Beyond the Pages

Calvin community members share their poetic reflections through previously unpublished works. Click on each poet’s name to read their fresh takes on life, faith and everyday observations.

David Greendonner ’12
David Greendonner was born and raised in southwest Michigan. In 2012 he graduated from Calvin College, where he majored in English and philosophy. He currently lives and works in Grand Rapids.

A Young Monsoon

A bus full of rattled
and rattling
fans. The windows
fog from all the stirred, tepid air.

“I can’t even see
where we’re at,” one buzzes,
obliterating children’s
finger drawings.

“We’re in the clouds,” says another,
wizened. She looks to the heavens.

A weather-man breaks in: “This’ll
all clear up. Trust me—

this will all clear up.”

Ryan Hagerman ’14
Ryan Hagerman is a senior at Calvin College studying media production and journalism. He has created short films and wedding videos, and has written for The Rapidian—a hyperlocal online newspaper for Grand Rapids. His poetry has been published in Dialogue, Calvin’s journal of commentary and the arts.

A Faster Carriage

Her carriage flashed red—
always leaving dying embers
In the hearths and minds of men.

Even the Jaws of Life can’t open her heart.

The last time I saw her,
She was gliding, riding
down dawn’s break,
Until her fiery brake lights
burned the world upon her.

I heard Death’s carriage wheels spin slowly
over the wreckage of her spun-out flames.

Caroline Higgins ’11
Caroline Higgins graduated from Calvin College in December of 2011 and currently lives in Grand Rapids. She is working as a nanny and freelance photographer and preparing to spend the 2013–2014 school year abroad teaching English in Budapest. You can find more of her eclectic musings online at

under one roof

Our beds deflate overnight
And couch pillows press paisleys onto reddened cheeks.
This basement has a sunset wall,
featuring gin, a border collie, and Hemingway.
Together we sleep!
United by soup and shared highway miles.
I wake to the beeping door,
counting us—
adding up our late-night cigarettes,
and semi-private porch conversations,
“the midwest is good for sounds,” I hear,
and a cicada echoes over a pool of chlorine.
At the wedding, we believe in dancing
but haven’t decided about love.
If we don’t cheer the cause, will the crickets cry out for us?
Slowly, slowly, we begin to scatter.

See this poem in its original format.

L. S. Klatt
Lew (L. S.) Klatt is an associate professor in the English department at Calvin College. His poems have appeared in many magazines, including Boston Review, Colorado Review, field, Verse, Chicago Review, Sycamore Review, Denver Quarterly, West Branch, Columbia, The Iowa Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Common, The Michigan Poet, The Believer, Narrative, Northwest Review, New Orleans Review, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, Mississippi Review, Harvard Review and Blackbird. His first book, Interloper, won the Juniper Prize for Poetry and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2009. His second collection, Cloud of Ink, won the Iowa Poetry Prize and was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2011. His lyric poem “Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies At 91” was anthologized in Best American Poetry 2011 and subsequently made into a 90-second animated film. He lives with his wife, Clarke, and their two dogs in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids.

See his poem "General Motors" on The Michigan Poet in its original format.

Sharon Piwang ex’12
Sharon Piwang was born in Lynchburg, Va., and raised across the world in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa. She came to the United States for the second time in her life as a student of Calvin College. As a product of an African home with an input of American culture, Piwang lives on a tightrope strung between an Eastern heritage and a Western mindset. While with this comes the constant danger of falling from a great height, she says, the view has always been magnificent. After a momentous—but now forgotten—adolescent crisis at the age of fourteen, she poured out bitter woes in her first poem on the pages of a journal. Piwang has been reading, writing, dreaming and thinking in poetry ever since. As a freshman at Calvin she learned that poetry was essential for maintaining her balance. Piwang says she will always remember this discovery as one of the best gifts she ever received.

Lemon-Grass Lessons

In the home of my mother
Her children would sit around a yellow wood table
At the end of empty bellied days

Drinking lemon-grass tea
With herbs pulled from the dark soil of my mother's garden

These are words my mother said at that table:
My children
Our tomorrows are always chances to right our yesterdays

Lemon-grass tea would warm the end of empty bellied days
The sunshine strength of my mother's love would warm empty hearts

My mother's child
Now sits at a yellow wood table under different colored skies
At the end of empty bellied days
Drinking still my mother's sunshine-strong love
And my mother's wisdom in lemon-grass tea

Our tomorrows are always chances to right our yesterdays

Jacob Schepers ’12
A two-time winner of the Academy of American Poets' Student Poetry Prize, Jacob Schepers is currently a graduate student in English at SUNY Buffalo. His first book has won the 2013 Outriders Poetry Project Competition and will be published in March 2014. His poetry has appeared or will appear in Verse, PANK, Spittoon, The Fiddleback and REAL, among others. He lives with his wife, Charis, and his two sons, Liam and Oliver, in Amherst, N.Y.


Those brass bands do
something deep, deep in me,

showing me my missteps
through the shape
of my embouchure

No ghosts clamor here:
we stole their banging
pots and pans

but that's only the ghosts
Only the ghosts
would go about announcing
their presence as
the second coming

of the good Lord,
so in lieu of them
I'd like to be there

when those saints go marching in,
which begs the question:

does heaven have a nosebleed section,
and, if so, are they
the best or the worst seats?

Tyler Slamkowski ’14
Tyler Slamkowski is a senior double majoring in music and international development studies with a minor in writing. He is the resident assistant on 3rd Schultze; a trumpeter in the wind ensemble; co-founder of the Calvin Jazz Club; a 2013 Jubilee Fellow; a member of the Honors Council; and a former Chimes editor. His poetry has been published in Dialogue and on the cover of Chimes. In his free time, Tyler enjoys cycling, backpacking, live music, antics with friends and good conversation. Tyler spent the past summer as a Jubilee Fellows Intern at Manito Presbyterian Church in Spokane, Wash.; his home is in Muskegon, Mich., with his family and his dog.


The table perseveres, its knots
the eyes of a stranger. It watches
a feast: the clients are eager to confide,
trusting in the prefecture of the table
over the tribunal of their peers.
Remember the wine cellar, flesh in blossom
and door closed? The money
bled all over its surface, but with
lights out and mouths sealed, no one
knew but the weathered cherry.

Victims,—they stand
as symptoms of trial. To celebrate, a table
may ruminate, and on a day
without heat or softness, pray
and hide the glass from wrath.


stone. gold, crafted
by men       split,—

a rescue. zeal, or the
sword cleans.
stare down the fire:


Chelsea Tanis ’13

Chelsea Tanis graduated from Calvin in 2013 with a degree in Writing. She currently lives in Three Rivers, Mich., where she is an intern with the non-profit organization *culture is not optional by day, and Red-E-Coin Laundromat supervisor by night.

I Could Go On

Those birds need to pick a direction,
pick a sound, like the cicadas,
like my grandfather, son of the dirt,
who puts his faith in black palms
and in the hillside beat throbbing in his calves.

When we’ve turned from this trampled sky,
I know he’ll swallow the aftertaste and
say that it’s enough to have had the early days,
but those birds need a direction,
any direction, if I’m to live as long as he.