Edited and introduced by Gibson Fay-LeBlanc.

Here’s a poem by Stuart Kestenbaum, the current Maine poet laureate, from his fourth book, “Only Now.” I love the way this poem opens with the widest of wide-angle views: a telescoping history of Maine’s coast that begins with molten rock and ends with a certain doughnut shop.

Every time I read this poem, I laugh at the name of that doughnut chain, which is one of New England’s most recognizable. Name brands aren’t supposed to appear in poems, right? But, in this poem, Kestenbaum reminds us that even such a place can offer maybe a chance to start over and see the world anew, only not in the way we thought at first.

Rocky Coast

By Stuart Kestenbaum

First there was the pink granite


molten and buried for 350 million years,

then there was the ice encountering the ledge

dragging rocks and trees over the land

and then the lichen working in the cold, ceaseless wind,

cleaving to the stone, resurrecting the soil by eating away

at the mica and quartz to make a thin layer of earth


that the coast rests on. And then there was the Dunkin’ Donuts

built on the ledge in 1989 in Bucksport, Maine, the town where

the paper mill makes clouds and sends them billowing

out into the landscape, the Dunkin’ Donuts where

the coffee is always fresh and when you inhale its aroma

it’s as if you are starting the day again or starting


your life over. One more chance. This is where I buy

my chocolate sugar donut and drive down Route 15 in the dark,

when I bite down on an earring-back baked into it.

I dream of the million-dollar liability settlement, enough

to do whatever I would want to, and return

to show with horror the small steel post to the young woman


in bright polyester at the counter who offers me a dozen

free donuts, not enough to change my life, but

enough to feed me for a while, and what else

could you need: sugar, fat, and the first bite,

like Eve’s, just before she walked out into the fallen world.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is Portland’s poet laureate. This column is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2014 Stuart Kestenbaum. Reprinted from “Only Now,” 2014, by permission of the author.

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