Month: July 2023

living colorliving color

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 4:52 pm

how much more humble we would be if our flatulence were green.
we would trail tell-tale clouds, iridescent and glowing.
there would be no pretending as to who was responsible.
no way to lie or to prevaricate.

how much more truthful we would be if our noses quickly turned purple when we lied.
if not more truthful, then probably we at least would not say as much.
not so many lies about love and sex and death.

imagine if our lips flushed bright crimson whenever we had thoughts or feelings of lust.
no more pretending not to notice the luscious babe or hunky stud.
we would constantly be outing ourselves.

what if our fingernails flashed a blazing yellow when we were afraid?
no more stiff upper lips and steely glares to cow both friend and foe,
unless we wore thick gloves.

imagine a presidential press conference if we were wired in this fashion.
it would be a bio-neon hullabaloo.
the president would enter the room, his hands jammed into his pockets.
the fingernails of the rookie reporters, and of the press secretary,
would all be flashing chrome yellow.
the lips of more than one reporter would be a fully flushed crimson,
even if maybe the babes weren’t so luscious nor the studs so hunky.
every time the president went to say something, his nose would suddenly go purple.
in a little while we would see
that he had the chili cheese and bean burrito for breakfast again.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:23 am

what a tiny pit!
i’ve never seen an avocado with such a tiny pit!
perhaps this avocado is a mutant strain,
mulish child of science and commerce copulating in sloppy abandon.
perhaps it’s just an accident, one of those acts of god.

such a tiny pit!
such a great amount of meat, thick and musky, the color of an old refrigerator.
i lay the avocado, split in halves, upon my plate,
take a spoon in hand and eat.
bless me, lord, i eat.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:21 am

“There is no power stronger than faith. It is threatening and invincible like a rock, and rising amidst the stormy, ever-changing sea. From the very bottom of the sea it rears to heaven its jagged sides of firm, impenetrable stone. It is visible from everywhere, and looks the waves straight in the face as they roll past. And woe to the ship which is dashed against it! Its frame flies into splinters, everything in it is split and crushed, and the startled air re-echoes the piteous cries of the drowning.” – Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, “Taras Bulba,” Taras Bulba and Other Tales (trans. various)

the postmodern peachthe postmodern peach

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:08 pm

there is such a thing as a postmodern peach
it arrives at the wrong time of year
shipped over the ocean from a country on the other side of the world
it is fuzzy as a peach should be
its flesh gives enticingly beneath the touch
but inside it is hard and dry and will never be sweet

there is still such a thing as a modern peach
it arrives in high summer by truck from one state over
it is perfect
hold it in your hand and bite into it
its sticky juices run down your fingers onto your wrist and even sometimes
down to your elbow
it is as sweet as your favorite anything

there even is still such a thing as an enlightenment peach
no fooling, there is
it grows out back on the tree by the far wall
you pull it right off a branch in the late afternoon
it is ripe and warm from the sun
there are dozens more hanging on the tree
we can make a cobbler

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

the mysteriesthe mysteries

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:10 am

auden said that if we men discovered what the women said
when none of us was there to hear the awful truths they would tell,
we would be shocked—
stunned, puckered, and withered we would cringe.

wystan, it turned out it wasn’t so bad,
the night charisse, lori, and sylvia invited me to join them at their backyard table
while they snacked on martinis and stories of their various lovers,
most of whom had glaring faults of which said lovers were only dimly,
if at all, aware. the talk was riotous and bawdy.
men can’t talk that way unless they’re gay.

the women cast a vodka spell that night upon their male companion,
to prevent him from ever quoting their words direct,
but among the stories recounted at that table, there was
the tale of one septuagenarian lover’s priapic skills,
report of which was enough to make any man of post-adolescent age
consider himself in comparison, and keep his mouth shut about it.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:08 am

“The things with which we concern ourselves in science appear in myriad forms, and with a multitude of attributes. For example, if we stand on the shore and look at the sea, we see the water, the waves breaking, the foam, the sloshing motion of the water, the sound, the air, the winds and the clouds, the sun and the blue sky, and light; there is sand and there are rocks of various hardness and permanence, color and texture. There are animals and seaweed, hunger and disease, and the observer on the beach; there may be even happiness and thought. Any other spot in nature has a similar variety of things and influences. It is always as complicated as that, no matter where it is. Curiosity demands that we ask questions, that we try to put things together and try to understand this multitude of aspects as perhaps resulting from the action of a relatively small number of elemental things and forces acting in an infinite variety of combinations.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. 1

keeping up with the newskeeping up with the news

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 4:51 pm

i haven’t been keeping up with the news
i’ve been traveling
been through a lot of airports
had to catch the news on the fly
i see there’s some sort of controversy going on in the capital
and somewhere someone has shot someone else
a plane crashed (hate to see that news in an airport)
a ferryboat sank
there was a train wreck, i saw the footage of that
there’s a war, maybe more than one
while a freak storm blew in from the ocean
and another new planet was discovered
orbiting a neighboring star

