Some literary history from Maine
Books received
Books from Maine (mostly)
Dave Morrison's Amazon-topping track "Best Poem" is available for free download at Amazon.com.

Steve Luttrell will read from his new collection
Plumb Line at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 4, at Longfellow Books in Portland, Maine.

Maureen Milliken will launch publication of her new mystery novel
Cold Hard News starting at 3 p.m. Saturday June 6 to 5 p.m. Sunday June 7 at The Press Hotel in Portland, Maine.

Bucksport Poet Laureate Patricia Ranzoni is seeking submissions of poems, stories and recollections from people with close, human ties to the Bucksport paper mill, which is closing after decades of central importance to Bucksport and the surrounding community. She will be producing an anthology of writings titled “STILL MILL: Poems, Stories & Songs of Making Paper in Bucksport, Maine, 1930 to 2014, a documentary from around the world.” Please send submissions, typed or handwritten, along with a few lines describing your relationship to the mill, its people and/or place, by emailing pranzoni@aol.com or writing to Patricia Ranzoni, 289 Bucksmills Road, Bucksport, ME 04416, enclosing a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply. No deadline for the time being.

The Maine Poetry Express

The Cafe Review

Maine's WERU 89.9 FM Writers Forum with host Ellie O'Leary airs at 11 a.m. the second Thursday of each month. Streaming archives.
Events overheard of & etc.
More book reviews
Contact: universe@dwildepress.net or write Dana Wilde,474 Bangor Road, Troy ME 04987.
Donald F. Mortland: Homage to a Modern Man of Letters
Robert Creeley: A Mainer at heart
C.F. Terrell: The most important figure in Maine letters you've never heard of.
Leo Connellan and Sandy Phippen talk on an MPBN video
Detritus No. 2
Marilynne Robinson: On Edgar Allan Poe
Brain Pickings: Maria Popova's interesting ruminations on literature, art & culture
JFK explains the interconnections of poetry, power, responsibility and wealth in his eulogy for Robert Frost. Think about it.
Off Radar
On Radar
Nighthawks / Edward Hopper
A Parallel Uni-Verse
Poetry from Maine, and worlds elsewhere
Contact
Critica
Poets
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"It seems to be"
By X.Z. Shao
It seems to be
a quarry of broken concrete
crooked steel beards
pointing out in disorder
you will live in time
in it, a mansion
echoing your soft whisper
and your gait
in every mirror.


X.Z. Shao is a poet, philosopher and teacher of English language and creative writing at Xiamen University in Xiamen, China. His blog is A Poetic Voice from China.
The airs from fifteen kingdoms,
mild and sweet,
blew to the South a cloud of tears.
Qu Yuan drowned himself in the rain.
Tao Qian brewed his wine
and drank in his hermit hut.
Li Bai rode on his eagle
flying by mountainsides.
Du Fu, a refugee with a lute,
sang for his fellows displaced.
Li Shangyin walked under
cherry blossoms in morning dews.
Rumi whirled in trance
and ignited his longing into flames.
Shakespeare housed his love
in a crystal time capsule.
Keats wandered in poppy land
listening to his nightingale
sing peace his pain.
Baudelaire kept a garden
of wicked fleurs
guarded by toads wet and cold.
Eliot produced walnuts hard to crush
while Pound, a Medusa,
turned whatever he spotted into rock.
And now mushrooms pop up everywhere,
grow fast, die quick,
infiltrating slimy murky fluid into earth.
I'd rather see in my dream,
out of the desolate scene,
a veiled woman walk in a sea of sands,
or Gondor Queen of Aragorn
pine away in the woods of Lothlorien.


X.Z. Shao is a poet, philosopher and teacher of English language and creative writing at Xiamen University in Xiamen, China. His blog is A Poetic Voice from China.
The Metamorphosis of Poetry
By X.Z. Shao
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Can we take your car
I can drive.
I was too unassuming
and agreed.
His insensitivity
not yet hitting me,
his eyes couldn’t look at me
while his hands gave me half.
He waits, reading hollywood gossip
While I lie on a cold table
Fix my eyes on the dull ceiling
While a nice nurse tells me about a
relaxation method.
I remind my conscience
this would be a mistake.
We stop at a fast food place
on the way home
Surprisingly I eat although numb.
the tears come later.
Now no regrets
and the anger is gone.


