Power of Cuba

A cellar collection of electric meters,
hook-ups to power with so many wires
in makeshift highjack, it’s hard to tell

what’s unraveled, what’s attached
among the crisscrossed and slung, power
tapped, leeched, jumped, and supporting

that white tiled floor the well-heeled
once flew over from Florida to gamble
and dance on. The door’s aqua is still

sea-gleam bright, while the wrought iron
staircase spirals up from its fallen-out bottom
as if down here is where power starts,

where the grid gets given out — or grabbed,
energy infusing the tenement-dense world.
Someone saw how things can work, how current

could be shared, wires sprouting so wildly
there’s no telling which belongs to whom.
Reviewers claim this is about decay,

but who are they to say that a people
living by jury-rig won’t keep going,
knowing one light dims, another kicks in.

Betsy Sholl cofounded Alice James Books  in 1973, a nonprofit poetry press meant to provide women with greater access to publishing. Alice James Books published Sholl’s first three poetry collections, Changing Faces (1974), Appalachian Winter (1978), and Rooms Overhead (1896). Scholl’s most recent book of poetry, Otherwise Unseeable (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), was awarded the 2014 Four Lakes Poetry Prize. Her poetry is influenced by her Catholic faith and by her social activism, which she came to through her husband, Doug Sholl, who is a social worker. She is the recipient of an AWP Prize for Poetry, a Felix Pollak Award, the Maine Arts Commission Chapbook Competition, two Maine Artists Fellowships, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2006, she was chosen to be the Poet Laureate of Maine, a position she held until 2011. She teaches at the University of Southern Maine and at Vermont College, and she lives in Portland, Maine.