The Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance will host the
2015 annual Maine Crime Wave conference starting at 8
a.m. Saturday, April 11, at the Glickman Library at the
University of Southern Maine in Portland. The day-long
conference will include panel discussions, theme-specific
workshops, editor and agent critiques, book-signings, and
more. For information email email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Writers Forum hosted by Ellie O'Leary airs on WERU Radio
at 10 a.m. the second Thursday of every month, featuring
writers of Maine reading and talking about their works. 89.9
FM in Blue Hill, Maine. Streaming archives.
The Maine Poetry Express
The Cafe Review
On poetry, reading & etc.
Deer trail in February
Brain Pickings: Maria Popova's
interesting ruminations on literature,
art & culture
A Parallel Uni-Verse
Poetry from Maine, and worlds elsewhere
Illustration by A.H. McLean
"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.
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.
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
I didn't see myself as grizzled prospector, seeker of gold,
but here I am, climbing this hill
and the cry
of the hunt in the sky is the form
that calls to me from the female eagle out of the cool
aether that will haunt my strangeness to the end.
You will argue that I cannot foresee the end.
I will counter with my grizzled female knowledge. I know gold.
Besides, the day is strangely sumptuous, cool,
and these legs, though old, are made to take on such a hill
against a sky that sends forth such a form
as that aethereal otherness, the female eagle's cry.
You will argue for a rougher downward path and a different cry
from a humbler species, all leading to a brambled end
where after stooping, staying, panning at a hidden stream whose form
will glimmer, shift, and trick before it gives up bits of mudded gold
I might be ready to ascend the mystic hill.
I will respond with my clean if grizzled wisdom, cool.
I will say the gold I seek cannot be found down where cool
but feeble streams run over muddy bottoms and the only cry
comes from a humble species, servile, bent, unfit for life beyond this hill.
I am too old to tolerate the low long path of panning while I stoop. My end
will come upon me soon and I must grasp aethereal gold
before the changes take me, giving new and unknown form.
Form unknown and gold still sought! And yet I claim to know the gold. Its form
is anchored in my thought. I recognize the mystic metal, molten, almost cool,
that calls as if from somewhere distant. It is the strange gold
of the soul itself. It shifts and tricks—seductive, unlocated—sending out its icy cry
as if with wingéd eye it sees but scatters still. It tells of what is at the end
of this bold climb up this familiar, finally returned-to hill.
This is a high but kindly hill, a philosophical old hill
with rounded rocks for resting of old bones, and friendliness of form.
It grows sweet grasses and accepts a slant from sun rays at the end
of its unending days. It has old apple trees, much gnarled, for cool
of shade along the way and gently holds the female eagle's icy cry
in warm and palmy indentations here and there. It, too, knows gold.
And so the poem finds its end as if it comprehends the gold
it cannot fully know, or finally. It climbs an old, old hill and claims an old, old cry
and takes a form of strange repose inside a mind, though mystical, congenitally cool.
Shirley Glubka lives in Prospect, Maine. Her recent book is End into Opening.
Every Mind Considered Mystical
(For Which, Great Gratitude)
By Shirley Glubka
I can’t sleep, she said
quietly, but loud enough for me to hear.
She shifted her body
while her mind tried to do the same
but it was full of dark
and I thought if I touched her
I may turn into night forever.
Teresa Lagrange of Portland, Maine, is a graphic artist .
By Teresa Lagrange
By Tom Sexton
A friend about to leave for Paris calls
and says, “money is a kind of song.”
I take a few bills out of my wallet and
put them face up on the kitchen table.
Washington’s lips are thin and pursed.
Jefferson could be a sphinx in a wig.
I smooth a few creases from the bills
but nothing happens. I wait in silence.
Outside the window, a Stellers Jay
tilts its crested head to look at me
then begins to sing its raucous song.
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.
John Holt Willey
I was chattering about crop circles in cow pastures,
and in all seriousness she told me she’d seen a UFO
ten years ago in Maine’s dark sky. Odd, it took her so long
to tell me, sturdy sister that she is, who worries
about sunlight on her piano and listens to sheep sounds.
Born with a brown mark on her stomach,
she had radiation long before they knew about dosages,
but I think it’s possible she came from someplace else,
a place of glare and whiteness, one you couldn’t imagine
without closing your eyes. And she came with a language
that no one else spoke, and her rare and lovely words
worked their way into songs with the sounds of sky in her scores,
like geese flying south, a bellying on surfaces.
So to hear her say she’d seen a UFO, suggesting
that its roundness could create circles anywhere,
pinwheels in a field of oats in summertime Maine,
it was as if we were sisters after all. Aren’t we?
Anne Harding Woodworth lives in Washington, D.C. Her books include Herding,
from which this poem is taken, Unattached Male and Spare Parts: A Novella in
Verse, among others. She is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger
Shakespeare Library in Washington.
By Anne Harding Woodworth
Fort Lauderdale Beach
By Thomas Lequin
With a light smile on my face,
I walk the shores of Lauderdale
between the surf and beach.
The gulls screech at one another,
bullying for tidbits
Overhead, the pelicans patrol,
My slight smile turns to a full grin
as I see what is before me
and think of Maine’s
snow and cold.
Thomas Lequin lives in Starks, Maine.
CNN is on, but muted.
I’m listening again to a
Brahms violin concerto
and admiring the spines
of the books in my house.
I sip my beer, light another
cigarette, and lift my head
to see the spines of people
torn apart, torn like mediocre
poems and thrown in the trash.
