Some literary history from Maine
Books received
mostly from Maine
University of Maine faculty, students and friends will be reading from the works of Emily Dickinson starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the University Bookstore, Memorial Union, University of Maine in Orono. For information call 581-3845.

Maine's WERU 89.9 FM
Writers Forum with host Nancy Tancredi airs at 11 a.m. the second Thursday of each month. Streaming archives.

20 Maine Poets Read and Discuss Their Work.
Recently made videos.

Maine Poetry Express

The Cafe Review

William Hathaway's Poetry Drawer
. Not for the faint of art. "Given a choice between lucky in love or with parking places, it’s startling how many choose the latter."

Three Poems by Osip Mandelstam, translated by Alistair Noon.

Events overheard of & etc.
More reviews
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 MPBN
Off Radar
On Radar
Edward Hopper on
More reviews
More reviews
Stephen King and Sandy Phippen talk on MPBN
Professor Mark Bruhn
reading from Wordsworth's Prelude
Carolyn Locke:
More on the Words:
An Interview with Poet Carolyn Locke
X.Z. Shao / inspired by a turtle bone carving of the ancient Chinese character for "woman"
A Parallel Uni-Verse
Poetry from Maine, and worlds elsewhere
"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.
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
Alfred DePew
Robert Stevens
Dirk Dunbar
Chris Peary
David Cappella
james lowe
Eleanor Mayo
Richard Foerster
Stuart Kestenbaum
Megan Grumbling
Alex Irvine
Take Heart
Jeanne Braham
Judith Robbins
Jennifer Wixson
Tenants Harbor
Chris Fahy
S Dorman
Will Lane
Hearts in Suspension
Anne Britting Olseon
Dean Rader - America
Thomas Moore
Dana Wilde
When I was five, believed
He lived up there, and saw
Benevolence surrounded
By baby angels
Waiting to be born.
I told my mother:
"Before I was born I was an angel."

Mother asked, "Well, where are your wings?"
I said: "Stored in the attic."

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.
By Ted Bookey
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.
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 Maine.
By Jackson Wilde
Fighting South of the Wall.
Listen to the Chinese.
The Szechwan Road (Hard Roads in Shu)
By Li Bai Translation by Arthur Waley
Eheu! 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.
All that’s amiss, stiff clutch, broken ankle,
inherent brain deficit, no cash to speak of
The truck bouncing down a muddy road
field mustard, raggedy yellow
nasty swerve to the left
I mean the absolute catastrophe

you are, the way rainwater drains
thru that field, pours into the road
cutting a graveled wedge
such that the road drops, clunk
ditch & tunnel bypassed

& where the road’s washed out
the sandy twist of your steering wheel
that squishy feeling
like you’re draining away, bereft,
without compensation—

or as it gathers in ditches, those ditches
cut in, puddle, wash out
altering how—no, make the road
disappear into the landscape
without trace, save
for crumpled beer cans

the story of your life ha

but the force of the rain—
where water sluices thru the road
becomes the road unloosens washes out
(actually it’s an arroyo—
the path water takes
become the most gradual)

can spread a brown foamy wave
down this canyon
bumpity bump
eating the jagged berm
that’s what you need guard against
threat of lightning

I Ching trigram K’an, passion & danger
& the hexagram doubled K’an, the Abysmal
misfortune at the bottom
misfortune at the top
danger within danger

I mean, this froth you pursue
thoughts bouncing about
without scope, no dimension
the sense of unfolding
the truth of who you are
the balance of forces
split sense of yourself as other
as the person watching
the person watching

on the defensive, okay
the way you slur & slide
splash your way home

specific recognitions locating what else
but when & where this instance of “you” is
establishing here & there
points of insight, boundaries
that’s what you reflect from
cross examine, reflect on
a system of reference
that is self-consciousness
bodily awareness
that’s what constitutes
in a fundamental way
who you are

distinguishes thinker from thought
knows the inside as out
puts you behind the wheel
(rather than under it)

you need to keep the show
going forward, get down the road
the needle bouncing back & forth
relate road truck & mud

negotiate your own difficult terrain
not simply opposed to
you need slow, know different

