Saturday, March 26, 2011

Harry Calhoun

Harry Calhoun:  Published at odd poetry whistlestops for the past 30 years. New chapbook, Retreating Aggressively into the Dark. More at
by Harry Calhoun

At last, the end again, that I’ve never known in life.
The Christmas cactus blossoms sweetly
and stupidly at Thanksgiving, not knowing

its place and time. The solstice is not far
and afterward the days will grow longer.
It is a time of mixed blessings. A time to drink

old cognacs and aged port for the mellowness
of years and for an excuse to put the years
in the dark corners where they belong. Time

for the firewood and the fireplace, the warmth
and dust. A flannel shirt that rots in a corner of the closet,

or just sits forgotten until you haul it out
for its yearly winter duty. You wear it when you walk
your beloved dog before January clasps you

forever in its chill.  Listen to Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Dreams,”
count the sparse snowflakes falling, write poems
and try to set mood while telling the truth. Walk the dog

so your wife doesn’t have to. Enjoy the brief abundant leaves
on your lawn because it is their time.
Yes, December. It is that time.

The new day seeps in through the cracks of the cold the fireplace didn’t burn off last night
by Harry Calhoun

Lord, I’m not awake yet, yet I sit here, 40 foggy degrees
feeling my marrow chilled like a refrigerated soul

a light in the post house
a post in the light house

the fog leaking all over the morning
the morning dripping all over the fogginess

dark etched with light and drubbed with mist
like a Currier and Ives print

I go inside by the back door
and after a brief segue to my nice warm house,

go outside on the lawn and pick Monday
morning’s thin paper off the dewy lawn

covered with reedy leaves
The Christmas tree that wasn’t
by Harry Calhoun

The Christmas tree that wasn’t
is burning a hole in the living room,

a hole of absence, and the lights
that weren’t cast darkness

over some oasis of desolation.
These are fragile days, snap-cold

days, easily tipped into drunkenness
and despair, days when a tree

might lighten our souls like a cigarette
lit against the bleak pre-dawn,

or the touch of a warm hand
in the insomniac sleepwalk toward morning.

It is sad being without family or reason.
It feels like a burrowing rodent in a dark hole.

Give us a tree, deep shallow shimmering light
to sustain us in this season.

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