Harry Moore grew up on a small farm in East Central Alabama. With degrees in English from Auburn University, Rice University, and Middle Tennessee State University, he taught freshman comp and sophomore literature in community college for four decades.

His poems have appeared in the Elk River Review, The Distillery, Alabama Literary Review, Teaching English in the Two-Year College, POEM, South Carolina Review, Avocet, Ship of Fools, Anglican Theological Review, Penwood Review, Main Street Rag, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and other journals.

Since retiring from teaching in 2009, he has published four books of poetry:

  • What He Would Call Them, Finishing Line Press, 2013 (chapbook)

  • Time’s Fool: Love Poems, Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press, 2014 (chapbook)

  • Retreat: A Way Forward, Finishing Line Press, 2017 (chapbook)

  • Bearing the Farm Away, Kelsay Books, 2018 (full collection)

He currently serves as assistant editor of POEM magazine.

In 2014 Harry received the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award for poetry from Poets & Writers.

He lives with his wife, Cassandra, in Decatur, Alabama.

Bearing the Farm Away

Kelsay Books, April 2018.

Purchase: Amazon / Author

Retreat: A Way Forward

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2017.

Purchase: Amazon / Author / Finishing Line Press


Time’s Fool: Love Poems

Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press, Jan. 2014.

Purchase: Author

What He Would Call Them

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2013.

Purchase: Author

Bearing the Farm Away


Table of Contents

Bearing the Farm Away

Kelsay Books, April 2018.

Purchase: Amazon / Author



  • “An Accidental Poet”

  • “Taking Leave”

  • “Requiem”

  • “The Search”

  • “Early Listening”

  • “Maundy Thursday”

  • “Microwave Art”

  • “Biscuits”

  • “Reading Palms”

  • “A Dog’s Life: One”

  • “Home”

  • “Teaching: Fall Term”

  • “Why GP Cries”

  • “Isham’s Will”

  • “Inventory: Ransom’s Estate”

  • “Gilbert’s Coffin: Unpaid”

  • “Accidents Happen”

  • “Second Sons”

  • “Brother”

  • “Inmate”

  • “Autumn Grief”

  • “He Wasn’t There”

  • “Moving On"

  • “Drink”

  • “Taps”

  • “Sedge Field”

  • “The Judge”

  • “When He Was Twelve”

  • “Theocracy”

  • Deus Absconditis

  • “The Patriarch”

  • “Access”

  • “Neighbor”

  • “Two Waterfowl”

  • “Bulldog: A Lenten Discipline”

  • “The Harness: Bulldog as Romantic Philosopher”

  • “A Dog’s Life: Two”

  • “Bulldog: An Elegy”

  • “In Milton’s Steps”

  • “Offering”

  • “Something to Stay Our Minds On”

Bearing the Farm Away


Reviews

Bearing the Farm Away

Kelsay Books, April 2018.

Purchase: Amazon / Author



  • Harry Moore has grabbed a handful of Alabama soil and held it up to the light of memory. In the loam that sifts through his fingers, we intimately know people, places, circumstances that nurture a poet's life, enrich understanding of our own. Bearing the Farm Awayis writing courageous, honest, beautiful. (James E. Cherry, author of Loose Change)

  • These poems are . . . contemplative reflections of a mature poet dazzled and amazed at the changes that have occurred in himself and . . . his life. . . . [The poems are] clean, clear, and accessible. . . . Moore’s command of language is artfully balanced by an open heart and generous spirit. (James Miller Robinson, author of The Caterpillars at Saint Bernardand Boca del Río in the Afternoon.)

  • Farming life in the rural south, mid-twentieth century is central to these rich poems. . . . If the book had a subtitle it would be tribute, for grandparents and parents who one day disappear, leaving personal histories and old photos, “smiling as if to dare the world.” Moore’s dreams link a father plowing behind a mule to a grandson clinging to his own father’s leg, joy and grief over time merging in the magic of the poet’s art. (Bill Brown, author of Elementaland Morning Window)

Bearing the Farm Away


WHY GP CRIES

Bearing the Farm Away

Kelsay Books, April 2018.

Purchase: Amazon / Author



Beneath the seething August heat

bolls of cotton crack, then burst

in fluffy locks, green leaves twist,

turn brown and fall. Black faces glisten

as workers bend to knee-high stalks,

plucking the soft fiber from prickly burrs,

packing handfuls into the canvas sack they drag

till it’s strutted, then dumped on croaker sheets,

tied and weighed at day’s end,

three cents a pound. Ice cubes clink

in gallon water jugs passed round. For lunch

at Parker’s Store, they eat Viennas, crackers,

hoop cheese and drink RCs, riding the crowded pickup

to and from the field.



