Follow This Creek,
a 28 page chapbook of poems,
is available from
My work has been featured in:
The Magpie's Nest, Almia, Offerings, Something Else, Down in the Dirt, Westward Quarterly,
The Poet's Art, Oak, Poetic Hours, Speedpoets, Write On!! Poetry Magazette, Poetry of the People, Black Book Press,
Waterways, Ceremony Collected (anthology),
Pregnant Moon Review, The Poet's Haven, Illogical Muse.
All poems © Sam Calhoun
Follow This Creek
Thirty feet from the edge
I put my hands
in this water and listen
to the same muffled roar,
glimpse the bands of mist
rising from the canyon
below, the same way this
small pool of water
I have cupped within
my fingers sounds
as the current flows
toward the inevitable.
And it is late spring,
and old leaves from winter
are still leaving the forest
floor, marching with caution
to the creek's bank
where they wait for a breath
of wind, or a gentle push
to guide them,
not to me-
toward something larger
farther along down.
Some miles out in the wilderness
we found Johnson cemetery, the August
air cutting our lungs like the chiseling
of head stones would have it's carver's
hands a century ago.
Our camping trip waited to bloom
like web caterpillars hugging
the understory treetops,
and I remembered the neighbor's
child crying a song he made for them
when his parents burned those nests
out of the lower limbs of their pecan
(only he could see a butterfly waiting)
We cooled ourselves in the shallow river,
but as we sat watching a wild boar
feel it's way along the opposite brush,
I felt a tiny army of seed ticks rising up
my briar torn legs, as my friend's eyes
did with a fear he's known before, watching
his cousin die from Rocky Mountain fever.
Later, they still didn't know how he pulled
through, though it seemed some small
push at the end saved him.
Perhaps as it did me, years ago,
leaning over a cliff a little too far,
the soft wind whispering back, "Not yet".
Miles are longer,
when your knees say so.
The desire to catapult
young-hearted rock to rock gone,
your consequences considering
mind hesitant at finding
the way across the creek,
when home is closer.
But any old trail will still do,
even as the wide paths
close with darkness
with each end of day.
And the moon, never enough,
waits with the rest of us
for morning to come.
Under a glaring moon
by a fire that leapt in bursts
like moves from a long forgotten dance,
we sat watching the trees sway
in their own memories, as the leaves
spun and flipped before making one
last arch toward that glass lake,
the need to send out a ripple, a howl,
like the coyotes on some far bank,
their playground yelping like kids,
an echo sent down this canyon,
where closed caverns still hold
some music of their own.
How you stand in the wind is important,
against the world, it's self centered spin,
yourself alone with a field, your whole life
a candle you have to shelter,
time flickering away like jars of fireflies
you danced the night with as a child
and set free, may never shine again.
But embers will wait a long time
to return to flame, just as a creek bed,
dry, will stay it's course, and fill again,
meeting you at a ceremony of bluebells
on the banks of another creek, and then the river.
Hope--"Hope lasts a long time, if you're happy"--
and the river, it goes ever onward.
On the Beach
In the dark you can still hear waves
in a seashell, and all across the world
the current goes on and on,
oblivious to the highway of your life,
where redundancy bleeds the black
asphalt in stripes of yellow or white.
And from a distance the stars,
and the great moon are like wounds
that never seem to heal, those eyes
beating down with a persistence sharp,
but not burning, a hate that slowly fades
as the sun breaks the horizon,
and in his customary gesture
strips the darkness from us
in long silhouettes that set out running
like wild stallions across the landscape.