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Me & Steve
Winter notes
Parallel Universe
Poetry and books tracked in outback Maine
walking chilled
looking out
across the sound
the fractured liquid
of winter sea
another flock
low coming from
behind College Rock
black shags in
a gallery row
each zenlike
moves the others
i cannot stay them
from their course
stop & watch them
cross Hussey Sound
turn my back
as they pass the point
hollow thunder
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:
Cafe Review
Richard Grossinger - Pluto
Steve Luttrell
Robert Chute
Stephen King
Hearts in Suspension
Mr. Mercedes
Finders Keepers
Bazaar of Bad Dreams
The Outsider
Bruce Holsapple
Birth of the Imagination - William Carlos Williams
Kenneth Frost
Carolyn Gelland
Lee Sharkey
Wesley McNair
The Unfastening
Bruce Wallace
Carolyn Locke
Dave Morrison
Arthur Rimbaud
Glenn Cooper
Leonore Hildebrandt
Teresa Lagrange
John Holt Willey
Edward Lorusso
George Danby
Lindy Hough
Alfred DePew
Dirk Dunbar
Chris Peary
james lowe
Richard Foerster
Stuart Kestenbaum
Megan Grumbling
Alex Irvine
Take Heart
Jeanne Braham
Judith Robbins
Jennifer Wixson
Tenants Harbor
Will Lane
Trust Rust
University of Maine Press
Thomas Moore
Dana Wilde
Jeri Theriault
Philippe Coupey
Taisen Deshimaru Roshi
Alistair Noon
Simone Paradis Hanson
Dennis Camire
Joal Hetherington
Peter Pfeiffer
Bill Roorbach
Richard Russo
Patricia Ranzoni
Still Mill
Rick Doyle
Summer to Fall
Lewis Turco - Enkidu
Burton Hatlen - Elegies and Valedictions
Caught - Glen Libby - Antonia Small
3 Nations Anthology
Baron Wormser
Tom O'Vietnam
Oleson Dovecote
Jim Krosschell
One Man's Maine
Robert Chute
Kristen Lindquist
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
Detritus 4
Elizabeth Tibbetts - Say What You Can
Carolyn Locke - Riddle of Yes
David Wallace-Wells - Uninhabitable Earth
Betsy Sholl - House of Sparrows
Lisa Panepinto
Elizabeth Hand
Elizabeth Strout

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 at UMass-Amherst.

Portland Dream
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
waterfront morning
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.
Song 3
(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.

Sonnet XXXII
(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,
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-
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
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.
Grieving the G.I. Bill
By Patricia Smith Ranzoni
Hoo hoo, who spent
night in a crack
like a gold tomb
full of waiting
to catch the world,
a spatter of flies,
how many eyes
how many eyes
ride around
ride around.
You rush ichor
into your eyes
hanging forever
on legs whittled
to tap timing
in a still tune
who who who who
hears nothing
slip in itself
to create you.
One two three four
five six seven eight
one two three four
your legs count up
a rosary’s
hungry numbers.
One ladybug
walks on eight eyes.
You let the lady-
bug go by
no if, no and,
no why, no why.

Kenneth Frost lived in Wilton, Maine. His book of selected poems is Coring the Moon (Main Street Rag Publishing).
Ladybug to Spider
By Kenneth Frost
As much from infectious distrust
that lurks behind masked faces that mask
strained smiles of customer equanimity
as from the virus plague itself,
the old man rarely ventured beyond
his window. Spring showers, summer haze,
and sudden gusts fluttering aloft
golden leaves followed one another
in their all-too-familiar plod. Chickadees
and their allies making their snatch
and grab at the feeder were his visitors,
yet so free and flighty, high and mighty
in a vivid oblivion of just what is,
his only callers sly recordings from Nigerians
he imagined in chimerical visons
borne of isolation as scrawny men
wearing faded New York Yankees tee-shirts
hunching over rickety tables at open-air
internet cafes, tapping out desperate lies
all day long on bolted-down laptops.

The first few snow fluffs flitted past
the window like occasional dandelion seeds
parachute on sultry August air, but soon
thicker flurries fell in a hypnotic jitter,
graying his view on a squared world.
Every single flake is unique, he remembered
a teaching voice above his bent head
teaching him as he squinted a cyclopean eye
into a magnifying glass, to see a small star
of ice morph into a leaden droplet
that slid into a smear of dull water. So even
creations, even those custom-wrought
with exquisite symmetry must from fair
to unfair decline at some time, as the poet
put it—was that the implicit lesson?

Does crystallography prove for or against
religion? Old questions teachers deem
unanswerable to quell more questions
marched through his half-lulled ruminations
without waiting for answers. Billions
and billions, twitched his soundless lips,
what the megaphone voice droned
into the planetarium’s cavernous blackness
when he’d craned his neck to gaze
open-mouthed where vast twinkling heavens
were simulated so the professor’s mantra
could wallow credulous minds like his
with an infinity of parallel universes
rushing in timeless eternity—with space
so nothing between them even light
dies in its journey through darkness—yet
each jam-packed with myriad galaxies.

Billions upon billions. Surely then, considering
the ceaseless cascade of snowflakes
that streamed down out of a misty veil
as if created exactly at that vague ghostly ceiling
where he discerned them, like how Jefferson,
who he was taught to revere, though kids
are now taught to despise for his hideous bigotry,
once believed flies are birthed from dirt
and salamanders hatch in fire, the singularity
of every flake must be a lie, an algorithmic
impossibility given numberless and timeless
possibilities that somewhere, sometime
out there animals exactly like ourselves
must be busily ruining planets exactly like ours.

Each frozen gem, almost unique, maybe,
that swarmed down like dead souls or mercy
from heaven, or lovely in dark deepness
was collecting to conceal the drab bracken
of his January yard, but he had to decant
such tropes of literature from consciousness
to let a smooth uniformity, a tabula rasa
of pure white brightness as uncluttered
as the sea soothe his petulant snarl of thoughts.

But then he spied his neighbor’s grandkids,
Dick and Jane, tromping out in brilliant neon
snowsuits, hauling a plastic saucer and trough
with plastic ropes, so unlike runner sleds
and wood toboggans he’d roamed the town
with seventy years ago bundled awkwardly
in itchy and soon sodden wool. He saw
but could not hear through window glass
their silvery laughter as they tilted their faces
skyward to let snowflakes disappear
at the touch of their tongues. He felt again
in recollection that cold splatter on his face,
though barnyard turkeys drowning
in a downpour was the thought he thought
in words, and with a sudden pang of shame
he remembered a naïve credulity,
and watching them tumble with gleeful
shouts off their plastic tray sleds
into the brown stubble of dead summer
at the bottom of his sloping lawn,
he thought the word lawyer, and with a shrug
awoke let out his dog to chase them
screaming beyond his property line.

William Hathaway lives in Belfast, Maine. His book of selected poems is Dawn Chorus (Somondoco Press).
A Winter Window
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, Maine.
Rule of Law
By Rick Doyle
When Attorney Lincoln rode the circuit
he’d lie down at night to sleep
in the squalor of some roadside inn
with the angels of our lesser stature
snoring in an alcoholic stupor,
one bed for lawyer, judge, and bailiff,
all of them bitten by the same mob of lice,
and find, even there, to his disbelief,
that he dreamed still of a whited forum,
vacant and grand, so grand indeed
it rang like an empty granary
whose sparrows formed chittering quorums.
His sleep? It was riddled with maxims,
it was scalded by prayers for relief.

Rick Doyle has practiced law for decades in Bucksport, Maine.
By Rick Doyle