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Backyard Naturalist
Me & Steve
A Backyard Book of Spiders in Maine
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On Spider Bites
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Parallel Uni-Verse
Poetry and books tracked in outback Maine
walking chilled
looking out
across the sound
the fractured liquid
of winter sea
another flock
low coming from
behind College Rock
black shags in
a gallery row
each zenlike
moves the others
i cannot stay them
from their course
stop & watch them
cross Hussey Sound
turn my back
as they pass the point
hollow thunder
resounding from Overset
above the decoys
in december air
sun as cold
as an eider’s eye

Peter Kilgore was born, grew up and lived most of his life in Portland, Maine. He died in 1992 at the age of 52. This poem is from a manuscript recently found among his papers. Quarry: The Collected Poems of Peter Kilgore is available from North Country Press in Unity, Maine.

untitled (from "Island Poems")
By Peter Kilgore
poems by and/or reviews of poetry, fiction, novel, nonfiction, memoir:
Cafe Review
Richard Grossinger - Pluto
Steve Luttrell
Robert Chute
Stephen King
Hearts in Suspension
Mr. Mercedes
Finders Keepers
Bazaar of Bad Dreams
The Outsider
Bruce Holsapple
Birth of the Imagination - William Carlos Williams
Kenneth Frost
Carolyn Gelland
Lee Sharkey
Wesley McNair
The Unfastening
Bruce Wallace
Carolyn Locke
Dave Morrison
Arthur Rimbaud
Glenn Cooper
Leonore Hildebrandt
Teresa Lagrange
John Holt Willey
Edward Lorusso
George Danby
Lindy Hough
Alfred DePew
Dirk Dunbar
Chris Peary
james lowe
Richard Foerster
Stuart Kestenbaum
Megan Grumbling
Alex Irvine
Take Heart
Jeanne Braham
Judith Robbins
Jennifer Wixson
Tenants Harbor
Will Lane
Trust Rust
University of Maine Press
Thomas Moore
Dana Wilde
Jeri Theriault
Philippe Coupey
Taisen Deshimaru Roshi
Alistair Noon
Simone Paradis Hanson
Dennis Camire
Joal Hetherington
Peter Pfeiffer
Bill Roorbach
Richard Russo
Patricia Ranzoni
Still Mill
Rick Doyle
Summer to Fall
Lewis Turco - Enkidu
Burton Hatlen - Elegies and Valedictions
Caught - Glen Libby - Antonia Small
3 Nations Anthology
Baron Wormser
Tom O'Vietnam
Oleson Dovecote
Jim Krosschell
One Man's Maine
Robert Chute
Kristen Lindquist
Tourists in the Known World
William Hathaway - Dawn Chorus
Michael Campagnoli - The Home Stretch
Dave Morrison Welcome Homesick
Brock Clarke - The Price of the Haircut
Paul Guernsey - American Ghost
Michelle Menting - Leaves Surface Like Skin
Karie Friedman - Add Water, Add Fire
Alan Lightman - Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine
Christopher Fahy - Winterhill
Jefferson Navicky - Paper Coast
- The Book of Transparencies
Mike Bove - Big Little City
Tom Sexton - Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home
Christopher Fahy - My Life in Water
Adam Tavel - Catafalque
Peter Kilgore - Quarry: The Collected Poems
Ned Balbo - 3 Nights of the Perseids
Jeff Shula - Fireside Chats
Mark Melnicove, Abby Shahn - Ghosts
John Rosenwald - The Feast of Steven
Jonathan Ward - Swallows in Late September
Linda Buckmaster - Space Heart
Detritus 4
Elizabeth Tibbetts - Say What You Can
Carolyn Locke - Riddle of Yes
David Wallace-Wells - Uninhabitable Earth
Betsy Sholl - House of Sparrows
Lisa Panepinto
Elizabeth Hand
Elizabeth Strout

Surrounded by brick music, the sonic walls are designed
to be invisible. Cumberland Avenue, now bends in a
long arc, dreamed out of unturned stone, I’m on a bike
ride that returns to the point of departure. I would have
never guessed that, of all places, I would try to pedal
back to this. So many ends in the middle distance: a
walk around a dance; promenade west or east, a bay,
islands in the background; a reason to vanish, named
in a name like the oaks of Deering Oaks and gone, like
love as it ends or begins or curves on that long arc.