One year my father picked six bales

alone, he said, three hundred pounds a day,

hauled to gin on Saturday, while working nights

at Mt. Vernon Mills. At ten, I picked two hundred,

beaming before him as the stillyards leveled steady

beneath the hickory pole we held.



My tears live close to home

these days, rising up unannounced when

Hallmark says my daughter

has me in her heart, when my grandson

takes the hard grounder and flings

the ball to first, or when Lear howls

over limp Cordelia, searching for her breath.

But most I weep when King’s great dream

rolls in waves of shimmering August light

through fields where Ralph, Laura, Earl, Roy,

Hershel, Mattie, Pete, and Robert

lean dark to rows white for harvest.



The vial breaks, the fountains rise, and

I have no words but go by water.

Bearing the Farm Away


REQUIEM

Bearing the Farm Away

Kelsay Books, April 2018.

Purchase: Amazon / Author


for Marzelle Casaday Moore, 1920-1999


My mother disappeared last week

went poof, vanished, as if

the world wiggled its nose.



She who bore me, walked me,

bought me blue jeans, rode

thirty miles to her cotton mill job,

washed, ironed, cooked peas, okra,

squash, green beans, cornbread

and at Christmas cakes

richly veined with dark chocolate,

was gone, absent, nowhere

to be seen.



All week I waited for her call

to say Penny brought vegetables,

Lois smashed her fender, Marian’s

surgery went well, the children in the breezeway

didn’t bother her, her brother called,

her breath was good today, she’d be

glad if I came but she liked

to read and didn’t mind

being alone.



But nothing, silence:

only, among her things, this

picture of her at twenty, standing straight,

head back, arms akimbo,

one foot on a car’s bumper, smiling

as if to dare the world.

Bearing the Farm Away


BROTHER

Bearing the Farm Away

Kelsay Books, April 2018.

Purchase: Amazon / Author



When words begin to flee from him, like

darting doves we used to shoot at, and

memory leaks like a battered milk pail,

he asks me to the lawyer’s office with him.

‘Mid talk of assets, income, and elder care,

his eyes speak his need, and I who marshall

words for my trade inquire, repeat, and clarify.



Our births bracketed a war, he in ’39,

I in ’44, three uncles fighting across continents

to save the world. Slighter than me but bolder,

he was out ahead, fending off my flailing arms

when we fought, elusive when I tried to follow,

losing me, getting the girl, escaping our

father’s eye to make his life his own. I was

cautious, quick to beg, hungry for praise

as I beat him at grades, football, and church.

He lurked outside the circle while I preached

and stored up accolades.



Now he’s returned

to our dead father’s fold, worried at my wild

faith in science, billions of years on earth,

fish crawling toward the sky, my hidden God

who welcomes all, the tattered marriage

suit I wear, fearing he might lose me. But

boyhood days are bedrock, love and gratitude

as real as water welling from a hillside spring.



Outside, minutes march like trained soldiers,

planets hurtle in orbit, a wife’s arteries

balloon and burst. Inside the office, around

a table cluttered with pads, pens, folders

holding records of a life, we face the lawyer—

our little group a circle in quivering fluorescent light.

Bearing the Farm Away


MOVING ON

Bearing the Farm Away

Kelsay Books, April 2018.

Purchase: Amazon / Author



. . . be one . . . on whom nothing is lost.

Henry James, The Art of Fiction



You’ll get past this, they say, as if grief

were a dangerous stretch of road, a canyon

where ambush might occur. Others say,



you’ll get through it, loss being a fog or

jungle I can’t see the other side of.

Impatient ones say, Get over it already,



as if I have only to climb my way across

a fence or mountain. But I don’t think so.

The pain, the guilt, heavy thoughts at 3:00 a.m.



have grown familiar. They sink roots in my flesh,

grip my bones. They ride my pulsing blood.

I’ve found words for the hurt, charmed it,



making it sway like a cobra to my music.

It hammers away in a secret shop. Even

when I move on, the words go with me.

Bearing the Farm Away


ACCIDENTS HAPPEN

Bearing the Farm Away

Kelsay Books, April 2018.

Purchase: Amazon / Author


for Clyde Moore, 1904-1974


My ageing father led, like Houdini, a daresome
and charmed life. Forearms, knuckles, fingers


bled as wrenches slipped and hammers flew awry.
Luckily the caged raccoon that bit his hand


and fled was not mad. The coasting chain-saw
that twice lurched into his knee ate mostly cloth.


