Sunday, August 31, 2014


Stone from the job site at the Green River covered bridge
 August 2014

Dear K —

I attempted to describe why we can't be quite physically involved with the Green River citizen group to you in my last letter. It's a delicate question, in fact a quandary, since we're dealing with some individuals who have worked to this day at abusive tactics against us, and what's worse, they work these tactics in a lynch-mob smear, with a great deal of personal prejudice. This can be worked out in a professional capacity as many have to do in their jobs, we've all been there. But when you watch the same tactics being leveled against you as a couple, and your own persuasion is to forever work with people, no matter the differences, there is no "mustering" here, it's bad business. I've already overly detailed to you by letter the case by case point with key individuals in this GR group, who not only purposely left us off the GR list of people at their initial first meeting, the community organizer then went to some length at essentially blaming you for not having our names included! This happens daily on the professional level, where workers all attempt to find some sort of staccato harmony; it's deadly on a personal and neighborhood level.

Obviously this bunch have been allowed to run roughshod with us, and paint us as difficult, deceptive, divisive, deriding and every other "d" work in the book, with basically selectman Richard Clark's approval (he did the same against us with another town employee) and life is supposed to go merrily-along. It doesn't. It's also a shame since the GR group are hoping to gain a fraternal quorum, so some of this past trouble could be healed by coming to speak with us and admit to their corrosive behavior, wishing to end it now and move forward with a mending and better habit of cooperation. Not only do we not see this, we see people wishing to bear down and make things worse and worse.

In the meantime, we continue to write letters, and I write my essays and post these on the Birdhouse and I send all of this to everyone in the GR group. These key players, of course, say nothing.

Instead we see exaggerations, dangerous ones:

A covered bridge is closed down for only three months and while the work site should have had foot traffic access for the public to move through during the construction, it is only three months, with proper detours, and still we watch both a town and a citizenry work like a chicken with its head cut off complaining or avoiding the obvious: stay calm, the bridge will open, take your kids to school in a car, or ford the river as you can, we're all trying to work together. Asking for tax breaks, and whining that there are less services, which is really stretching things, all sums up a public image with an embarrassing lack of independence.

Only Anne Rider of anyone on the selectboard is listening; the other two members have their minds made up about not only the Green River covered bridge but their only alternative — stuck in their brain pans — a new bridge it is. Nothing will sway this. This isn't a viable brain trust. You can see at the latest meetings the squad of construction workers and big business of Guilford are hardly present as they were in the opening salvos. They are simply waiting for the second bridge to get applied. Mr. Minott is doing his ever best to supply this by providing access to cut into an edge of his land for this new bridge on the western side of River Road where a broader swing will be required to turn off any bridge; but he is mum, in fact impatient and frantic, about the genius idea of a bypass that includes his land. This isn't a citizen thinking truly of other citizens, the town folk, the town budget! and the greater care of a river valley and its solace.

Minott also makes his play for this Bailey Bridge plan as an immediate service after all meetings are curtained and in the waning moments of the final meeting last Monday. He speaks plainly with the selectboard as if it's a private meeting, and a deal is improperly being cut. He states at the meeting "let's just put it in by Spring." Amazing. Meaning a temporary bridge. This may be where someone might see cheaters at work. We did. Steve Lembke at least had the wherewithal to slip back into this tete-a-tete of Minott's with his selectboard cronies, listening and adding some two-cents, but while thoughtful, it's meaningless. Lembke isn't even aware that Clark is simply using him and seducing him along to keep the peace for the town on the River Road while they ram this new bridge alternative through. This is what I meant in my previous letter about "tissue boxes" in each corner and a general mild questioning by the GR group to the town. The ONLY firm and activist philosophy we see in evidence is the determination by chairman Clark at shutting down the covered bridge as a full access entity and hauling in almost anything to make a second bridge. Like the footbridge, it's more litter. Further exaggeration.

