Skip to main content

A poem from George Kalamaras

For the Not Yet Dead
by George Kalamaras

The other, the one who does not want to die.
I must be absolutely sure of his name
for I do not want to call him
Nikephoros Gregoras or Georgias.

His touch throughout the tiles
of the house is that of the newly wed.
And this reverence applies even to dust,
an old coin, a fallen grain
of quinoa that might contain pieces of moon.

We are told that somewhere exists
a pair of better hands. We don’t believe
in hands, or even in the word We.
We believe in Epsom salts.
A softening from the bath.

A woman is scarved in roses, dealing cards.
The faces are blank, except
the Jack of Pronouns,
the Queen of Blades.
They’ve finally come to remove the tree
from the ground of this word
or that. I must memorize its name, swirl
of bark, totems in the unwept grain.
Call it quinoa. Call it elm. Call its touch.
back into my once lovely untouched mouth.

Bio: George Kalamaras, Poet Laureate of Indiana, is the author of seven books of poetry and seven chapbooks, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.