Poetry—Betsy Sholl, Jeffrey Thomson, Linda Aldrich


As Linda Aldrich’s poem “The Mime” shows us, inner and outer vision often complete each other.  The mime allows us to see what isn’t there, but could be, and memory allows us to see again what was.  The interaction of the two creates a “study of  hope melting into the perfect moment,”  a kiss received by all.

Jeffrey Thomson’s poem “Twin” perhaps brings up the darker side of our twin lives, the inner and outer, or the life of metaphor and the darker life of what can’t be so easily shaped into words. “They exist together,” he says, “the carcass and the stalking silhouette,/witched together by possibility’s spell.”   Metaphor–or art, perhaps, makes us feel great, but we still have our darker thoughts, those inner yammerings in the dark.

In my poem, “In  the Aftermath”
I let language lead me through a response to a particularly long winter.

—Betsy Sholl






The Psi function for the entire system would express this by having in it the living and the dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.
—E. Schrödinger``Die gegenwartige Situation in der Quantenmechanik”

Fall has finally come in a torrent
that tears leaves from the locust—
glitter mucking up the gutter,
choking the storm sewer, water
backing up, bowed with oil and filmy—
and, no, what it makes me think of
is not love dying, the glorious bronze
rage and ruin of the last days, and
not my own age yammering in the dark
as it loses control of its bladder again
and the piss rains out on the mat
before the toilet golden as shame, no,
not all that, but strangely enough,
a cat, a particular cat locked in a box,
forced to live its life stalking corners,
unaware of the isotope’s decay hanging
fire in that space like a bare bulb,
the one that will split its life in two (two
halves unhalved and parallel): one cautious,
alive and aware, green foil of eyeshine,
the other flat and black as a burn
on the floor.  They exist together,
the carcass and the stalking silhouette,
witched together by possibility’s spell.
But I’m afraid it’s all just metaphor,
quantum reflection in the mirror of desire.
Not the cat alive or dead, but both
at once: love and its failure, metaphor
and madness, youth and age with
its orchestra of sighs, the leaves
streaming through the storm-rich dark
and the mess they cause in the gutter.
Metaphor strokes the cat and buries it,
slides out from beneath the last daylight,
straightens her skirt and smoothes her
pink-streaked hair.  Metaphor turns the air
to viognier and buys a round for the house—
she’s generous that way.  Metaphor
fucks a guy she finds in the bathroom,
makes him a poet.  Metaphor stalks
through the night, painting the air
with a waste of  ______ that makes even
bridges beautiful.  She wakes in the morning
without regret, but Metaphor doesn’t talk
about her twin brother, locked away
in the hospital, pacing an ellipse
into the carpet beneath the single bulb
always on in that windowless room.

—Jeffrey Thomson

from Birdwatching in Wartime



In the Aftermath

It’s all shovel and dig, snow banks

done up to glow, getting dirty.

All shove and dog, the world half riddle,

half proof.  It’s fiddle and roof,

the deedle dum and shrug of prayer.

Icy streets, mincing steps, and later—

why not dance, sore shins into whirlwind,

till we can’t tell ourselves from God?

Of course we all know: Afterlife =

empty-wallets, no shoes in the coffin.  

And we know: before walking on ice

to take our hands out of our pockets.

Meanwhile somebody’s taking the long view,

reminding us mountains turn to silt.

Or sometimes I think silk—those Japanese screens

on which tiny people cross a bridge

overlooking a steep gorge,

as if that’s want we were wanting before

we forgot: To be happily effaced by awe,

that moment talk defers to silence.  

Oh imperfect tense, oh past, unfinished

and progressive, help me

to actually be doing this,

stepping onto that tenuous bridge

beside the water’s plummet—

Betsy Sholl 
[first published in Plume]



Moving Stone

above: Marguerite Lawler, “Mossy”, 24″x24″, oil, 2017

Submitted by Gary Lawless

Introduction by Betsy Sholl

Gary Lawless has been a presence and force in Maine poetry for many years.   He grew up here and runs with his wife Gulf of Maine Books.  But he is also a world traveler, or I should say an “earth traveler,” having residencies in national parks, studying with Gary Snyder in the Pacific Northwest, and, he writes, heading off for a residency in Venice this fall.   His work also includes making room for others–teaching poetry workshops for immigrants, translating, bringing to our community the voices of those we haven’t heard before.  My sense is that Gary is very grounded in place, but it is an expansive place,  because he honors the fact that every living soul also has a place.   It’s as if he makes no distinction between “here” and “there.”   After all, our stones have already been fire and vegetation and sand, have been under the earth and high above.

