Events overheard of & etc.
Working Waterfront: Agnes Bushell: Maine's best novelist you may
never have heard of.
Working Waterfront: Tom Sexton: a poet on the edges.
Working Waterfront: Tom Moore and the Midcoast school of
Working Waterfront: Homing in on Dave Morrison.
Portland Press Herald: Café Review marks 30 years of curating poetry
from around the world. The Portland City Council recognizes founder
Steve Luttrell with a proclamation honoring the 30th anniversary of the
Portland Press Herald: "The radical spirit of ’75 is alive and well with the
relaunch of Littoral Books" Littoral Books began in 1975 as a women’s
press, founded by self-described “radical feminists” of the gritty Portland
arts scene. Forty-three years later, they’re back. Co-founders Marcia
Brown and Agnes Bushell are at the helm of the press, along with
Bushell’s husband, Jim.
In Verse: Maine Places and People. Poems in the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Edited by Dennis Camire
Deep Water: Maine poems in the Portland Press Herald. Edited by Gibson
Poems from Here with Maine Poet Laureate Stuart Kestenbaum, Fridays
on Maine Public Radio.
WERU 89.9 FM Writers Forum streaming archives.
20 Maine Poets Read and Discuss Their Work.
Recently made videos.
The Cafe Review
Maine's longest-running small magazine of poetry and reviews from
Maine poets and others
Beloit Poetry Journal
P.O. Box 1450, Windham, Maine, 04062.
Online journal of writings from Downeast Maine.
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."
The Ghost Story
Paul Guernsey's website of fiction, the paranormal, and well-paying
short story contests.
Reviews, essays, and features on poetry, literature, and the arts.
An interdisciplinary magazine of letters and art. Edited by Susann Cokal.
Poetry and books tracked in outback Maine
across the sound
the fractured liquid
of winter sea
low coming from
behind College Rock
black shags in
a gallery row
moves the others
i cannot stay them
from their course
stop & watch them
cross Hussey Sound
turn my back
as they pass the point
resounding from Overset
above the decoys
in december air
sun as cold
as an eider’s eye
Peter Kilgore was born, grew up and lived
most of his life in Portland, Maine. He died
in 1992 at the age of 52. This poem is from
a manuscript recently found among his
papers. Quarry: The Collected Poems of
Peter Kilgore is available from North
Country Press in Unity, Maine.
untitled (from "Island Poems")
By Peter Kilgore
poems by and/or reviews of poetry, fiction, novel, nonfiction, memoir:
Richard Grossinger - Pluto
Hearts in Suspension
Bazaar of Bad Dreams
Birth of the Imagination - William Carlos Williams
John Holt Willey
University of Maine Press
Taisen Deshimaru Roshi
Simone Paradis Hanson
Summer to Fall
Lewis Turco - Enkidu
Burton Hatlen - Elegies and Valedictions
Caught - Glen Libby - Antonia Small
3 Nations Anthology
One Man's Maine
Tourists in the Known World
William Hathaway - Dawn Chorus
Michael Campagnoli - The Home Stretch
Dave Morrison Welcome Homesick
Brock Clarke - The Price of the Haircut
Paul Guernsey - American Ghost
Michelle Menting - Leaves Surface Like Skin
Karie Friedman - Add Water, Add Fire
Alan Lightman - Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine
Christopher Fahy - Winterhill
Jefferson Navicky - Paper Coast - The Book of Transparencies
Mike Bove - Big Little City
Tom Sexton - Li Bai Rides a Celestial Dolphin Home
Christopher Fahy - My Life in Water
Adam Tavel - Catafalque
Peter Kilgore - Quarry: The Collected Poems
Ned Balbo - 3 Nights of the Perseids
Jeff Shula - Fireside Chats
Mark Melnicove, Abby Shahn - Ghosts
John Rosenwald - The Feast of Steven
Jonathan Ward - Swallows in Late September
Linda Buckmaster - Space Heart
Elizabeth Tibbetts - Say What You Can
Carolyn Locke - Riddle of Yes
David Wallace-Wells - Uninhabitable Earth
Betsy Sholl - House of Sparrows
Surrounded by brick music, the sonic walls are designed
to be invisible. Cumberland Avenue, now bends in a
long arc, dreamed out of unturned stone, I’m on a bike
ride that returns to the point of departure. I would have
never guessed that, of all places, I would try to pedal
back to this. So many ends in the middle distance: a
walk around a dance; promenade west or east, a bay,
islands in the background; a reason to vanish, named
in a name like the oaks of Deering Oaks and gone, like
love as it ends or begins or curves on that long arc.