When he checked the whirling lawn mower blade,
it took merest finger tips. The gas can tilted


above the idling Farmall Super-A rose flaming
past his ear, and when in springtime the tractor


rolled topsy turvy like a barrel down the rocky slope,
he somehow floated free. While breath receded,


his laughter grew. At three score and ten, his large heart
stopped on its own; a meteor threading crowded skies


landed finally in his bed.

Retreat: A Way Forward


Table of Contents

Retreat: A Way Forward

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2017.

Purchase: Amazon / Author / Finishing Line Press



Retreat: A Way Forward


Reviews


Retreat: A Way Forward

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2017.

Purchase: Amazon / Author / Finishing Line Press


  • In the last poem of his Retreat: A Way Forward, Moore asks, and what of himself will he leave? For me, this is a reflective question that flows through the entire book—each poem a quest, a search, a deep looking at both the present moment and a past generously remembered. The poet's close bond with nature is also a continuous thread, beautifully woven into his curiosity to discover meaning in every moment. Led by an unceasing muse, will she whisper things he must write till dawn, Moore keeps the reader intimately involved, as he dives into lakes, cocoons, old journals and dusty briefcases. This searching is ultimately a means to discover a fluid, renewed faith in life's journey, which embraces twisted grasses, weeds...and trees he's yet to name, as well as the divinity within each of us. (Bonnie Rose Marcus, author of The Luminosity)

  • There is a still, small voice of wisdom, a “sober undercurrent,” within the poems of Harry Moore’s Retreat: A Way Forward. No longer midway on life’s journey—at an artist residency—he mines a lifetime worth of journals, “slough[ing] off a medley of old/selves” and seeking the clarity of “some lasting form.” Perhaps, as he suggests, we are all trapped in our own cravings; perhaps words, the seeking after them, never really changes anything within the self or within our environments. Nevertheless, Moore seeks a legacy to leave behind that will carry us all forward into “a whole new song”—one that is sacred and spacious and lifted up, despite this wilderness we wander beneath a God-haunted “empty sky.” (Jeff Hardin, author of Small Revolution and Restoring the Narrative)

Time's Fool: Love Poems

Table of Contents


Time's Fool: Love Poems

Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press, Jan. 2014.

Purchase: Author



  • “License My Roving Hands”

  • “GP’s Wife Does National Boards”

  • “As You Like It or GP Goes to London with His Wife”

  • “Offering”

  • “Ushering at Easter or GP Notices His Stepdaughter”

  • “Long Distance”

  • “Sanctum”

  • “A Summer’s Day”

  • “Time’s Fool”

  • “Youngest”

  • “How His Garden Grows”

  • “The Viewing”

  • “Advent”

  • “Winning”

  • “Nativity”

  • “Earthquakes and Aftershocks”

  • “A Gift”

  • “A Day with Lillie”

  • “Here Am I”

  • “The Bulldog or GP Takes a Lenten Discipline”

  • “Neighbor”

  • Bulldog: An Elegy”

  • “Accidents Happen”

  • “Nocturne: Pillow Talk or GP Thinks about Body Language . . .”

  • “GP Orders His Columbarium Niche at St. John’s Church”

Time's Fool: Love Poems

Reviews



Time’s Fool: Love Poems

Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press, Jan. 2014.

Purchase: Author


  • “Time's Fool, Harry Moore's second chapbook, consists of twenty-four beautifully crafted poems that are both confessional and conversational.

  • “Grippingly honest and deeply moving, the poems in Time's Fool are by no means dark. They are celebratory and full of light, held together by hope, joy, faith, and always by love . . .

  • “Moore writes of comfortable domesticity, of family, blended and extended, of children and grandchildren, of birth and death, love and loss, beginnings and endings.” (Penne J. Laubenthal, Alabama Writers’ Forum)

http://www.writersforum.org/news_and_reviews/review_archives.html/article/2015/02/02/time-s-fool-love-poems

Time's Fool: Love Poems

GP'S WIFE DOES NATIONAL BOARDS

Time’s Fool: Love Poems

Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press, Jan. 2014.

Purchase: Author



So what’s the plan, she says, tapping
a fingernail on her coffee cup, marching
through pages of morning news as I
study high school football scores;
do you have goals, objectives, strategy,
a mission, and are you effective?

Her skin is soft, I know, and cool
like swamp oak shade, rich as
ploughed ground in springtime.

We could move this wall twelve feet,
she adds, open the sun room, put the pool
by the fence, plant azaleas, and grow
Eden out back; while I, bursting joy’s
week-old grapes, note Goshen lost,
Reeltown beat Beulah, and Leroy is undefeated.

