From the orange clouds above St. Petersburg
only you saw the giant chimera, 
deemed it sacred, rubbed the crystal
dangling in the peach hollow of your
neck between painted thumb and
fingers, like caressing the skull of a tiny bird.

For then, in our travels, you were bestowed with gifts, 
the unspoken prayer was your velvet throne.
Was it true ruby-throated hummingbirds sang
to you in hieroglyphics of flight, could brothels
or hotel suites whisper stories in secret languages 
only you understood, as you glided sleek as 
a panther in gypsy blouses and jangling bracelets.

Talismanic wisdom intoxicated our guests, 
especially the men, hypnotized in elysian stupor 
as you undulated in cafes and fetes from Kirsanov
to Samara. Do you remember when I gave away all
our signed books to the gutter punks near the Caspian,
where you were poised as a ballerina as you nibbled
salty pinches of beluga caviar, plump as pearls 
glistening with silver. Your blonde hair splayed across
your eyes as you murmured like a hushed
orgasm behind the altar of a cathedral.

How many times have I stared at clouds, all the 
desperate cumulus, nimbostratus and cirrus of every visional moment,
waiting for the stray lightning of enlightenment:, 
arcane knowledge deluging into the parched Kalahari of
my mind. I summoned it hungrily, watching tarnished
clouds swim like ghost shrimp past the winter moon;
I beseeched God and all gods and avatars and wizards
to barter me the genius to keep her close, to my side.

I can stop now. Telling my story. You know the rest. Of 
this drinking game. The glass, the bottom of the glass is
shining like a soft roe egg, from the mightiest sturgeon in
the Black Sea. I am without, her magic, she always 
was the chimera, there was no cloud, or sudden light.
I am tired and need a drink.


Craig Shaffer
Jan. 2-3 2015




Black sun under weather.
His shadow troubles the room.

Jumped or pushed, she is
a hummingbird bruised

for the arms of Christ
beyond kisses.


Before cultural deprivation exiles me to
a monastery of pout or petulance,
I must gird myself
for the spartan journey.

Fill the IPod with Shakira,
Fergie and Beiber downloads.
Burn “Ghostrider” to DVD.
Whisper serenity prayers for
Britney, and for Lindsey.
Clad myself in taupe capris and the
Lance Armstrong livestrong wristband.
nail Adam Lambert embroideries to my barn,
march for social justice in El Paso.

Am I not girded?
Am I not ready for embrace?
The mullet is secretly
preserved in a shoebox.
The gold navel chain in the attic.


After the apocalypse, excess
will no longer trouble the survivors.
They will wander blasted, poisoned lands
scavenging bereft for morsels of bird or bug.

Since the end of the world isn’t here just yet,
we have Kristie Alley and Chris Christie
to contend with. We are a proud race.
From buffet to brunch, fat Americans
gorge. See them haul about in handicap carts
down the cluttered aisles of Walmart.
See them waddle into IHOP and Golden Corral.

But it’s a New Year, hallelujah,
time for rebirth and transformation!
No more pecan pie and cheesecake. Hell no.
Hostesses and caterers, tether that glutton.
Track his sly maneuvers at the soiree;
Watch those dollops glops gulps and gobbles.
Punchbowl sticky, his velveteen tux;
lime sorbet feathers his trim goatee.

New dawn. Breaking wind, I wobble to the scales,
humble penitent to an angry idol.
16,000 children will die of hunger today.
Five million children a year.
One billion hungry people.
What of the fruited plains,
wheatfields and orchards,
biofuel landscapes enchanted with soy?

Hollow-eyed Darfur waif with a M4 wanders unplowed fields.
Stolen relief supplies rotting in warlord caches.
Drought or flood, disease or war starves the multitude.
They say inequality is causal, they say the
distribution channels are broken. They say the
banks and corporations trample the powerless.

The wind in the blood is louder now;
Protestors dressed as frankenvegetables
shouting “Hey hey ho ho leave our DNA alone!”
Monsanto cannot save us. Permaculture
not nanotechnology will deliver us.

With smug devotion I jawbone
lentils and sprouts with the enlightened
at The Fresh Market, carefully selecting
bio-diverse, astoundingly overpriced
harvests of the organic realm.
The halo effect is immense, radiant.
I am saving the planet. I reuse the towels in
my indigenous hotel room. I am saving the planet.
This artisan goat cheese free-range cheeseburger
costs a week’s pay in Haitian sugar cane fields.
I’ve smashed my mellow incandescents, how
I will mourn their warm golden light, but, but
I am saving the planet.

You are the change.
Excelsior! Think of the possibilities!
I resolve to make my aura shine twice-bright.
I pledge to confront urban decay without
compassion fatigue nor prejudice.

I promise to surrender my weapons–
beloved gamma switchblade, and, my glistening selenium arrows.
I vow to pay my fair
share thus imperiously surrendering
everything I own to the cause.

If I do these things, then gifts of levitation, prophecy,
and invites to celebrity fundraisers will be mine.
Will I stop polar icecaps from melting
and end war as we know it? Will I fix Palestine
and make peace with the mullahs?
My reverent legacy. Yes.

Now. The first step for these things
to manifest in good time is to pretend,
with a chimera of Cartesian meditation, that
this pecan pie does not exist, nor does
beckoning triple chocolate cheesecake. Just pretend. That.
I will go hungry today. I will go naked and wear no fur.
To live small and die holy,
a leave-no-trace footprint of dust.
I am saving the planet.

~ Craig Shaffer


I know where quiet comes from.

It floats beneath the stilled crocus;
an explorer’s corpse in Arctic drifts;
swampland graveyard in October mist.

Quiet is buried contraband
in clenched cold bony fingers.
Quiet the jungle before the ambush.

I know where wind comes from

Underbelly turbulence,
cooled ions tryst in heat.
Mercurial witchy twisting air
exploding lungs gargle for breath.

I know where anger comes from

Rocks split under force of scorn,
wet hot lavas, magma and ore.
furnaces of betrayal, rivers of semen,
stolen glances, forbidden touches,
white hot rings scorching everyone.

+ + + + + + + +

The function of parameters is
to fence the pasture:
of law, to maintain solid lines.
Someone to lime the dead,
seduce the masses, capture the flag.

I’ve watched the bull’s horn go in,
and rivals brawl until they drop.
Lovers run and they run,
red flags all over the field.