This week’s poem, by Kate Faragher Houghton, nimbly classifies several varieties of “no.” I love this poem’s distilled but vivid voice as it embodies the progression of “no”s, and I also love the open beauty of its ending – with the final “no” that is also a kind of “yes.”

Faragher Houghton was born in Bar Harbor and raised Down East. She has written poetry since she was a girl and has recently lifted her head from an intense career in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, plus parenting two boys, to reconnect with other writers in Maine. Her work has appeared in The Café Review and in Round Trip, Kevin McLellan’s chapbook of collaborative poems. She lives in the midcoast. 


A No Poem

By Kate Faragher Houghton


Hell no, how dare you ask

the queen martyr, disappointed.

Please no, don’t make me, I never meant

for this, I tried to slip in hush.

Yes no, maybe both, we could have it all

between us, I won’t hurt anyone.

Sudden no, blinding light at the end

of my rope, running wild toward escape.

Empty no, depleted wishing for better

than this, even a lonely walk in the dark.


New no, wobbling to stand clear-eyed

offering to share my empty pocket.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “A No Poem,” copyright © 2022 by Kate Faragher Houghton, appears by permission of the author.

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