Her hands are finely formed and sure,
true as tall pine, light as evening
breeze across a summer porch.

Flicking crumbs, I clip play-off
grids, tasting pleasure for weeks to come.
Next term, she says, I’m teaching part-time
at two colleges, chairing my department,
doing National Boards, becoming president
of City Educators, and taking the girls abroad.
What do you plan to do?

Beside her tapping foot, arched and brown
with beach-front sun, our fattened cat
lies twitching in his dream.

[First published in the English Journal]

Time's Fool: Love Poems

USHERING AT EASTER OR GP NOTICES HIS STEPDAUGHTER

Time’s Fool: Love Poems

Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press, Jan. 2014.

Purchase: Author



Lilies burst from ends of pews marking

the way the cross moves to the altar

and the tall bright window where St. John

writes gospel in his blue book.

As trumpets rise toward dark roofbeams,

hull of my ship these thirty years,

I see my daughter across the crowded church,

hair gone darker now, arms brown

from weeks of soccer sun, her form slight

in the straight frock, standing

between her daughters, now shoulder high.



She was oldest of the four

in our mix and match, already ten

when we met, shy, running fast,

fighting for her brother, smiling

when I caught her eye.



Steady as the clock that woke her

every day for school, she kept quiet

when voices roared. She was pisces,

I a virgo in a house of lions.

In broken French, my minor key,

we tossed words like keep-away

above the family’s head. Pas-pere

she called me, childhood joke

as deep as blood.



Driving the red Datsun, she crashed

on geometry’s hard proofs, fleeing

to her father’s country house one term.

Later, north of childhood and college,

she drove nights to us through rain,

infant and toddler like loads of nectar

on the homeward flight.



After church, when children crowd

her mother’s tiny kitchen, jostling

for grapes or ice cream,

she’ll stand beside the glowing heater

just outside the tug and push.

Across the room, we will smile,

glad for laughter, food, casual talk,

hearts grown firm with years.



[First published in The Alabama Literary Review]

Time's Fool: Love Poems

A SUMMER'S DAY

Time’s Fool: Love Poems

Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press, Jan. 2014.

Purchase: Author



High in the La Platas, by spruce and fir,

my son shows me relics of the Lucky Moon Mine:

tan-colored tailings, like sawdust, rusted

iron bucket, corroded tin roof

from a collapsed cabin, and a growing

cover of currant bushes. In August sun,

he waves toward distant mountain rims,

ribbons of switchback road, sheer slopes

down which he boarded last winter.

Fingering rocks, he speaks of glaciers,

granite, limestone, fault lines

up which the molten metal surged.

Behind us, thunder jolts the earth.



When he was four, he piled flint and sandstone

by my mother’s door, salvage

from a gravel road we walked.

She left them there for weeks, she said.



I’ve fled my Eastern classroom where language

is my trade, he his kitchen-concrete shop.

We’re out for alpine air, chasing lost years.

I climb the slope, snapping cheap pictures,

naming phlox and cinquefoil, while far below

he probes the earth, kneeling, peering,

tossing, gathering rocks. With loaded arms,

he yells we’d better get to the jeep

or he will break it down.



At the treeline a hailstorm hits,

marble ice pinging the hood,

drumming the canvas top, filling

wood and ruts till we bounce and slide

laughing down slopes, through sharp turns

of the ancient road. All around us,

beneath the ghostly aspens, the ground

is white, like some winter world

where time has stopped.



[First published in The Alabama Literary Review]

Time's Fool: Love Poems

TIME'S FOOL

Time’s Fool: Love Poems

Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press, Jan. 2014.

Purchase: Author



“Daddy?” she said, her cell phone voice

rising toward some question,

“We’re getting married. David’s

taking off Thanksgiving and we’re

going to St. Simon’s. You can

have a reception for us later, and

Mom can too.”



She didn’t say she missed me

when I left, the golden books we read

when she was two, songs we sang, or

waffles we two made while others slept

or that weekend roads were long and

houses far. She didn’t say she needed me

with nouns and numbers and thunderstorms

that shook her sleep. She didn’t ask

how we who bore her could not speak,

why in our years apart we built no bridge

a child might walk, no place

a girl might marry.



In the tape she sends of palm trees

and marbled seaside houses,

they stand outside before a man

in black robe, who calls them by their names,

wind scuffing the hidden mike and blowing

her dark hair. When she pledges lifelong love,

through riches, hunger, health and time’s slow change,

her voice trembles, her eyes glisten,

and I weep.



[First published in The Alabama Literary Review]

What He Would Call Them


Table of Contents


What He Would Call Them

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2013.

