They pulled the fish out of the ocean
off the coast of Africa in 1938. The thing
that could not be, thought extinct
for millions of years.

And my father’s death as unexpected
haunts like something never meant to be,
yet destined and slipped under the ocean,
beneath the radar, past the million

long years of my life.

Nobody expects the ghost
when we are taught not to believe.
Imagine the surprise. We have caught
up with something we cannot comprehend.

Life with its depths unfathomable,
death all too close and shallow.
What we dredge up may be dead
to us too, or all too alive

and comprehensible.


A last rumination on the dying fire

Old friend from caveman days, we no longer
need you so much for your warmth
as for your atmosphere. Parsing your embers
for signs, as if staring up into an overcast night
with stars glowing between cloud cover.

Fire has its Zodiac: The match to the log
is Aries, the startle of spring. Leo is the lion
of roaring flame, and Libra uncertain
of whether to blaze or die. Now Sagittarius,
winter archer’s arrow piercing the ember

heart. Bed and sleep and love
are in the next room, but I can’t leave
you dying without writing to tell you
how I feel. I struggle sometimes to do that
even with my wife. In the morning,

I will look at your ashes,
what has died while I slept,
and try to learn
your lessons.

Crosswords and poems and wood smoke in the rain

Walking my dog in the late October rain,
leaves finally giving up their sap
and showing the red, brown and yellow
of death. A scent in the air here and there,

like a wine aroma discerned — acrid
tang of wood smoke in the nostrils
like supple tannins on the palate.
I wear the ludicrous blue plastic poncho

to protect me from rain. Alex collects
the downpour in his thick black fur
and waits for the wiggly reward
when I towel him off after.

The train whistle howls in the distance
like a Hendrix guitar solo and in the early
gathering darkness single lights appear
in rooms in the houses along the way,

cozy and dry. I arrive home and my wife
has a simple meal of beans and chilies
and rice and pork loin ready to reheat
and sustain us as we sled on toward winter.

I nap and puzzle through crosswords, read
and try to write a poem or two. What more
could I want? The dog to nuzzle me awake
by my bedside, still dark in the morning,

my wife’s hand reaching for mine,
the gentle gurgle of coffee brewing,
the promise of this again, again tomorrow,

the eternal now and the eternal again


Copyright © 2010 Harry Calhoun


Harry Calhoun is a widely published poet, article and essay writer. Check out his online chapbook Dogwalking Poems, his trade paperback, I knew Bukowski like you knew a rare leaf, and the recently published The Black Dog and the Road. Not to mention his latest chapbook, Something Real. He’s had recent publications in Chiron Review, Chiaroscuro, Orange Room Review, The Centrifugal Eye, Bird’s Eye reView, Abbey, Monongahela Review and many others. He is the editor of Pig in a Poke magazine. Find out more at