i'm with joe

Massachusetts, I came to you,
wide open, seeking adventure,
throwing myself at you, whorishly,
with heady expectations.

On my first night here,
Mary McCaslin played and sang
to ten patrons at the Black Sheep.
I considered myself welcomed.

It was easy to fall in love
with your ice-cold swimming holes,
your flannel and organic coffee,
tag sales, package stores,
vegetarian options,
your "thickly settled" cautions
and gay pride parades.

No matter how long I live
in your towns, I'm no townie,
and I like that about you, too,

I'm grateful for your politics,
but even more, your mountains.
Oh, your bards and crooners
I love your farms, your irises,
clapboard houses, and your libraries.

I even love the crappy bar
where last night I heard the song
that inspired this poem about you.
Don't listen to my bitching.

Finally, thank you for presenting me
with one of your beloved sons.
I promise to love him well.
I've given you a son of my own,
and my daughter, too, Massachusetts.

Inspired by a live performance of the song Massachusetts by the Scud Mountain Boys.


  1. Our Massachusettses are a little different, but this sounds a lot like the song my heart sings for Vermont.

  2. What a great homage to the place you call home! :)

  3. Gorgeous, Marian. Just one thought, though. The MA that you describe seems more WMass and less Boston.

    1. without a doubt! just describing MY massachusetts :)

  4. how rich!

    It's amazing how music, especially live music, can make us feel immediately after.

    I hope you ahd fun. I'm envious.

    1. Lance, go listen to Scud Mountain Boys and/or Pernice Brothers.

  5. I visited there in 2007, when I saw the Dickinson homestead in Amherst. My friend and I went to P'town and Northampton, and Cape Cod. Omg the seafood! TDF. Plymouth Rock, however, was laughably puny. I couldn't believe it.

  6. Shay, come back! we live very close to Northampton & I work at Amherst College, right next door to the Emily Dickinson homestead.
    also, hah! i know, Plymouth Rock! but Plymouth is a pretty town nonetheless.

  7. heh, apparently i haven't figured out the reply-comment function, consistently at least!

  8. You touch on so many of the reasons that I love the Bay State. Which makes me sad that, more and more, I feel compelled to leave.

    1. aw! come visit me here in western MA before you do that. xoxo

  9. I come from the People's Republic of Evanston, one of the most liberal towns in the midwest(illinois) and 30 years ago moved to one of the reddest states there is--words cannot begin to describe how you just made me lust and drool for ONE DAY in Massachusetts. Sigh...loved this, and its a balm to my soul knowing such places still exist in this conservative-ravaged country. Excellent poem, too, of course, with impressive use of the list sort of format.

  10. I have a fondness for the old BeeGees song, Massachusetts, not sure if it's the same one, but I have sung along, longingly, for many years:

    And the lights all went out in Massachusetts
    The day I left her standing all alone... Even the name is musical. I long to visit in the Fall, with the leaves all blood and gold. I'll be sure to look you up when I do :)

  11. I'd love to visit Massachusetts, especially now.

  12. dont know a thing about Massachusetts...but loved the lyrical confessional flow of the poem.

  13. I was born in Southbridge...but left and 2 months old and have never been back, but want to. A perfect tribute to a beloved place...

  14. I truly love the realism and the earthiness in this poem. I can smell smoke, feel the atmosphere, here the music. This is poetry!

  15. Wonderful poem, Marian. I love your last stanza in particular. So, of course I had to look up the song you mentioned, and the Bee Gees song Kerry mentioned, and listen to both.
    I almost took a job in Boston in the 70s. Glad I didn't, because technology went in a different direction. And I know someone who went to Amherst, back in the day, but I never knew the Emily Dickinson part.
    Now, after a musical break, back to checking out the rest of the Toads.

    1. i work at the college, right down the street from her homestead, lucky me :)

  16. yeah, i always loved that Bee Gees song, since long before i ever stepped foot in Massachusetts!
    glad people can relate to this in all of its loving specificity.

  17. I love this poem, Marian. And the music! Guess what? This summer at the Vancouver Island Music Festival, I will be seeing: get ready for it! : my fave k.d.lang, Emmy Lou Harris AND Buffy St. Marie. Oh! My! God!

    1. ooooh! i've seen kd & emmy each a couple times, but buffy st. marie!
      as someone i know would likely say.... YOWZERS!


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