Our Various Sads
Now we come to the study of skulls fragmented and repositioned as bones in
We come in torrents, we come as a torque converter, we Saturn-turn our
We query, we querulous, we fret over the quenelle.
The dumpling of forcemeat is bound with eggs and poached in buffalo piss.
You garnish your wrist with chervil, check your hat for the green felt of a
I have forgotten the way hypnosis can fracture into hypoplasia of the left
Now we torrential, we planet-turn, we skull-step the grass growing up through
the bones of a possum’s head.
We relinquish even the hyphens and express connection through passing coal-
shaped stones through a gland.
Do not lose your footing while trimming back the dumb-cane. Do not worry
your childhurt, even your speak.
We come in torrents, all the while talking ourselves back into the birth-bag
and out, all the while trying to talk ourselves whole.
The First of Your Birthing World
Now we come to the study of the ribcage.
I’m not sentimental, but the way it protects the heart is almost scrotal.
It’s always been with me, the way the invisible hummingbird has, too, inside
my right ear.
I am done enough of bees and wanting and stung.
We lie naked across one another’s length, after lovemaking, like wobbly x’s.
I touch the place in you that is between things and know more and less of
what I am.
When the spear-slit hyphenated the passionate fruit, did it have juice enough
What about the India love-grass made the tea that much more sweet?
Your breathing curves breathe me back to where breath might start.
Your underarms, exposed, reveal the almost-invisible stubble—all the rough
tenderness I might tongue and luck and snug, as I drag myself—barely
whole—into the first of your birthing world.
Notes Toward the Iron Age
I worship the color green, a painful yet poetic sentiment.
I write with the pale blue blood of a parakeet.
They slit open my life and handed me a cake.
Each year I blew out more of myself, among applause and cheers.
I worship the inscription of, another brief rope chalked across my back.
I require a temple of someone else, a cave altar of perhaps, if ever, perhaps a
desert shrine inscribed with, candle-carve the possible.
Please, bring the tepid kerosene to tempt the coconut away from the frosting
and the nuts.
Tremble a bird wing over my ordinary. Wish me born in the belly-blur of my
Can a dream of some lungfish buried weeks below sand suggest cords of
unrequited time? A constellation in the shape of a consort to my weeping?
Is it true that the daughter I never had, descended from that star, is crawling
some kitchen floor, in some town, banging an iron pot with a spoon?
The Water Sorcery
Now we come to baptism, what the Hurons, during an outbreak of smallpox,
called the water sorcery.
We come to Robert Desnos and his dream of the marvelous in everyday life.
There is a rhetoric of sadness when contemplating the epidural.
We numb the pain of childbearing and forget how many times we, ourselves,
have returned, screaming for birth.
Don’t take me wrong. I did love the neon tetras my mother bought me as a
I imagined my own kid ribs as translucent and sought to remember my body
through underwater sound, limb by bitten limb.
You can’t understand why anyone would refuse a red peony for a stake of dry
You want an Asian-green scroll in order to contain your life within borders?
See the cow about to be milked?
Memorize the mountains in the background like an enlarged, unknown gland.
Count the God-knows-how-many, your how-comes and why-nots.
Relinquish the blackbird crossing the kingdom with an ore-rich beak sinking
fast upon your chest.
You say, Saint Sava’s salve, say, unite all the people in Christ, repeat, return
their whisper of bones to a jar containing my Christian name.
All this brings me to a sizeable gawping, to stiff snow-light whiter than the
unfrozen black river of over-obliging winter edging slantwise into the
pockmarks of the about-to-be-dead.
George Kalamaras, Poet Laureate of Indiana, is the author of seven books of poetry and seven chapbooks, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011). The poems in this issue will appear in his forthcoming book, The Hermit’s Way of Being Human (WordTech, 2015). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.