Jim Smethurst, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, is a
professor in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of African-American Studies
By Jim Smethurst
from my high Victorian window
I watch the snow fall
and think about the Queen Anne’s lace
primming the ancient rocks
the payphone in the old Port Hole
on which my best friend used to call me
as I sipped coffee in the briny
when Lance was the grill cool
and they served wonderful food,
as the cheerful yellow and white
ferries departed blasting
Portland with their song
the walls and windows
and hundreds of miles we’ve woven
into the brick streets
the city at night its spine a string of pearls
the dead pearl diver
safely embalmed in the museum
immune from time and memory
caresses and promises
that appear and disappear
in the waves of rain
tears and snow pounding pounding pounding
the shores of my aging heart.
Annie Seikonia is a lifelong resident of Portland, Maine.
(from "Four Songs of Portland," Cafe Review Winter 2017)
By Annie Seikonia
This city which I dreamt has become my labyrinth,
a challenge of grim streets, stolen sugar packets,
warm yellow cubicles of light, exotic prints framed in
antiquity, mannikins like pilgrims on strange and
otherworldly journeys. Drifting through oscillating
streets of whiskey and peaches beneath an obscene
painter's palette, vanishing in waterfront fog,
Portland suggests other cities, lives and destinies
glimpsed, imagined, dreamt, their fictions interwoven
with the gaily painted boats, the white nuns circling
overhead. A lone saxophone gives way to jazz from a bar
and primitive hypnotic beats from a passing car until
another lilac dusk returns just as a provocative piano tune
drifts down from a window somewhere behind the old stone church.
(from Fifty Portland Sonnets, 1994)
By Annie Seikonia
"Although as written, the bill was never a discriminatory piece of legislation,
the aid was distributed unequally between the races from 1940–1960 [and
the Civil Rights movement]."
– Sophie Frey, “Black and White Veterans and the GI Bill”
History 90:01 Topics in Digital History
How could it be I wouldn’t learn of this guilt until 2020, this undeniable verdict,
until BLACK LIVES MATTER came flooding like George Floyd’s waters under
the knees of those four cops in Minneapolis? All this time wondering what specific
privilege I’m guilty of. Of not being Black, I know, but what else should I confess
growing up poor in outback Maine where class is race. Our worst diversity.
Born to The War, II, I was four when President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s
Readjustment Act, the first so-called “race-neutral” legislation for American vets.
The G. I. Bill (Galvanized Iron / Government Issue / General Issue / G.I. Joe).
Grew up revering it. My father’s reward for surviving combat, years of dive-
bombing kamikaze planes aimed to destroy the destroyer battle ships he served
as a sailor on. Ours for making it alone and his for coming home to us, shattered
eardrums and yet-to-be-named PTSD and all, to begin again. To start a better life
than he’d had as a kid, poor, upriver, with boots the right size for the first time
in the service.
Didn’t go for a college loan, didn’t care to. Had finished elementary grades at Webster
Plantation one roomer on Pickle Ridge. Not like a southern plantation, rather the
designation for a Maine settlement too small to be a town. Wanted to re-enter life
at the socio-economic level they’d left from is how the accounts put it of discharged
G. I.s. But he did yearn for a sufficient homestead of his own to meet his family’s needs.
For once having a house with more than tar paper after the little one he built for us
after working for the Indians at Cold Stream. And with water, more than one lamp,
maybe a telephone and vehicle. Hearing of the G.I. Bill, it was all wonder and wow.
But he’d earned it. Just as Black veterans had.
