by Harry Calhoun
I don’t mind airplanes. I probably wouldn’t mind outer space.
But real heights, above ground here on earth, scare
my knuckles white. Walking or driving over bridges. Even stepladders.
My palms sweat looking off the third floor or higher of any building.
I don’t mind God. I probably might end up in heaven or hell.
But the in between, here on earth, is spent driving, looking
hopeful up to God or fearful down from bridges when it’s better
to keep focused on the road. Heights above or below are so distractful.
I don’t fear love. Well, yes I do. There’s no higher place to be.
But with you, there is no other place to be. I look down from what
we’ve built and sometimes I fear, but I look up in your eyes and I know
I wouldn’t mind outer space. This is where I find heaven.
by Harry Calhoun
Crescent, the milky icicle breaking
the top of the glass, my hands shaking
a little as I toast you and what once was us.
Consent, in a royal jar placed high
on a sacred plate on the unreachable shelf
that overlooks what I thought to be you.
Meniscus, surface tension; someone moves
suddenly or simply waits for evaporation
and it spills over or disappears. But it’s never
an illusion. Worse, the cream of liquid wing soaring
atop the full goblet of our dreams, clipped
by a sudden movement, slow erosion or
the horrible god of indifference.
The Microcosm of Coffee Grounds
by Harry Calhoun
The sound of brewing as sparkling as God waking
his children with bright bubbles. Dark brown magic
pouring into the pot, into the cup, into the soul,
lifting a world of kitchen, bedroom and office.
Hours later, the grounds are sludge slung
over eggshells into the garbage can, washed
like a dirty memory or spoor of shame spiraling
down the kitchen drain. A dirty job that somebody’s got to do.
I woke each day to sunshine, at least that’s what
a boy remembers, and the bright sunny collie tan and white
waiting out in the yard, and the aroma of my parents’ coffee,
and eggs on the table and running out to meet my collie.
Years pass. My daddy didn’t know any better, or worse yet
he did. He let my mama die. She was old and crazy. She fought
with the men who came to take her to the hospital. He called me
from far away as if there was something I could do. There wasn’t.
I’m on the beach in Key West with the minister and the woman
I’m marrying. We’re going to be happy for a long time. It’s a love
full of laughter and pet names and our first house together and friends
and another dog. I am so happy but the dog is aggressive and I got depressed.
She left, my fault, her fault, and booze I thought was the only friend
that would understand me, and when we met it slapped me down hard,
so hard I couldn’t walk, and I crawled out of the hospital and she let me
back in and damned if I didn’t do it again. Time to wake up.
Wake up and smell the coffee. First I clean the grounds from the filter,
measure the coffee and the cool clear water. Nothing we can do
with the past but learn from it, remember the good and work
with the bad we can change. Get rid of the grounds, so to speak,
and work with new coffee. I think of my mom and dad, both passed
now, before the happy percolating breaks my thoughts. My wife smiles
as I carry our full-bodied chocolate brew into the bedroom, into another chance
to realize the enduring chill of what passes, the bright sweet caffeine jolt,
the absolute holiness of crafting each day with love
from the dregs of yesterday.
Of the Creeks, the Baying Dogs
by Harry Calhoun
I remember flyfishing with my father on foggy mornings
on Pennsylvania creeks. And today my black Labs
with much hound mixed in strut undomesticated
from my wooded backlot to claim the back deck
with wildness, yowling that if I would understand
I might become werewolf, and I wish in some part
I could. As I wish I could stake some misty claim
beyond my father’s death and angle again those foggy banks,
to become the wild and the dead and the deathless,
the ineffable and feral beloved eternal and mortal.
My lover my wife beside me wished eternal and hoped forever
the father my parent wished eternal and gone forever
communication, dog, human, lycanthrope, struggle,
this I howl and the moon rises, I do not know which
comes first, as I have only this my fierce love and this
strange and wild poetry that rises in my breast.
Harry Calhoun has had work published in hundreds of poetry journals and more than a dozen books and chapbooks over the past three decades. His career has included Pushcart nominations, two Sundress Best of the Net nominations and publications in Abbey, Orange Room Review, Flutter Poetry Journal, Faircloth Review, Thunder Sandwich, Lily and others. Book publications have included I knew Bukowski like you knew a rare leaf and The Black Dog and the Road. In 2011, Flutter Press published his chapbook The Insomnia Poems. 2012 was an exceedingly good year, with the publication of the limited-edition chapbook Maintenance and Death, the chapbook of love poems,How Love Conquers the World, and the collection of poems from the ‘80s and ’90s called Retro, Maintenance and Death has now gone to a second edition. The chapbook Failure is Unimportant came out on Flutter in 2013 and a full-length poetry book, Alarmed in Space and other poems, has been accepted by Unbound Content for release in early 2015. Harry lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Trina and his dogs Hamlet and Harriet.