By Peter Mladinic

One Ninety One

The road between Cutler and Lubec
is gnarly.  You’re the only traveler
on it, that’s how you feel, solitary, like
the road does and doesn’t want you there.

On both sides, thin, sturdy, twisted 
dim thickets. You don’t want to stop
on the roadside and go in. The thickets
thrive on fog. Birds nest in raindrops.

The road is ill paved, hills, soft turns. A car
goes the way from which you came,
leaving the hamlet of Cutler,
for Lubec’s narrow streets, flames 
of gulls out over the bay, welcoming clouds.
Between two places the uninviting road.


Two dimes and a nickel could buy a pack 
of Lucky Strike.
It’s red circle on white was a red circle 
on green up through World War II. 
Pull the red ribbon off the pack and fold
back the foil. Who came up
with the Dutch boy’s bangs on paint, 
the Coppertone girl’s small dog’s tug
at her shorts today incorrect,
and Bob Richards about to pole vault, 
his muscled thighs 
on a box of Wheaties? 
Kent cigarettes’ horizontal lines
make me think of window blinds.

A Broad-tailed Hawk

The painter John’s paintings I never saw
but rode with him on a rural highway.
All excited, slamming the brakes 
he shouted A Broad-tailed hawk!
I couldn’t see it.  He was very excited.

Jeans jacket, long gray bushy hair,
gray beard full and trim, he sat
on a swivel stool at Gray’s Drugstore.
He must have known birds,
watched them though wire-rim specs.

His car, a VW bug, was modest
that hawk day.  He lived off a trust fund.
I’d see him mostly in book shops.
Quiet, opinionated, he liked Mozart.

Peter Mladinic’s fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications. He is an animal rights advocate and he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico, USA.

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