A Parallel Uni-Verse
12 September 2001
By H.R. Coursen
Not in years, not in many years
has the sky or the leaves underneath, turning
slowly toward October's leaning sun, burning
of Autumn's birthmark on the oak that wears
against the wind, not in years this clear
absence of chisel sounds against the blue
friction of altitude. The cutting through,
where clouds will spread outward, does not appear.
The sky just is today. A lower bird or two
will darkly touch a moment in the woods. The cove
will tremble and smooth out again, but no
thing reflects or echoes to remove
the water from itself. Seldom so.
The trees may nod, but it is silent above.


H.R. Coursen (1932-2011) taught at Bowdoin College and Southern New Hampshire University, and was one of Maine's most skillful postwar poets. His last collection of verse was Blues in the Night. The text of this memorable poem is taken from Recall: New & Collected Poems 1967-2008.
Survivor
By H.R. Coursen
Last night, one of the few dreams to survive
its telling into
memory, I had bought a sailboat,
big one, forty feet or so,
and we
blew along in a great
Atlantic gale, spinnaker soaring,
gunwales leaning to
the fleecing waves. My friend, a sailor, in
whose hands I had placed my boat,
shouted
for me to achieve
something on the double. Sheets spun through stays,
and our great sail
flew out and out and away. I thought, in
some voice that had no eye for
danger, "Good, she will come live
with me now She said she would if I bought
a sailboat." But
our sail fled, out and out, looming
in the will of wind, and we rolled
over
to a fume of foam.
Remembering canoe procedure from
some lost summer camp,
I righted her, deep-prisoned in water.
My friend pointed behind me.
No mast.
"She's gone," he answered.


Carolyn Gelland calls attention to this reflective poem by H.R. Coursen (1932-2011), who taught at Bowdoin College and Southern New Hampshire University, and was one of Maine's most skillful postwar poets. His last collection of verse was Blues in the Night. The text of this memorable poem is taken from Recall: New & Collected Poems 1967-2008.