DANIEL J. CALFO
It’s where all my big ideas come from, dreaming.
Their heads were slightly bowed but not so much as to hide their eyes. All the feelings of fog and rain but nothing of the weather. No setting; it’s not missing, just pale in comparison, frightened with the weight of it all. They knew that I knew. I was getting up from something. I’d been fighting something the way somebody fights something quietly, sitting, in clothes clean and pressed and they remain that way through the dirt and scraping and that eventual first breath, which happened to be, for me, this dream.
They kept knowing, growing with it, knowing I wanted them to know desperately we were friends and they knew; us, copies of each other discovering the fact. They became more me, I more them, the result a balance, symmetry, precision.
It was looking into a dozen mirrors, it’s all one person, he’s a stranger, blink, she’s the quiet girl with the glasses in the back of English class blink he’s the pastor you admired as a man, hated as a theology blink she’s mom blink the first dead person you ever saw blink she says I Love You, you say nothing and the back of your eyelids are no longer black; they called it seeing the light.
They stare back. Think about how well you have been able to go through the motions of living until this point, the audacity of the love it took for these versions of you to watch you kick around, so blind. How they waited for you to look around, living with you, so closely.
Daniel Calfo writes out of Portland, OR. Daniel was a member of The Sparrow Ghost Collective’s first Slam Poetry Team of 2011and competed with the team in Portland’s Northwest Regional Slam. In the coming months, Daniel will help represent Lewis and Clark College at both the ACUI Regional Slam in Portland, OR, as well as at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, this year held in Los Angles, CA.Daniel has been a featured poet in the Portland Poetry Slam’s Encyclopedia Show and in Portland’s staple poetry open-mic, Word Out! A Poetry Open Mic. Some of his work is published in print in The Sparrow Ghost Collective’s first anthology of poetry and digitally via Pipe Dream Publishing. Some of the author’s other work, including original photographs, appear at (http://danielcalfo.tumblr.com), while the majority will be available in his first collection to be printed in the coming months. For questions or comments, address notes to DanielCalfo@Lclark.edu.
You used to glow. A magnificent sunny white that gathered in the corners of my eyes, bleached my bones clean of self doubt and destruction. I knew you biblically. With golden feathers sprouting from your shoulder blades you whispered me words of wisdom and truth. I saw you my prophet, lord almighty, big man in the sky, and I was proud to call you father. You washed the earth from a battle wound I wore from the playground, when I picked a fight with the marry-go-round trying to impress the girl next door. You poured light into my wound and said next time try roses, or poetry. I wiped the tear soaked dirt from my face, smiled at my mother, your wife, our goddess, and I knew heaven. It occupied this circle we made and hung like daylight in a dusty room. But like the setting sun, your glow began to fade. Dipping behind the hills, I wondered where it was going, and if it would come back. I’ve always been most scared at night. But with your glow I never knew true darkness.
And then you did it. In the middle of the night you kicked those pearly gates open, dragged her out by her hair and tossed her from our circle. Black and bruised I watched my mother crawl down those stairs as you sarcastically thanked her for the blood-red stains she left on the carpet. Hustling me inside, you locked the doors, stood behind me and rested your hands on my shoulders, replacing the spot where she used to do the same. Staring out the window I watched our goddess, my goddess, pull herself into the blanket of a streetlight. It looked so cold out there.
My world crumbled. You told me that those who go against your word are committing sin, but who were you to decide? I watched you clip your wings that night, I saw you grow a soul. You took that soul, tore it in two and placed it at the bottoms of your shoes. With every step you took in that house, I watched it fade from glowing white to dirty and human. It’s something I wasn’t prepared to see. But what 6 year old is?
Two years passed, and every night I cried myself to sleep only to be met by nightmares of what could have possibly happened to my mother. I never asked you what did. The fear of knowing the answer locked itself in my jawbone and tied itself in knots.
It was that tension that showed me that I do in fact have a voice, that I do in fact have my own words.
They weren’t always in line with yours. You must have smelled something, because the first time I voiced objection, slammed the car door, and started to walk around feeling MY own two feet carry me for the first time, you pressed the petal to the floor. Metal hit me, as fast as that accelerating car and I kissed the pavement three feet ahead, watched my individuality bleed out onto the street. I lay there, feeling the gravel sink into my body, waiting for light to be poured into this battle wound. You just drove away. Without you to purify and disinfect, it grew over callused and hard. It’s still there.
Since then you’ve branded me so many times. Fists, knives and words. It took me too long to learn to hit back, but when I finally did, when I pushed you off of me and down those same stairs you threw my mother down, I saw how far from a god you really were. Ruby life dripped from your face, and gods don’t bleed.
I spent the next 6 years reopening these wounds with razors, trying to coax them to heal smooth. I never did succeed. You taught me that the best way to solve a problem was to cut it at its root. I realized that I was only slicing petals, draining the fluids, sweet aroma therapy. The root of this problem was that I, like most living beings, am uncomfortable with my own scars. The only kind of person that doesn’t read and reread the stories etched into their bodies is the dead kind person. I opened the medicine cabinet, grabbed fistfuls of white pills and washed them down with a bottle of whiskey. Looking up at the bathroom ceiling, body stretched out on the tile, I prayed that I’d find heaven again.
My world grew silent, and the walls around me melted like butter on skillet. It began to bubble and spin, joined by the feeling of ascension and flashing red lights; an orchestra of color and movement.
A week later, I awoke to a bearded man dressed in whitest of robes. With a warming voice that had to be divine, he welcomed me into providence. Peace washed over me as I knew I had escaped. My jawbone untied itself as I knew I had found heaven. I shortly discovered that this bearded man was not Jesus, but a doctor named Carl, and that by Providence he met the hospital, not the protective care of God.