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:11 am

cherries remind me of zachary taylor
old rough and ready, who accidentally killed himself one july day
through eating too many cherries, ripe and sweet

some say the pickles and ice cream didn’t help
it was independence day, at a time when slavery was an issue

man eats
god laughs

king john, so they say
ate too many eels, his favorite food
and they pretty much swam straight through him

some say it wasn’t eels, it was ale
or plums or peaches
divine justice or so they say
for his having lost the crown jewels in the river thames

not to mention that business with robin hood and the sheriff
and the lovely maid marian

she was a virgin (that’s unconfirmed)
and last i heard, god was still laughing

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:09 am

“The future is unknown, and stands before a man like autumnal fogs rising from the swamps; birds fly foolishly up and down in it with flapping wings, never recognising each other, the dove seeing not the vulture, nor the vulture the dove, and no one knowing how far he may be flying from destruction.” – Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, “Taras Bulba,” Taras Bulba and Other Tales (trans. various)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:05 am

dead come stand beside me in shy sadness in my dreams and say,
when you are finally with us,
we shall teach you how to return yourself to trees and air,
to smoke and autumn’s falling, crumbling leaves.
when you are finally with us,
darkness shall be as light,
lightness shall be as weight,
waiting shall be as joy,
joy shall be as holding,
and holding you, we shall teach you how.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:03 am

“He is not a good warrior who loses heart in an important enterprise; but he who is not tired even of inactivity, who endures all, and who even if he likes a thing can give it up.” – Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, “Taras Bulba,” Taras Bulba and Other Tales (trans. various)

hermes psychopomposhermes psychopompos

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:02 pm

standing on the corner
cigarette in my hand

a man shuffles by, walking with a limp
he chuckles and grins
looking straight ahead he says, you understand?

he passes and i see something written in black ink
in a spidery hand on the back of his dirty camel-hair jacket

i can’t make out what it says
it’s written in paragraphs
properly indented
he chuckles again, crossing the street against the light
a horn honks and tires screech

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

egyptian morningegyptian morning

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:06 am

the drovers move slowly,
driving their cattle across the river ford.

shepherds herd their sheep,
trotting across the fields.

the length of the foot is three times the width of the hand.

i shade my eyes,
and climb to heaven on the beams of the sun.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:04 am

“Laws are the product of compromise, and no law pursues its purposes at all costs.” – Justice Neil Gorsuch, Luna Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, et al. (No. 21-887, United States Supreme Court, March 21, 2023) (internal cites and quotes omitted)

three good boysthree good boys

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 4:54 pm

a convention of very large women is in town.
they wear name tags, shop, sweat in the mid-summer sun,
call out loudly to one another across their hotel lobby.

three young boys play in front of the hotel, outside double glass doors,
by bronze statues of business men and women, tourists,
authentic natives and a bronze boy on a bronze skateboard.

the real boys start fooling with the skateboard boy, trying to pull him down.
he won’t come down. he is bronze and anchored in place.
the real boys open the double glass doors and slip into the hotel lobby.

a young woman who is not attending the convention walks by the boys.
she’s wearing what once were called come-fuck-me pumps,
this season’s footwear fashion. her clothes are simple and tell
of money to spend: sleeveless cream blouse, black knit pants.
she wears black-framed glasses. her hair is blonde.
she adjusts the shoulder straps of her brassiere with one hand
as she walks past the three young boys. they watch her, then they enter
a gift shop in the lobby. they wander the shop, picking up and setting down
various trinkets. the proprietress pretends not to watch their
every move, but she is watching their every move. they buy a lollipop
and leave the shop. the proprietress thanks them, says, be good boys.
they say nothing, don’t look back.

the young woman walks by again, graceful as a gazelle.
the very large women, conventional, waddle by,
shouting, grunting, and dripping sweat.
the three boys screech like monkeys, dashing across the lobby to the doors.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

albuquerque, october morningalbuquerque, october morning

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:02 am

just the other side of a smooth-wire fence is a farmer’s field,
its stubble side-lit in sunlight softened by thin, filtering clouds.
geese are flocking to breakfast, gathering in a corner of the field.
closer to the center stalk sandhill cranes, walking their tentative walk,
as though there may be something in the field no crane
would care to step in. their knees are on backwards.

