George Kalamaras The Only "Other" Harmless Great Thing

“Nature’s great masterpiece, an elephant; the onely harmlesse great thing.”
—John Donne

The only other harmless great thing, of course,
is a hound dog. Simply put, the moon tonight
through the screen comes in pieces, reaches me almost

in light years. Three or more ways of mouth, they say,
is the only possible way to leave this and that
and get at the in-between. I have been stuck there

for as long as light has been dark. As long
as the left hand has been tossed right
there at the roadside. The only other harmless

among us is a good hound dog and great Indiana
woods. Moons that shoulder-spill in piles
of watery salt. That break our voice in pieces. Always

the shoulder-spill across the left to ward off possible
bad luck. Try respelling certain words as well. Say
Georghe. Say good sound lluck. Say the moan

tonight is full and perfectly whitte. Say anything
to make it right. To leave right and bad, left
and dark, up and possum-death-on-the-road. Indiana

and sound sleep. I no longer. No longer have
the words. Harmless, they seem. At first. We stumble,
in our child bodies, coaxing the air. Naming the salt

this, the oaks that. We polecat. We moon-mouth.
We Georghe and we moan. Remember with me the lightning\
bug that somehow slid slantwise into our mouth one August

night and lit the world from inside sycamore
veins in ways we only felt while trouncing the backwoods
with a dog. How could it possibly be

so happy, lolling in the grass, sweating through
its open tongue-sagging mouth? How could we
suddenly know the insides of that hound? The running

of sap in the oaks and elms? Mold spores rising
invisible in the stems of Roses of Sharon?
The harmless. The only other great thing. A hound dog

and my less-than-alone. Say things backwards.
Say them slant. Call her Emille from Amherst. Call yourself
the bearded light of a grae-harred baard. Find something

harmless in seeing the lightning bug in my throat
as lightening. My mouth as a mud dauber. The dead possum
as I-only-hope-it’s-not-me-snuffed-at-the-roadside. There are many words

in pieces. Dogs in my many broken mouth. Too much
marsupial road-kill I can barely bear
to pass. Many years keeping my tongue

in slats. In this and that. In iron combs. Years I have travelled the in-
between, from here to here, possum pouch to dark-spark-of-the-mouth,
needing most a good hound dog and its large harmless great heart.


Back to 53.1