Later I realized it didn’t matter. Helped into a wheelchair I was rolled out of the ICU, down a labyrinth of white halls and into a room with a single man. He was hunched over in a chair, the saddest looking human I’ve ever seen. His hands hung loose, like someone who held on as tight as they could and lost it all.
At the sound of my rusted wheels turning he slowly lifted his head, and I saw a face I almost didn’t recognize. My father sat before me a broken man, apology soul deep in his eyes. This is the look of a man who almost lost it all. I saw two words form at the tip of his tongue, but they never left his lips. “I’m sorry.” I’ve never seen so much emotion escape this man as three tears fell from his cheeks and down to the tile.
1. The world isn’t so black and white.
2. Heaven exists wherever you create it.
3. There is no shame in admitting mistakes.
It was so easy to blame you for these scars when I saw you less than human. Forgive me father, I see now that you are nothing less. This journey that we call humanity is not divine for any of us and I can’t expect your decisions to have been flawless. It was easy to accept my mother’s abandonment when I could paint you demonic. Forgive me father, for I am human too.
I just ask of you one thing:
Hug me, hold me and tell me that I’m loved. I want to hear your heartbeat and know that mine is beating in sync. I know two points don’t make a circle, but this line that links us doesn’t need to be so long. I’m tired of living in this twilight, this in between of light and dark. We’ve both been through hell, but I want to rebuild this heaven with you.
Chase Person is a poet, model, and general slice of the best humanity has to offer. He regularly delights crowds at local Portland poetry events with his dazzling wit and smile.
I have been receiving a plethora of lovely submissions from all of you and I am so grateful for your time. I wanted to add a little reminder that submissions should be sent to this link: http://pipedream.submishmash.com/submit.
If submissions are simply emailed to me, there is the possibility of them being accidentally overlooked.
I said PD was accepting submissions? Well, it’s true. I have gotten a handful of lovely pieces and need more for the Spring author/artist roster. Please send your works over so people can drool all over them.
^^^Depiction of someone appreciating your work.
PIPE DREAM is accepting submissions for the Springtime, lovelies! Send your brain babies to the PD Nursery!
Simply click on the “submissions” link to the left!
The fire of summer is
put out by the shimmering
quilt of color blanketing
the autumn world,
and the mania of autumn
is frozen in time
by the cold bitch of
this mind slows
into a jazzy downturn of
horn solos and sadistic
drum clatters rumble
across the blacktops of
a cold space of dreams
that linger from the
of the mind—
holidays come and go,
pumpkins turn to mulch,
another birthday is celebrated
with rain hitting the roof
with yet more music—
reaching a crescendo come
and the early months’ rise,
an internal scream that
takes the unrecorded
frantic rhythms of the
to a dramatic close
celebrated in lawn tableaus
and other dances
born out of different holy texts
that dot continents in a
glorious globe lantern of the spirit
that have suddenly burned
Kevin Ridgeway is a writer from Southern California. He lives and works in a tiny bungalow surrounded by posters of dead rock stars. His chapbook of poetry, Burn Through Today, is now available from Flutter Press.
We drove through most of the night, through most of Texas, through eight CDs and a mixtape you made for an ex, but you couldn’t remember which. We drove through hunger, fatigue, amphetamines, fatigue, hunger. We drove through a Carl’s Jr. at 6 AM, it was hot and cheap. We drove over cliffs but they were mirages, the heat making lines on the pavement, we drove over lines. We drove in the light of the day, unbidden in the light of the day, unbridled but broken, harmless but hopeful. On Wednesday we drove 14 hours. On Thursday we drove longer. On Friday, on Saturday. On Sunday we rested by driving in circles in the dirt of a parking lot at the edge of something, it did not matter. Before us we drove the past like cattle, like snow, like dirt, like great piles of the earth we drove it before us, wishing it were air, wishing it would slip and spill and sail away in long, unknowable, unseen waves around us, over us, behind us, through us, from us, beyond us. We drove ourselves crazy. We drove until the ocean.
God damn it, the ocean.
Roy Coughlin repairs washers and dryers for a living. In his spare time he lies about being a writer. Supposedly, he has contributed flash fiction to Smalldoggies Magazine, PIPE DREAM Magazine, and HOUSEFIRE. He does his best lying at expatdepot.blogspot.com.
DAVID SCOTT POINTER
If Che Guevara had
saddled up like Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid, the CIA, Green
Beret and Bolivian Army
might still be in hot,
haggard pursuit, everyone
needing a buffalo horn
flask, cutting the parched
into liquid perfection,
everybody on duty powering
through their small parts in
global expansion until
their blood pressure’s high,
and earning potential’s low,
and the final bullets bring
it on home and abroad for
David Scott Pointer is a friendly neighborhood political poet. He has been publishing poems for 21 years. New poems coming at “Rattle,” “Static Movement” and “Literary Landmark Press.”
Smalldoggies Press is having a bitchin’ competition to win a FREE copy of their new book! Aggh! Excite! Excite!
All you have to do is write a false/true story about a fight between brothers/siblings and post it to their wall @ http://www.facebook.com/smalldoggiespress
I posted one just now that ya’ll can read: “ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO”. I forgot to do that whole “editing” thing, so it is riddled with errors. Now is the time to strike!
That being said, I want this book. Bring it, folks. Blood in the water! Mutherfuckin’ thunderdome!
Also, “like” their page. They host an awesome reading series and their writers are talented and creative.