Moving Stone


The stone is “full of slower, longer thoughts than mind can have”           Ursula LeGuin


Birds skim the surface

Just above, just below

Layers of light

Stone below the

Surface, many surfaces

What is revealed and

What is hidden



Inside the stone


Up in the woods,

In the circle among the beech trees,

Last winter one of the lumber horses split a stone

Horizontally, with a clip of his big steel shoe.

It had seemed to be a plain gray stone,

But when it was opened a black wall appeared,

Rusty at the edges, flecked with pale checks

Like unknown constellations, and over all

Floated wisps of blue-grey, trailing feathers of clouds.


I brush away the fallen leaves

And stare into the distance inside the stone.

If one could become a bird –

If one could fly into that night-

If one could enter the light of those stars –


And then the woods become very still,

The beech leaves blur at the edge of my vision,

I find I am bending lower and lower.


Kate Barnes




The Stone


I don’t know if they bleed, the stones.

Or if they scream, if they howl under

The wheel & the mace, or if the knife’s

Blade wounds them, deep in their flesh,

Slicing through them.


I know that the loam that sometimes

Runs from them, no matter how red, is

Not blood.


And I’ll say nothing of their

Tenderness, from stone to stone, from

Water to air.



But what I know is that our blood

Comes from the stone. And our flesh

Comes from nowhere else, come from

Stone we are stone, we are dust and

Wind’s smoke.


That our blood is blood of stone,

And our heat is of the sun, and our wail

The howl of the stone, through which

Our soul passes full-bodied, that we are

The soul of the stone – but tell me, the

Stone, who is the stone – where does

She come from?


Marcela Delpastre

Translated from the Occitan

By Nicole Peyrafitte and Pierre Joris





Driving home from Belfast, into the crescent moon

(for Dudey Zopp)


I hear the granite singing,

And it is alive.

I want to tell you

That granite is a migratory species

(think plate tectonics, continental

Drift, glacial erratic)

But you can read the flow lines

From when granite was

Liquid, and moving, quickly –

I want to tell you

That lichen is

A language of granite,

That granite speaks

With air

And water and light –

We might never know

What stories it holds

Deep within the rock.


Gary Lawless



Remembering a Poet—Through her words

by Kathy Weinberg

 “I was more interested in daily life, less melodramatic human interactions, poems of place, and glimpses of transcendence through ordinary things,” Karie Friedman said of her writing. Waldo County Poet, translator, editor, and founder of a poetry workshop group The Poets’ Table, Karie Friedman died of a sudden illness last week. Along with her two daughters and many friends, we pay our respects and honor her words. Work is in progress to publish her most recent collection of poems.

“Yes, the thought of poems that never got written, that I might have produced when my neurons were moving faster and my passions hotter, does sadden me.   What a dope I was not to assert myself, etc.  On the other hand, my peripatetic life, with its personal ups and downs and varied roles as a motorcycle tourist, back-to-the-lander, mother, faculty wife, truck dispatcher, landlady, and editor, plus a few others I haven’t mentioned, have fed my writing and continue to do so.  Now that I’m underway, coming up on the age of Amy Clampitt when she published The Kingfisher, I’m making a run for it.” Karie Friedman

N. C. Wyeth, Dark Harbor Fishermen, 1945.

Swamped by silver herring,
the dory is so full
it should be sinking,
but there’s no water-
line, no glint or splash
around its hull or those
of other boats nearby.
Fish-shaped themselves,
they float in a black
space that might
be wet or not.
All eyes of men and gulls
focus on the catch,
more luminous than coins.
It is a dreamlike haul
and we’re the dreamers,
hovering above, with a gull’s
eye view, drawn not by hunger
but by the allure of shine,
the amazing prospect
of wading knee-deep in light,
scooping it in a net.
Karie Friedman, 2016

To read more of Karie’s poems, and biography: https://kariefriedman.com/home/