Below is a selection of poems from our fourth issue by Claudia Gary, Jan D. Hodge, Adrianne Kalfopoulou, Paul Lamar, Charlotte Mandel and Gail White. This issue also includes poems by Clifford Brooks, Trent Busch, Patricia Callan, Kevin Craft, CJ Giroux, Christos Kalli, Jean L. Kreiling, Alice Teeter, Carol Tyx, and Maria Luise Weissmann (translated from the German by James Owens). In every issue Calamaro brings attention to a poet not sufficiently known or honored, hoping its readers will delve deeper into the work of the featured poet. In our Winter/Spring 2017 issue we profile African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and reprint a number of his poems, including formal verse and dialect poems.


January Primrose

Entranced, I stopped on the way to checkout.
Colors clustered in cupcake pots — PRIMROSE —
flowering plants on paradeWhile out-
doors, bulldozers plowed white cliffs, and wind froze

consonants on lips, these fresh petals roused
surety of spring in the universe,
if only from a commercial greenhouse.
The yellow sang of sun, wine-red eased thirst.

A meadow blossomed on my dining table,
magic pastorale.  But I hadn't thought
of vented desert-dry heat.  Just as Abel
proved humans mortal, shriveled petals taught:

in a world beyond Eden's flaming gate
rain on arid barren earth falls too late.

by Charlotte Mandel


Do Thy Worst, Old Time

Here they are still, the poet and his lady.
She's a brunette when blondes are all the rage.
He's trying hard to keep her faithful. Maybe
she isn't passionate about the stage.

 The poet's search for love is complicated
by having no resources but his tongue.
The object of his choice may be pre-mated,
indifferent or sarcastic or too young.

 And when his lady fancies his best friend, well,
short of a fight, what can a poet do?
There seems no way to make the story end well,
compressing three into a loving two.

 Only one consolation can Time give:
To make his lady and his rival live.

by Gail White


Xxx . . .

Every day there was a line, sometimes two,
they ended with a group of kisses,
Xs that I counted on, and counted
every day there was a line, sometimes two.
Those Xs grew the more expected
the nights of hours, and days of days Xed
every day there was a line, sometimes two.
They ended with a group of kisses.

by Adrianne Kalfopoulou



I.  Imagination

Is there such thing as a pure idea—
no words, no music, no tableau?
All are tainted, all are blessed,
wedded to breath or brush or bow
in energy/matter’s tinderbox,
saturated, dark,
where ideas and their heady fumes
need only a spark.

II.  Combustion

Internal rhyme, complicit fires
burning blue from time to time,
is it you the Muse desires?

III.  Synaesthesia

Sound is the form
but here’s something sweeter:
chilling and warm
from woofer to tweeter,
all that I probe
I touch, taste, smell, see,
to fully enrobe
in uncertainty.

by Claudia Gary


The Price of a Sandwich
for Koko, daughter of Hiroshima

I was eight months old
when the house fell on my mother and she fell on me.
I lived.
I was five when some girls came to play with me.
They were ugly. Their lips were melted.
They didn't have eyebrows.
I loved them.
I wanted
to kick and bite and punch
the man who did this.

I was twelve
when I went to the ABCC. [1]
They shined a bright light on me
and asked me to take off my gown.
I was ashamed.
They gave me a sandwich.

I was thirteen
when we went to America
for the TV show. [2]
I saw the pilot.
He was crying.
I went to him and held his hand.
I was crying too.

1 Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, established in 1947 to study the effects of radiation poisoning.

2 For a telecast of Ralph Edwards' "This Is Your Life," featuring Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, Koko’s father, where she met Cptn. Robert A. Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay.

by Jan D. Hodge


Eugene Vance

You were the first teacher I saw:
MWF, 8 AM. Smelling like Aqua Velva,
Dressed in those corduroy coats with patches,
You took us boys of lumpy raw
Clay and shaped us into scholars.
No first names. We read out snatches

Of Milton, and, in a neat trick
Of my 18-year-old heart,
Your intellect and looks
Led me out of the thick
Undergrowth of Eden’s safety
To the corrupting ideas in books

You stuffed into your briefcase
Before striding out the door.
I never spoke to you alone
But I ran the race
To get to the idea of you,
To know the unknown.

by Paul Lamar