Nathaniel Calhoun

Link to home pageLink to current issueLink to back issuesLink to information about the magazineLink to submission guidelinesSend email to

unwell power

in the moment of knowing
that we didn’t ask for help
in a way that others could hear
remembering how we blamed them after
for being far away

what if the little twitch
of false falling isn’t reached
and sleep recedes?

taking selfish shelter
nearer the bereaved we gather
the cloaks of general sorrow—
the afflictions common to these times
to which anyone may lay claim
on the cusp of too cold
in the grip of not moving
not holding onto our thoughts
but having them all the same

set any boundary at all
and notice
a different part of the world
flock to your side

capture the moment
that willingness folds
when our worth
starts fading for good
or for the good.

laundry heart

my laundry heart arms-length doubted
and disdained. even the way I sleep
pulls me apart at the seams—
a shoulder tweaked, an ankle stranded,
mouth breathing from heavy lungs.

everywhere: diagnosable wrongdoings,
worst case scenarios refusing once again
to drop the beat. I prod my injured dreams
along a poorly ventilated healing path.

tell tale sign that I undernourish care:
assuming it’s at capacity in the original packaging.

roots replace soil in managed isolation
couldn’t even flourish planted on a god’s back
must spend an eon getting out of their own way— 
finally emerge from self-strangulation
with yearnings baked
in the wet heat of self-strangulation.


Nathaniel Calhoun lives in the Far North of Aotearoa New Zealand. He works with teams who monitor, protect and restore biodiversity in ecosystems around the world. He has published or upcoming work in Guest House, takahē, Azure, I-70 & Landfall. Quite rarely he tweets @calhounpoems