Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

Anyone can win the Pain Sweepstakes. As Mekeel McBride of Kittery implies in today’s poem, everybody does.

The Pain Sweepstakes

is open to all, regardless of age,

opportunity, or interest. Takes no

effort to enroll. When you win, you

win big and we aren’t just bragging. Imagine

your cat, flat as a cartoon in the aftermath

of a foreign car; discover your favorite

child feeding on the fine caviar

of barbiturates; find your spouse in bed

with a young student of Russian literature

whose pink cheeks shine like the Ukranian

dawn. If all else fails we can crack your father’s

heart like a walnut left over from last

Christmas, then hook him up to the white heaven

of intensive care. We care about you.

For once, we want you to win.

And the really startling part is how easy

this all is. Keep your hopes high. We draw

your number every time you sigh at the sad

shape this world is in.

– Mekeel McBride

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright ©1995 Mekeel McBride. Reprinted from “Wind of the White Dresses,” Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1995, by permission of Mekeel McBride. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc at mainepoetlaureate[email protected] or (207) 228-8263. “Take Heart: Poems from Maine,” an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.

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