Poet Governor

Gov. Janet Mills has been writing poetry since the the 1960s. “Poetry and reading are a way of learning the world and opening our eyes and ears to what other people are experiencing,” she said. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

Maine’s Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said poems “elevate our soul.” Here are a few that she has written over the years:

“For My Granddaughter” (2016)

Men running for office
Bellow about the future,
Punch the air,
Wave their arms,
Yell on the tv.

While in the delivery room,
It is the fist you notice first,
The quiet fingerlets
That cling to one another
With invisible strength

Clutching their own new skin,
forming a circle
Only she understands.
Then the face, wrinkly,
The little body,
A sturdy belly,
knees and feet
in miniature.

Eyes and ears
Ready to know
Everything that is new,
Everything that is.


A brain ready
To learn,
A heart ready
To love.

That is your god
Warming your own heart,
That is your god
holding your hand
So tight,
Never letting you

“Every government
Ought to have
A Department of the Future,”
Kurt Vonnegut said.

And here, she is.
Clenching all our

“For Stan” (2015)

There are things I have seen I cannot explain –
The way a child cries and laughs
At things only it knows.


The way autumn always brings
the smell of fries and donuts, musty hay,
the baying of old animals, the carnies and barkers,
the crowd in the grandstand shouting with a single voice,
the chill of a new wind.

The way spring brings everything back we’ve
Sheltered all the long dark days –
Grass in the field,
water in the stream,
hope in the heart.

And the way a dying person sometimes
has one last good day.

Our friend Harry had one last good day.
In deep coma, it was the end, they said,
as they pulled the tubes,
and he awoke with a smile.

And when you and I went to say goodbye,
He was having the best party,
Telling such stories with his
Firefighter friends, his wife, his neighbors,
Before he died.

There are other things,
Like red lights in the sky
That twice appeared when I was on
An old road on a dark night.


Like the music we heard at the lake
That came from swift bats, tall trees,
naked loons at dusk.

Like the man lost three days in deep woods,
given up for dead, who
Walked out, following the river
To the trail.

Like the time I found you, love,
and two lives changed.
Like you, when we came to say goodbye.

Laughing like lightning,
You knew us, you saw us, you held us,
And thanked us, every one,
knowing it was the end.

And like me now
holding in my hands
your old smile,
missing that music,
following the river
to another trail.

“This Fussy Fatality” (from “Balancing Act: A Book of Poems by Ten Maine Women,” 1975)


This fussy fatality I have found must

belong to some god-like dog-day dreamer
who, falling under the frequency of
the full moon, forgets us,
blinded by forgeries of the past,
his eyes two telescopes of time turned inward.

Pink and scarlet of dusk’s purgatorial
keeps us in-and-out, flame-bent for
purposes priceless and unfathomed.

We return from forms of perfect mind
to under zero, acknowledging the
conditions of the day,
harboring in undergarments our wares
preserved with secret sacrifice.

Logic makes checker squares on all that’s touched
feigning bravado from every face I see;
yet from the crevice of all eyes
come these spiralling scarlet circles,
mad-apple crimson.

“So What” (from Island Journal, 2021)


You are Miles Davis
disinterred, a Hamlet
of Hypothermia,
Part Faberge cloud,
One piece of sky,
a little amputation of eagle
Hiding strong wide wings,
wild offspring of Canada,
queen of camouflage,
perched like a coyote
waiting for dark.

Cynical archangel,
Singing soundless
hymns to an ancient heart,
what memories, fears,
loves and retributions
do you inspire?

Something too long absent,
someone saying
“I have always known you
And know you still,”
eyes promising
never to leave you.

Your talons clutch
a branch that is
my former soul.
I say, I am Kind of Blue
like that sea of yours.

You smile
As if you have just
Devoured a crow
somewhere In Labrador.

So What

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