About Tom Atkins

Part poet, part broadcast engineer, part marketing expert, part professional creative, photographer, mentor and entrepreneur - I've never been able to tell people what I do in 25 words or less. Raised in Virginia, I now live in Vermont where the New England countrysides and towns sing to me each day, while technology lets me work with clients anywhere and everywhere.

Poem: Not Away, But Towards

tracks

Not Away, But Towards

You have always had a restlessness to you,
some strange hunger to see around the next curve,
to walk, drive, fly, sail…… somewhere, anywhere.
To see. To make sure you are just the slightest bit
uncomfortable,

forced, by your own wanderlust,
to never quite be sure of yourself
and do plunge forward anyway,

to learn a little each day,
to become close to comfortable
before walking, not away,
but towards.

Poem: Second Summer

IMG_2095.JPG

Second Summer

Summer light.
A road.
A journey, in the lush summer,
languid, slow and heated.

Along the road, a river runs.
Water dances as you dangle your feet
of the edge of ancient rocks.

Her voice is music,
part of the summer lushness,
a surprise, each day she loves you

here in the summer of your life,
a second season, unexpected as age,
and welcome beyond rationality.

About this poem

This past weekend was one of those times when plan after plan blew up. Two groups of friends that we expected for the weekend, didn’t make it for various reasons. An art show I had planned to show in got rained out.

But in the end, we had a lovely weekend. Time together, just the two of us, is precious, and when it is as unexpected as the love itself, there is a special joy in it.

It has taken me a long time to embrace joy again. I can’t tell you how much it means to me now. But I try.

Tom

Poem: What Matter, Rain

21_resize

What Matter, Rain? 

It is raining outside.
But you are in,
gently in love.

The light is dim and colorless,
but around her, a light glows
from within.

Outside, everything glistens, wet and cold
The cat comes in, water droplets on her whiskers.
But you are dry and warm curled up next to her.

This is love.
It does not make life perfect,
only, always, better.

It is raining outside.

About this poem

A love poem to start my Saturday.

I had an outside art show planned for today. The rain and wind canceled it out. All my art, tents and tables are sitting in the back of my old Isuzu Trooper, where they will stay till the rain stops. No selling art for me today.

But I have more time with my bride and it will be a slow, together kind of day.

Things work out. They work out better with her in my life.

Tom

Poem: The Work

IMG_0140_resize

The Work

It is hard work
untangling the ropes that have bound you for so long.
There have been so many false starts
and half unravelings, partial victories.

There is part of you that believes the work will never be done,
but there is another, hardheaded and relentless
in its belief that freedom exists, even for you.

And so you pick and pull.
You untie the knots.
You hack with your blades large and small,
You struggle and break free, one limb at a time,
ignoring the new vines that grow
from the rotted compost of the old,
believing the work will go faster
than the sordid new growth.

Determined to dance,
you work.

It is hard work.

 

Poem: Ghosts Live

surry county_resize

Ghosts Live

Ghosts live,
not in the old house on the hill,
but within,
a self-haunting far worse
than the stuff of horror pictures.

Ghosts live,
sorrowful and scarring,
fed by our own words and incantations,
horrible things,
lies repeated like sacred rituals,
conjuring the false seeds planted by others,
but watered into full ghost-hood
like obedient children, afraid of the truth,

that we might be magnificent,
creatures loved and of love,
spectacular creations, unique and strangely powerful
despite,
and maybe because of,
our weakness.

About this poem

Not my best poem, but it’s a thought that has been on my mind recently. I needed to write it out just to get it out of my brain. Poetry is like that sometimes.

I am a big believer that what we tell ourselves we become. Good and bad. Often others begin the process of breaking us down, but more often than now, we take over and repeat the falsehoods a thousand times for each time others lashed us with their words.

It can, however, work the other way.

I believe this.

The picture was taken in Surry County, Virginia.

Tom

Poem: Means of Grace

means of grace_resize

Means of Grace

The wind blows from the sea.
The seagrass rustles.

The air is cool as your hair rustles.
You stand, tall as a ruin on the shore.

A lifetime of moving and shaking has taught you
that the wind always emerges the victor:

Sooner or later, all who fight it become flotsam.
It is only a matter of when.

It is a vigorous thing, that fight, exhilarating one day,
a thing of fear the next. A vigorous, prideful thing.

You have surrendered that fight. Let fate have its way
and you will trim your sails to find your way home.

You stand on the beach.
You breathe in the smell of flowers and earth.

The wind blows out from the land
and it is time again to sail.

About this poem

In the Methodist Church (And other denominations, I am sure) “means of grace” are the pathways and things in life and worship that lead us to understand and claim God’s grace and love.

The picture was taken on Cape Cod.

Tom

Poem: Venitian Peppers

IMG_8317 RETOUCHED

Venitian Peppers

Peppers lined up like art in the cart
on the Venitian street.

It is Thursday and the marketplace is alive
with seafood, vegetables, and the natives.

Ripened by the Mediterranean sun, you buy one,
filled with the need to know if they are different
from the late season peppers that seem so similar
in faraway Vermont.

You bite, and the bright taste of almost home fills your mouth.
Similar, but somehow brighter, a difference you can’t explain,
a trick of the sun perhaps, or the volcanic soil of Sicily,
or the most powerful thing of all, your imagination.

If you thought a taste of distant home would make you yearn,
you were wrong.
Somehow your soul lives here in this sinking city
of canals, history and cafes. You hear music when you are here,

Amidst the ancient buildings, you feel new.
More alive than a man ought.
It is not a thing books can tell you, or pictures capture,
more soul than bricks and decaying mortar.

You become part of the landscape,
and it becomes
part of yours.

About this poem

The picture was taken at the Venice market, which comes into full flower on Thursdays. It may look the same as any of the small farmer’s markets here in Vermont and elsewhere, but nothing is the same there.

Tom