a flight of three cranes circles the field in a lazy, graceful figure-eight.
a standing crane calls, its cry the clacking loudness of a party favor amplified.
the three cranes coast and flap their ways to landing. they eat a while,
stalking the field with the other cranes. hot-air balloons drift slowly by overhead.

with a sudden whooshing flutter the cranes ascend and swim the air.
calls of other cranes come from nearby woods. the geese send up
a parliament of honks. the burners of the passing balloons sigh great sighs.
the cranes head south. the geese will follow.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:59 am

“Good afternoon folks. I am Grace Lynn. I am a hundred years young. I’m here to protest our school district’s book-banning policy. My husband Robert Nichol was killed in action in World War II, at a very young age, he was only 26, defending our democracy, Constitution, and freedoms. One of the freedoms that the Nazis crushed was the freedom to read the books they banned. They stopped the free press, banned and burned books. The freedom to read, which is protected by the First Amendment, is our essential right and duty of our democracy. Even so, it is continually under attack by both the public and private groups who think they hold the truth. Banned books, and burning books, are the same. Both are done for the same reason: fear of knowledge. Fear is not freedom. Fear is not liberty. Fear is control. My husband died as a father of freedom. I am a mother of liberty. Banned books need to be proudly displayed and protected from school boards like this. Thank you very much. Thank you.” – Grace Lynn, at Martin County, Florida, school board meeting, March 21, 2023 (quoted by Brandon Gage, in AlterNet, March 22, 2023)

quitting smoking nowquitting smoking now

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:06 pm

quitting smoking now
will greatly reduce serious risks to my health

quitting smoking now
will bring my hairline back down to where it belongs

quitting smoking now
will turn my belly flab to six-pack abs at home in my spare time

quitting smoking now
will take the liver spots out of my hands

quitting smoking now
will cause my eyes to focus
stop my gums from bleeding
kill my appetite for chicken skin
leave me at a loss for words

quitting smoking now
will leave me with a small pile of butane lighters
and seventeen cigarettes

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:32 am

it happened like this: the rains came, late as usual,
passingly sufficient to turn the desert green and yellow
with high summer’s thirsty flowers growing on the slopes
of ancient volcanoes that rose black, crusty and pumiced.

at the peak of one volcano, in the long-cold cone there swarmed flying ants,
red a dark unto black, wings a shimmering glisten reflecting late afternoon sun.
dancing their mating dance, swirling beyond any other control,
a million uncountable ants at play.

wings shimmered. the sun went down. ants landed, mated, lost their wings.

out from the cool spaces, reeving the volcano came millipedes,
first one here, two there,
then so soon as to seem miraculous, millipedes everywhere,
a thousand of them on the volcano’s rocks, among the high summer’s flowers,
millipedes large and small and each size in between,
brown as fancy cigarettes or small cigars,
floating on undulating fringes of legs that carried them
into the desert night along the flowered, antic slopes.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:30 am

“Ostap and Andrii [the sons of Taras Bulba] flung themselves into this sea of dissipation with all the ardour of youth, forgot in a trice their father’s house, the seminary, and all which had hitherto exercised their minds, and gave themselves wholly up to their new life. Everything interested them—the jovial habits of the Setch [the fortified capital of the Zaporozhian Cossacks], and its chaotic morals and laws, which even seemed to them too strict for such a free republic. If a Cossack stole the smallest trifle, it was considered a disgrace to the whole Cossack community. He was bound to the pillar of shame, and a club was laid beside him, with which each passer-by was bound to deal him a blow until in this manner he was beaten to death. He who did not pay his debts was chained to a cannon, until some one of his comrades should decide to ransom him by paying his debts for him. But what made the deepest impression on Andrii was the terrible punishment decreed for murder. A hole was dug in his presence, the murderer was lowered alive into it, and over him was placed a coffin containing the body of the man he had killed, after which the earth was thrown upon both. Long afterwards the fearful ceremony of this horrible execution haunted his mind, and the man who had been buried alive appeared to him with his terrible coffin.” – Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, “Taras Bulba,” Taras Bulba and Other Tales (trans. various)

rainbow scaredrainbow scared

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:20 pm

this would have been two men walking at night,
and one of them would have looked like me.
the other one would have looked like he could
hurt the one who looked like me, except
he would have looked even bigger than that,
and he would have said, aren’t you scared?

the one who looked like me would have said—
would have lit a jumpy cigarette with
a wavering match and would have said—
would have blown some smoke out, squinted, tossed his
head and said—yeah, i’m scared. i’m always scared.
sometimes i’m screaming into my knuckles,
pants-wetting scared. other times i’m just
a nice, smooth, mellow scared, like unsalted
butter of fear.
the big one would have said,
what kind of scared are you right now?

