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Mike Bove

The Million Dollar Bridge

The city does not remember itself

in decades past, poised on the cusp,

and the sailors and fishermen who

used to slip out of bars on Fore Street

find their living elsewhere now,

in care of their children or nurses.

I remember a downtown building

in demolition, empty and open in front.

At night, bright colored lights

fell on two life-sized dinosaurs,

Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus,

made of wood, possibly,

and covered with plaster and paint

by some upstart artist who

stuck them there so kids like me

would have something to marvel at

as they came over the bridge, the bridge

we called the Million Dollar Bridge,

though surely it cost more than that.

I can’t tell if my memory of those dinosaurs

is real, and I know I said the city was

on the cusp, but a city is always

on the cusp, like the people

who call it home, endlessly shifting

in time with the dinosaurs

and the kid who loved them, in the car

with his parents coming over

the bridge, past waterfront bars, old

cobbled streets, and quiet fishermen

trapped in nets they crafted by hand.

The Woman Who Rang Our Doorbell

We’ll never know

if her story was true:

her nephew needed

bone marrow

and she was going

door to door

raising money

for a transplant.

My son disappeared

to his room

and came back

with a ten.

I shouldn’t have done that,

he said when she left,

I think she was lying.

He thought himself stupid

until he figured

she wouldn’t have asked

unless she felt

she needed it badly,

for bone marrow or

something else.

Back in his room

later that day

nothing had changed

but the loss of

ten dollars,

worth far less

than greeting ugliness

with beauty


Scene from Last Thursday

L texts from the dentist’s

to tell me C needs his wisdom teeth

out and my response is wtf?

because we just finished

paying off his braces but

later at home L says that’s why

because if he doesn’t get them out

all that work will be for

nothing if they tear through

and start screwing with

his other teeth but

I’ve stopped paying attention

and instead I’m thinking why

are they called wisdom teeth

and why if they’re so

esteemed do we get them

yanked and does all that yanking

incrementally decrease

the world’s level of wisdom

or is it the other way around

and the coffers of wisdom fill

because we’re smart enough to

rip those suckers out before

we’re all walking around

jaw-hacked and tooth-snaggled

who knows I say out loud

and L looks funny at me

which signals I’ve answered

a question she hasn’t asked

which signals I wasn’t listening

and the eyes she makes tell me

in no uncertain terms

in case I didn’t know already

which one of us is



Mike Bove is the author of two books of poetry: Big Little City (2018) and House Museum (2021). His work has appeared in the U.S., U.K., and Canada in publications including Poetry East, Rattle, The Maine Review, and the anthologies Wait: Poems From The Pandemic and Writing The Land Northeast. In 2021, he was winner of the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest.

He is Professor of English at Southern Maine Community College. He was a founding Board Member of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, and currently serves on the Board of The Mockingbird Foundation, a national music education non-profit managed and run by fans of the rock band Phish. A musician himself, Mike plays guitar in The ProfTones, a Portland-based cover band made up of college professors.

Mike lives with his family in Portland, Maine where he was born and raised.


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