Teresa Lagrange of Portland, Maine, is a graphic artist.
Waiting Room
By Teresa Lagrange
Winter Thaw
By Tom Sexton
Mist drifts over tangled blackberry canes
over saplings wind has hooped to the ground,

it drifts past a cup-shaped songbird’s nest
that’s anchored to an eye-level branch,

a nest that’s made of grass and hair,
it climbs a tamarack’s knotty vertebrae

then like a magician’s coin it disappears
leaving behind a voice that seems to say,

once I was a vernal pool, once I was a glacier.
Step out of those winter weary bones and rise
.



Tom Sexton lives in Anchorage, Alaska, and was poet laureate of that state from 1995 to 2003. He spends every other winter in his house in Eastport, Maine. His new book is A Ladder of Cranes.
poems by and/or reviews of:
Murray Carpenter
Cafe Review
Richard Grossinger
Tess Gerritsen
Steve Luttrell
Beatrix Gates
Peter Welch
Robert Chute
Stephen King
Bruce Holsapple
Sanford Phippen
Kenneth Frost
Carolyn Gelland
Lee Sharkey
Richard Sewell
Wesley McNair
Bruce Wallace
Kathie Fiveash
Carolyn Locke
Dave Morrison
Arthur Rimbaud
Glenn Cooper
Leonore Hildebrandt
Raymond Fowler
Larry Thomas
Thomas Lequin
Maureen Walsh
Teresa Lagrange
John Holt Willey
Edward Lorusso
Wesley McNair
George Danby
Lindy Hough
Gordon Theisen Nighthawks

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Has long been a fan of the old story about Odysseus.
His going and his slow-ass coming. And how he comes
Disguised as a stuttering Begger, rattling our windows
With his feckless words. And, except for a few of our
Brothers and Sisters who have abjured the annual ordeal
For the glittering trailer parks of Florida and Arizona,
We sit here like a platoon of faithful Penelopes, wearing
Our long underwear, wrapped in scarves that are longer
Than Ancient Epics, and watching The Travel Channel.
When the Story is stretched as far as it can go, we sit
Like hopeless prisoners on death row trying to decide
How many toppings we are going to order for our final
Pizza, and we hear the ringing of the phone. Yes. It’s
The stay of our collective execution. There is a God.
His glorious robes shimmer like a Forsythia gone mad.


A.H. McLean taught English for 36 years at Orono High School.
Spring
By A.H. McLean
The Peddler
By Gus Peterson
Did you peddle your papers?
A smile. An unblemished apple
on the nightstand beside him,
gleaming like a star.
Every day a new one
warming the void where once
life orbited a heart greater
than the sum of its mass.
He asks again, lifts his hand.
I take it. Yes, mom answers softly,
he’s about to go. The skin is so dry,
like paper. But this paper
is full, overflowing with text,
the marginalia of a three quarter
century tale with no regrets.
Last words transmit across the space
between parched lips and a young ear,
and I will forever wear the gravity
of that middle word and appreciate
the vendors of little things,
the handmade, the homespun,
my own two syllable star
pushing its small cart
from town to town
in this vast churning universe,
selling this little relic of life to you now.


Gus Peterson lives in Randolph, Maine. His new collection is When the Poetry's Gone and he has appeared on the WERU Writers Forum.
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Fighting South of the Wall
By Li Bai Translation by Taylor Stoehr
Last year we fought where the Sang-kan flows,
this year it was Onion River Road.

We’ve washed our swords in the Eastern Sea,
grazed our horses on T’ien Shan’s snowy side.

A thousand miles are not enough for this war,
our armies grow old in their armor.

Husbandmen of slaughter, the Huns
have sown the yellow desert with our bones.

