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



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