Jim Smethurst, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, is a professor in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of African-American Studies at UMass-Amherst.

Portland Dream
By Jim Smethurst
from my high Victorian window
I watch the snow fall
and think about the Queen Anne’s lace
primming the ancient rocks
the payphone in the old Port Hole
on which my best friend used to call me
as I sipped coffee in the briny
waterfront morning
when Lance was the grill cool
and they served wonderful food,
as the cheerful yellow and white
ferries departed blasting
Portland with their song
the walls and windows
and hundreds of miles we’ve woven
into the brick streets
the city at night its spine a string of pearls
the dead pearl diver
safely embalmed in the museum
immune from time and memory
caresses and promises
that appear and disappear
in the waves of rain
tears and snow pounding pounding pounding
the shores of my aging heart.

Annie Seikonia is a lifelong resident of Portland, Maine.
Song 3
(from "Four Songs of Portland," Cafe Review Winter 2017)
By Annie Seikonia
This city which I dreamt has become my labyrinth,
a challenge of grim streets, stolen sugar packets,
warm yellow cubicles of light, exotic prints framed in
antiquity, mannikins like pilgrims on strange and
otherworldly journeys. Drifting through oscillating
streets of whiskey and peaches beneath an obscene
painter's palette, vanishing in waterfront fog,
Portland suggests other cities, lives and destinies

glimpsed, imagined, dreamt, their fictions interwoven
with the gaily painted boats, the white nuns circling
overhead. A lone saxophone gives way to jazz from a bar
and primitive hypnotic beats from a passing car until
another lilac dusk returns just as a provocative piano tune
drifts down from a window somewhere behind the old stone church.

Sonnet XXXII
(from Fifty Portland Sonnets, 1994)
By Annie Seikonia
A Parallel Uni-Verse
"Although as written, the bill was never a discriminatory piece of legislation,
the aid was distributed unequally between the races from 1940–1960 [and
the Civil Rights movement]."
– Sophie Frey, “Black and White Veterans and the GI Bill”
History 90:01 Topics in Digital History

How could it be I wouldn’t learn of this guilt until 2020, this undeniable verdict,
BLACK LIVES MATTER came flooding like George Floyd’s waters under
the knees of those four cops in Minneapolis? All this time wondering what specific
privilege I’m guilty of. Of not being Black, I know, but what else should I confess
growing up poor in outback Maine where class is race. Our worst diversity.

Born to The War, II, I was four when President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s
Readjustment Act, the first so-called “race-neutral” legislation for American vets.
The G. I. Bill (Galvanized Iron / Government Issue / General Issue / G.I. Joe).
Grew up revering it. My father’s reward for surviving combat, years of dive-
kamikaze planes aimed to destroy the destroyer battle ships he served
as a sailor on. Ours for making it alone and his for coming home to us, shattered
eardrums and yet-to-be-named PTSD and all, to begin again. To start a better life
than he’d had as a kid, poor, upriver, with boots the right size for the first time
in the service.

Didn’t go for a college loan, didn’t care to. Had finished elementary grades at Webster
Plantation one roomer on Pickle Ridge. Not like a southern plantation, rather the
designation for a Maine settlement too small to be a town. Wanted to re-enter life
at the socio-economic level they’d left from is how the accounts put it of discharged
G. I.s. But he did yearn for a sufficient homestead of his own to meet his family’s needs.
For once having a house with more than tar paper after the little one he built for us
after working for the Indians at Cold Stream. And with water, more than one lamp,
maybe a telephone and vehicle. Hearing of the G.I. Bill, it was all wonder and wow.
But he’d earned it. Just as Black veterans had.