And even if it wasn’t the neat new tract houses, whatever those were, of Leavittown
that many Blacks, it was said, dreamed of, it would be ours, even if the code enforcement
officer said it should be torn down. Why wouldn’t we believe that they, called “Colored”
back then, where we lived, equally entitled and worthy, would qualify for the promised
low-interest mortgages same as Daddy’s G.I. loan: $6,000 at 4 1/2 % interest for this cold
old house and 60 acres. That was the thing – the land. The pastures, field, brook and
woods. Imagine! Where he and we could grow and hunt and fish all the food we would
ever need-no matter the danger out in the world, and here it is, this pandemic. And never
go hungry as he had as a little boy. All the wood we would ever need to keep warm
winters we sometimes never could get warm enough like old country places, this
all-the-older place, still can be.
Why wouldn’t I believe the same was in store for Black vets, especially the more educa-
tion I got, because I had never seen any til high school, working on Mt. Desert Island,
learning to serve the wealthy by serving their Colored chauffeurs and maids in the hotel
Side Hall. And when t.v. came in the ‘50s. The brutality. Dogs. The heroes.
Just never occurred that veterans of all races wouldn’t have benefited the same. Reaped
the rewards of their grateful nation, too. That the hard-won kettle at the end of our rain-
bow, we families who’d prayed on our knees every night for our fathers to come home
safely from the war, whatever the shade of our skin – God damn it – would have been
Confederate-ized, too. Allowed to be administered by the states, that slick trick.
Still invoked – Dear Jesus – to ensure the unequal protection of Blacks and Browns
in this viral battle and whether we in these far reaches, north, want this evil done
in our names or not, here he is, sickening Jimmy Crow hisself.
Oh, G.I. Billy, how you’ve let us down. All this time believing in your righteousness,
not knowing your terms, given to the deplorable to bestow with their covenants and red
lining, helped create the world-wide economic disparity and pain among us. Making us
racist whether we knew or believed in it or not. In our names.
Congress! Fix it! Go back and give those other WWII children of Black veterans,
elders like I am now, child patriots on the homefront, the break their fathers and mothers
earned. Heal this wound. They deserve it. We all do.
And, I dare say, Dear Black People, that you might think we have earned this place
that my husband, children, and I have now worked and saved another two generations.
Not only because we shared it in the ‘70s with Angie, an African-American child from
Boston in the summer “Fresh Air Program,” and maintained welcomes with four
generations of Wabanaki relations to our fires and story circles, haying, and chasing
fireflies in the fields, popping corn, and making footprints of each baby brought by
honoring and protecting old and new connections. And the hardest, the honest-to-god
truly privileged upper class back-to-the-landers come turning away from their well-to-do
upbringing to give homesteading a try. Real cross class encounters from centuries and
continents of prejudices – we outback subsistence farmers teaching local knowledge,
loaning tools, sharing seeds, harvests, work bees, all of us trying to be good, until they
were done. Gone. History, because of, in large part, the G.I. Bill so there is that.
Or because now, in our latter years, we’ve welcomed a seeking girl from the very heart
of Africa, itself, into our family. And done our best to name and refuse racial evil where
we’ve recognized it, swearing it will never, ever, take this long again. Or because not a day
goes by that we don’t say what those terrified refugees world over – sick, hungry, cold,
and wet – would give to live in our weathered old ark. Please forgive me for the white
privilege of our G.I. loan that put this old yee-yaw roof over our heads
all these imperfect years ago.
Patricia Smith Ranzoni is poet laureate of Bucksport, Maine.
4 October 2003
Downstream from the bridge where we put in
Dead River widens and long weeds submit
endlessly to its gentle current. We hear
the rattle of grackles and dried yellow grass.
These days, you note, three beaver dams to cross,
and the roof of a house beyond the last dam.
As if from ashes, a great blue heron
rises ahead of us and labors low
up Hot Hole Stream, past the long grass of the point
where Uncle George used to sit and wait
with his Springfield rifle, watching for deer
to take when they came out to cross the stream.
You tell how you’d seen him set the grass on fire
to drive deer into the icy water.
You were a child and thought it cruel but said
nothing because you’d learned that times were hard
and so your uncles and your father had to hunt
to feed the family. They hunted all year long,
in season and out. Dug potatoes when fall
came and fished the brooks when spring had come for trout.
Days they dug fiddleheads, nights netted smelt.
The prospect opens once you pass the gate
and enter into Hot Hole Pond, where flowages
have left a no man’s land of standing dead.
Our heron guide is gone. A mud turtle
tumbles off a pine log beside a lodge
as we glide past the third and final dam.