Exaggerations continue with a footbridge being constructed at a time when we have TWO months left, if not less time, before the covered bridge may be opened for foot traffic. This isn't a dainty footbridge neither. It's a little too heavy, can actually hold a motorcycle or a band of them if it wishes to. The footbridge is improper to say the least for canoe and kayak passage. It's already a burden for any thought of ice jam, flood, hurricane (remember those?), storms. And what remains in question is any liability factor due to any accident. Again, the town planners for the most part love all this since it takes responsibility off their backs; liability falls onto all those involved in the village and River Road, and any forum for real opposition against any litter on the river is nowhere in evidence . . .except, we hope, with the engineers and better planners out there.

And none of this is to belittle the hard work and achievement of both Alex Bell and Steve Lembke and others to make-do an access for now. But it's another example of exaggeration, forced onto the citizens by terrible planning and communication by everyone involved at not recognizing it isn't our immediate wishes that is involved here, but maintaining the wholeness of where and how we live.

After witnessing the two meetings held last Monday with the selectboard and town folk and the rash of shoddy plans by some to yank a Bailey Bridge into immediate existence, crash through a natural woodlands, with a serious wetland issue, we thought it best to contact our friend Eleanor VanWaveren who once owned this property, certainly cared for decades this property, and who is intimate with the trust who now owns this parcel. This then took us to the attorney representing this property in the hopes of establishing a proper alliance as to what is their persuasion and desire as landowners in Green River. It may be they don't wish to have a road proposal that would bisect their property front and back of the grand home, killing of a woodland habitat along a river, and gunrunning a "temporary" bridge right down from the vista view of the seminal covered bridge. In this day and age of short-time, short- budgets, short-memories, and of course the repeated exaggerations, "temporary" quickly settles in with a fatigue as "permanent." And a modern bridge beside the covered bridge is a loser spectacle of a community that just couldn't rally and preserve a hardy constitution.

We're rambling along here. And critics of the alternative bypass road, without the use of any new bridge, will squawk at the unnecessary rambling of a bypass road over hill and dale, rather than the expedient shot of — rip through a meadow, bang over a clanky modern bridge and a-way-we-go. But take a moment to realize we live in Vermont where the best roads ramble, and for good reason. Often to save a mowing, a glade of trees, a whole forest, or to preserve a river situation, and even an undeveloped village. It's all about bending and turning in Vermont. So bend and turn. I think about this every time I bend around, gladly, the road by Bub Visser's old barn. The barn wins, as it should.

It's going to take an opposition that truly wishes to save its Green River village as the great knowing piece it already is, which needs stewardship and sheltering and proper balancing of every need: municipal, personal, ecological etc., We're dealing with an environment here, not a burden. It's our place to protect and provide for it and ourselves. The covered bridge is the heart around the larger body of the valley life and the people. The bypass road, without any bridges and future headaches, is the remarkable plan to provide for a deeper resource and opportunity. It's an old farmer's back-door dream scheme at getting the cows home around the swale. It's working with the river, not dominating the river.

Let's stop exaggerating.

[ BA ]

photo 2014  © bob arnold

Friday, August 29, 2014


Forever and to be Tom Montag will always mean to me that mover & shaker from Wisconsin (but Iowa boy) who published MARGINS which for many of us through the 70s and 80s was a direct life line to all good and soulful and earth bound in the small press world. Long before the Internet, long before slow poetry, fast poetry, Slams and all the other hullabaloo which I'm sure is beneficial to many but seems like a lot of cheeze wiz to me, Tom was manning, single-handedly, a terrific magazine churned out on newsprint and stuffed page by page with remarkable networking heart. 
I cherish that sort of heart.

Little did many know, at the same time, the guy was writing poetry. A ton of it. Have a look.

Tom Montag
In This Place
Selected Poems 1982-2013
MWPH Books
PO Box 8
Fairwater, WI. 53931

from  In This Place ~

Holding that
of her,

as if
she holds

of me.

After the burial,
one star in the sky.

An eagle dead
along the road.

The sky has fallen.

Flash of orange —
nothing rhymes

with oriole.

Rain in my face.
Someday the ocean.

in the water —

you can't
get it out.

A greasy snow—
you could slide

all the way to hell.

The mud. Cattle
knee-deep in spring.

The swelling
sadness —

evening falls
on these fields.