What you take & what you create
make happen, a murky swirl

I mean, odd isn’t it the dichotomy
between what you perceive & what “you” wants
insinuating itself
inside all your thoughts

consequently dealing with garbage all day!
sexual fantasies, fatigue, skewed reactions
nothing of particular interest
even to you—the level of triviality
almost monstrous at times!

as if whatever motivated you
a paycheck, pain, pretty new friend
there’s no distinguishing—
water outside, water within

as if there were some corrective
& you could attain higher ground
as if desire could determine a life
as if desire weren’t already
determining your life!

you can’t get what you’re not open to give
those are intimately related
& when you start to let go
participate, however poorly
push yourself aside somehow
no point or purpose
the opposite of what motivates you
declare, nothing to declare
& it’s that conflict
you pushing you aside

Bruce Holsapple grew up in Dexter, Maine, and now lives in Magdalena, N.M. His recent book of poems is Wayward Shadow.
Muddy Road
By Bruce Holsapple
I was asked to build a wall to stem
erosion's tide, so set myself the task
of wheel-barrowing stones, balancing one

against the other on a mile wide bay.
In years gone by I had helped my father
build a wall with stones "for making

good boundaries" noticing how he fondled
them as if they were in some way sacred,
then settling "for the good fit."

"Stones" he said with grim good humor,
"are good for walls and tombstones
and when blessed keep demons away."

He had faith in ancient ways though
masking his beliefs in mysteries beyond
the surface of convuluted stones, their

bluish meandering curves a perpetual
fascination. Memories jarred me
as I piled dead branches to rebuild

yesterday's fire, taking pleasure in
plumes of flame from balsam fir bursting
into pinwheels of firecrackers shooting

heaven-ward. Unexpectedly my father's
image appeared, high-cheekboned with
weathered wrinkles, his dementia no longer

evident, then vanished back into the
wall of flame while in a state of anxiety
I boiled broth in a small cauldron over

a makeshift grill. Continuing on with my
task I turned a boulder on its side in
preparation for dragging and startled

a large crab wallowing in the shadows
which scuttled rapidly away. I removed
periwinkles and snails held fast

by the rockweed. From an island nearby
came the wailing of a seal pup reminding
me of a child crying for it's mother.

Across the bay bagpipes skirled, with
a piper practicing dirge-like tunes drifting
in the tide. Between tasks of hauling

and stacking rocks I covered up the twisted
roots of rowan trees stunted by the
battering winter winds, then plunged

my arms into masses of rotted humus and
salt-grass and broken strands of goldenrod
as autumn gusts mashed up dulse and

the strawy rinds of sawgrass against
the dulled edges of the eroded ledge.
Grappling with crinkled seaweed I walked

back and forth, self-absorbed while
pausing to pour tea from a dented thermos
as squalls of thunder retightened me

to the job of levering up rocks gathered
from the small creek nearby. Rain gusted
above the darkening waves as I placed

a large piece of bright shale to be a
facing stone. A glistening residue of rain
mirrored an image of my father looking

back at me, before I realized it was an
image of myself. Once more I ratcheted
up the cable with the come-a-long and

cradled more boulders with a chain while
anchoring the end to a well-rooted tree,
dragging each one in turn from the mudflat

to the ledge. One wedged against the
jagged bank, pinioning me to habits
of self-recrimination, my neck whiplashed

against jagged sea-wrack as I heaved
the last stone onto the restraining wall.
Stretched taut, my ligamented memory

bound me to another vision of my father,
eyes glazed, breath laboring as his life
ebbed away while he cradled me with a

whisper, willing me to make the vow that
allowed him to let go. Despite his delirious
state I held his hand while relating

our pilgrimage together in years gone by
when we had traveled to our native land,
crossing the devil's gap to carrokeel

and standing on ceshcorran while gazing at
legendary boulders, ancient craggy men
fixed by story into vague human forms.