and the one who looked like me would have said,
right now i’m a kind of a rainbow scared, all
different colors.
sounds pretty,
the big one
would have said. you got a pot of gold at
the end of that?
and the one who looked like
me would have said, yeah, and would have taken
a deep drag off his cigarette.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:11 am

a quarter-moon is overhead tonight, rushing westwards over rainish clouds,
pulling at our eyes and dreams and giving pale reminder of the time when we were
little more than scum, clinging to the shoreline’s rocks while that same moon now
overhead tugged at the salt-sea waters enwombing us, or rather at our somewhat slimy
distant ancestors, forcing what we would by great eventuality become to gasp
and grasp and grow out of our sheltering mother sea, the tidal moon marooning
us at the bare beginnings of a dry-land life that has come to have certain attractions,
such as this evening’s quarter-moon and scooting clouds, and such as what some small
family branch of that ancient scum grew up to be, that being the we who built
our ships to sail a different and quite hostile kind of sea, to reach at last one day
that moon whose own slow dance has called us into life and its contemplations.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:05 am

“It’s a foundational requirement to train on civil unrest, civil disturbance, civil disobedience nationwide. We train for that in the National Guard.” – Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, “Interview of General William Walker, December 13, 2021”

cosas sagradascosas sagradas

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:06 pm

my heart was once an open wound on my sleeve,
dripping on the ground as i walked,
spattering my shoes.
look here, i’ll open it up a little wider and we can take a peek inside—
see? presto-shamzo, there’s nothing to see, this empty
receptacle that maybe once contained all my
blood and all it stood for.
now it’s a space to let, unfurnished,
and i feel the need for a clean shirt and a shoeshine.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:44 am

“A      I can see there’s a lot of lawyers in here, so it ‑‑

Q       It’s D.C., sir. You can’t swing a dead cat and not hit a lawyer.”

– Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, “Interview of General William Walker, December 13, 2021”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:23 am

“In the absence of reliable extensional rheology data, we can only point to the fact that when cats are deformed along their principal axis, they tend to relax more easily, suggesting that the extensional time is smaller than the shear time. Transient strain‑hardening can nonetheless occur. Second, because, flows of cats are usually free surface flows, the surface tension between the cat and its surrounding medium can be important and even dominant in the rheology, especially in CATBER (Capillary thinning and breakup extensional rheometer) experiments.” – M. A. Fardin, “On the Rheology of Cats”


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:44 am

a national geographic reporter is in town.
he’s a tall guy, in a blue shirt and lackluster voice.
he has a cell phone in his hand. he’s talking into it, and listening.
he’s on assignment.

he sits in the atrium of a posh hotel
and talks into his phone about his assignment.
he’s going to go to a trendy, funky neighborhood this evening
to see what’s there to be seen. he said even for an hour will be fine.
he’s never been there before.

he’s also going to get a bite to eat.
last night, his car broke down on old 66. it was the car of his local contact.
it broke down the way a sentence or a train of thought will break down,
without warning or obvious cause.

he and the contact got out to walk to the nearest service station.
along the way, in a woods just off the road,
they saw large naked women cavorting.
the women saw them and ran deeper into the woods,
and this is where the story ends (though the road goes on a ways).

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:42 am

“I have seen a man cremated on a funeral pile, and it has given me a wish to disappear in the same manner. In this way everything ends at once. Man expedites the slow work of nature, instead of delaying it by the hideous coffin in which one decomposes for months. The flesh is dead, the spirit has fled. Fire which purifies disperses in a few hours all that was a human being; it casts it to the winds, converting it into air and ashes, and not into ignominious corruption. This is clean and hygienic. Putrefaction beneath the ground in a closed box where the body becomes like pap, a blackened, stinking pap, has about it something repugnant and disgusting. The sight of the coffin as it descends into this muddy hole wrings one’s heart with anguish. But the funeral pyre which flames up beneath the sky has about it something grand, beautiful and solemn.” – Guy de Maupassant, “A Cremation” (trans. McMaster, et al.)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 4:58 pm

hot august night, clear sky and no moon.
we sit in deck chairs hauled up by ladder to the flat roof of a mountain house,
where we lean back and look up into the dark, sparkling sky
to catch glimpses of shooting stars unzipping the night,
the brightest leaving smoky, glowing trails.

light for an instant lights the pines and oaks covering the slopes,
the pale flash like a flashbulb miles above. we marvel and coo.

one hill away, a panther squalls an unearthly, tormented call,
sounding like a giant, tortured infant. we glance at the ladder,
agree the night is growing cold and late,
and we should soon climb down and go inside.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)