Not birds but the trees
themselves, singing.

Wind pauses
where once

the tree stood.

The lonely
trees of 

wave to every


There are hundreds of poems in this book and many are couched inside chapter headings that place the reader squarely with the eye of the poet: Wyoming, birds, seasons, travel, right-at-home, a marriage and love. When I came to the poem about the midwest boy having the rain on his face and thinking "someday" the ocean, he had me. The poems can all blow onto the ground and across the earth with the wind and we can find them, one at a time if need be, and all will be fine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Getting scaffolding built for the second floor and rafter raising. The scaffold is the one-man carpenter's dream (a helping hand)


Spread out on the second floor. Brace your rafters for now.

Rafter detail on newly saw-milled spruce lumber.
"T" is top.

All my best carpentry and poetry teachers taught me to sweep up. Sweep up, be ready for the next day which will be ready for you. And 'poetry teachers' span from redtail hawk and worker ant to the ever literary and nonliterary.

 Early August and most of the lumber has been used up from the sawmill. The spruce rafters are all on, strapping nailed down tight a bit less than two-foot on center; we're waiting for the steel roof order which takes a week. While we wait we paint the steel siding and start gathering for the first layer of stone work, which will be all the front gable end.

The back window bought for $2 at a village rummage sale in July. It came with insulated glass to top it off. It's hinged for extra power — to open for a cross breeze on the hottest days. The upstairs loft may one day harbor books or sleeping quarters, or both.

 The 25 year old Toyota now off-road, my moving work wagon and toolbox, tailgate for sawing, back bed to catch all the butt ends of lumber. Only two tires slowly go down with air because the rims are that old.

My co-workers "truck." She wanted me to tell you this.

The finished off and painted east side windows. The top decoration I pulled off an old friend's mighty chest of drawers we hauled over one Christmas eve night from New York State. The chest was too old but the drawers I kept and all the decorations were carefully removed. It'll all be used somewhere.

Three essential

tools on

the job.

Interior of chapel — loft floor joists, with rafter butt ends of the lean-to
spiked into place. By mid-August I'll have a storage region built-in under the floor joists to keep loose lumber off the ground.

The steel walls have now been double-coat painted, the building is waiting for its roofing.

 The lean-to

From the front gate built decades ago by Bob; stonewall, too.

One hundred miles away, find this spot, out of the blue, walking around in some town neighborhood. Another person has taken the time to allow strangers to partake, and raked.

Take a breather, look out at some place different.

The stump of an oak tree I cut down. We carry the stump around as a seat. 
Daddy Longlegs is coming along.

Boxing in the gable end, soon ready for two windows
and stone. The bottom course of slate has been started.
The slate is only visually structural, but visual in architecture is often as strong as structural.

Old steel roofing, now siding, and all newly painted.

Cut out of the steel two more rough openings for windows, now to locate those windows.
They'll show up.

One of these two of a twin sugar maple will have to be removed in the Fall. Less danger from falling tree limbs onto the steel roof; more light, sunshine. I should have dropped one of the two trees before the construction began. It is not easy to want to drop a healthy sugar maple tree. Vermont's masthead.

Take part of the afternoon off from the job and go visit an old friend two miles up river in the village.
The covered bridge is out for awhile. . .okay.
But this oldest bridge in the world is in service.


photos 2014  © bob & susan arnold

Monday, August 25, 2014


25th AUGUST 2014, 6 PM Green River Dam

August 25, 2014, it was a lovely late afternoon when we bicycled up to the covered bridge to have a look around, plus we wanted to cross the river to visit with an old friend in the village. We have a map to bring to her that shows how the town of Guilford has one proposal to drive a new roadway, called "alternative route," smack dab through her property. Well, no, she doesn't own the property any longer, a trustee does, but at one time, and I've written about this friend before, circa 1940, when she moved here as a youngster with her family, they owned all the village.

Our friend isn't at all happy about this proposed road route on the map.


Today our friend is under the weather. She answers the door by visiting with us from her second floor screened bedroom window, something we've done many times over many years if she isn't feeling herself, adding, "I don't want you two to catch what I have."

