left behind

buried somewhere within us
     a detector of lurking curses breaks—
                 forgetting our blessings
     who gave them to us
                 and why.

some curses never hit us properly
     launched years ago
                 by people who forgot us.
in the dreams of these people
     we do not appear—
                 neither as background animals
                 nor as slight misgivings.

     forgetting intentionally
                 is still forgetting.

it’s not on purpose at first
     that we leave things behind
                 but when we notice
     it becomes so
                 if we refuse to go back
     having become too severed—
                 part now of the universe
in which we are open to loss
      and forcing strangers to take
                 from a shifty category
           that isn’t quite gift.

 

 

 

 

weak knots

a permeated post nation packs old syllables
around new ailments for evocative configuration
in lost battles waged for low stakes.

we are given wigs, cowered or capered for
then begin adjudicating. curiosity stays away
dining on unlabeled savory cakes.

then there are feathers because something
struck a bird or plucked one or it molted.

what if we saw more wavelengths,
smelled more molecules, weathered better,
stretched our palettes, put more things
back together?

what if we tried harder, blooming twice maybe
once before spring has really come and again after?

untrained knots come together additively
uncorrelated with strength, a mirage
of mutually self-canceling reinforcements.

 

 

 

 

retirement

when we are well rested
we object to old animals
self-lugging
through palpable fatigue.
we say this life had sufficient meaning.
it was well enough lived.
retirement is earned,
whether or not the effort
or the outcomes
were remarkable
or novice forgeries.

some trees are planted
over glorious dead—
swaddled into lineage,
instantly significant.
some trees stand amongst us
well past fruitfulness,
trusted to fall apart
without crushing others—
spared the unbewilderable drive
to cut things down.

even perennials fold over
splinter and rot
after years spent plugged in
but not charging.

 

 



[Nathaniel Calhoun lives in the Far North of Aotearoa. He works with teams that monitor and restore biodiversity in ecosystems around the world. He has published or upcoming work in New York Quarterly, Guest House, takahē, Azure, DMQ Review, Misfit, Quadrant, Hawaii Pacific Review & Landfall.  He tweets, rarely, @calhounpoems .]

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