Two Poems

George Kalamaras


“I say / the word love / knowing the word / fails . . .”


with a title from lines by Gil Ott



that parts of us are dead     dying       died

I say the hound dog in my mouth

is neither dog nor        mouth


but a cruel case of love           Love of               the world

and its way     To stay     Or try the sinking         rain              October

air        Leaves left as death-   scent                  Word or


words made     whole                                fractured death

of the tongue-stung                  I said I say

love as a way to hold love                      though it


falls     sending September away        Love of hickory

leaf      Of elm             Ironwood’s strong riveting bark and                          branch

light when all the green goes gone                   The hound mouth


is sound              delight                  Hear my heart gone       howl

Hear leaves in the        throat   Fluttering            wind

in the way words work to loosen and                   ooze       Resin


scent in the rosin ground         Hound snout water-witching

the wind          Please            the leaves     Please my throat           Ease

the falling failure in the flailing                        word                             What hound


lift and sound?            What dog in my mouth that is                not

a mouth?                                      So it came and went and want and gone

A home we built         a home we held           Hardwood trees


in the damp coon holler          In the hollow mouth        Down the ravine-

rain running red           Blood of          sycamore sap              Of an Indiana black willow

grasp of wind     Walnut-ground—in the walnut        sound—broken yet


whole       the way love falls       opening           its seed self     unto the tongue,

saying we too might thrive       aside       athwart the pulsing

pods    Gorgeous hound in the gorgeously warm       secret       dog-channels of the chest







Desire = Pain (What Our Words Do)


Based on a photo of a beagle placed inside an exhibit of jaws cut out of a 900-pound shark caught in Bodega Bay, California, July 27, 1959



In mathematics, you don’t treat any number with favoritism.


In words, test my mouth out with soup. Perturb the parasite beating below the tongue.


Diagnosis: Ninth bursal ray shorter than tenth

     Buccal capsule ratio 1:2.6-3.2


Near the Greasy Grass River, that place the final victors—defeated for once—called the Little Big Horn.


Pity our insides. The parts of ourselves we call uncle. The star we call scar.


Diagnosis: External corona with more eight elements

     Vaginal short

     Coronal elements small


Now all I have is my life.


Now, count the jaw bone. The treacherous teeth. The husk of a mouth cut out of a 900-pound shark, placed as a prop around the frightened beagle-hound.


Remember the dog you loved? The person in the mirror once loving you unconditionally?


There’s a yellow thread we follow to the curve. The sixty-three-day gestation of a hound.


Dear hound-dog intention of the world. Once I loved my life.


Diagnosis: Sublingual glands 13-16% of total body length

Diagnosis: longispiculum

Diagnosis: My own tongue eating my mother-mouth (moutho-sporia)


Hound dog. Hound-dog blame. Hound dog bleating blat your sheep.


What of the ocean does it scent, even in the non-stirring mouth? In the teeth, alert but unhinged?


Sleep comes in many storms. One way to find your life is to mimic the rain. Until you find in yourself a godly sorrow.


We lived by what our words did and did not do. Inside the dog bones we ate. Inside our relaxed, twitching need for sleep.


This photo is nothing but a dog shadow. The stillness therein. Words asking words the wordly way out.


: Ratio of vulva position to total body length 1:3

: Ratio of female tail length to total body length 1:10

: Ratio of one’s desire to female body length 1:1


In favoritism, you don’t treat any number mathematically.


Come back with me from the dead.


GEORGE KALAMARAS, former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014-2016), is the author of fifteen books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011), and The Theory and Function of Mangoes, winner of the Four Way Books Intro Series (2000). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.