Purchase: Author


What He Would Call Them


Reviews


What He Would Call Them

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2013.

Purchase: Author


  • “The naming of things, associated with Moore’s father, is a primary theme in the collection. For the poet, to call things in the natural world by their proper names and to understand their essential nature is to connect with his past. . .

  • “In verse artistically rich and highly readable, Moore has accomplished more than many authors manage in much more space. Both the insight and the felicity he demonstrates will, I think, draw many readers to this volume.” (Norman McMillan, Alabama Writers’ Forum)

http://www.writersforum.org/news_and_reviews/review_archives.html/article/2014/01/30/what-he-would-call-them

  • “Harry Moore’s poetic voice is soft-spoken, gentle, authentic and honest as he allows us to accompany him on his journey through time and space, a friendly voice inviting us into his particular world, a voice that may tremble but doesn’t break at the current of sentiment that surges through the poems.” (James Miller Robinson, Main Street Rag)

What He Would Call Them

WHAT HE WOULD CALL THEM


What He Would Call Them

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2013.

Purchase: Author


My father walked on sandy soil after

horse-drawn plows, growing cotton, corn,

watermelons, fighting bermuda, crabgrass,

kudzu, crows, boll weevils, and cutworms.

He sawed oak and hickory for firewood,

mulberry for fence posts.



Wounded at play, I walk

the streets of my subdivision

which sits on farms and fields.



Fescue crowds my bermuda on the north, where

four white oaks, five post oaks, and a red oak

tower houseless on a sloping vacant lot.

A glossy blackbird with yellow eye

digs at my wet lawn, a worm

dangling from his bill.

Killdees scream keenly

by the drainage ditch, a mockingbird

sings in the persimmon tree by the mailbox.

Beyond the hackberry tangled with

cow-itch vines and orange trumpet blossoms

a bobwhite whistles pertly.

Out back, a yellowhammer beats

a rat-a-tat-tat on a tall dead pine.



Sumac, sassafrass, and wild plum

push from an untilled field onto Woodland Road;

the field is awash with white

queen anne’s lace. Fee-larks

with flat heads and yellow breasts

whistle atop gables of two-storey houses,

and purple martins dive and dip

in the darkening rain clouds.

A black-crested kingbird catches

a fly in midflight.



These names are of no use to me. Weeds

do not threaten my cotton, I’m no florist,

my firewood comes precut, oak and cherry

dumped in the drive. I don’t

hunt birds for food.

But I savor straight blackgums

among the taller poplars, I relish

the sad cooing of doves

in the pine thicket rife with honeysuckle;

I search books for the proper name

of white-breasted bee-martins; I drag

branches home to distinguish ash and elm,

I wonder what poisonous past christened

daisies fleabane. I beg a friend to say for me

the exquisite globed yellow blossoms of hop clover.



Beside my concrete drive, in fresh topsoil,

small ragweed grows, with johnson grass,

morning glories, jimson and careless weed:

green chain of years

across which my father speaks the names

worn smooth with long holding.



[First published in the Journal of the Southeastern Conference on English in the Two-Year College]

What He Would Call Them


FATHERS AND SONS (FOR DOZIER PRYOR)


What He Would Call Them

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2013.

Purchase: Author


“Sometimes when I’m eating,” he said,

“or sitting by the fire

I get up and go out in the yard

because I don’t know if he’s warm or

has anything to eat.”



We sat on split-bottom chairs

before a fireplace where oak

and hickory smoldered on blackened firedogs

against the evening chill.

Under graying hair curled tightly

against his head, his face was lined

like oak leaves in December, dark

as the coffee I drank every morning

with biscuits dipped in cane syrup

before boarding the bus to the county school

five miles away. His full lips

worked nervously, hands turning

the felt hat on his lap.

He had not seen my father’s black and tan foxhound

lost three days since in the Big Woods

but wouldn’t we come in and sit a spell.

His boy had gone to the army last spring.



I had seen him ride by our house on Saturday mornings,

buggy wheels crunching the gravel road

behind the steady brown horse stepping

toward town six miles away.

Returning at dusk wrapped

in army overcoat and blanket

he bowed deeply with a courtesy

befitting the owner of his own home

who did not pick other men’s cotton.

Now, in the room that smelled

of woodsmoke, lye soap, warm bodies,

and years of fatback, crackling bread,

greens, and sweet potatoes baked

slowly into its pine walls, he spoke,

“I can’t eat when he’s hungry, I can’t rest

when he’s tired and cold.”



Korea and Topeka were far away.

Selma slept. Rosa waited

in the back of the bus.