Long ago the Ch’in built the Great Wall,
now it’s the Han who light the signal-beacon.

All night long the flames flicker,
year in year out, the war goes on.

Bright swords flash, brave men fall and die,
riderless horses whinny at the sky.

Kites and crows pluck out the guts,
hang them high on the withered trees.

Soldiers smear their blood on the dry grass
while generals map the next campaign.

Wise men know winning a war
is no better than losing one.


Li Bai (701-762) was one of China's most revered poets of all time.
when she stepped out of herself she was startled by the hole
she'd left behind how tiny fragments followed her like stars
like pieces of shattered glass glinting in the dark empty
what pulled them along she couldn't say nor what they meant
but she was glad they were there for whatever she was about
to become was somewhere beyond the nowness of now
and she was content not to think of being anywhere but in
this liquid curve of light this pulse of heart breath memory
mirrored in a thousand images collapsing into falling out of
a single window pane turning toward when or if this candle
casting enormous shadows over the wavering walls of once --


Carolyn Locke lives in Troy, Maine. Her books are Not One Thing and Always This Falling.
This
By Carolyn Locke
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My snow blower drive wheel
Found tasty by summer mice,
I shovel the front steps,
Then settle in the sun porch,
Bright and warm, next
To the dog dozing, read Heaney,
Just laureled, and listen
To my heart, waiting
For the plow.

(December 1995)


John Holt Willey lives in Waterville, Maine. This poem
is from his recent collection, Observed from a Skin Boat.

.
Peace
By John Holt Willey
It was a scorching night in Saigon in 1970.
I turned quickly, the way that young men
Turn quickly. Not because I felt a need
To do anything important. Rather, I turned
Quickly because of a sense of nervousness.
A sense of sorrow and impending failure.
As soon as I made contact, I saw a stream
Of tracers light up the lobby of the theatre.
I turned to my right and saw nothing there.
An air-conditioned theatre in the middle
Of a war zone, and there was nothing there.
My eyes lowered, as an act of deference,
And counted four gold stars on a khaki
Field. ONE TWO THREE FOUR and on
I lowered until I read the nametag: ABRAMS.
I had knocked a bucket of popcorn out of
The general’s soft hands, and it littered the
Green carpet like thousands of young men.
The horrible war was coming to an end.



A.H. McLean taught English for 36 years at Orono High School.

.
Instrument of God
By A.H. McLean
Feeling Spring
By Ruth Bookey
Same thing every year, we know that,
But it's always like it's the first time.
--Erich Kastner

I drive,
listen
to you reading.

Suddenly I feel it,
sun's changed position.
It is higher in the sky,

light leans toward spring.
In spite of snow and ice
Spring's come
through the windshield.


Ruth Bookey is an artist and co-director of the poetry series at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine.
Half human, and half machine.
Oils running dry in this smoky scene.


Jackson Wilde is a short order cook, occasional thrash drummer and near-dormant poet living in Augusta, Maine.
untitled
By Jackson Wilde
Half of my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,—
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,—
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract of Death far thundering from the heights.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, in 1804, attended Bowdoin College and went on to become one of the three or four biggest-selling American poets ever, along with Edna St. Vincent Millay of Rockland, Maine, and Edwin Arlington Robinson of Gardiner, Maine.

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Mezzo Cammin
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The moon opens
her white umbrella,

lunar incense
rises.

Taishan in Pisa,
Pound’s holy mountain,

hives in the sabbath
outside this world,

fables the eternal
Garden,

a spreading
perfume.


