POETRY – 3 Poems by Calvin Olsen




The wind blows outlines of our bodies into our clothes.

It took me six tries to say that. I miss you

when things go wrong. I wonder if you feel

like God feels: no one notices the clouds

except in context: sunset, temporary

intervals of interrupted heat. Hold out your hand.

They will be there again tomorrow.




When it comes to family, there is never enough

self-corrected blindness, no turning away

from the relative ease with which we commit

each other’s deeds to memory. Much like setting a table.

When the time is right each place will be cleared:

sometimes picked up piece by piece, sometimes

swept asunder in a crashing swoop. (He or she who removes

the shrapnel depends entirely on the day of the week).

And there it was—you missed it—pinpointed across the room:

a glance, quick, obviously, but telling.

You are the stranger here. Your uttered disruption

draws lines of longitude somewhere between stranger to love.

No ship sails in a straight line. Familiarity looms

on the horizon. No—there. Just a bit lower.




Somewhere between skin and the soul

a rope dangles

Punctured through the heart
or where the heart should be

a man drawn on a cardboard box

shakes his blank-faced fist
at the sun

 Torn pieces of paper fall in celebration

or aftermath

fusing with the sidewalk like ghosts
of leaves

The exit wound holds its shape

what pours forth



Calvin Olsen was born and raised in Meridian, Idaho, the small town that continues to inform his writing. He holds an MFA from Boston University where he received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship to translate in the Iberian Peninsula. His poetry and translations have appeared in SalamanderNew Haven ReviewSWAMPeXchanges, and Lay Bare the Canvas: New England Poetry and Art, among others; and he has presented work at a variety of venues, including TEDxNewEngland and the Blacksmith House Poetry Series. He currently lives and teaches in Boston and can be found on Twitter @cal_olsen.

Featured image by Kenny Ong. See more of his work at flickr.com/kennyong. Prints available upon request.

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