On the hard clay road,

in the cab of the Ford pickup moving

past pines and scrub oaks toward

the black grammar school,

I searched my father’s face

for words I could not see.



[First published in Teaching English in the Two-Year College]

What He Would Call Them


TAKING LEAVE


What He Would Call Them

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2013.

Purchase: Author


“I can’t go on,” she said, leaning

on my father’s shoulder. They stood

by the hickory tree we’d cut, where

he told me not to ride the crosscut saw

we pulled back and forth, laying up a store

of wood for coming winter cold.

“I’ve got to have some rest,” she said.



She was out of season in our world,

always gone before the school bus

dropped us off at home, on her job

at Pepperell Mills, where she moved

briskly round a large spooling machine,

her flying hands tying up ends,

exceeding all production goals, then

coming home at midnight while we slept,

laying out socks, shirts, handkerchiefs,

and quarters my brother and I found

as we arose and went to school.

She slept till eight, then washed loads of jeans,

cooked roast, peas, and cornbread,

and ironed shirts for church. From Sunday night

to Saturday, we moved like phantom lovers

too far off to touch, drinking joy

like the cold sweet tea she made

if we came home from school one day

to find her there.



With surprise and wonder, we watched

her walk down the hill where my brother’s sled

in summer sped on pinestraw toward the spring below.

Her blouse was white and sleeveless,

with a wide elastic belt, a narrow skirt

that reached below the knee,

white socks, and sandals with rubber soles,

her hair drawn back into a bun, nothing

loose or flaring when she dressed for work.

Without a word, my father reached

to hold her, in sawdust by the stump.

“It’ll be okay,” he said; “we’ll make it fine.”



My brother held a limb he dragged

and I stood by the saw. For a long minute

we felt our world reshape itself, our rising joy

tempered by this strangeness. Could she

be taking leave to be with us?

What He Would Call Them


ADAM GOES WALKING ON LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN


What He Would Call Them

Finishing Line Press, Sept. 2013.

Purchase: Author


He thought if he could name them all,

take them in—tall horseweed in dusty heat

beside the county road, goosefoot, star-shaped

sweetgum, hop clover, queen anne’s lace panels,

dishlike, turned outward to the skies, plantain’s

spindly seed stalks, poke salad, fleabane, golden

tickseed sunflowers ragged at each petal’s edge,

wild geranium rusting brown, a stone chimney—

all its fires gone cold— in a grove of red oak,

day lilies bending east, bull nettle, a field

of ripened wheat dark with pools of ragweed,

deep-lobed sassafrass, bald rounded boulders

where the glacier scraped them clean;



if he could catch the creaking tones of titmouse,

the pert whistle of jo-ree, a thrush’s plaintive

flute at dusk; if he could say the salty taste

of oyster, the pulpy sweetness of cantaloupe,

the cleansing burst of chardonnay on the tongue;

if he could show how the smooth contours

of her breast formed a map of all their years—



paradise would be his again, the garden safe

within its walls, the way it was before he knew

that he knew.



[First published in The South Carolina Review]

Home Phone:
256-306-9817
Cell Phone:
256-278-1766

Calhoun Community College Writers’ Conference- Featured Writer, Oct, 29-30, 2013

Review by Dr. Penne Laubenthal


Maureen Egan Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers, 2014

  • Reading at McNally Jackson Bookstore, New York, Oct. 19, 2014

  • Poets & Writers Blog, February 2015

  • Jentel Artist Residency, Banner, Wyoming, Sept. 15-Oct.13, 2015


Alabama Book Festival, Montgomery, Alabama, April 11, 2015

Louisville Conference of Literature and Culture, February 20, 2016 and February 24, 2018

Long Choosing and Beginning Late (Paradise Lost 9.26)

Posted: Jan 09, 2015

Winner of the 2014 Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award for poetry, Harry Moore is a retired community college English professor. His poems have appeared in Teaching English in the Two-Year College, English Journal, Alabama Literary Review, POEM, the Cape Rock, the South Carolina Review, Avocet, Anglican Theological Review, Main Street Rag, theSow’s Ear Poetry Review, and other journals. He is the author of two chapbooks, What He Would Call Them, published in September 2013 by Finishing Line Press, and Time’s Fool, published in January 2014 by Mule on a Ferris Wheel Press. Moore serves as an assistant editor of Poem, a literary magazine in Huntsville, Alabama. He lives with his wife, Cassandra, in Decatur, Alabama.

