Justin Richel – Artist – “ENDLESS COLUMN”


Sipping gingerly from each

heated receptacle, filled from

a stately teapot, shallow cups

formed of ashes and dust

spill family secrets,

personal mysteries, and

individual sufferings shared

during quiet moments.

Tempered by the accompaniment

of sweet treats, skillfully prepared

by patient hands, following vintage

recipes holding their own hidden

family histories baked inside. The

sacred cups appear static and silent.

Oh lovely teacup totem,

a shining beauty standing

proud and tall, on exhibition today,

gleaming in the sunlight,

vibrating, calling to me…

a woman fixated with wonder.

Please speak to us of the secrets

of heat and desire, grief and loss,

family celebrations, and of

the peaceful moments shared

over steaming cups of centuries,

all-inclusive peoples young & old,

consumers and lovers of

soothing exotic brews.

Centuries of proper afternoon teas

pass as the brew is sipped

from cups delicately made of china,

fine porcelain, or simple clay

pottery, sedately reveal stories

to those quieting themselves

enough to feel the vibration

distilling the historic memories

left by tender hands long ago.


Who keeps the tally of all the names

appearing on the list of those engulfed,

waterlogged below the shimmering emerald plane

brimming with secrets buried in Davey Jones’ treasure

just offshore where the mountains meet the sea?

Explorers from foreign lands,

Merchant Adventurers and

Masters of the sea,

disregarding weather cues,

weary widows walking, teary eyed

and overwhelmed by heartbreaking loss,

submerged now beside unfortunate pirates

who walked the plank into the

deep mystique of Davy Jones locker.

Lives cut short by –

the length of a glassine gangplank,

misstep on a slippery deck, or

an unsuccessful struggle

through stormy seas,

sending them drifting downward

weightlessly deeper and deeper still,

below Maine’s rocky shoreline,

endlessly swirling, churning

in powerful tidal currents

past where the coral gardens grow,

sole witness to schools of blind fishes

who swim throughout Davy Jones locker,

fathoms below, in icy green water

at the bottom of the sea.


Morphed now to silt,
velvety-warm mud, submerged
in a 12-hour cycle,
revealed only moments ago
by a receding tide.

Kennebec River vista
freshly kissed by dewy webs,
richly scented of musky earth.
Following an invigorating
pre-dawn swim, Swango Princess
wraps a familiar silky robe
around her damp body.

The wink of a new moon
sprays swaths of incandescence,
illuminating the sky canvas,
revealing Venus and Jupiter
amongst wispy clouds dissolving
in the distance, presenting pastel hues
in a water-colored horizon.

The flash of dawn turns muted tones
to brilliant crimson flames,
igniting the sky reflected in
the surface of the turning tide.
Fathoms below, sturgeon rise to arch,
slapping down upon the fiery surface
as if to extinguish the flames.

Deep below the Dresden-Richmond Bridge
arching skyward into the crimson array,
ancient turtles burrow in newly exposed mud,
instinctively knowing their gift
from the deep is brief, tidal-dependent,
soon to disappear, returning only
at the next incoming tide.


On the sunrise plain, a creamsicle sky, muted

smoky tangerine topping, the view I first see

upon opening my sleepy eyes

to peek out

from under the edge

of the mindfully stitched quilted coverlet

in a frosty winterlike bedroom.

Piling kindling on top of yesterday’s

crinkled front news page, the first sparks begin

flaming to life, warming hands,

curling tiny hairs that frame my face

in a stove older than either me or the house.

Sitting quietly nestled in a hand knit

fuzzy afghan with a cup of Earle Grey

warming hands.

I watch the dark grey sky

just this moment void

of last night’s sparkling stars.

The early morning sky welcomes the dawn.

Is today’s show more spectacular than

yesterdays’ neon glow?

Peering toward the invisible riverside

thru layers and layers of leafless oaks

brittle, stiff branch arms

of the forest whose shadows

danced over the land in the moonlight.

Vibrant, fiery oranges, hot yellows,

pure as twinkling snowflakes.

Light turns colors to soft pastels;

yellow, lilac, fading into

baby blue, then to muted grey.

A glowing orb,

one perfect ray,

brilliant, shooting upward

like the flash of fireworks

annually set off from the island dock

or the barge downtown

in the Kennebec River.

Sky fades now to the color

of a pale dusty yellow rose today.


A pod of plump dolphins plays,

diving, swimming in unison,

spinning like mini tornadoes,

or metal fragments dancing

above a shiny mirror,

following magnets beneath.

Fluid movements, gliding freely,

mimicking starlings in flight,

high in the blue sky above.

Kinetic energy, the flock

becomes a solid, silky scarf

floating, soaring as if weightless,

until the air current shifts.

Dolphins leap, twisting,

gleaming in the sun,

swimming in unison,

in the deep green brackish

Kennebec river, synchronized swimmers

in a finely choreographed

water ballet.