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: The Off Season (2)

Off Season 2.JPG

Offseason (2)

It is December and the cotton is harvested.
The soil is wet from November rains.
It is too soon to begin the cycle again.
And so you wait, a man older than his years

more worn than his skin would indicate,
you wait for the first warm sun,
knowing things never stay the same,
even this offseason.

Under the soil, there is life.
Under your soul, there is life
even if you cannot see it or feel it.
Things are moving. New seasons are on the horizon.

This is where your patience comes from,
a hundred seasons lived, some vibrant,
some fallow and drenched, empty
as abandoned farmland.

Nothing lasts forever.
Nothing is as dead as it seems.
Ressurection is a warm breath away,
never as far as it seems.

About this poem

Part of what appears to be a series oozing out of a dry spell.

The picture was taken in Surry County, Virginia.


Poem: A Poor Sort of Tourist

from inside_resize

A Poor Sort of Tourist

From inside the ruins,
you can see the city that survived,
that grew long after these ancient walls
became history, a tourist attraction,
a spectacular monument to the power of neglect.

Your eyes are transfixed,
less on the grey stones that surround you,
than the color beyond,
those who remembered to live,
a poor sort of tourist,

but that has always been your nature,
to look so far ahead
that you miss where you are.

And so you turn your eyes downward
to the place of gladiators and lions
and imagine the frothing cries of the watchers,
wondering, as you always do,
what they saw, and what they missed.

About this poem

Sometimes, when I am feeling uninspired, I just wander through my pictures until I find one that grabs me, and I write to that picture. This was one of those days.

My mother used to tell me I was always so busy planning that I missed the now. She was probably right. That is something that life beat out of me a decade or so ago.  I live in the moment today, in a way I never would have thought possible when I was younger.

The picture was taken at the Colleseum in Rome.


Poem: February-Like



It is early in the morning.
The sky is grey, February-like, and cold.
Last week’s snow lies patchy and dirty on the ground.
The bicycle lies on the ground,
the victim of wind.
Off in the yard, chairs lay akimbo.

You are dressed for the weather.
Sixty-three winters have prepared you
and you know how to dress against the storms.
Your heavy coat hangs on your shoulders.
Your wool cap covers your head.
Your socks are thick.

Still, there is no escaping the cold.
Stay out long enough and it creeps in the fissures.
The only escape is to move,
to raise a sweat from your core
that will keep you warm,
but only until you stop.

About this poem.

About winter. About depression. Reader’s choice.

Yes, that’s my bike.


Poem: Unholy Ropes


Unholy Ropes

The ropes are rolled loosely in the corner.
Binding things, shrugged off late in life, often
replaced by more in some terrible cycle
of bondage.

Most were not your own. You surrendered to them
one by one, too often for the best of intentions,
not even aware of the sacrifice until
your eyes grew dim from lack of air,

your heart bound by unholy ropes
as the best of you slowly withered away.

But you did not die.
You teetered on the precipice of heaven and hell
like a drunken acrobat, dancing precipitously
as the crowd watched, unsure of what they were seeing.

You found your way
to solid ground and your roots dug down,
hungry, ravenous for the faith so lost in the morass
of failure, exhaustion, and malleability.

You found your way, and one by one,
thread by thread, cut yourself free, growing stronger
with each thin string sliced away, faster and faster,
until, beserker-like you could cut through the thickest bonds

like butter.
You became something you never sought
but always believed you were.

The ropes are rolled loosely in the corner.
You keep them there, frayed and sliced,
reminders of how easily we become captives,
and the hard work of breaking free.

About this poem

I keep a lot of momentoes around my house and particularly around my desk. Not all of them are of good times. There’s a reason for that.

The picture was taken in Mystic Village, CT.


Poem: Desert Life

flatbush BW_resize

Desert Life

Your bones are dry.
In vain, your roots seek water.
seek nourishment in the desert sand that surrounds you.

You wonder that you are not dead,
that the arrows flung so recklessly your way
have not drained you of blood.

But they have not.
They have toughened your skin
without closing your soul

And somehow you breathe still,
and rise, drawing strength
from the empty places all around you.

About this poem

Well! This is not the poem I set out to write. But when I carved off all the waste and fat from the poem I intended. This was left.

As an aside, deserts are nowhere as dead as they appear. Stay still and you see they are full of life.

The picture was taken, not in the desert, as the poem implies, but on Cape Cod.