I’m not sure, at first, if it’s
Gaza, Iraq, or Afghanistan,
and then I think of Vietnam
and the poem I shared about
a heron with today’s classes
and how it reminded me of
the boy who stood erect
on one leg in the minefield
outside my room in Saigon
thirty-four years ago as his
left foot danced in the dust.
A.H. McLean taught English for 36 years
at Orono High School.
By A.H. McLean
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. He has read
his poems at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell and
appeared in August on the WERU Writers Forum.
By Arthur Haswell
Paintings in the Maritime Museum show this stretch of river
full of sailing ships coming in on the tide, sailors
jigging on deck at the sight of steeples, inns, blank
warehouses with doors waiting to close
on their cargo.
Looking up from the dockside I see descendents of clerks,
hornpipers, and porters gawping from French windows
where hoists once hung, at lancets cut to light
vaults for cotton, grain, palm oil,
A low estuary sun limes their faces, silhouettes the sea-grey
destroyer sliding downriver, sheet steel blind,
shipping no movement save where the ocean's bluster
leads her white ensign
in a tango.
Arthur Haswell lives in Northumberland, England. This poem containing
imagery from the Mersey River port on England’s west shore gives echoes of
Maine’s maritime past and ancestry.
I have mixed feelings about a string of propane cars
creeping along the tracks behind my house. I love the
rumble, the whistle, but don’t want the tanks to blow
up. The song, the warning call at the crossing on
my street with no lights or bell as the trains crawl
north on a line will change with the rerouting of
the Vermonter here next year, so soon we will get
lights, bells, and gates as trains pass by at seventy
miles per hour, but maybe without the warning
whistle, now too inconvenient, just annoying poetry.
James Smethurst is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine
and now teaches at the University of Massachusetts.
By James Smethurst
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
By Carolyn Locke
In Memoriam, Col. Thorstein Larsen, 1897-1976, U.S. Army
In the Protestant graveyard in Rome
someone had put a rose on the stone
of John Keats, dead for more than a century.
We saw that rose in 1944
after the costly Allied battle
at the beachhead at Anzio
and wondered who might have braved fire
from Hitler’s armies to grace a grave.
Who we are is unimportant.
What mattered was that we were there.
We found tank treads
that chewed cobblestone roads nearby,
and knew we’d never know.
We took a photo of the rose and left.
George Chappell lives in Rockland, Maine. His collection of
poems is A Fresh Footpath.
A Rose for John Keats
By George Chappell
No, we didn’t let go buck naked
off a rope over a fishing hole, whooping
like Tarzan, somersaulting cannonballs
to explode a pond and sink fetal into its murk
still pinching noses like the freckled boys-
being-boys in the barber shop calendar
under the mirror next to a speckled fly tape
dripping in amber curlicues over jars
of cloying creams and drowned combs,
watching Ray the barber buzz our heads,
waiting for him to rail against communists
so we could tell him we were commies,
homos, part negro, and we’d be glad
if the wrestling team lost every match,
which was, in fact, by accident the truth,
not because bigotry outraged us,
but because ashes from the cigarette
dangling from his squinting sneer
kept falling onto the apron dusty
with our sheared stubble, for we were no
hippies but townies who dove
from high shale ledges into black pools
pocketing ancient gorges, or we trudged
through cinders down tracks
shimmering with hopeless chimeras,
stinking of creosote and skunk weed,
to clamber over smashed cement block
into the cold lake wearing ragged cut-offs
we worked in, pushing a wheelbarrow
clattering with rakes down Snob Hill
sidewalks, shouting up to white gables
Bring out your dead, sweltering in sweat
only long enough to buy a night’s wine
we drank with girls whose long straight hair
whipped back in circles as they bubbled
the jug and whose eyes flashed warnings
in leaping firelight.
William Hathaway recently moved from Surry, Maine, to
Gettysburg, Pa. His most recent collection in a long,
distinguished career is The Right No.
By William Hathaway
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.
John Holt Willey lives in Waterville, Maine. This poem is
from his recent collection, Observed from a Skin Boat.
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
Instrument of God
By A.H. McLean
By Thomas Lequin
In the quiet of the night
the lake makes ice,
not more than a skim.
Morning’s wind and sun
crash into the night’s work.
edges the shoreline.
I cannot put it together.
Only a cold night
can make it whole.
Thomas Lequin lives in Starks, Maine.
Down by the road in your dream,
the sugar maple with a horse’s
hip bone jammed in the crotch --
a step, a smudged fragment of
Across the road, apple
took into its galleried heart
junk from a jet that had crashed
one April on Bald Mountain.
Like signs left by newcomers
at the end of their first winter
on a wild and desolate shore:
rotting pelt, cross, feathers,
rattling shells and antlers
pointing the way inland for the
enterprising souls who follow.
But these signs say, you’re home.
Rick Doyle lives in Bucksport, Maine.
By Rick Doyle
"He looked like Elvis
When I danced with him
At the auditorium in 1960."
She stands in front of her old Corolla
Smoking with a dreamy look in her eyes.
He is standing on the street corner
Screaming at nothing,
His slippers on the wrong feet.
The women who knew him
Long ago with names
Like Jean and Gloria
Spend their afternoons watching
TV talk shows
That drown out the loneliness.
Sometimes in the car the radio
Plays an oldie
By Frankie Valle or Dion
And makes them think about the hopeful girls
They once were.
Meanwhile the old dreamboat
Is still standing on the corner
Yelling at the cars.
Maureen Walsh lives in Bangor, Maine.
By Maureen Walsh
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.
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
By Kenneth Frost
wrings the geranium’s
Kenneth Frost taught at Columbia University
and The New School, and lived in Wilton,
Maine. His new collection is Coring the Moon
published by Main Street Rag.