the poetry that matters

John Paul Calavitta

John Paul Calavitta’s work appears or is forthcoming in Mudlark Review, Camas, Cortland Review, Elgin Pop-Up Poetry, among others. He is a PhD candidate in English and poetry at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he received his MFA in creative writing.


After a Hypothetical War
No rule no ruler: only water and clay,
like gaps where tusks have been. 
Grief, they say, is personal;
to stage a slaughter and make up a story.
That was the dream, but this,
this is the thing. 
Stories we know.
There is another story. 
If one of you is innocent
let him tell it now. 
We had no arms to fight it with;
deep family likeness will come out. 
Your arrow into the empty air 
till the horizon drove them back.

You assure my sense of wrong 

born to attack, and innocent
turning the faucet on full
at a threat
relief is the word
this ship must sink

you are north-west
but what is Western 
a small world in quotes:
the unhappy are always safe
so we poach what images we can, 
through a window impossible to close 
as time, so place
and what happens next on the program
we do not know
jumping from picture to picture
into wide space
which still is near; is you
staring at the same horizon 
Reading and speaking have been replaced 
indoors the sound of the wind
outdoors the wind
we do not need your indulgence
much less your pity
throwing our dreams and guts
in people's faces
assume, consume;
the music fades
we never expect an answer
at eight in the evening
the ship went down
stranger no longer there 
we need the unknown
alas is now the keyword here 
we were just passengers 
new light needs watching 
loud men around the corner 
wreck or bless the world 
here is Sunday: the tree 
forgets both good and evil
the first ocean was the best
the first verdict seemed the worst
stone tablets like visiting cards
the postman knocked, no letter came 

Imaginary Picture of a Stationary Fear
stop at the colon this is your speech:
we walk the streets,
the long country of the past
the houses all gone wrong  
a dream re-enacted in another dream
a god come down from another heaven 
through twenty years of drifting snow
grown suddenly young
I first discovered what is old from the night
shadows cast by the true 
if there were an answer, how could we be free 

Capsized Sky in a Bottle
I cruise around the rotting whale 
having mistaken you perhaps
for yesterday 
or for tomorrow night
the world was closed
and remained closed until 
the curtains flew out of 
the port windows
glaciers governed in glass 
shatter the glassware
you cheering out to sea
in a berg of bone 
holidays should be like this 
free from over-emphasis 


Bookmark and Share

                                                                                                             August 27, 2012