art ~ spirit ~ transformation

e*lix*ir   #5
spring / summer 2017



  • Art as a One Eared Mad Man

  • Fiction

  • Ivory and Paper
    by Ray Hudson

  • Poetry

  • Patricia Ranzoni
  • Lynn Ascrizzi
  • Monte Schooley

  • The Writing Life

  • Joining the Circle: Art and Spirituality at Little Pond and “A Prayer in Nine Postures”

  • Essays

  • Life in a Maine Village:
    Sarah Orne Jewett and the Pace of Fiction

  • Looking Back on Books

  • Moments Rightly Place: An Aleutian Memoir
    by Ray Hudson
  • Things We Left Unsaid
    a novel by Zoya Pirzad

  • Art

  • Artwork
    by Jim Schoppert
  • Reinventing Tradition: The Art of Jim Schoppert
    by Ray Hudson

  • Voices of Iran

  • A Small Piece of Heaven on Earth
    by Saba Shadabi

  • ← Previous       Next →

    “Along the Course” woodcut by Ray Hudson


    Bucksport — What Can Be Seen Abiding

    A wooded village at the salt mouth of Maine’s greatest watershed.
    5,000 souls more or less any given day according to who arrives
    or leaves, in all the ways humans come and go, cheering and crying.

    Four modest, compass mountains, a drinkable lake, ponds and brooks
    running to a riverway between sovereigns almost becoming
    the Canadian border when presidents arguing it signed in at our hotel.
    But after the treaties, dams, mills, and log drives the Penobscot People
    still prevail. We do not exist without our neighbors, all directions.

    Echoes of shipping circle the bay off mighty bridges we depend on,
    and off the fort across the water sculpted royally against crowns in case,
    reminding, lest any forget, how we grew up playing on stones stacked
    against empires so never stop believing what we can make of rock.
    And our native drive to protect and endure, giving our best for peace
    or, God forbid, war.

    We keep hardy shops, book and movie places, and public hearths in
    and out of town. Woodsmen and women, farmers, fishers. Makers
    and fixers. Traders and commerce doers. Seekers and teachers.
    Our children grow up learning how to work.

    We stage all manner of races, ball games, and shows between shifts.
    Music drifts over the paper machines tended by families of masters,
    over our tears and prayers. Not one of us whose heart hasn’t been broken.
    Not one who won’t again, someday, laugh. Listen, and with the other
    creatures, you will hear us sing and dance when we celebrate. And debate.
    We lift each other up. Our newspaper proves it.

    Where the council we choose to do our business meets,
    the incoming tides bring knowledge of the world, and, going out,
    carry word that we are here,
                          and striving,
                                        and all our long welcomes.

    Welcome! We’ve Been Waiting for You a Long, Long Time

    We’ve all followed the rich smells of evergreens and mudflats
    north and south, east and west, to this province believing
    how lucky, choosing it, of all the corners of the world, to settle,
    visit, and touch stones. Felt drawn to this place and there have
    been signs. The people have built bridges, after all. After canoes
    and ferries. Horses, railroads, motor vehicles. Landing strips. Sails
    all along. Councils and chambers. How could we not feel welcomed?

    When we saw the bay and its valleys between mountain quarries
    and formations, the River still surprised us rounding the bend
    in its power and glory. We’d heard of its historied narrows, battles,
    survivors rising above the sorrows of its waters right here.

    Oh, remember the taste of our pressed fruits and roast game,
    our fish shelled or not, we say as was said to us when ancestors
    feasted on the shore and in the clearings, asking, Is it true
    what’s said of the abundance here? The good people? The comfort
    they take in their work and arts? We feel what we lost in our mill
    and found — inviting performers to make us smile, hum, tap,
    and applaud again. Musicians to pipe the spirit of what abides.
    Our sound, that we may still be known by our presence.

    So that when, come June, under the same moon rising on us all,
    a young man with dawn, Wabanaki, Orono, and Cold Stream
    in him follows his way home, bringing Cree and Nashville,
    and raises flutes carved by masters, maybe birch, maybe cedar
    sometimes two at once — we on the riverbank notice how
    the moon’s phases might be fingered holes for playing Creation’s
    breath flowing over us in celestial vespers. How the last quarter,
    like tonight, and the first, later in the month, are harmonic notes
    under crescent finger-stops. Watch how the new moon and
    the full, their next times around, look capable of wholeheartedly
    open tones, blown through, full of the ancient strains of this
    place on earth, sighed for more than ever.
                  Thank you for coming! We’re glad you’re here!
                  We’ve been waiting for you a long, long time.

    A Hancock County Ballad

    Where her dad’s mill roared
    the poet labors for words
    so do the woodsmen

    where the mill is done
    the potter burns through blizzards
    keep heart prayer gems

    while the mill still heaves
    its bare bones go up for sale
    musicians lament

    when the mill quiets
    fishermen compose their songs
    moaning with the tides

    when mill people leave
    children ask where friends will be
    teachers planting seeds

    while the mill turns ghost
    families who built it cry
    see how they, too, fade

    where the mill is sold
    pipers pipe and dreamers dream
    the flower shop blooms

    where mill echoes sound
    the river wakes and exhales
    farmlands breathe hope

    where the mill people grew
    old and young meet to question
    believing in spring

    when the mill trembles
    the long and new here feel it
    yogis stretch and sigh

    where the mill is lost
    cartographers go to work
    here’s your town! right here!

    where the mill was. . . clears. . .
    soil, river, and air breathe free
    leaders sleep again

    where heirloom halls lean
    saviors propose new life
    oh, what do you see?

    Papermakers Still

    (now that the mill is hushed)

    Because it was in our trees
    Because it was in our air
    Because it was in our waters and fire
    Because it was in us heart to bone
    Because it still is

    Because all fibers might be pressed
    Because tea leaves can be read
    Because pulp can be shredded and beat
    Because petals can be dried and spread
    Because threads can be felted and paged
    Because the papermakers’ sons
                            and daughters still are
    Because it is in our hands

    * These poems by Patricia Ranzoni will be included in STILL MILL: Poems, Stories & Songs of Making Paper in Bucksport, Maine, 1930-2014, an anthology forthcoming from North Country Press.

    Patricia Ranzoni

    Artist Statement:   Whether through original word and music compositions, painted, drawn, fiber-worked, or photographed creations, depictions and interpretations, I have felt the expression of cellular memory and elements of the natural world at play. DNA evidence of four racial presences moves me to notice, listen, question, and to accept this inspiration with gratitude, transforming and transcending hurtful realities, supporting and protecting this way of being for myself and others, especially the young and the old.

    Bio:   A mixed-heritage Maine elder, Patricia Smith Ranzoni, born up the Penobscot River in 1940 off the grid to a young woodcutter and farm girl, grew up in Bucksport where her father worked as a rigger at the paper mill. She pursued advanced studies in Education at the University of Maine, but is self-led in poetry to which she turned — when she and her husband bought one of the subsistence farms of her youth — to document the ways and voices of her people. Named Poet Laureate of Bucksport “for as long as she shall live,” her work is widely read and studied in courses on the literature and culture of Maine. Patricia’s work has been published in the U.S. and abroad, most recently in an interpretive panel on Bucksport’s waterfront and in A PARALLEL UNI-VERSE: Poetry from Maine, and worlds elsewhere.