Dave Morrison is engineering the Downtown Poetry Party
2015 starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, at the Camden Opera
House in Camden, 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 email@example.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.
Jennifer Wixson talks about her Sovereign Series novels on
Writers Forum. Writers Forum is hosted by Ellie O'Leary and
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
The Maine Poetry Express
The Cafe Review
On poetry, reading & etc.
Center of the galaxy
A Parallel Uni-Verse
Poetry from Maine, and worlds elsewhere
Illustration by A.H. McLean
There are only a few of us here.
It's so quiet except for the sound
Of the silverware,
Hushed voices and Christmas music
There are white lights blinking
Off and on
In the big window out front.
We are all here for a reason.
Maybe you are new in town
Or your family is fighting
Over something so petty
You can't quite remember
What started it all
And you don't want to be there
Or maybe you didn't get invited at all.
Maybe your spouse died this past year.
Across from me sits a woman
With her little boy.
Whatever the reason
We are all here together
On this Christmas Eve
Eating chow mein, pork fried rice
At the all you can eat buffet
Before we head out
Into the cold and silent night.
Maureen Walsh lives in Bangor, Maine.
Christmas at the Chinese Buffet
By Maureen Walsh
"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
most recent collection of poems is I Think Again of Those
Ancient Chinese Poets published by University of Alaska
John Holt Willey
By Kenneth Frost
Does the jay know
the fieldmouse jigs
in the cat's eye
when his voice drags
through the sun's cataract
to smolder leaves
in the Mongolia
of losing autumn?
Blue fingers float,
dragging their ghosts
on the hayfield
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.
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
rake of wind
Peter Kilgore was born, grew up and lived most of his life in
Portland, Maine. His lucid poetry, some of the highest quality
postwar verse in Maine during the 1960s, '70s and '80s,
appeared in magazines and small press books such as The Bar
Harbor Suite (Blackberry Books) and Drinking Wine Out of the
Wind (Contraband Press) from which this sharp little poem was
taken. He died in 1992 at the age of 52.
By Peter Kilgore
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
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
Sonnet: What lips my lips have kissed
By Edna St. Vincent Millay