And even if it wasn’t the neat new tract houses, whatever those were, of Leavittown
that many Blacks, it was said, dreamed of, it would be ours, even if the code enforcement
officer said it should be torn down. Why wouldn’t we believe that they, called “Colored”
back then, where we lived, equally entitled and worthy, would qualify for the promised
low-interest mortgages same as Daddy’s G.I. loan: $6,000 at 4 1/2 % interest for this cold
old house and 60 acres. That was the thing – the land. The pastures, field, brook and
woods. Imagine! Where he and we could grow and hunt and fish all the food we would
ever need-no matter the danger out in the world, and here it is, this pandemic. And never
go hungry as he had as a little boy. All the wood we would ever need to keep warm
winters we sometimes never could get warm enough like old country places, this
all-the-older place, still can be.

Why wouldn’t I believe the same was in store for Black vets, especially the more educa-
tion I got, because I had never seen any til high school, working on Mt. Desert Island,
learning to serve the wealthy by serving their Colored chauffeurs and maids in the hotel
Side Hall. And when t.v. came in the ‘50s. The brutality. Dogs. The heroes.
Just never occurred that veterans of all races wouldn’t have benefited the same. Reaped
the rewards of their grateful nation, too. That the hard-won kettle at the end of our rain-
bow, we families who’d prayed on our knees every night for our fathers to come home
safely from the war, whatever the shade of our skin –
God damn it – would have been
Confederate-ized, too. Allowed to be administered by the states, that slick trick.
Still invoked –
Dear Jesus – to ensure the unequal protection of Blacks and Browns
in this viral battle and whether we in these far reaches, north, want this evil done
in our names or not, here he is, sickening Jimmy Crow hisself.

Oh, G.I. Billy, how you’ve let us down. All this time believing in your righteousness,
not knowing your terms, given to the deplorable to bestow with their covenants and red
lining, helped create the world-wide economic disparity and pain among us. Making us
racist whether we knew or believed in it or not. In our names.

Congress! Fix it! Go back and give those other WWII children of Black veterans,
elders like I am now, child patriots on the homefront, the break their fathers and mothers
earned. Heal this wound. They deserve it. We all do.

And, I dare say, Dear Black People, that you might think we have earned this place
that my husband, children, and I have now worked and saved another two generations.
Not only because we shared it in the ‘70s with Angie, an African-American child from
Boston in the summer “Fresh Air Program,” and maintained welcomes with four
generations of Wabanaki relations to our fires and story circles, haying, and chasing
fireflies in the fields, popping corn, and making footprints of each baby brought by
honoring and protecting old and new connections. And the hardest, the
truly privileged upper class back-to-the-landers come turning away from their well-to-do
upbringing to give homesteading a try. Real cross class encounters from centuries and
continents of prejudices – we outback subsistence farmers teaching local knowledge,
loaning tools, sharing seeds, harvests, work bees, all of us trying to be good, until they
were done. Gone. History, because of, in large part, the G.I. Bill so there is that.

Or because now, in our latter years, we’ve welcomed a seeking girl from the very heart
of Africa, itself, into our family. And done our best to name and refuse racial evil where
we’ve recognized it, swearing it will never, ever, take this long again. Or because not a day
goes by that we don’t say what those terrified refugees world over – sick, hungry, cold,
and wet – would give to live in our weathered old ark. Please forgive me for the white
privilege of our G.I. loan that put this old yee-yaw roof over our heads
all these imperfect years ago.

Patricia Smith Ranzoni is poet laureate of Bucksport, Maine.
Grieving the G.I. Bill
By Patricia Smith Ranzoni
When Attorney Lincoln rode the circuit
he’d lie down at night to sleep
in the squalor of some roadside inn
with the angels of our lesser stature
snoring in an alcoholic stupor,
one bed for lawyer, judge, and bailiff,
all of them bitten by the same mob of lice,
and find, even there, to his disbelief,
that he dreamed still of a whited forum,
vacant and grand, so grand indeed
it rang like an empty granary
whose sparrows formed chittering quorums.
His sleep? It was riddled with maxims,
it was scalded by prayers for relief.

