May 142016
 

IMG_0444Art work by Greg Mulcahy

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Julot Calcascieu and I have not spoken in years. Estrangement between writers once friends is common; its reasons are always personal and complicated.  In this case, I’m not sure what the reasons are. Perhaps it was a long-forgotten insult given and received, or growth, or change, or life. And really the reasons don’t matter.

Calcascieu and I were first associated with Abigail Allen’s magazine, Phantasmagoria. We were both contributors, and we shared, or I thought we shared, similar views on where literature was and where it needed to go.

Perhaps my views have changed.

Perhaps his have.

A conversation that was pleasant turned unpleasant, and each of us discovered who the other really was.

As I’ve said, we haven’t spoken in years, but things find their ways to me sometimes, so I will state categorically that I did not steal from Calcascieu or cheat him out of money.  I covered our expenses for a joint reading we did in a nearby state. I asked him to reimburse me for his share. He refused. Maybe there was a misunderstanding—I grant that possibility. But there was no swindle or theft and absolutely no attempt at either.

Arguments about money are always arguments about money, especially when money is, as it was and continues to be, scarce, but they are often arguments about something else as well.

Maybe this is an argument about disappointment, both personal and professional, or about the disappearance of an imagined solidarity, or sympathy, or world.

But I can tell you this. Julot Calcascieu has a hat, a hat he wears at readings. Julot Calcascieu calls this hat a “poet’s hat” and believes it essential to his image as “poet and theorist.” Now I live in a cold climate that seems, contrary to fact, to be growing colder. Consequently, I own a dozen hats. But none are magical or empowered or definitions of my identity. Julot Calcascieu is a construct, self-constructed perhaps, but no less so for that. Yeats’ “tattered coat upon a stick” if that.

Maybe all poets are.

Still there are the poems.

The poems, still.

—Greg Mulcahy

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BIRDS

Went to Lakewood
Pond.
Didn’t see a swan
Or fifty-nine
Or
Anything, but some
Gull
Confused
In a parking
Lot.

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COUNSELOR

Finding another
Via internet
With my name
& did his mother
call him
ti’ bijoux
or what
& how
&
momma?

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MECHANICAL

There are times
When a
Man
Needs a
Really sharp
Probe.

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GENESIS of my CORRECTION

I was not
The good
Brother.
Always two:
The good one
And
The other one.

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DIFFERENCE

And if you did not love me
I would not mind.
The poet said.
But she
First she
Made a world
In her poem for them.
That was the difference.

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ASPIRE

Poetry has
Use as the
Movies teach—
Use it
To engage
Poor students
In
Poor schools.
You’ll need—
Of course—
Inspired teachers
As heroes—
Heroes
Who do not
Cost too
Much.

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COSMOLOGY

First, there was no money.
Then the War.
Then money.
Then money and small wars.
Then no war and money.
Then money.
Then money and small wars.
Where did that money get to?

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STORY

And the prisoner of the story
Given a page a day
A page
A day
To write on. No more.
Picture him sitting on the
Bunk
Pencil and page in hand.
Looking out the dark bars
For enough.
No more.

—Julot Calcascieu

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Greg Mulcahy is the author of Out of Work, Constellation, Carbine, and O’Hearn. He teaches at Century College in Minnesota.

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  3 Responses to “The Mystery of Julot Calcascieu: Poems & Note — Greg Mulcahy”

  1. How nice to see these two published together again, to see julot’s work anywhere. Dare we hope for a reconciliation?

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