Posted Apr 30, 2018
By Chris Bergeron, Daily News Correspondent
FRAMINGHAM – For Tom Driscoll, writing a poem is like “leaving a trail of bread crumbs” to the moments that give life meaning.
Readers of the Framingham poet’s newest collection will discover pathways to love and loss, doubt, friendship and mortality in the clear speech of a neighbor’s familiar voice.
Titled “Odd Numbers,” Driscoll’s 55 poems reveal his “honest attempt to find meaning” as a husband, father, artist and citizen in an ephemeral world.
Recalling a dream of his deceased elder brother, Driscoll remembered walking together through “the tall sharp grasses” around their childhood home and the gifts their mother gave them.
As if summoning an elusive spirit, he ends by saying “I only thought I should tell you this now / As the wind just stirred a chimes nearby.”
Describing his fourth and newest volume, Driscoll said, “My poems become complete when somebody else reads them.”
“I’m being as honest and trusting of my readers as they want me to be,” he said. “All I can ask is they trust me back.”
Written over the last two years, these poems examine “things that matter to me,” he said.
Writing in varying poetic forms, including Japanese haiku, Driscoll examines special moments like a jeweler inspecting the facets of a diamond.
“You have to look away from the light enough to describe it. My target is an honest clarity, a sharing of those luminous moments,” said Driscoll. “I want to create (poems) that recognizes those moments in the honest words they deserve.”
At their frequent best, Driscoll’s poems achieve an effect British poet William Wordsworth called “spots of time,” intimate moments of intense lucidity that illuminate life’s essential mysteries.
Driscoll chose the volume’s title, “Odd Numbers,” from a Japanese-style haiku reprinted on the back cover that describes “days/as real as beads in your hand,/ each with their precious shape.”
In a similar fashion, several of his most moving poems recollect everyday moments in precise language, discovering epiphanies that reveal themselves with quiet power.
In “The Music That Night,” Driscoll recalls the lingering memories of a broken relationship. Reflecting on faith, he considers how scars reveal the ways people respond to wounds, actual or spiritual.
Drawing on ancient Chinese poetry, Driscoll imagines the affirming bonds of deep friendship in “In praise of poor scholars.”
Poet Polly Brown described Driscoll’s work as “something shining in a dark world that’s worth reading again and again.”
“Tom imagines his readers’ needs and makes poems in which a conversation is going on,” said the Hopkinton resident who belongs to the Worcester County Poetry Society. “He uses poetic forms which allow for there to be an interactive conversation in which readers have an active part.”
Brown praised Driscoll’s “energy and focus” as a poet.
“Tom pays attention and fully responds to what presents itself in life,” she said. “His poetry provides an opportunity to spend time with a really generous soul and there’s not enough of that in the world.”
Now 56, Driscoll works in engineering and sales for Abbess Instruments in Holliston. He is married to painter Denise Driscoll. They have three children.
Raised in Franklin, Driscoll recalled growing up in a family that valued books “like holy relics” and encouraged his own creative endeavors.
He said his earliest efforts at poetry were inspired by teenage stabs at composing rock songs and his freshman English teacher’s introduction of Dylan Thomas’ poems, “A refusal to mourn the death by fire of a child in London.”
“Thomas’ language lit up the whole physical world as holy. It was the kind of thrilling revelatory music that got me thinking about poetry,” he said.
Widely read, Driscoll cited an eclectic selection of influences, including Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Robert Bligh and singer Bob Dylan, each known for their singular, intimate styles.
Several years ago Driscoll released “Guesses at Wisdom,” a CD of songs he wrote and performed that earned praise from Snyder for its mix of music and lyrics.
Driscoll said he has been concentrating on writing poetry as a “therapeutic and spiritual” discipline “to appreciate things that matter.”
“Letting go of music has let me go deeper into what I want to explore in words,” he said. “Language is the core of what makes us human as spiritual beings.”
Asked what he would like to hear if eavesdropping on strangers who just read his poems, Driscoll paused before answering: “I’d like it if they just nodded their heads or said I’d named something they recognized and they said ‘yes’ to it.”
Driscoll’s “Odd Numbers” and other volumes of poetry are available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Lulu.com.