Though she now teaches at Colby College, Adrian Blevins grew up in Southwest Virginia and has strong ties to Appalachian culture. While that may seem distant from us, in many ways we can think of Maine as Appalachia-north. Certainly the mountains make that so, and in many ways the culture as well. These poems are rich and sassy, fast-talking and conversational. They give voice to anxieties, always present, but especially in this pandemic moment. The voice here also names and speaks back to our materialistic culture, and all the ways that culture can define and limit our understanding of ourselves. These poems raise the question of status, how we rank people and things, what we value, and how it feels to be at odds with a culture’s values. One thing these poems value is honesty over polite deceit. They value humor and a frank gaze at the world. There is speed and surprise in these poems, and a distinct voice that doesn’t shy away from naming what it sees.

Betsy Sholl, Maine Arts Journal Poetry Editor


Adrian Blevins is the author of the forthcoming Status Pending (Four Way Books, 2023), Appalachians Run AmokLive from the Homesick JamboreeThe Brass Girl Brouhaha, and a co-edited collection of essays by new and emerging Appalachian writers. She is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Wilder Prize from Two Sylvias Press, a Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and a Rona Jaffe Writers Foundation Award, among others. She is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Connotation Press: An Online Artifact originally published “Status, Alas” and “Love Poem for Leonardo da Vinci.” “Exile Status” was first published in Waxwing.


            Status, Alas

I began to feel helpless & desperate in a familiar way
vis-à-vis time & space alas & where to put the hands

& feet & how not to talk to strangers & friends
& was raised American & middle-class & watched

heaps of TV & got therefore an addictive personality
& a bad biochemistry & anyhow just wanted one day

to buy a few new blankets & quilts & pillows
& sheets. Plus a new rug & mugs & shirts & pants

though outside already was the beefy F150
waiting to haul me to a cabin up north where there’d be

a tiny roadside store for bread & milk though
also in the driveway hovered figuratively alas, alas

a mortgage & insurance & car payments & a kid in college
& the need to eat more than bread & milk & an allergist

& a phlebotomist & the primary care physician
& lumberjack & plumber & such & such & such & such

& such. So where to put my shopping ache or whatever
as in how to stop it was really the problem like not having

Bee Balm to sniff was the problem & the fact of there being
an excellent greenhouse nearby was the problem. & though

a fox I could follow into the woods might help, the problem is
a breeder in Oklahoma selling fox puppies for $450 each

not including postage and handling & would I hold mine
& caress it like a child or set it loose is the problem

& how would I feed it or would it feed me
& what would we have to kill & how would we sleep

& can one even grow old in a hole of gnawed bones
& would I even fit & what kind of quilts would there be

& pillows & blankets & sheets?



            Exile Status

All my life I’ve been a stupid little runaway
& tried therefore to like philosophy
as beauty pageants

really wouldn’t work
though smoking yes & beer & sex
a speck I guess.

But dipping tobacco no
& pink trucks sorry no
& no football either

or deer assassination or coons up trees
or weekends gutting pigs
& geese. Which is why

I tried with ideas to escape myself
like ideas are Black Eyed Susans
or mice. But ideas

are not the Mason jars & homemade jams
of the Apocalypse
& ideas are not

the shredded roosters & sourdough starters
of the Apocalypse, & knowing that means
I’m just an old farmer

milking my cow in the dusk. Or an itinerant granny
holed up a wily ridge.
Or a sleepy child

wheeling her little wagon
down a sleepy road.
& dusk really is

the main thrill of it as in the point of it
& the fear of it
& thus nothing like an idea



though it’s denude yes of course
& what we call the liminal
since there are bats here too

not to mention my beloved foxes
curled up in a feral posse
like a party of furs

& the old & famous
hard rain out there
just drenching us.



            Love Poem for Leonardo da Vinci

I don’t miss the Winn Dixie or the dopey beauticians off the old Lee highway
but my hankering was a yacht in high school & I do miss riding it

out of the classroom & into the hall and down the hall into the parking lot
& through the lot into that plush & sultry biosphere

where there’d be hundreds of hummingbirds flittering around
to sup the red-faced da Vinci feeders hovering like UFOs

on the vessel in the fugitive water-air of my mind in the lab or math room there
where I’d sing to my sweet Leonardo the Jesus blasphemes my father taught

‘cause though Leonardo was long gone & long dead, he took breath after breath
low down inside me down by the river by the high school there

like how the color red is so alive it throbs if it’s blood in your mouth
& emits in the brain what we call the heart

when you’re just walking down the road after dinner in the fall in Maine at 53
remembering what an insurrectionist you already were in 1978

in central Virginia in high school vis-à-vis not wanting the status quo
of the space-time continuum to trap you in that old river valley

 of math & church & cakewalks & doilies & football & date rape
& the death of deer & cheerleading & date rape & other good American things

when you & your Leonardo could hop on one of his flying machines
& crank it up      & head     for the love of God              the motherfuck           on out—



Image at top: Tedd Blevins, Shelly My Sister