Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Porcupine

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Tom Sexton divides his time between Alaska and Maine, spending half of every year in Eastport. His poem describes the movement of a porcupine through the twists, turns, and surprises of a single sentence. Sexton writes, “I hope my short lines move as slowly as the porcupine does.”

Porcupine By Tom Sexton

Its movement on
the ground is
that of a bag
of stones rolled
downhill, a spilled
quiver of black-
tipped arrows, but
now, on this
cold March morning,
it is raising the
dark flag of itself
to the top of
an ancient tree
like an explorer
claiming the world
in the name
of all that is Porcupine.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2009 by Tom Sexton. Reprinted from For the Sake of the Light, University of Alaska Press, 2009, by permission of Tom Sexton. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.