthed, pleading

for forgiveness, the cold take of muscle
racing far ahead of lungs last exercise,
nerves at plastic wire ventures, the fire-

place of his chest banked in ashes.
Overhead, in trails of blue flight,
the company of birds climbed outward.

He rose to the east of morning, left her
and Nahant touching an edge of departures,
fingerprints carried aloft on feathers,

and all the way out, like broken promises,
the sea morgue-cold and valid,
she felt him newly forming over waters.



from: Nahant Voices  (Nahant, MA: Nahant Arts Association / Friends of the Nahant Public Library) 1984.
courtesy: Thomas F. Sheehan