Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Last Writes

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Carl Little of Somesville is both a poet and widely published interpreter of Maine painting. He bases today’s entry on a remark once made by the New Hampshire resident and former US Poet Laureate, Charles Simic, a relentless reviser of his poems.

Last Writes by Carl Little

“I tinker with most of my poems even after publication. I expect to be revising in my coffin as it is
being lowered into the ground.”
                                        --Charles Simic
At the wake for the ex-U.S. poet laureate
at the Hotel Fin du Monde someone swore
he heard a scratching sound in the casket
and later, as we wedged the box into
a rocky corner of a New Hampshire bone orchard,
one of the pall bearers, a pallid poet with
acute hearing, caught the sibilant sound
of the words being crossed out ----“kissing”
substituted for “praying”, perhaps, or
“lover” for “beloved”----the gentle rub
of eraser, the whisper of a breath
to remove residue from the paper
and the click of the miner’s lamp
Simic insisted wearing on his head
in lieu of the standard issue laurel wreath.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2010 by Carl Little. Reprinted from Off the Coast: Fall 2010 – A Mouth Full of Hornets, 2010, by permission of Carl Little. 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.