A Letter from the Editor

Dominic Piacentini

Welcome to Spire’s seventh issue! We are glad to announce Leslie Moore as the winner of this year’s cover design contest. Her linoleum block print “Hunters’ Moon” and her series of paired prints and poems are a bright look into the eccentric wildlife of Maine. As we received submissions this year, I was thrilled by the diversity of the pieces and inspired by the contributors’ engagements with conservation and sustainability in Maine. In an increasingly uncertain world, one filled with dire climate predictions and toxic landscapes, the pieces here are a testament to Mainers’ commitment to their environment…

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Art & Poetry Series: Stellar field 1, Night

Tanja Kunz

Back in the beginning, when the world exploded,

the winged,
the two and four legged,
the rooted and the swimming,

we were all specks, suspended in the galaxy.

Tiny lights, they say.

Around then, or not long afterwards, gravity came to be…

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Poetry Series: How I Become a Place; I, You, They, Us, We

John Paul Caponigro

Artwork by Ed Nadeau

I eat my home.
I eat my yard.
I eat the place I live.
I put down roots by putting roots in me.
They say we replace the cells in our bodies every seven years.
That means this place has grown me many times over…

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Art & Poetry Series: 4 Great Blues, Great Blue; Caw-Caw-Caw, Luster; Osprey with Mackerel, Ode to an Osprey; Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Saw-Whet Owl; Dark Angels, Shags and Solitude

Leslie Moore

Aegolius acadicus

So small he makes two meals
of a field mouse, yet his
like an 18-wheeler backing up
carries for half a mile.
Once I heard one call
from a cabin on the coast…

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“All Flourishing is Mutual”: Modeling Human Societies after Mutual Aid in Natural Ecosystems

Tamra Benson

Artwork by Johnny Sanchez

We are here to heal each other. We are here to honor our relationship and responsibility to the land and each other, to minimize suffering and maximize joy, and to work for the collective healing and liberation of the planet and its people. The way our economies currently function is extremely harmful to the planet and people, especially poor and marginalized communities…

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Fieldnotes on Grief

Alice Hotopp

Artwork by Logan Kline

The morning before, the nest had been full of fat, begging chicks. At six days old, they had grown large enough to be nearly spilling over the nest’s strained, woven-grass walls. Their bellies were soft with newly unfurled feathers, and plastic-y sheaths still covered the growing flight feathers on their wings. When I had peeked into the nest they begged for food, chirping and gaping their tiny bills. The puddles on the marsh floor were wide and deep but the nest was still dry, perched in a tangle of grasses just above the water. Then last night, with the onset of the full moon, the tide rose high enough to sweep cold seawater over the marsh…

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Poetry Series: Maine: Wildlife Management in the Anthropocene; In the Dark; Rescuing Caterpillars on Birch Avenue; Gypsy Moths

Lucia Owen

Artwork by Elyse DeFranco

We keep bumping into bears
invading our habitat.
Tentacled twining suburbs,
rich and fragrant garbage cans
and the sweet greasy smell of burgers
dripping fat onto charcoal
lure bears.
For our own safety we vote to extend
black bear hunting by a month…

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Poetry Series: Grade 7 | Science | Unit 8 | Dissecting a Frog; Turkey Crossing; Undocumented

Tom Lagasse

Artwork by Colby Fogg

A sour fog permeates the entire second floor 

of St. Ann’s School and lingers

with foreboding.  

Is this what death smells like?

Several classmates gag and bolt. 

Under banks of cold fluorescent lights, Sister Theresa pries 

open the white plastic buckets…

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Life Cycle: From the Perspective of a Toy

Kathleen Spear

Artwork by Rachel E. Church

I was made to smile. I have big, soft eyes and a neatly sewn smile that covers my whole face. I have floppy ears. I have limp arms and a flimsy body with a long, fluffy tail. Cheap, faux fur covers me from head to toe. I am a myriad of bright colors that are regarded with pleasure. I was made to smile.

