The Art of Tetman Callis Poems the day before the real columbus day

the day before the real columbus day

the scene is the pre-drawn stole
the pre-dawn stroll (haven’t quite awakened yet)—
it’s this morning, is what—is when it is (is the coffee ready yet? soon? good).

so i’m out walking, and i realize today’s date makes today the day
before the real columbus day, and i wonder if any of that calendar stuff where
dates got changed applies to the mariner’s day (coffee’s ready!).
you know, like how it is that geo. w’ton has two birthdays
(father of our country, born twice himself),
and i decide both probably not and it doesn’t matter.
five hundred and eleven years ago tomorrow, etcetera,
and as we used to sing in our chipper schoolchildren’s voices,

in fourteen-hundred-and-ninety-two,
columbus sailed the ocean blue
without a cabin boy to screw,
oh, what was a sailor-man to do?

which is all good fun to recall or to invent on a still october morning,
walking the streets of the ‘hood underneath a clear sky.

i start looking around in that sky at what is there to see:
a fullish moon heading downwards in the west,
orion and his puppy high in the southern sky,
jupiter rising in the waking east; and when i look down again
at the street in front of me, i see that i am not in danger of being run over
or of straying into a pack of feral dogs, but there is a woman walking towards me.
an unusual sight this time of the day.

she’s dressed in dark, what appear to be athletic clothes
but they could be fashionable evening wear—
probably athletic clothes as she has on her feet white athletic shoes
that practically glow, they are so white. her hair is or seems to be copper in color,
though that could be the effect of the moonlight and the streetlamps.

i say good morning! to her as we pass, don’t want to scare her.
she says nothing, no ninny she—it is still dark out,
and we are alone on the street (it is a dewy morning).
she passes and i smell her smells: perfume, cigarettes, and… cookies?
graham crackers! she smells of graham crackers,
a childhood favorite of mine, but then there is the cigarette smell again,
it’s pretty overwhelming, she just had a smoke.

probably not athletic clothes after all.

so i go, heading back to port, thinking again of the chris who crossed the ocean blue,
making possible—not coffee, that probably had something to do with the portuguese
or the arabs—but certainly he could get some credit for chocolate, slaughter,
sweet potatoes, infestation, this country i live in, and the me that lives here.
(maybe i’m wrong about the sweet potatoes,
but i want to give credit where credit is due.)

(Copyright 2003, 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

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