The National Poetry Review

Calvin Olsen


A storm petrel flutters over choppy water, flicking
wicked drops that scatter over waves
any number of places invisible in this wind.

All fear and softness, the bird’s body seems to hope for
rather than expect land before tomorrow’s dark.

I want to call into the coastal fog, tell the storm
petrel things are not much better back on shore:
this mindless mist remains in spite of and well after us.

But wind sweeps all my warnings out to sea, performs
again the ritual ripping away it knows so well.

Almost extinct, the bird feels things inside it
tilt now, almost tumbling out of their places. I start
walking farther into something water, something muck.

The small storm petrel cries (or sings) a note.
It punctures, carries, hovers, falters, fails.

CALVIN OLSEN holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University, where he received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship. His poetry and translations have recently appeared in AGNI, Tampa Review, Chattahoochee Review, The London Magazine, and others. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC, where he is the poetry editor for The Carolina Quarterly. More of his work can be found on his website,

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