Carolyn Gelland lives in Wilton, Maine. Her recent chapbook is Dream-Shuttle.
Taishan in Pisa
By Carolyn Gelland
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The rooms of a Chinese philosopher / Xiamen, China / March 2015
When no one wants to love or live with you,
you can always live in the woods in a box
of a house, and when your mind grows so light
in your head, as it will, that daylight looks
gray, you can always walk out in the rain
where gray sky is at least a higher ceiling,
and of course you’ll go to two forking paths
smothered in slick yellow maple and birch
leaves, and for a change you can always choose
the narrow stony one instead of the wide
easy old logging road, but right away
brambles will be grabbing at your rain gear,
leaves will brush across your face soaking
your collar, and you’ll have to watch your feet
for roots, instead of enjoying nature
like Thoreau did all by himself, while a drab
sparrow will keep chittering just ahead of you,
annoying you with its consistent stupidity,
and you’ll begin to realize mossy lumps
off in the trees you thought were firewood
some farmer of simpler times forgot to sled
home are really dumped washing machines,
gutted car parts, and middens of rusty cans,
and before too long you’ll come to a clutch
of ramshackle trailers just yards to the right
of the trail, ending all illusions of wilderness,
with two slavering pit bulls, savagely
straining at you on flimsy swing set chains,
and just beyond that clearing you’ll come
upon a muddy patch littered with brown
paper sacks and aerosol cans and condoms
of various garish hues will start popping up
on twigs like trail markers of your own spent
passions, so you’ll pause to reconnoiter
next to the words “fuck you” carved in tender
beech bark, to reconsider the journey’s parable,
when your heavy mind and heart come together
to perceive and understand you’ve gone too far
down this dirt track to turn back, a road less
ambled by philosophers than by men
who come to shoot guns at empty beer cans
and chirping songbirds, but what will make all
the difference, standing in that epiphany,
are wet and cold feet, until you’ll notice
that as you were bushwhacking evermore
blindly toward that end where all paths, hard
or easy, end, rain had ceased unnoticed,
and at any moment then the sky will crack
open and sunshine will pour down upon
you, as yellow and warm as it beams on houses
clamoring with mirth and love.


William Hathaway recently moved from Surry, Maine, to Gettysburg, Pa. His most recent collection in a long, distinguished career is The Right No.
All the Difference
By William Hathaway
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His Prayer
By Ted Bookey
Turned my frown
To upside-down
I'm smiling now

Please don't punish me
For being too happy
Most of it was
Just dumb luck.


Ted Bookey lives in Readfield, Maine, and is an organizer of the poetry series at the Hallowell Gallery in Hallowell. His books include Lostalgia and Language as a Second Language.
Saco River Prayer
By George Chappell
O Mother, Father,
Sister, Brother,
we came to the Saco River,
after failure, to start a new life
making soap in an old mill
next to the falls in Biddeford.

Rent on factory space was cheap
--
we rigged up gear for mixing elements
in barrels, or drums, on floors slick from soaps,
during long hours when money was tight.

Dad, you brought us to your Saco River
to show us where you’d work. When you looked out
your window at the falls cascading rocks,
sending mist to your face in the summer,

we knew why you brought us here by the stream.
You lifted drums of soap
-- too much for you --
you wanted to start again, and again,
and you asked your family for our help.

Day-workers showed up to paint your drums blue
--
the only work force you’d ever have --
we slopped nights and ate take-out from Philippe’s
to prepare for truckers in the morning

for a payment that often came too late
in our bank account, so you’d have to deal
with the president on your overdraft.
O Father, Father, we know it was what

you knew: how to protect your family,
where to work by the falls,
when to bring joy to our faces with mist.


George Chappell lives in Rockland, Maine. He's the author of A Fresh Footpath.

I.

We hitchhiked America. I
still think of her.

I walk the old streets thinking I
see her, but never.

New buildings have gone up.
The bartenders who poured roses
into our glasses are gone.
We are erased.


II.

Minook, Illinois,
one street out of nowhere through cornstalks.
Winter clutched the cornfields into Chicago.
Cold, we couldn’t get in out of the cold.

But a lonely filling station owner risked
letting his death in out of the night.
I lay on his gas station floor and let her
use me for a bed.

I will never forget the cold into
my kidneys or lying awake bearing the
pain while she slept like a two month
old child on the hill of its mother’s tit.

It was on that stone floor
that I knew I loved her.



