Various Atmospheres
by Alex Caldiero


various atmospheres

various atmospheres
can make you
& me wholesome
more than the luminous
clouds that never bring rain.

This is not the time to think about [p.3]

This is not the time to think about
growing a beard. You just
got laid off and you’re in
Utah and you’re a minority and
you’re a little weird and you’re
in a movie about a space feminist’s
revenge and you’re so ready
to sing and you love to dance
and you like comic books and
you’re 45 years old and you
don’t know god personally
and you’re in love with the
wrong woman who is the right
woman and you’re making
believe which if you got
paid would be calling acting
and you’re dreaming of being
a stand-up comedian and you’re
realizing more and more how
uninteresting the list of your
accomplishments is and your postive
mental attitude is shot to hell
and you want to stop writing with
this kinda pen because it forces
you to go up and down too much
and too fast.

What I wouldn’t do to

What I wouldn’t do to
remember the poem I
just forgot. It had a
rare and curious rhyme.
two lines long, each
line with two phrases,
the last word of the first
phrase of the first line
rhymed with the last
word of the first phrase
in the second line, and
the last word of the first
line with the last word
of the second line, both
lines with all their rhymes
made a pattern that was
discernible on the page.

almost stopped writing …

almost stoped writing poetry—I was too pious—good
thing I prayed for the Holy Ghost, that old-time ancient
Muse Mother stirrer of words in the tongue holy spirit
lover of freedom God who comes into the breast hot &
fiery—good thing I fell on my knees and called the light
back into my eyes & the word back into my breath & I
wrote & got over my piety, the worst sickness o’ the soul,
makes you a stranger to your brothers & sisters and to every
thing that lives and walks the same ground as you—

Bozo and Elvis

Bozo and Elvis
are exactly the same age—

That’s the answer
I received when I enquired
as to the best course of action
to take in my life.

You would never know by the looks …

You would never know by the looks
o’ me that my left hand
has been substituted for my
right hand & my right hand
for my left. You would never guess in a million
years that my eyes, my legs,
my feet—that everything
that comes in pairs
has been switched around.

Whenever I’m near a mirror,
I stop and stare.

The Post Master General issued …

The Post Master General issued a series of stamps
commemorating events on other planets and dimensions.
When you put one o’ these stamps on an envelope, you
dont have to include a letter or an address. And that
explains my apprehensions about life on this or on other

Some people pick their noses

Some people pick their noses.
Some people pick their ears.

I pick my belly button
& remove the ancient lint

careful not to unfasten
the knot that unravels all.

it is plain and simple

it is plain and simple like the solitary loaf of bread on the
table and we come in after a whole day outdoors and
grandma cuts it just right and it’s still warm and the olive
oil seeps into the soft part which has a name in the Sicilian
language that is proper to this inner portion the crust protects
and holds dear and which we construe as something
wonderful because it is good to eat just as it is.

If you count long enuf …

If you count long enuf, you’ll reach the number that first
makes you stutter then fall silent altogether.

After the silence you start to speak another language; you
start to move a different body. You can count the stars
and not get warts. You can calculate endings and not get
sad. You and I can kiss and be kissed on every count of


The shaman cowboy
always had a cup o’ coffee
for breakfast and
a hamburger & fries
for lunch. He
smoked one cigarette
after another, rolling
each one in his fingers
before lighting up.
His drawl was un-
mistakable when
he spoke & he
moseyed when he
walked. He said
he had been
Jesus, Empedocles &
Walt Whitman in previous
lives. Once he described
how as Empedocles he
went up and leaped into Mount Etna.
As he spoke, the temperature in the room
got so hot & his face
so ruddy that I could not
take it & had to ask him
to cut short his story. Other times, if
I commented on what a beautiful
day it was or how wonderful
the sky looked, he’d respond
with “thank you,” as if I
[p.13] had complimented his
handiwork. He taught
me how to see thru my fingertips, and
how to break up clouds
with my mind (a game I
still play now & then). One day,
he announced
that the chemical composition
of his blood was changing, and that once
the transformation was complete he would
never die. Then
he gave away his only possessions, and took
off for the holy grounds of Hawaii. —From
time to time I write about him
to keep his memory alive & to
say to him (wherever he may be)
that he’s part of my life.

One moment reciting …

One moment reciting psalms exclaiming in plainness and in
need how my enemies have closed in about me how I’m
abandoned by everyone and plead unto the Lord
himself to intervene on my behalf lest I be utterly ruined
and vanish from among the living, when I realize it’s just
me talking.

I miss my computer

I miss my computer.
Without it I think and feel differently.
I start touch-typing on my tongue.

I realize how much of what I write
is already on the keyboard waiting
for me to unscramble into words.

Now that my computer is gone
(its cyclops eye closed and dreamless,
all our telepathies disconnected)

Who’s going to look at me
with such single vision
as the one with the bright blue eye?


Let something grow, Lord
Let something good grow, Lord
Let something good grow in me
Let something good grow in her
Let something real be, Lord
Let something real be there
Let something real be there when I go greet her
Let something matter, Lord
Let something matter to her
Let something matter to me
Let something come, Lord
Let something come across the air we move & breathe
Let something come, Lord
Let something come across the air we move & breathe
‘Cause I can’t hold on forever, Lord
‘Cause I can’t hold on forever
Let something lift me up, Lord
Let something lift me up & hold me closer close
Let something lift me up, Lord, & change me into something
Something that can fly & glide
‘Cause I wanna go over that wall
‘Cause I wanna go over that wall that surrounds me, Lord
‘Cause Ì’m no stòne tàken & thròwn
Ì’m no fèather blòwn in the wèather
Ì’m no dòor lèft ajàr
I’m nòt some thing that dòn’t need spring—
[p.18] Let something happen, Lord
Let something joyful happen to me
Let something joyful happen to her
Let something happen, Lord
Let something happen soon, Lord
Let something happen soon to lift the gloom
Let something happen soon, Lord
‘Cause my music’s ending
‘Cause my step’s falt’ring
‘Cause my beat’s failing
Let something come
Let something lift
Let something real turn the wheel
And let me go fast or slow
But let me fly like a sigh
That goes to sea when it leaves me, Lord
‘Cause my words are stutt’ring
‘Cause my hands are aching
‘Cause my eyes are slipping
Slipping slowly into sleep
Sliding slowly ever deep, Lord
Let us into your Keep.

he wonders if it was worth while …

he wonders if it was worth while making a good impression
on the beautiful lifeguard who invited him out to where
the waves were tall and the undertow unforgiving.

she swam and he followed. by the time he decided to turn
back, his arms and legs had stopped working. yelling
for help would’ve been embarrassing.

suddenly somehow the salt tasted sweet and the sky was no
longer out of reach.

When I wanna write …

When I wanna write exactly what
I’m feeling or exactly what I’m
seeing or exactly what I want to
say, I’m glad to get a phone
call from a friend asking if
he can come right over.
I want to be a tree

I want to be a tree

I want to be a tree
said my body to me
this morning.

I don’t want to hurry
any more or flee
the way the two-legged do.

My body said to me:
clean out your stomach
clear out your brain.

Being a tree is being pure
Being a tree is being reborn
Being a tree’s not a small thing.

So what’s stopping you?
asked my body—
So whatchew waiting for?

But where & how do I begin?
I said to my body
when it insisted.

Begin with me.
Begin by not saying:
My body.