Dan Callaway

Act | Sing | Teach | Write

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God Making Waffles

When I put the frozen waffle box
On the counter, our second son likes
To wail, “WAAAAFFLLLLEEEE!” And hold on to your socks
Because he howls with force. After the “yikes,
You’re loud” passes through my brain, I remind
Him we have to wait for the toaster to do
Its magic. “WAAAAFFLLLLEEEE!” “Wait” isn’t the kind
Of word this one-year-old likes. Me neither. You?
I always think about God during waffle screams–
How there God is, toasting a nice blueberry
Breakfast treat, perhaps getting the ice cream
Scoop from the drawer (!) for my fave frozen dairy.
I’m convinced God must be holding out,
And God’s just warming syrup while I pout.

Frances

Front porches have been on my mind, the hours
I spent taxing the chains, bolts, and grease
Of Papa and Grandma’s front swing. Flowers
(Lilies, shamrocks) and boxwood sat near. Peace
And quiet visited like Preacher Tom bringing
Tomatoes. One day I sat alone on the glider,
And Grandma opened the screen door. Wringing
Out a rag and clearing a trespassing spider
Web, she said, “You see, if you were in
The city, you’d have a neighbor right there and there.
You couldn’t do anything. You couldn’t even poot.” Her grin
Played under her glasses, and she sat in the rocking chair.
Front porches are the place we meet our guest
And share our drinks and food, and both are blessed.

Peach

On interstate 85 just outside
Gaffney, South Carolina, there’s a peach-
Shaped water tower. When you ride
By it’s hard not to notice, nay, reach
The objective conclusion that this lofty H2O
Holder looks like a yellow-orange butt.
Peaches are also a fruit known to grow
Well in Georgia. They’re delicious cut
Into wedges or baked in a cobbler. We had peach
Trees in our yard as a child, and my parents put
The ripe fruit in homemade ice cream–each
Spoonful heaven–chasing fireflies barefoot.
I think also about the wasted fruit
That fell and rotted, stones that couldn’t root.

Moss

Lately moss has been confronting me
With green, quiet significance. It boldly grows
In pavement cracks, on unseen bark, free
To sit still and soft on a stump or rows
Of stones that used to be a wall. I see
These viridescent carpet patches lying
Meditatively still–infinitive to be–
Beautiful and enough, giggling at all my trying.
These microcosm forests–I think what one
Cell must look like, how infinitesimal
And necessary it is, chloro-filled and sun-
Avoidant, ever-leftward moving decimal.
It was childhood–my love for moss began to grow
Because it’s not grass. That you have to mow.

The Roar of Love

How many times did you hear, “That didn’t hurt,”
“Don’t cry like a little bitch,” or “Nobody cares
About your moaning.”? Enough to rub some dirt
On it, get up and keep limping? There are prayers
In the Bible that are mostly weeping–
The kind of howling that would confine most boys
To the permanent penalty box. No one’s keeping
Little pussies on their team–all that noise
And snot. So when that shit starts to surface, shove
It hard, and crush it down like a car compactor.
You won’t be able to hear the roar for love.
You’ll strut and fret, a you-obsessed bad actor.
The first smoldering shut-up detonated the lies
That piled like concrete rubble on stifled cries.

Madeleine L’Engle

She’s the one who told me how to write
A sonnet. I got to take the class she taught,
And I fully expected Mrs. Whatsit it to alight
Before the blackboard and comfort all us fraught
Meg Murrays with soothing words about how
Writing would be the tesseract to link
Us back to all that gaping space now
In need of saving. She took us to the brink
Of repair–cantankerous tenacious–saying things
Like, “Don’t go looking for pain. Pain will find
You,” and, “Fighting for peace is like fucking
For virginity.” This near-octogenarian blasted my mind.
Ms. L’Engle you taught me that writing is a gift
For author and reader to spell a universe shift.

An(a)them(a)

O brutal. Full of specious cries for clamber,
Waives of brain. Usurpal–mounting travesty
Above the muted pain. Ameri… Amber
Waves were meant to image majesty
And plenty for all us huddled masses yearning
For free breath, space to grow a vine
And fig tree. Oh say, can you see the burning
Bombs bursting the image of the Divine
Right out of our knowing? The only spark of God
We strike in our neighbor is the wrath we ignite accusing
Them of demonic identity. Angels’ feet trod
By the river’s margins, their futile hubris losing.
Please God submerge us in that crystal stream.
Wash our eyes of the soul wasting dream.

A Message for Us

I have an Epiphany for us today, and it’s
Something I know from experience, so it’s firm
In my understanding: I’m calling quits
On the expectation that my lizard brain won’t squirm
Its reactive way under every sunny rock
In the personal wilderness we call us.
My kid just threw a book at nap time, and “Knock
Him on the head!” Was the clear preconscious
Directive from my nervous system. I amble
Down the stairs hearing one boy scream
And the other whine. I regard the scramble
Of my cerebrum, useless nipples, and ear steam.
So, my Three Kings Day advice is this:
Be kind and unsurprised when you surely miss.

How to Breathe

It’s the first thing we forget to do
When we sing or get stressed. For many
Of us those can be the same. Too
Many to count–thats the total uncanny
Times my guts locked or voice cracked
In front of paying people, so I know
What it is to shut down the allow, backed
Into a stifled corner by the foe
Most formidable–unchecked brain chatter.
Melting your chompers, opening your lips
And letting some oxygen through: “How can that matter?”
Your survivor insists, mis-naming tummy flips.
Blow out and open your mouth just a smidge.
Thoughts are just currents, and air is the bridge.

Video Monologue Advice

First thing I’d say is know your lines.
Your eyes look different when you’re reading cue
Cards taped beside your laptop. Other signs
You’re not prepared include inserting new
Text into Chekhov or actually choosing
A speech from Vanya in the first place.
I don’t even understand misery-musing
Russian plays, and I’ve done my face-
to-my-navel share of introspecting. None
Of us are old enough for that. All right–
Here’s the actionable counsel: when you’re done
Learning your words and gotten your images tight,
Open the door of your heart and say, “Come in.”
The gold of you shines when there’s nothing to win.

(And it takes forever to learn because it feels like you’re not doing anything.)

(And there’re about 58 other things you need to be good at to do a monologue well, but at 18 years old, start by laying off the Chekhov.)

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