We sat together on finn's rock gazing
into the distance at the great stone mound
of Maeve's grave on knocknarea. His breathing

slowed as I ceased my recollections and
he murmured about a dream of the virgin
mary floating past the bottom of the bed.

As if an inner decision had been reached,
words were mouthed that I could barely
fathom: “o mother of night” and with a

final groan he ceased breathing. Returning
to the present I was wedged into
a wall of memory, and overcome by a wild

nostalgia, wheeled about to gaze numbly
through fog at the riffling sea, my
attention focused on thin places between

passing clouds hovering above a groaning
tide. Rivulets seeped down, damming
water behind the wall and with a rapid

motion I took out a fist sized stone
at the bottom to make a passage for the
water to gush forth over the last embers

of the fire. The tide lapped up against the
bank while water slowly engulfed the ledge
as I retreated to higher ground, my spirits

lifting as the sea rolled back and forth
against layered stone-work. The gauze-
like clouds parted momentarily as a

crescent moon cupped my father's half-
articulated voice still resonating in my
ear. A low growl of waves continued to surge

and break against the newly layered stone
while a bell-buoy sounded through a mist
that transcended this world of sea and land and sky.

Hugh Curran of Surry, Maine, is an instructor in the Peace Studies program at the University of Maine and a native son of Ireland.
The Wall
By Hugh Curran
More --->
Looking At Him
By Carolyn Gelland
She saw her own
image in his eyes

looking at him

not simply herself
but herself in him


dazzled out
by her star.

Carolyn Gelland lives in Wilton, Maine. Her most recent book is Dream-Shuttle.
Puffs of light green leaves
rising along the ridges,
the measure of spring.


So many bluets
that your shoes cannot avoid
crushing innocence.


In the warming air
the horizon rolls and lifts
in billows of cloud.

10 June 2016

Farnham Blair lives in Blue Hill, Maine. His books include Immanent Green: Poems and Peripheral Visions: Memoirs of a Washington Childhood.
Spring haiku
By Farnham Blair
The weather ninety years and then some gone,
sun some squint their eyes against faded.

Of these two sisters one’s face alone,
for the last half-century, more or less,
recalls to its place on earth the other’s.

These brothers are yours. Their mischief is done,
down to the last of the iron-hooped chestnuts
lifting its blossoming branches high.

Together, still, they grin and turn
so as not to look the camera in the eye:
ten children in a light gone utterly dark.

Something about this one sets her apart.
There she sits, at your sister’s side,
as if, twelve years along, she’s already stunned

by reasoning, insofar as we are able,
on the obligations of this dark passage
bringing her to a kitchen table

and the appendectomy the doctor performs
in a frantic effort to save a life
some weeks after this picture is taken,

and resultant blood poisoning, of which she will die.

Rick Doyle lives in Bucksport, Maine, and practices law in Hancock County.
Carter Hill Schoolhouse, 1919
By Rick Doyle
A silent road leading
to a silent Mill.
The roads were alive
helping me in my
slumber. The loud roars
shouting through the
streets. Loud trucks up
til dusk til dawn.
A natural sound it felt
during the night. The
Mill has closed leaving
the truckers in Eternal

Michael Shaw is a high school student living in Bucksport, Maine. This poem is set to appear in “STILL MILL: Poems, Stories & Songs of Making Paper in Bucksport, Maine 1930 – 2014” soon to be released by North Country Press.
My Sleeping Street
By Michael Shaw II
ah mclean
Rice bubbling, spoon the froth
push the cover off part way
the televised news talking who causes what
bake several chicken legs
grateful, eventually, to sit down & eat
yet it escalates, the news now so bad
children gassed, starving, fire
disease, pain of another’s loss
I can’t
story after story
I’m almost in tears
resolve not to repeat this supper
at the TV stuff, lest I learn to fence off
no, worse, be entertained by suffering

My poor debilitated friends, those dead
or in various kinds of disrepair
alcoholic, overweight
cancer, suicide, breakdown
no particular virtue I know of
to save your sorry ass

Who doesn’t feel grateful,
able to get up & work?