 We leave at her door certain paperwork for her to preview, mostso this map, with its alternative route barreling through her woodland, wetlands, old spring brook, expansive yard (I used to mow), and knocking apart the best plum tree in all of Green River, and oh my what plum jelly was made from the plums of that tree. You could buy this jelly in its gilt jar, from the Brattleboro Food Co-op for $9.  Once upon a time.


While we toured on the bikes we shot more photographs of the covered bridge work site, as well as the footbridge being erected by some of the neighbors in the neighborhood a quarter mile south of the covered bridge.

We got ourselves across the river not using the ford this time, nor disobeying the footbridge signs of "Keep Out" since it's still under construction, and we didn't get our feet wet neither.


You figure out how we got across.

[ BA ]

The Start of a footbridge a quarter mile south of the closed covered bridge

Planking for the footbridge

River ledge and support

Entrance to the footbridge from River Road, west side of the river

Abutment to the covered bridge exposed for renovation

Cribbing under the abutment

The progression of the stone wing wall

Getting under into the abutment

Back fill of the wing wall


photos 2014  © bob & susan arnold


Psychedelic Norway
John Colburn
Coffee House Press

first impression

we throw a party and the police come

they have black shoes and accessorize well

like hipsters

we immediately throw another party

the police come back

they are enchanted with our music

it calls to them

their fists love our doors

I have been in this kind of relationship before

the police leave

they drive through the night to end another party

we must think of them in the morning

how an officer sits at the edge of a mattress

afraid of a new day

fumbling with the silk edge of a blanket for comfort

the police want us to think of others

and to stop having this good time

but everything that happens is just something

we made up a moment ago

and when the police tell us not to be so happy

we ask them where they got their shoes

it is unspeakably early in our lives

we want to come to our own parties

as other people — then we'd show us how to live

we want to come to our party as the police

we want to be others

it is wrong but we still want to

some people keep a record of their most loved moments

on scraps of paper in a coffee can

we want to be something we just made up

when the song ends

we want the next song to make us happy

the police drive through the night on pursuit tires

we know where they get their shoes

we show them how to live

fumbling with the silk edge of a blanket for comfort

writing their names on scraps of paper

to put in a coffee can

we want them to come back


ode to mescaline

Cold flower walks back and forth in the shy body.

Cactus petal swims in the hungry body.

Green vapor sings in the fever body.

The stomach goes away down a hard road.

Here comes a fireworks body.

Father flies through clouds.

Mother rises through earth.

I admire each leaf.

The sky pleases the day.

We'll give our hair back to earth.

Even the armpit, even the ditch has a pleasing fashion.

What if I were a mango?

Smell how the grass loves us.

Feel the tongue of the cloud.

A listener praises the sound of fire.

See our shadows have dignity.

Our headaches have their own lives, like moons.

I sit aside a day for clouds, a night for clouds.

It grows green light inside me.

There is nothing to resist.

Sometimes I am nothing.

The tongue of the cloud cleans each word.

The sweet offering of the voice makes a way.

Any name is good enough.

Let's hear the sound of walking.

Walking is part of the song.

A cactus god dreams everything.

I heard about your other god.

I heard it walking.



It is better to sleep upstairs

in the world of dreams.

Almost shining in the sky.

My parents have never told me

one dream they've had.

When daylight moves in, a settlement,

the dream travels by dog.

It is a dog in the shape of a dog.

In a dream my parents finally tell me

one dream they've had.

Then I sit up in bed and dream I

sit up in bed

telling my wife about a dream I had

with a dog in it.

My father yells up the stairs

I had a dream, I had a dream.

Then I look out the window

and see a space on the sidewalk

where a dog just was.

The dog that sleeps when I am awake

and wakes up running when I fall asleep.

Later, in the shower,

I put my mouth to the nozzle

and I am a dog.

What if my parents

have never had one dream!

I sit up in bed

almost shining in the sky

and tell my wife about a dream.

The downstairs in the shower

I am a dog, distracting myself

from the other thing I am becoming.

My dreamless father shouts up the stairs.

He can't walk anymore,

he is in my dream.

He will have to travel by dog.