Rick Doyle has practiced law for decades in Bucksport, Maine.
By Rick Doyle
Long ago, before you came to live
and but few of us who yet live remember,
we all moved out back to burn meat
on decks behind tall stockade fences
to escape from saying hello to neighbors
we came to only know to say hello to,
and to keep whoever in hell they were
for real from peering at our kids
splashing and peeing in plastic pools,
that is before square screened teevees
with grainy color, the men drowsed
on summer evenings after a supper
of meatloaf, mashed spuds and peas
the color of army helmets, with suspenders
drooped on heavy couches called gliders
that slid them gently back and forth,
hidden behind screened-in porches,
with only the suck of their cigarettes
flaring like red eyes in black jungle night
betraying their half-lidded watching
as they heard a ballgame’s drone
without listening until a bat cracked
and the dull mutter leapt alive
into urgent chattering, and a wife,
done for the day came out drying hands
on a crumpled apron to abruptly
switch the knob to a crooner, lamenting,
perhaps, that whenever we kiss
I worry and wonder, and after plopping
down to fan herself began to talk
about who she talked about and about
whom she talked with about them
on the telephone, and then talked out
she watched the girls jump-rope
out in the street, chanting pom-pom-
pompadour while one skipped outside
and another inside the flailing whirl,
pretending to ignore the boys on bikes
circling them, doing skidding stops
and wheelies and whooping like Indians
played by Italians in the movies, until one,
head low to the handlebars, sped in
to flip a ponytail like young braves
counting coup, and then they all raced
away, pumping pedals, jingling bells
and honking derisive squawks
like farts squeezed from bulbed horns,
like the one hanging from Harpo’s belt
because his shtick was that he could
or could not talk, and at the end
of the block the boys perched spraddle-
legged on bikes to gloat at the girl’s
outraged lamentations with raucous jeers
at their promises to tell, but this hubbub
brought out mothers, who back then
knew in the wise way mothers knew
that if the boys failed to harass them
the girls would tease them until they did,
onto the stoops to cup their mouths
with their hands like megaphones
and call home their broods by name,
and, as dusk deepened on the all-
of-a-sudden silent street, those slumped
in torpid doze inside their screens
could wake to hear a chanting steadily arise
to cease all at once, as if to pause
for silent prayer before a murmuring buzz
began again hidden in solemn shadows
where thick boughs of soaring elms
intermingled to vault a lofty tunnel
covering the street all the way down
to its end where a pure white blaze
of city lights seemed the promise
a future, which is, of course, this now
that for a few years yet is where we live
together as coevals, where our people
are doing their living inside glowing screens
they keep always budded in their ears,
mute tablets always talking without
talking to fill the insatiable yearning
for hearing, and when they stand outside,
front or back, to smoke hunching
against the wind, they cup one hand
over one ear against the steady groan
of truculent pickup trucks that own
the streets, whispering into phones
held to the other ear, watching
with furtive eyes for shapes to appear
on black sliding doors, like ghosts
of ones they once loved and now fear.

William Hathaway recently moved back to Maine after several years fighting battles in Gettysburg, Pa. His recent book is Dawn Chorus.
When We Lived Out Front
By William Hathaway
I didn’t know.
I did not know
The rule of law is like a house.
Its roof is snug, its windows tight,
from slab to rafter it's built right,
and to last, until someone should douse

with gasoline its walls and floors,
should dribble gas along the stairs
to be ignited by some hate
du jour
no doubt intended to restore

a long-lost dignity to the affairs
of those folks caught, post-music, disenchaired.

Rick Doyle has practiced law for decades in Bucksport, Maine.
Rule of Law
By Rick Doyle