© 2018 Emily Thornton Calvo

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Book & Sample Poems

Book of Poems

Lending Color to the

Otherwise Absurd

85 pages | 19 paintings | 48 poems

Soft Cover | 8.5” x 8.5” | $19.50  

NOW ONLY $15.00 

This project is partially supported by an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Managing Hesitation


It doesn’t matter how deep the water

if it’s over your head.


It doesn’t matter how far the shore

if it’s out of sight.


It only matters that

you walk to the end of the pier

with your plethora of fears

like pebbles in your shoes

Fling them into the sea and watch

how small they appear

against the horizon

How the whitecaps

drown the sound

of touching water

How limited

their power

as they



It only matters

that you

feel free to



Rush Hour


I was late again

Slowed by the hubbub of cars

whose drivers were also late again.

So I exit the expressway

to beeline past the traffic knot

through Chicago’s west side

where pigeons and graffiti

compete for spaces to mark.

I took a right and caught a light

beside a school when a boy

darted in front of my car.


He looked back at the school

and picked up his pace

carrying his backpack  

a Star Wars lunchbox

and a pistol bigger than his hand.

He wore fear like cops wear authority.


Betting his last birthday

was in the single digits

I wanted to offer a safe haven—

a climate-controlled vehicle  

the low drone of news radio,

someone to listen,

deliver him to safety.

But by the time the light changed

he was well past shouting range

and it’s not wise to offer rides

to an upset gun-toting child

who may take me for another threat,

so I curbed those instincts.


I think of him often.

He would be a man now… if he’s alive.

I hope that gun is decaying in the river,

disposed of by his mother’s love.

I hope he found an escape route

through a teacher

through an education

through a dream or a poem.


I hope his biggest problem

is being late for work again.