Gus Peterson will be reading from his new collection, When
the Poetry's Gone, at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 14, at Devaney
Doak & Garrett bookstore in Farmington, 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.
The Maine Poetry Express
The Cafe Review
WERU 89.9 FM Writers Forum with host Ellie O'Leary airs at
11 a.m. the second Thursday of each month. Streaming
Events overheard of & etc.
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
Can we take your car
I can drive.
I was too unassuming
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
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.
By Teresa Lagrange
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
At late fall’s dawn I’m set up on a boulder on
the bank, before camp’s picture window. Purple and
vermilion stretch above the eastern skyline, tips
of trees obscured by mist that sets upon the lake.
Stubborn undulations meet rocks, spray ice. One loon’s
wail haunts as orange glows sneak upward. Contrasted
on grey waves they coat, evergreens contend with browns.
Then the sun climbs up, pours its bronze and gold onto
the surface, where a beam of ivory reaches out
to me, beneath a hardwood’s bare possessive limbs.
While shutter clicks record the scene, breakfast scents creep
over brush and rise with cinders left by last night’s blaze.
Michael King is a graduate of the University of Maine and now lives in
Wenzhou prefecture, China.
Schoodic Lake Sunrise
By Michael King
"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
The moon opens
her white umbrella,
Taishan in Pisa,
Pound’s holy mountain,
hives in the sabbath
outside this world,
fables the eternal
Carolyn Gelland lives in Wilton, Maine. Her
recent chapbook is Dream-Shuttle.
Taishan in Pisa
By Carolyn Gelland
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
You are in a growing shrinking minority.