When Bonnie Rose Marcus from Poets & Writers called in early April last year to say that I had won the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award for poetry, I was at first astonished—then elated—then overwhelmingly grateful. I’m in what Dylan Thomas would call my seventieth year to heaven. I had taught the masters—Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickinson, Yeats, Eliot—to community college freshmen and sophomores for forty years. Seizing moments from a regimen of lectures, student conferences, committee meetings, and paper grading, I had scribbled fragments into a journal, publishing my first poem in 1991 at age forty-seven. From then until my retirement in 2009, I managed to complete and publish one or two poems a year.

Although retirement and a monthly poetry workshop increased my production—including the publication of two chapbooks—I had no idea I might win the WEX Award. Learning that my voice reached across miles and mountains, across yawning generation gaps, and across gender, social, economic, and ethnic lines affirmed for me the value of two decades of hard work and opened real possibilities for the future.
My week in New York City in October planned and guided by Poets & Writers was, from start to finish, a series of wonders. I experienced the efficiency and warmth of the P&W staff, especially Bonnie Rose Marcus and Lynne Connor. I got to know and appreciate fellow Alabamian and talented fiction winner Bryn Chancellor. I saw Thurber’s drawings preserved on the wall of the New Yorker suite of offices. I gazed over Manhattan from the nineteenth-floor balcony of New Directions, publisher of William Carlos Williams. I listened to literary agent Georges Borchardt describe his odyssey from Berlin to Paris to New York sixty years earlier. My wife and I stayed in the lovely Library Hotel.

I read at McNally Jackson Bookstore,and was introduced by poetry judge and fellow Southerner Evie Shockley. I chatted over lunch with poet Alicia Ostriker; over drinks with Martha Rhodes of Four Way Books; over coffee in the Village with Davidson Garrett, the taxi driver poet; and over dinner in Soho with Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri. On the last day, I walked a mile through Central Park among falling sycamore leaves to lunch with benefactor Maureen Egen and others. And all the while I knew that a month of leisure and seclusion at Jentel Artist Residency in Wyoming awaited me in 2015. The week was a joy, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the writing desk.

Although to our modern ears the bouncy optimism of Robert Browning’s “Rabbi Ben Ezra” sounds jingly and hollow—“Grow old along with me! / The best is yet to be”—I like to think the creative impulse and the poetic voice can survive the shocks of advancing age. The WEX Award tells me this is so—that in age no less than in youth, in the words of Emily Dickinson, we “dwell in possibility / A fairer house than prose.”

This award is generously supported by Maureen Egen, a member of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors, and retired Deputy Chairman and Publisher of Hachette Book Group, USA.

From http://www.pw.org/content/long_choosing_and_beginning_late_paradise_lost_926

“A Momentary Stay” : Musings on the Poetry of Harry Moore

Posted: Nov 06, 2013

It was like old home week at the 13th Annual Writers’ Conference at Calhoun Community College when I gathered along with longtime colleagues and former students, now professors themselves, and guests to hear my good friend Dr. Harry Moore read and talk about his poetry.

Dr. Moore chaired the English Department at Calhoun until his retirement in 2009. He did not begin writing poetry in earnest until around twenty years ago and now has published his first chapbook “What He Would Call Them” (Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, KY, 2013). This slim volume contains seventeen beautifully crafted and frankly confessional poems in the vein of Robert Lowell, and others, but at the same time they are also narrative and conversational, reminiscent of the poems of Robert Frost. Most have rural settings and are populated with characters from his past (father, mother, brother) as well as his contemporary friends and family, his children and grandchildren, and his wife, Cassandra, also a teacher. Moore’s husband/wife poems tend to restore trust in marriage for even the most cynical of readers.

As both a scholar and a poet, Moore brings the best of the two traditions together in his work–classical and modern literature and the equally bountiful experience of his own life with its roots deep in rural Alabama. He draws on this powerful dual heritage to ground his poems in the inheritance of the past and to connect them to the dynamics of growth, struggle, loss, and change of contemporary life. Structurally, Moore’s poetry is much like the free verse of T. S. Eliot, in that it has a “ghost of a meter behind it.” That “ghost” is primarily iambic pentameter, the predominant rhythm of our ordinary speech.

My friend Bonnie Roberts, herself an accomplished and widely published poet, writes that Moore’s poems speak in a voice “often reminiscent of Wendell Berry and Seamus Heaney” and that Moore understands not only the role of “naming things” but also the importance of “those moments between naming—when we look, smell, taste, touch, and listen to the world which surrounds us in nameless mystery.”

Moore conceded in his opening remarks that poets are notoriously unreliable when discussing their own work. Perhaps, he suggested, they themselves may not know exactly what the poem means, they may have forgotten its actual genesis, or they may even lie outright if it suits their purposes. Nevertheless, poets are expected to speak about poetry, especially their own. As for his own poems, Moore says that they are an attempt to “salvage” something from the past. He sees poems acting like a kind of “freeze frame,” attempting to rescue something from the current of time.

