The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Poems Published in the Weekly Alibi


light from the next room
one loose strand of her long hair
her hand, mine, her touch


Capitano’s Romance

Valentine and Spider
Fucking on the couch—
Spider works his mandibles,
Valentine cries, “Ouch!”

Book-lung’s punk inside her,
Sowing next year’s crop—
When he lets his poison flow,
Valentine grunts, “Stop!”

Our arachnid rides her,
Thinking “Stop!” means “Go!”—
His Valentine’s a girl known for
Confusing “Suck” with “Blow.”

Done, old eight-legs hides her
Underneath the stair—
He says, “My wife, she doesn’t like
Fish; it fugs the air.”

Val rots while he derides her,
Sucks her juices out—
He’ll wear her nipples on his vest,
And on his pants, her pout.


Final Line from Abandoned Poem

come back to me now as I knew you then


Subsets and Variables

Some wives get up in the morning and say,
“Good morning.”

Some wives get up in the morning and say,
“This place stinks.
We need to open some windows.”

Some objects are massive,
Too heavy to be easily moved.

Some objects are dense but small,
And will sail across rooms.


King’s Hill

hey—you like poetry?  well
sometimes it’s all i can do
to keep from killing myself

rhyme that


(“Congruence,” “Capitano’s Romance,” “Final Line from Abandoned Poem,” “Subsets and Variables,” and “King’s Hill” all originally published in Weekly Alibi, Vol. 5, No. 5, Feb. 7-13, 1996.  Copyright 1996 by Tetman Callis.)



Small Blue Poem #4

returned from the drugstore today—
Come see!
My angel,
Italian with a moustache and passion enough
for two—for ten!  The whole town!
Her hand on my leg, my hand
on hers, then; Pink Baltic Hand,
meet Brown Adriatic Hand—shake.

Here, she sits at picnic table
and eats—a piece
of her chocolate birthday cake.
“Is it my chocolate birthday, then?”

how she holds the white plastic
fork poised
before her mouth.

how her breasts push against
her green silk blouse.

how her legs are
lost in shadow cast
by her flowered skirt.


The Sun

pants down around my legs,
shirt unbuttoned—
the stink of my sweat—
i walk with small steps,
shoes untied.

the sun is coming up.


For Lucille, Whose Name Means Light

do something to me.  tell me
how happy you are to
see me.  see me
looking at you looking
around the room to see
whoever else you may know
who may be here.

smile.  do something to me.  tell me
how well you’ve been doing—
it’s been a long time.
you look
great (your hat is cute).  your hair
is so much longer now; straighter,
too.  it looks like silk.
you look ten years younger.
i’d forgotten
how beautiful you are.  (i like
your hair like that).

do something to me.  now
walk away.
i’ll walk the other way.


(“Small Blue Poem #4,” “The Sun,” and “For Lucille, Whose Name Means Light” all originally published in Weekly Alibi, Vol. 7, No. 6, Feb. 11-17, 1998.  Copyright 1998 by Tetman Callis.)



Kent 1940

Children in a trench, crouching
with faces upturned—
England during the war.

One girl, oldest of the lot
somewhere in her teens
open-collared shirt, sweater
with a hole, dark hair
pulled back from her brow
covering ears; dark eyes
hopeful and anxious
in a face of timeless beauty—
a face made for falling for
across an ocean
across time.

She would be older
than my mother
if she’s even
still alive.



She said, “You’re cute
and everything,
but save your crystals and auras—

You want to talk
with me, lover-boy, give me your
fractal components
of the self-replicating
inflationary universe, or give me your
omnidirectional time-line
of subatomic particles,
or give me your imaginary number
in the tachyon formula—

or fuck it, just shut up
and give me your tongue.”


Personals: I Saw U

Sitting in the sun,
smoking, doing
the crossword puzzle
on your lap.

Stumbling by,
unwashed and hungover,
passing rancid gas.

Luckily, downwind.


(“Kent 1940,” “Magic,” and “Personals: I Saw U” all originally published in Weekly Alibi, Vol. 8, No. 6, Feb. 11-17, 1999.  Copyright 1999 by Tetman Callis.)



(for RK)

If I could paint
the most necessary painting
a portrait setting
the Dutch Masters to shame

it would be you

If I could have my fingers play
in perfect rhythms and changes across
the strings and frets
a pure and balanced melody

it would be you

If I could make my
feet to move
and carry me across the floor
with grace and sureness in the dance

it would be you

But I fingerpaint
play the kazoo
and crawl everywhere I go

And there’s no making of mine
that will make you mine
and no more need be said.


Invitation to the Ball

Hey, baby—

Any woman
who takes my dick in her mouth
has made a friend for life.

Wanna be my friend?


(“Habilis” and “Invitation to the Ball” both originally published in Weekly Alibi, Vol. 9, No. 6, Feb. 10-16, 2000.  Copyright 2000 by Tetman Callis.)



Welcome to Bicycling!

racing bike, front wheel—
pavement discrepancy—welts,
bruises, spitting teeth.


(“Welcome to Bicycling!” originally published in Weekly Alibi, Vol. 9, No. 37, Sep. 14-20, 2000.  Copyright 2000 by Tetman Callis.)


4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Averil Dean // Sep 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Oh Tetman, I do like the way you think.

    I don’t remember reading Habilis or For Lucille before now. They’re beautiful, my favorites.

  • 2 Tetman Callis // Sep 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you, Averil. I loved Lucille very much. She taught me things about love I had not learned before. As for RK, she was a locus of longing just a few years after Lucille. Clearly too soon.

    I guess I hadn’t posted those on my Joomla site. I probably posted them on my Yahoo site, but that was several years ago.

  • 3 Averil Dean // Sep 23, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I have no one like that in my past–it’s a motley assortment of construction workers and coke-snorting guitar players, a couple of cops–one of whom I married–and the occasional devout Catholic.

    For many years I thought I could only truly love my children. I was wrong about that.

  • 4 Tetman Callis // Sep 23, 2011 at 7:56 am

    The nature of love changes for us as we go through time.

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