featured poem by Patrick Donnelly



When I rinsed my spectacles under the tap and wiped them with my undershirt,

When every night the striped spider rebuilt her web, triangulating with a car
aerial that every morning pulled the work apart,

When a man, and then a woman, with orange flags flapping from their
motorchairs rolled under the kitchen windows, he with one leg, she with

When the poor streets bore names like Gold, Paris, and Temple,

When from the Second Baptist Church came a song of dissatisfaction with the city of
men, in which one tenor predominated, especially when he paused to breathe,

When a sign told how at this mission migrants  prayed pardonne-nous nos offences,
fed on franks and beans, were handed a few dollars to tide them till they
disappeared into the mills lit all night,

(mills long shut, town folded for years at dusk),

Here the brightness that caught the eye by the river was only a marble in the
grass, a wish-fulfilling jewel I put in my pocket,

Here someone mowed grass in circles around a black stone and a white stone,
which married the black stone to the white stone,

Here the Kennebec was too wide fast and deep to swim, though gulls stood safe on
a strange middle shallow,

Here my name inside the rusty box where mail comes, and under that a bed of
Solomon’s Seal,

Here the little dirt playground taught with signs the animals of my Neighborhood!
moose, deer and fawn, coyote, red fox, beaver, fisher, sea otter, skunk, raccoon,
snakes (won’t hurt you), ground hog, ospre, Great Blue heron, STORKS, OWL,
squirles, muskrat. We live in the right place,

Taught if you were NOT there, don’t use your voice to spread rumors. FINI – END –
Adios – Aloha – hasta la vista, Baby,

Taught if you can’t make a decision right now, tell the other person you will get back to
them later. Take your time and make the Right Choice. No Sadness,

Taught A Hundred Years Go By Quick (not knowing then all this would be gone by

And a Museum of the Streets sign remembered this is the way the trolley went,
how “riding in the wood-sided cars, listening to the bell clanging, was a
pleasure … convenient, economical and pollution-free,”

And a sign taped to that sign said Maggy a longhaired grey aged one and a
half years is missing,

And a window warned “Never Mind the Dog Beware the Owner,”

Where some person entirely without irony let pink petunias overflow the
windowboxes of a white cottage with blue shutters,

Where roses set their autumn hips again, and bittersweet its feral fruit,

Where there was water and the sound of water,

Where a urinous wall inside the former token-booth of the Two-Cent Bridge
(since 1973 on the National Register of Historic Places) announced I give
Good Head and have a Nice Dick
followed by a number and Ask for Travis,

Where a polished stone explained THIS TREE IS A SYMBOL OF THE
WATERVILLE, MAINE, an idea of Natalia Kempers who before she passed
was “translator of the many correspondences that arose through the

And a man in black, maybe Travis, stepped onto the bridge as I stepped off,

And the tent-moth hid its young in silken bags,

And according to the landlady, Ivan the three-legged cat dodged death at the
shelter by virtue of passionate leanings, wreathings and rubbings,

And there was porn for straights but none for gays in the back room of the local
video mart, where a sign requested please be courteous and put your choice into
the small black bags provided before you bring it to the counter,

When work carried me far beyond, Stephen my little wood dove,

When a pickup parked under CAUTION CHANGING RIVER BOTTOM at the
absolute lonesome bottom of an early Sunday morning boat ramp might
have been looking for a sign of love,
but started his engine and drove away
after I gave him my back for half an hour, didn’t turn even once to meet his

When I washed my door with a rag,
and thought myself the first, the only, the one, the solitary, the unique.

Then filled the soul with doubt, with every kind of not-knowing,
and made a song of the cloud of unknowing, which sang

the terrible, deep modesty of creatures, every poor trickling momentary thing

1 Comment

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