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Bob Arnold

b-a-musicBob Arnold was born and raised in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts. While employed as a stone builder and landscaper, his books of poetry have appeared since 1974. He is the editor and publisher of Longhouse. For many years he has made a home in Vermont with his wife Susan and their son Carson. “Bob Arnold builds stone walls. He also builds poems that will last for generations and as natural as stones working together. Edwin Muir once remarked that modern poetry is not read by ‘the people,’ because it no longer tells a story. ‘The people’ should reconsider…” (Jacket Magazine)

Poet, publisher, editor, lumberman, and stonemason Bob Arnold is an internationally regarded literary figure, yet his presence in the field and in his place is entirely of his own creation. Mr. Arnold’s story of personal and poetic growth in part fits into what we might expect out of a New England upbringing, yet his many forms of work are also indebted to forms of art and consciousness that emerged in the 1960s in America — and internationally.Jacket magazine (an outstanding online poetry journal) has published a series of valuable conversations with Mr. Arnold about his poetry, his editorship of the widely-acclaimed Longhouse Press and the intersections of life, work, and art. These interviews are not only the best introduction to the poetry of Bob Arnold, but they are also, in themselves, exciting conversations about living and creating thoughtful and intentional work in our daily lives. (The Art of the Rural)

Bob Arnold was a wee bit difficult to track down. Seems he stays out of the limelight for the most part. But found him, I did! I loved this poem because it reminded me how often we can be mistaken when we take to judging others…

No Tool or Rope or Pail

It hardly mattered what time of year
We passed their farmhouse,
They never waved,
This old farm couple
Usually bent over in the vegetable garden
Or walking by the muddy dooryard
Between house and red-weathered barn.
They would look up, see who was passing,
Then look back down, ignorant to the event.
We would always wave nonetheless,
Before you dropped me off at work
Further up on the hill,
Toolbox rattling in the backseat,
And then again on the way home
Later in the day, the pale sunlight
High up in their pasture,
Our arms out the window,
Cooling ourselves.
And it was that one midsummer evening
We drove past and caught them sitting
together on the front porch
At ease, chores done,
The tangle of cats and kittens
Cleaning themselves of fresh spilled milk
On the barn door ramp;
We drove by and they looked up—
The first time I’ve ever seen their
Hands free of any work,
No too or rope or pail—
And they waved.


Photo Credit: jacketmagazine.com (taken by Susan Arnold)