Moore called on poets such as Wordsworth and Frost to help him elucidate his point by quoting Wordsworth’s observation that “spots of time” from the past can make the present moment new and Frost’s famous line that a poem is a “momentary stay against confusion.” Not, Moore quipped, as a student once called it, “a momentary state of confusion.” The role of the poem, Moore reiterated, is “to clarify,” to “interpret” experience so that it becomes even more meaningful. A poem should also “purge.” It should be cathartic. T. S. Eliot, one of Moore’s favorite poets, said of his modern classic The Waste Land: ” I wrote The Waste Land simply to relieve my own feelings.” As Moore spoke, I was I reminded of Alexander Pope’s description of good poetry in his Essay on Criticism (itself a poem): “what oft was thought but ne’er so well express’d.”

Moore confided that he had not begun writing poetry seriously until midlife when many tragedies seemed to happen all at once. In his poem “GP Writes an Elegy,” Moore wrote of the death of friends from cancer as well as the loss of youth and a past that is forever gone. Toward the end of the poem, GP (Graveyard Poet) relieves his angst and the growing shadow of death in his life, by pumping himself up “with tales of prowess, conquest, field goals,…like some scop drunk on autumn wine.” Many of us have asked the question of how we can cope with lost times, lost friendships, lost youth, the impending shadow of death. I believe that if we are among the fortunate ones, we write.

How fortuitous that the day of the Writers’ Conference happened to be a glorious autumn day. Fall is Moore’s favorite season, a “glorious orgy of death,” but also a harbinger of new beginnings. Moore reminisced about the starting of a new school year, the “sense of possibility” inherent in the season. In his poem “Fall” one becomes fully aware of the double meaning of the word “fall,” as in the sense of “overreaching” like Icarus. In the poem, the poet/teacher looks out over his class of young students and wonders what they are thinking and thinks to himself “How can I ask….” The poem is ripe with allusions to Frost’s “After Apple Picking,” W H Auden’s poem “Musee’ Des Beaux Arts,” and Marlowe (Dr. Faustus) and Milton, who declared in Paradise Lost that his object was “to justify the ways of God to man.”

Moore’s poems, born out of classical literature and his own past, are frankly confessional and deeply emotional. I am not easily moved to tears but I felt a lump growing in my throat as lines in Moore’s poems captured moments that mirrored so many similar moments in my own life and brought to me , as Wordsworth would say, “thoughts that do lie too deep for tears.” When Moore writes of the hardscrabble life of his father (as in “The Search”) and the willing and relentless sacrifices of his mother (as in “Taking Leave”) who would labor all night at the textile mill, seeing them whenever she could steal a little time from sleep and work, I was reminded of Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays,” one of the most painfully beautiful poems I have ever read.

At one point in his talk, offering a caveat for his own poetry, Moore quoted Edgar Arlington Robinson (of Richard Cory fame), who once commented about his poetry, “I am a trifle solemn in my verses .” The line is meant to be humorous in its obvious understatement, but let me hasten to say that Moore’s verses are by no means glum. They are poignant and at times painful, wistful and yet resigned, and held together firmly by love and the glorious gift of memory and language. At the conclusion of Archibald MacLeish’s Pulitzer prize winning drama J.B. when the world lies in ashes and he has lost everything, MacLeish has J.B.’s wife Sarah utter these words: “You wanted justice and there was none—only love…..Blow on the coal of the heart and we’ll see by and by….”

The final poem in the chapbook is entitled “Adam Goes Walking on Lookout Mountain.” I think the poem summarizes everything I have been trying to convey about the poetry of Harry Moore. It begins, “He thought if he could name them all/ take them in….. ” and concludes with the lines “Paradise would be his again, the garden safe/ within its walls, the way it was before he knew/that he knew.”

Harry Moore is currently working on his second chapbook entitled “Times’ Fool.” The poems in this volume clearly acknowledge Moore’s literary predecessors, among them Shakespeare and particularly John Donne, whose life has much in common with Moore’s own. Moore, who grew up the son of a farmer and grandson of a preacher in Reeltown, Alabama, and who took degrees from Rice, Auburn, and Middle Tennessee State, now lives in Decatur, Alabama, with his wife of thirty years. He has been published in numerous literary magazines and serves as assistant editor of POEM magazine.

By Penne J. Laubenthal

From http://swampland.com/posts/view/title:a_momentary_stay_musings_on_the_poetry_of_harry_moore