I am a sucker for poems containing things that I don’t expect to find in poems, like an “un-wheeled Winnebago / on blocks.” Such surprises wake me up and remind me that there is beauty to be found anywhere and everywhere – even, it turns out, in the self-delusion of the speaker in this week’s poem.

Douglas W. Milliken is the author of the novel “To Sleep as Animals” and several chapbooks, including, most recently, “In the Mines.” His stories have won a Maine Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize and honors from Glimmer Train, and have appeared in many journals. Milliken wrote “Jack Pine in Breeze” during a fellowship at the Hewnoaks Artists Colony in western Maine.

Jack Pine in the Breeze

By Douglas Milliken

Sitting back in the bucket

seat he’d long torched free

of his daddy’s junk Plymouth, he crosses

his feet in the reclaim and weeds behind Cousin’s

un-wheeled Winnebago

on blocks to watch

the tree’s broken

deep lean.


It’s been cracking for days and now its cracks

are popping, are squealing, singing

its ignored protest to gravity.


Splinters mix with pine straw in the dust.

Not a squirrel to be seen.


Its shade

is swaying



Blinking slow, he tells himself the tree

will not fall. Then he tells himself

it’s not falling.


What more does he need to say?

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is a poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Douglas Milliken. It appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to www.pressherald.com/tag/deep-water.

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