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Thursday, August 08, 2013


by Howard Winn

Micah Kogo of Kenya captures first place in the Beach to Beacon 10K road race in Cape Elizabeth Saturday. Kogo won his second Beach to Beacon race in three years with a time of 28 minutes, 3.2 seconds. --Ernie Clark, Bangor Daily News, Aug. 03, 2013. Image source:

There are no black faces in my town
in the suburbs of Portland, Maine,
except when they run the marathon
from Crescent Beach to the Portland Head
lighthouse where usually vacationers leave
the tour buses to admire the wild waves
whitening  the Atlantic water
against the splintering rocks of our
craggy Casco Bay.
On our street of young couples
with the requisite two small children,
the portable basketball hoops and backboards,
scooters and skateboards,
it is tricky to tell them apart
which is what is overheard when
they speak of the black faces
that appear once a year.
The hard young men who bicycle
in spandex and stream-lined helmets
after work and on week-ends,
leave for labor in similar SUVs
at about the same time each work day.
Young toned wives with careful hair
watch the exuberant toddlers
and run together in packs
on Shore Road during their nap time
or when the Granny is in charge.
But never that one time of year
when the Africans from Kenya,
Ethiopia, Ghana, Congo or South Africa,
male and female, race the road
from Beach to Beacon and
win for the money to send home
to hungry villagers who export
their beloved sons and daughters
world-wide to run the marathons
for white Western money.
Afterwards what is left
is the newspaper reports,
in paper and on the Internet,
the signs along the roads announcing
the mileage covered and to come,
the washable paint on the highways
that make beginning and end
of our world famous race
until it is rained away,
the bleachers in the park
and the portable potties for
observer and participant.
The signs, white and red,
announcing the event
and warning of street closings
will come down eventually, detached
and stored by the Town of Cape Elizabeth
for the competition next year
when black faces will appear
to run and win that race again.

Most recently Howard Winn had poems and fiction published in The Dalhousie Review, Descant (Canada), Cactus Heart, Main Street Rag, Caduceus, Burning Word,  Pennsylvania Literary Journal. Southern Humanities Review, Cutting Edgz and Borderlands. His B. A. is from Vassar College. His graduate degree is from the Writing Program at Stanford University. His doctoral work was done at New York University. He is a State University of New York faculty member.