Maine’s Poet Laureate

I just learned that Maine’s current Poet Laureate, Stuart Kestenbaum, wrote  a poem that is very near and dear to me.  I read this poem a long time ago and it’s from his 1990 publication “Pilgrimage”.



Starting the Subaru at Five Below
by Stuart Kestenbaum

After 6 Maine winters and 100,000 miles,
when I take it to be inspected

I search for gas stations where they
just say beep the horn and don’t ask me to

put it on the lift, exposing its soft
rusted underbelly. Inside is the record

of commuting: apple cores, a bag from
McDonald’s, crushed Dunkin’ Donuts cups,

a flashlight that doesn’t work and one
that does, gas receipts blurred beyond

recognition.  Finger tips numb, nose
hair frozen, I pump the accelerator

and turn the key. The battery cranks,
the engines gives 2 or 3 low groans and

starts. My God it starts. And unlike
my family in the house, the job I’m

headed towards, the poems in my briefcase,
the dreams I had last night, there is,

no question about what makes sense.
White exhaust billowing from the tail pipe.

Heater blowing, this car is going to
move me, it’s going to take me places


Other works by Kestenbaum include:

House of Thanksgiving (2003)

Prayers & Run-On Sentences (2007)

Only Now (2014)


(Information from The Maine Edge, dated April 13, 2016)