Book Review:
Walking Sticks (Yankee Love
Poems) by Dudley Laufman

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Yankee Love Poems: Walking Sticks by Dudley Laufman (Beech River Books:
paper, 225 pages, $18.00)

Book review by Rebecca Rule

How does a Yankee write a love poem?

Dudley Laufman. The Canterbury poet dedicates a section of his new book,
Walking Sticks, to his wife and fiddling partner, Jacqueline.

He describes their journey -- a road trip to Alewife, a visit with Mom in the
nursing home, climbing in the Whites, porch sitting by the sea, poking around
island tidal pools, waltzing in the living room.

Love lives in conversation, long walks, doing dishes, as well as in the bedroom.
It shows in the imagined time “After” one of the partners is gone.

I’ll not play the fiddle for
square dances without him
she says I can’t bear to think of
going out the door alone

A couple demonstrates love through kindness. When one is down, the other
keeps a-going in “Bringing in Wood.”

Having pulled a muscle
in my back
I lie flat on the couch
ice on my bum
like an old man
unable to work

Jacqueline will not
let me bring in the wood
for the stove

She steps out alone
into the cold
wearing my red and black
wood-carrying-in shirt

Laufman writes eloquently about deep affection ripened with time. Love poems
make up just a small part of this substantial book -- though he saves them for last.

An eclectic collection, Walking Sticks travels all over New England and into
Canada and Ireland. It hops with ease from ethereal topics like dreams to earthy
ones like manure.

Naturally, there’s music -- fiddlers fiddling, whistlers whistling, hummers
humming, dancers dancing. Naturally, there’s farming, swimming, baseball, and
weather. Occasionally, he works in myth and magic. A few poems are downright
instructive, notably, “How to Make a Semen Collector.”

And always Laufman tells stories featuring memorable characters like Willy “The
Stonehouse Fiddler” and “The One Eyed Singer” in the choir: “holding the
hymnal an inch / from his eyes, moving his face from side to side, smiling /
tentatively, singing for you.”

Fiddlehead Fern
by Dudley Laufman

Which came first,
the fern or the fiddle

Must have been the fiddle
poking up out of the ground
in a woodsy place No

The fern came first and they
called it a fiddlehead No

If they made the scroll on the fiddle
why didn’t they call it
a fern head fiddle

No The fern came first
growing out there all alone
no name all those years
then someone scrolled
the head of a fiddle
and the fern gets a name

Ever eat them
the fern not the fiddle
although it must look like the fiddler
is going to eat the thing butt first

Not I
I hold the fiddle on my chest
play from the heart.

To learn more about Dudley Laufman click here.

To purchase Walking Sticks, click below:

About the book reviewer:
Rebecca Rule is a humorist, author and storyteller, who is the author of two
collections of short fiction, including The Best Revenge, winner of the NH Writers
Project award for fiction.
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