for Karin Wiberg
Always the crossword clue for “Pennsylvania port.”
Everybody, I guess, thinks of a port as being
on an ocean. Not me. It’s the place I nearly drowned,
all those years ago, adrift on a rubber raft
with all the certainty that comes with youth.
“The waves won’t kick up, or if they do
you’ll just kick back into shore. I nearly
didn’t. The wave took the raft from under me,
and it was only when I fell exhausted,
expelling what seemed my last living gasp,
that I knew what grace was. And sputtered
with what might have, should have been
my last breath, I was aware of something
far beyond that lake or my ability
to fathom it that I named, and have forever
After Rehab II
by Harry Calhoun
And after sleeping on a plastic mat on an iron frame
that they called a cot, after being escorted by guards
holding the keys to one locked door after another,
you think I’ll ever want to drink again?
Hell yes! You don’t know what it’s like, most of you,
to be ferried off involuntarily to rehab, restraints
on your harmless wrists in the back of a van,
because drinking and depression constitute the sum
of a threat to yourself or somebody else. Tonight,
on my soft quiet bed I drink two, three brandies
and a nice hopsy beer and breathe easy, finally,
able to sleep through the night without the sounds
of guarded voices, clanking equipment and
my roommate’s farts. And I realize how lucky I am
to be an alcoholic and choose its gentle submission
to forced imprisonment.
I’ll never go back to rehab.
Death is at least release, all I seek from alcohol.
I’d rather die on my own weak terms
than live a prisoner.
Forever or the Lack Thereof
by Harry Calhoun
I cannot do this forever.
This is not a coup against a relationship
or a complaint lodged with local authorities.
It is my universe flickering out
like a candle, before my very eyes.
I cannot do this forever,
this night with you warm and human
beside me sleeping. It requires
the one last drink I mustn’t have
if I am to function fully human
tomorrow. Or damn tomorrow,
which someday will not come
I simply cannot do this forever.
The Last Last Poem
It leaves here without me
and charts its own void.
Into the underbrush, a squirrel
making its querulous way
through the scrub, or some
lanky giant stomping this all down.
The leftover of the squirrel’s journey
and the giant’s judicial slam
are the tiny noises, the sonic boom
you hear in this poem. Make of it,
take from it what you will.
It’s yours now.
Harry Calhoun has received several Pushcart and Sundress Best of the Net nominations and publications in hundreds of poetry journals and many books and chapbooks. Notable among them: the chapbook Failure is Unimportant, which came out in on Flutter Press in 2013, and hisMaintenance and Death from England’s Pig Ear Press in 2012. 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 Labrador mixes Hamlet and Harriet.