Dave Morrison's Amazon-topping track "Best Poem" is
available for free download at Amazon.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
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
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.
Brain Pickings: Maria Popova's
interesting ruminations on literature,
art & culture
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.
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
poems by and/or reviews of:
John Holt Willey
Gordon Theisen Nighthawks
When I was five, believed
He lived up there, and saw
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
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.
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
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 Ruth Bookey
Same thing every year, we know that,
But it's always like it's the first time.
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
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
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.
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
By Ted Bookey
Saco River Prayer
By George Chappell
O Mother, Father,
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
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 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
Fighting South of the Wall.
Listen to the Chinese.
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
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 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
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
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
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
was I surprised, but by a black bear
that raised its head from snuffling blueberries,
not to glare, but to gaze into my frozen stare,
wet-piggy eyes neither mean nor friendly
that seemed unfazed by biting flies
sucking their circumference of red, wet rims.
Indeed, a halo buzzed about his dusty head,
viscous drool dripped off his purple jowl.
(Yes, a he, for there I saw his wispy sheath
and balls as he lurched into a crouch.)
So slowly, slowly I backwards stepped,
step by step, giving up the patch
I’d tended for my own by ripping out
sweet ferns and spruce saplings
that burgeon like proprioceptive joy
from clear cut waste. In sincere truth,
as I slipped into sweat-cooling shade
under great white pines on the slope
down to the cold dark stream
toward home, picking out warm berries
from leaf and twig trash barely covering
the bottom of my coffee can, I felt
a secret gladness for the bandit bear,
not because our eyes locked
in some vestigial bond as fiction done for art
so often sighs, but because I loathed
sticky, stinging work that seemed pleasure
once when done together, but done
alone now only seems like wasted labor
done only not to waste.
William Hathaway recently moved from Surry, Maine, to
Gettysburg, Pa. His most recent collection in a long,
distinguished career is The Right No.
Not by Joy
By William Hathaway
Summer rain what are you telling me,
incessantly falling through oak leaves
on steeple and weathervane cod,
on the shingles of pitched
and the tar of flat roofs alike?
Or what are you asking me to remember?
Your seemingly infinite raindrops,
sometimes bothered by a gust of wind,
sometimes whitened you are driven so hard
along the shore of the bruised Penobscot --
sleeve of rain trailing back into the hills
away from the river across the hayfields
into the tender new leaves of ash and beech
quieted finally in dark fragrant needles
of spruce and fir where the juncos wait.
Summer rain I am without faith
in your willingness to explain what you mean,
or will only the woman’s green voice explain,
calling this afternoon behind her house, calling
up into the woods after her wandering dogs?
Rick Doyle lives in Bucksport, Maine, and practices law in
By Rick Doyle
By Henry Braun
These days the sunlight almost seems total.
A few men and women, trees, stand between heaven and earth.
In the light of their shadows we others are reading,
messages the dead have stopped sending,
these days of almost fatal sunlight.
Carolyn Gelland sent along this poem by Henry Braun, who lived in Weld, Maine.
His last book was Loyalty: New and Selected Poems.