We cross the choppy expanse of pond, sun-beaten,
and hike up through the shady woods. We eat
by the old cabin, turn back at the Deadwater and descend.
Twenty years ago today your father passed,
you realize and remind me as
we paddle back along the rock-strewn shore
at the foot of Hot Hole Mountain, grown up
in alder and stunted birch since you last made this trip.
And when was the last time you made this trip?
You are seventy-four years old now, last time
you hadn’t retired from Central Maine Power,
your father was here, your mother, all your uncles,
including the one who first told you that
Great Pond Mountain was volcanic and that gold
had once been discovered in its granite flank...
Another heron lifts up and flaps off
as we come coasting around the north side
of the pond, toward the inlet that runs down
from Black Brook and one more beaver flowage
where what would have been when you were young
green whips and suckers now tower silver and leafless.
On the opposite shore, where a long ridge slopes down,
Gold Mine Brook empties itself forever,
the hopes it briefly brought to life once in prospectors
exhausted long before your sons were born.
Rick Doyle has practiced law for decades in Bucksport, Maine.
By Rick Doyle
Note on Reading
When I used to teach literature classes, a lot of students were
suspicious of poetry. They said they could not understand it.
As far as they knew, poems were puzzles to be solved by
brute brain force. This rational detective work seemed to
them arcane, or arbitrary. It even contradicted their own
experiences when they'd stumbled over a poem they thought
they understood. They concluded poetry was merely confusing
and ultimately meaningless to everyday people.
These students were misled by a vast right-left-and-center
wing conspiracy that pretends poems are rational exercises,
like algebra problems, whose solutions are political, social,
philosophical or personal statements. In some wings of the
conspiracy, you can even pretend the poems mean whatever
you want them to, which is the ultimate nonsense.
Wallace Stevens wrote: "One reads poetry with one's nerves."
By this he meant the meaning of poetry is not solved
rationally; it is felt. Words do trigger thoughts, which is why
the professors get away with forcing you to read a poem as if
it is a rebus. But a poem's thought is often the least of its
meanings. A poem speaks to your emotions, which are often
hard to get into rational focus. It speaks to your (largely
neglected) faculties that detect meaning in music and
beautiful scenery. It speaks to parts of yourself you don't even
know exist until they're stirred up by sounds, rhythms,
Stevens also wrote: "Poetry must resist the intelligence
If you can't understand the rational meaning of a poem, don't
worry. You should listen with other parts of yourself besides
your head. "To read a poem should be an experience, like
experiencing an act."
No wind this morning, our flag says,
though what else it might mean to say
we can only guess. What appears
appears to have become one thing
with its thing in itself. For even this sulk,
this inert droop, can contain a will
to strive. My peripatetic reverie
takes stock: just last week this flag
was snapping itself into rags,
half-masted to mourn a hate-radio
celebrity. And this week lowers
it into a somber folds to rebuke
hatred of Asians through women
killed by a boy who blamed them
for his sin of lust. I don’t ignore
the black flag, always tucked
underneath like a lazily fanning
lamprey, hooking a ride on the belly
of a shark, hoisted to shame
the nation for a rumor of betrayal,
its subject largely forgotten
except as an object of resentment
lingering like bathwater kept
to scum a tub long after the baby
it bathed froze in car outside a bar.
Flags can only go where pulleys
pull. They shudder or ripple as wind
wills, we say. But as we spin and tumble,
pulled in circles with all the rest
of the debris, isn’t the infinite space
we’re all dying in also hurtling
helplessly out into whatever, forever?
No wind today the flag confirms.
William Hathaway recently moved back to Maine after several years
fighting battles in Gettysburg, Pa. His recent book is Dawn Chorus.
A Flag in Itself
By William Hathaway
I didn’t know.
I did not know
The rule of law is like a house.
Its roof is snug, its windows tight,
from slab to rafter it's built right,
and to last, until someone should douse
with gasoline its walls and floors,
should dribble gas along the stairs
to be ignited by some hate du jour
no doubt intended to restore
a long-lost dignity to the affairs
of those folks caught, post-music, disenchaired.
Rick Doyle has practiced law for decades in Bucksport,
Rule of Law
By Rick Doyle