And smile I must, as I look down at the endless tiled floor from my perch on a shelf midway down aisle seven of supermarket 53…

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Poetry Series: March into April; Product; Morning, Late February

Jim Krosschell

Artwork by Mohamad Bakr Rahim Karim

“I have an appointment with spring.”

Google informs me
that none of the two million words of Thoreau’s Journal
offer any description, drawing,
or meticulous tracking of the emergence,
in spring, of the crocus.

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Web of Life and Death

Allan Lake 

Artwork by Rachael Murphy

If my car is idle for a couple days,
ambitious spiders create competing 
empires in uninhabited valleys between 
bumper and side panel or where seldom 
used rear door meets rear panel and even 
within springy trapdoor that opens 
to allow my car to drink fossil fuel…

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Poetry Series: Fontaine de Jouvence; Purple Finches; Dead Men’s Clothes

Matt Bernier

Salmon Population Decline
Artwork by Jill Pelto

As an attorney, he always began with the facts—

how many salmon he’d caught and their lengths—

but after the first scotch the Maritime rivers

turned mystical, infused with dancing golden light,

on summer solstice…

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A Glimpse of Wilderness: Eagle Lake, Piscataquis County, Maine 1959/1960

Will Reid

This is about a “renewed wilderness” that existed only briefly as such and is now gone. Even though it is presently considered “preserved,” the area is too accessible and heavily visited for anyone to experience what we did in 1959 and 1960. 

Steve Bunker of Bucksport and I became good friends while at Bowdoin and shared many fishing and hunting adventures during 1956-1960. Two that stand out in my memory, however, are the fishing trips we took in May of 1959 and 1960 to Eagle Lake in Piscataquis County. Back then there was no I-95 to go north from Brunswick on nor were there any roads in Maine that we could take directly to the lakes at the head of the Allagash…

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How Altruism Self-Replicates and Affects the Commons

Tovin Gordesky-Hooper

Gulf of Maine Temperature Variability
Artwork by Jill Pelto

When a market economy is introduced into an area, the local population is incentivized to stop contributing to the commons because this economy predominantly rewards the production of goods for sale: “Under this fundamentally new economic order goods are bought and sold, not shared” (Johannes 1978, p. 356). The free-market economy can increase demand for resources, creating a stronger incentive to put one’s energies into gathering and producing goods for sale. In a free market economy, the exchange of goods is based on supply and demand, with the assumption that more income and goods improve everyone’s quality of life. However, the free market economy also shifts time and effort away from the commons…

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Commoning Climate Change: Peer-to-Peer Social Affinity in a Multi-Level Commons

Sara Delaney, Beth Jackson, Anna Olsen, and Paulina Torres

Causes of anthropogenic climate change must be addressed at all resource management levels; individual, local, state, national, and global. The atmosphere, one of the most influential components of Earth’s climate system, is experiencing a rapid increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. Climate systems cannot be easily contained or controlled by one ruling authority, yet they must be protected and managed on a global scale. One option is to manage shared resources as a commons…

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Poetry Series: I’ll Become a Whale; A Gentle Reminder

Sydney Read

Artwork by Jill Pelto

When death comes 

          and if I’m lucky 

I’ll go back to the water. 

I’ll become a whale. 

Watch me slip, steady 

                    Out and Into

                              the great blue… 

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Poetry Series: The Cold Stretch; At the Cusp of Equinox

Sass Borodkin 

Artwork by Mohamad Bakr Rahim Karim

Winter: the slow blink

of light returning.

The lid opening

so sluggishly

we hunker into the darkness,

praying toward the thaw,

aching to tell the sun

how grateful we are…

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Post-Modern Prometheus

Christopher Gardner

Artwork by Michel Droge

I went to the zoo today

to see the first wooly mammoth born

in the 21st century. 


They had him

in a special, too-small 


away from the other elephants

because they had tried to kill him…

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