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Tag Archives: Maine

Turning to a new season

red salamander
Fall affects people in differing ways. Some feel dread as the days get shorter and the temperatures drop. They worry about darkness, snow and cold when they are months away. Others, like me, love fall the best. Yep, I like all the cliched autumn things: apple picking, country fairs, turning leaves, mums and pumpkins, crisp nights, Halloween, fewer tourists in Maine….almost all of it, except pumpkin spice flavored beer and coffee. I think it’s the loveliest time to live in New England.

Here is a short, powerful poem by Denise Levertov that I have liked for a long time.


The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.


“Spring” in Maine takes its time

The calendar tells us it’s spring, but in Maine we still have a lot of snow lying around. Some snowdrops and crocus have made a brave appearance. As the earth awakens, here is a poem that is not about spring. Spring poems will follow in the coming weeks.


PHYSICS SAYS: go to sleep. Of course
you’re tired. Every atom in you
has been dancing the shimmy in silver shoes
nonstop from mitosis to now.
Quit tapping your feet. They’ll dance
inside themselves without you. Go to sleep.

GEOLOGY SAYS: it will be all right. Slow inch
by inch America is giving itself
to the ocean. Go to sleep. Let darkness
lap at your sides. Give darkness an inch.
You aren’t alone. All of the continents used to be
one body. You aren’t alone. Go to sleep.

ASTRONOMY SAYS: the sun will rise tomorrow.
ZOOLOGY SAYS: on rainbow-fish and lithe gazelle.
PSYCHOLOGY SAYS: but first it has to be night, so
BIOLOGY SAYS: the body-clocks are stopped all over town and
HISTORY SAYS: here are the blankets, layer on layer, down and down.

Albert Goldbarth

Finally – spring in New England, and National Poetry Month


April is always full of poetry events. This year is no exception. I try to list all the ones involving Moon Pie Press poets on the website at Here is a lovely poem about what sustains some of us through a long winter. It is by former Portland Poet Laureate Bruce Spang, whose latest book from Moon Pie Press is BOY AT THE SCREEN DOOR.


Minus fifteen degrees, even the thermometer on the deck
recoils under its lid. Like a man with a Bible in a bombed out building,

I unearth a Johnny’s Selected Seed catalog
in the mail. Fields of Allstar Gourmet Lettuce,

mottled rows of purple and green, spread
beneath bare feet of a girl who slices one head

after another like the Queen in Wonderland.
I twist the space heater dial to high and flip

to Amaranthus, with its ropes of deep red,
fold the page; find a new Echinacea, Pallida

with long slender purple petals, fold it.
Colors splash on my lap, yellow tomatoes,

blue aster, pink poppies, and on page
sixty-eight, skins of peppers glistening

as brightly as the snow did this afternoon,
yet sliced open like hearts. Look, there is

Joe Pye Weed that releases a vanilla scent.
Smell it. Write it. Fill in the order form.

Winter beats us down in New England

snowy trees

Truman C with cat

Everyone is tired and crabby after the past month or so of snow, bitter cold and more snow. Boston is a big mess that is making national news. Here in southern Maine we are not paralyzed to that extent, but driving is treacherous and we’re running out of places to put snow. Tonight into Sunday another 12-15″ is predicted, with 50mph+ winds. I went to my town library yesterday and stocked up for the long weekend with books and a movie.

Here is a photo of my late cousin Truman Capote with a cat – I have a collection of photos of writers with their pets and will keep throwing them in randomly. Capote has been on my mind since the hoopla over the pending release of his friend Harper Lee’s sequel to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I can’t help but wonder what Capote would think of all this, or of the book itself. His original last name was Persons; my father’s cousin Archie was his father. Truman’s mother later married Mr. Capote and changed the boy’s name. I never met him, but am a long time admirer of his writing.

Here is a short winter poem by Thomas Campion (1576-1620)

Now the winter nights enlarge
The numbers of their hours
And clouds their storms discharge
Upon the airy towers.
Let now the chimneys blaze
And cups overflow with wine;
Let well turned words amaze
With harmony divine.

2014 draws to a close

ballet in snow, Portland christmas tree in snow

This first photo is from a stunning series done by Jonathan Reece of Portland Ballet dancers in their city.
2014 has been a tough year for my family and for many I know. The support of my friends and family is invaluable to me, but especially this year. I’d like to thank some of the people who help make Maine such a vibrant place for poetry and the arts of all kinds: Andy Curran, Sally McKibben, Anna Wrobel and Jim Donnelly, Ted and Ruth Bookey, Wes McNair, Josh Bodwell, Marcia Brown, Dennis Camire, Bruce Spang, Duff Plunkett….this is just a partial list, of course. I could go on and on. And let’s not forget to thank the indefatigable Bob Keyes, who does such a terrific job reporting on the arts in Maine in the Sunday Telegram.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Festivus or any holiday you celebrate. May 2015 bring us more peace, less stress, more joy and endless piles of books!

The pleasures of fall – and the endurance of books

The pleasures of fall – and the endurance of books.

Summer in Maine, and a bird poem

blue bird

blue fence flowers
We’re in the full flush of summer here, where Maine gets some Deep South-type heat and humidity and lots of folks complain about it. (Would they rather shovel snow?) Heavy rains and hot sunny days are making everything green grow and burst into bloom. Before first light, a cacophony of birds breaks out in the neighborhood. I keep refilling the bird feeder, and my bird bath often has a waiting line. This poem is by Maine’s redoubtable George Van Deventer. It’s dedicated to my sister Charlotte, who has toiled for many years (as a volunteer) for the Audobon Society where she lives in Washington state, not that far from the Other Portland.

When birds die

Imagine a day without bird song.
The ear would wither
like leaves in December.

Song fills all there is about us:
chickadee, raven, barnyard hen,
heron deep and raspy.

Finch in a cage.
Song of the eye in
a falcon’s whistle.

Pigeons coo
off the hand that feeds them.
Crows rattle the air

in an acclamation of company.

When the mine bird dies
we hear the silence
of its song.