I’m re-staining the porch & a rattlesnake
curled lazily in the grass,
sleeping a meal off
dark muscular band, splotchy tan diamonds
paint skittishly along, bang about
hoping he’ll grow uneasy
but apparently that doesn’t translate
until I can’t tolerate the risk as stock analysts relate
challenged not so much by
the snake as my reluctance to kill it
charge at him with the truck, Vrroooom!
that does it

finish the porch
change the oil, drive into town,
get mail, stock up on groceries

Bruce Holsapple grew up in Dexter, Maine, and now lives in Magdalena, N.M. His recent book of poems is Wayward Shadow.
Brown Rice
By Bruce Holsapple
Plumb the depth of time
Sitting by shore of moving water
Deep in the crowded forest of memories
Dredging up the glorious past
That’s now soggy and devoid of life
Like the drowned beaver pulled from trap
Dead animal sell the pelt
Waste the meat, pocket the money
Honor the totem animal?
They snicker and laugh
Grandfather worked the wood camps
Other grandfather worked the mill
Three generations cut wood
Families worked the mills
The mills were our families
Always beside the rivers
Small towns surrounded by forest
Part Mic-Mac we’re born to water and trees
Worked twenty four hours sometimes
Keep the machines running, they got a sound
Then a sound came from New York and Boston
From Men wearing gray suits
Heard them snicker and laugh
It echoed up the eastern seaboard
Way up the rivers in Maine
Close the mills, Smokestacks crashed
Like trees we used to fell
Defaulted scam loans fill gray suits with cash
Broken contracts shattered lives
Bulls of Wall Street in the china shop called Maine
Hundred million dollar paper machines, sold for scrap
Politicians say service economy, tourism, retraining
They snicker and laugh
Send us to hamburger school, can’t wait
In season serve a hamburger to tourists, smile, Minimum Wage
Funny thing happened on the way to poverty
They increased our taxes
Saw some suicides too
Gray suits, fancy dresses at parties
Dancing to the wisdom of greed, didn’t save one mill
What got saved?
We live in the woods, cut firewood
Can’t afford to burn oil, heat with wood
Neighbors and friends buy the extra that’s cut
Sometime I see hard times in their eyes
Read between unspoken lines give them an extra half cord
They helped me plenty when I needed
Forty five year old tractor breaks down, Henry fixes it
We give him raspberries when they come in season
Bill visited gave me five fresh caught trout
When I raised pigs we shared the meat
Snowstorm, not even light yet
Kenney’s plowing my lower driveway
Must be five people give us deer meat, moose, wild turkey
Years ago I cut meat up for them, they remember
Let a neighbor graze his sheep my field
My bush hog broke down can’t afford to fix it
He bush hogs my other field, I’m thankful every gift
My wife sews beautiful quilts, gives them away, family
We make our own Christmas cards, send them
Give them away, she worked the mill once
Don’t have much money
All this giving made us all rich in the soul
We’re sewn together like my wife’s quilts
Not a writer but I know what’s real
It ain’t torn down mills or greed

John "Bubba" Campbell of Dedham, Maine, submitted this poem for Patricia Ranzoni's anthology of writings recalling the paper mill in Bucksport, which was recently closed for reasons not clear to those who worked there.

Maine Real
By John Campbell
There is something to be said, and many have, for the directed,
artisanal murderer who has to touch what he kills. You can get
too carried away with this admiration, of course. The Nazi who
drank beer and listened to Madame Butterfly after a hard day
killing Jews whose faces he saw or should have seen is certainly
a cautionary tale. Still, the collateral morality, the shame, the sin
of death from above, mowing the lawn, the intended murder
of proximate innocents on a beach will turn us inside out in hell.

James Smethurst is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine and now teaches at the University of Massachusetts.
U.S. Is Often Unsure About Who Will Die in Drone Strikes
By James Smethurst