Leo Connellan (1928-2001) grew up in Rockland, Maine, and went on the become poet laureate of Connecticut. This poem is section IX of Crossing America, excerpted from Poetry Scores website.
Crossing America I and II
By Leo Connellan
Book lover / Brassai (Gyula Halasz)
I cannot read the weather-worn calligraphy
carved into concrete, so the buried stay unknown
to me, but I’m still keen to follow footpaths choked
with understory to the tombs, mostly unkept,
though a bouquet of once-fresh flowers decorates
the upper tier of one. The purple blossoms wilt
as vines encroach. Gnarled roots envelop, flow about
the stones that keep the slopes contained around the plots
while Sunday strollers on the main trails pass without
a glance into the woods, where portraits wait insight.
Absorbed with tending crops, the farmers camped beside
springs under tarps ignore, or just don’t see me. Like
the shrines, the little gardens shelter in the trees,
which drape the dried clay terraces with solemn shades.


Michael King is a graduate of the University of Maine and now lives in Wenzhou prefecture, China.
Graves in the Woods
By Michael King
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Illo by Al McLean
Fighting South of the Wall.
Listen to the Chinese.
The Szechwan Road (Hard Roads in Shu)
By Li Bai Translation by Arthur Waley
LEheu! How dangerous, how high! It would be easier to climb to Heaven than to walk the Szechwan Road.

Since Ts’an Ts’ung and Yü Fu ruled the land, forty-eight thousand years had gone by; and still no human foot had passed from Shu to the frontiers of Ch’in. To the west across T’ai-po Shan there was a bird-track, by which one could cross to the ridge of O-mi. But the earth of the hill crumbled and heroes[20] perished.

So afterwards they made sky ladders and hanging bridges. Above, high beacons of rock that turn back the chariot of the sun. Below, whirling eddies that meet the waves of the current and drive them away. Even the wings of the[14] yellow cranes cannot carry them across, and the monkeys grow weary of such climbing.

How the road curls in the pass of Green Mud!

With nine turns in a hundred steps it twists up the hills.

Clutching at Orion, passing the Well Star, I look up and gasp. Then beating my breast sit and groan aloud.

I fear I shall never return from my westward wandering; the way is steep and the rocks cannot be climbed.

Sometimes the voice of a bird calls among the ancient trees—a male calling to its wife, up and down through the woods. Sometimes a nightingale sings to the moon, weary of empty hills.

It would be easier to climb to Heaven than to walk the Szechwan Road; and those who hear the tale of it turn pale with fear.

Between the hill-tops and the sky there is not a cubit’s space. Withered pine-trees hang leaning over precipitous walls.

Flying waterfalls and rolling torrents mingle their din. Beating the cliffs and circling the rocks, they thunder in a thousand valleys.

Alas! O traveller, why did you come to so fearful a place? The Sword Gate is high and jagged. If one man stood in the Pass, he could hold it against ten thousand.

The guardian of the Pass leaps like a wolf on all who are not his kinsmen.

In the daytime one hides from ravening tigers and in the night from long serpents, that sharpen their fangs and lick blood, slaying men like grass.

They say the Embroidered City is a pleasant place, but I had rather be safe at home.

For it would be easier to climb to Heaven than to walk the Szechwan Road.

I turn my body and gaze longingly toward the West.


Li Bai (701-762) was one of China's most revered poets of all time.
Hard Roads in Shu.
Listen to the Chinese.
A Hill in the Country
By Henry Braun
It isn't far in Maine
to the end of the past,
the quiet pipe, the random arrowhead.
The mountains are alone
with Thoreau's sun
in their ranges
and evergreens carpet all the peaks.

While on a moonlit night I fumble
to unlock the farmhouse,
the skyline of an old key
moves like a lost city.

On this hill whose curve
traces an indecipherable longing,
let me build my city,
the layer of all I saw and felt
a close cover on the naked rock
of Maine,
and in its hidden park
let me now closely learn
the mushrooms, the trees, the birds, the stars.


Carolyn Gelland sent along this poem by Henry Braun, who lived in Weld, Maine. His last book was Loyalty: New and Selected Poems.