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.