Poetry: Calvin Olsen

Calvin Olsen’s (Poetry 2011) poems and translations have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Missouri Review Online, Tar River Poetry, Gravel, and The Interpreter’s House, among many others. His current projects include a book-length manuscript, a translation of the collected works of Alberto de Lacerda, and an extensive undertaking at tenthousandhaiku.com. 



The owl’s eyes are perfect

circles the color of hay

almost ready for harvest

but backlit. The owl’s wings

seem longer than they are,

tilted for a banking left

the end of which will draw

up and flutter onto the fence post,

claws out at the last moment—

they displace so much

air it pushes against you

like a hand. The owl lives

in the attic, not asking invitation,

asking entrance. The sun sets

and there he is, crumpled

into his own body: the world below

his perch is full of unsurprising things

and all the tiny little bones

he’s never allowed into himself

clenched in brittle fists.



I wish I was the moon.
I wish you were the moon.
I wish the moon was me
And I was you and you were
The moon. I would tell myself
To stay, and you would say
I’m growing larger by descent.
And the moon would say I’m sorry
But this is all so confusing
And we would say I wish
I was the moon. We would all fall
From the sky, hitting the earth
In succession, raking a handful of dirt,
Placing a seed in each finger
Returning the dirt and reciting
This prayer: grow always in moonlight,
Grow the direction you started
Growing the day you were sowed,
Grow through the soil and then
Grow some more, to hell with the birds.