Corona Chronicles: February 3, 2021

Corona Chronicles

The New Normal , courtesy of Terry Black

The People?
Kristin M. Frangoulis

A frozen pond
Six empty chairs
Spaced apart
Fire in the snow
Did Christmas happen?
Did the wise men come?
Is there a new year?
A celebration?
Champagne flutes set on a tray
The bottle open
But where are the people

Kristin Frangoulis writes and paints in Belfast. She lives with her husband, George and several cats. She also hosts WBFY radio show, “Poetry By The Bay,” and co-hosts the TV show, “Good Morning Belfast” with her husband.

Today it is snowing and sleeting so I will be staying home, making soup, reading, and keeping warm. I had planned a drive around Belfast to see if I were able to identify the sites in the photographs recently received from frequent Chronicle contributor, artist Audrey Devany. On first seeing them I thought I knew precisely where each was located but my husband informed me I was altogether wrong!

See if you are able to identify the buildings pictured in Audrey’s photographs.

Nancy Perkins

Where in Belfast?
Photos by Audrey M. Deveney

May have been removed

No longer there

Maximum Change
by Leslie Woods

Maximalism only intruded into my work when I kept adding to fix an error, followed by saying, “You screwed up. Go back.” As a painter of semi-abstract figures performing sports, who was brought to a hard stop in 2020, maximalism became my stumbling first step back.

In 2020 we all moan over endless news of increasing illness and death, homelessness and food boxes. The only other topic is the election which generates more fright. Some listen to music we loved decades ago and attempt the old dances while breathing hard in masks. Back then we knew nothing.

My husband and I, like most of you, lived a normal, decent life, raised protest signs and marched. We supported schools, concerts and institutions that benefit society. I buried my long ago art until John said, “I’m taking a drawing class with Susan Tobey White in Belfast. Want to come?”

He learned to talk about composition and color, and welded farming gear into sculptures. In Russell Kahn’s adult ed pottery classes, John’s work was occasionally brilliant. Yet I became the serious artist and he hauled boxes of my paintings to shows, measured placements and ate hummus dip at openings. Then in February, 2020, after a massive stroke, he died.

A close cousin died of cancer in March. A good neighbor died of an aneurysm in April. A best friend spent the summer dying of cancer and finished the job by October. Maximalism.

My husband saved everything in our barns until dangerously crowded. I was an enabler, hoarding for sculptures we designed together. Then after his death I frequented the recycling center and Goodwill. Even after moving my studio from an upstairs bedroom to easy access downstairs, I created nothing; shuffled papers and sharpened pencils and drew nothing; tore rags and sorted brushes and painted nothing. The function of any animal is to reproduce itself, and humans have been massively successful. But then what? Isn’t making art just filling time?

Or is what we create also a connection to other people, that social thing we have lost so much in 2020? Seven months after John’s death, I took a painting to River Arts gallery in Damariscotta and mentioned that I hadn’t been able to do any new work. A photographer waited outside to tell me that his wife had died five years ago, but her support of his work led to his survival through his art. He was giving me hope.

Then UMVA offered maximalism, a concept completely removed from my work and requiring a concentration that morphed into meditation. In my usual way, I researched and sketched until an image burst into consciousness with me never suspecting that conscious thought would disappear under rhythm and pattern. I use acrylics which is a gift in maximalism because of acrylic’s #1 rule: paint over it. I don’t know how maximalism might affect my future work and I don’t care. I am beginning. In 2020 it simply may be enough to organize chaos into design or even to give somebody else a path to hope.

Leslie Woods is an artist who lives in Montville. Leslie Woods Art

An Argument Against Cremation
Jim Owen

Human skulls reside
in Harvard’s museum
of natural history,
witnesses to evolution,
the skulls are dark or yellow,
with plenty of room
for brains,
more than birds,
less than whales,
empty eye sockets
scan every visitor.

Here is Homo habilis,
known for making tools,
also Homo erectus,
a much older version of us,
the first Homo to cook.

Here is Homo sapiens,
our many greats grandmother,
more recent than habilis,
she probably knew
some Neanderthals,
all gone,
just a memory in our genes,
even now, one of their skulls is
right next to hers.

Maybe she was a mother,
laughing with her children,
running down game
as needed,
sharing food gathering,
enjoying music under the stars,
hugging her man, and
telling her children
bedtime stories.

I am sure
it never occurred
to her, that her head
would be displayed
in a museum,
carefully studied,
at rest so far from her children.

Jim Owen is inspired by the poetry of Billy Collins, Maya Angelou, Richard Blanco, E.B. White, Japanese Haiku and many others. A member of The Wheelbarrow School of Poetry in Belfast, Jim’s poems have been published in the Foreign Service Journal, several online journals, the Maine Island Trail Association’s Tales of the Trail blog, and a booklet published by The Wheelbarrow School of Poetry. One of his pandemic poems is on the front door of the Belfast Free Library. A member of the Board of Directors of Senior College Belfast, Jim was regional manager and counselor for an Employee Assistance Program based in Maine.

Thought for the Day

While the news often features the worst of humanity, there are a billion acts of human kindness every hour of every day! Take another breath and sense this truth.

Jack Kornfield

Courtesy of