Douglas G. Brown


Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackfly (Maine Edition)

Beneath the snow of twenty mountains
The only moving thing
Was the larvae of the blackfly.

I was of three minds,
Like a film in which there are Three Stooges and a blackfly.

The blackfly whirled in the vernal zephyr.
It was a turd in the punchbowl.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackfly
Are risking no pregnancy tonight.

I do not know which to prefer,
The agony of a tick-borne Lyme infection
Or the agony of infestations,
The blackflies marching
Up both nostrils.

Charcoal grill smoke filled the back porch window
With barbaric fumes.
The shadow of the blackfly
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An unswattable curse.

O thin men of Ogunquit,
Why do you imagine golden boys?
Do you not see how the blackflies
Nibble the ankles
Of the men about you?

I know Downeast accents
And lucid, unprintable curses;
And I know, too,
That the blackfly is involved
In what buzzes in my ears.

When the blackfly flew into my night, It marked the edge
Of one of many circles of madness.

At the sight of blackflies
Attacking at a red light in East Millinockett,
Even the bikers from Massachusetts
Would cry out sharply.

He rode over Interstate 95
In a Cadillac Escalade.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The window switch for the AC
And let in blackflies.

The Penobscot is moving.
The blackflies must be biting.

It was sweltering all evening.
It was June
And it was going to be June for a month.
The blackflies bit
Like sons of bitches.

Ode on a Grayson Perry Urn

A Grayson Perry urn’s no Portland Vase,
Nor does it rival any Grecian krater;
To brighten up an art snob’s prissy face,
No ancient jug of clay is any greater.

Though, from my humble lowbrow point of view,
A Grayson Perry urn can not compare
To one I won in 1992
For Best Hog at the Oxford County Fair.

Still, Grayson starts to make another urn;
Demand is strong for kitsch that is so arty.
What’s paid off in the past will surely earn
For Grayson Perry; life for him’s a party.

He cranks his kiln heat up a little higher,
Heaps clay upon his potter’s wheel to spin it,
To satisfy the market’s strange desire;
As Barnum said, “A sucker’s born each minute.”

Douglas G. Brown is a New England Yankee, having been born in Belfast, Maine. In fifth grade, his first poem was an irreverent elegy on a local hero, Admiral William Veazie Pratt: “Admiral William Veazie Pratt/Did not expire just like that;/At 87, he went blind,/And then he slowly lost his mind.” His classmates enjoyed it, but the teacher scolded him for “not taking poetry seriously enough.” He has been not taking poetry seriously enough ever since. His work has been published by the Maine Limerick Project, Trinacria, LightLighten Up Online, The New Statesman, The Oldie, and The Spectator.