Butterfly Garden

Cocoon twirls on a twig
like a bobbin spinning up thread.
building its own prison.

What if it wants out.
What if it doesn’t want to be like a
mummy in a musky tomb,
shrouded falcon, fetus,
bug in a web.

It’s the restless nature
of things held within.
Child locked in a closet,
clasped pearl, malignant cyst,
volcano trembling beneath the park.
Trapped beaver chews
bone like candy cane.

Star explodes, atom splits.
Splinter in finger, yolk in egg,
parapalegic in a silver chair,
the sick or old desperate for heaven.

Cocoon, cocoon, straightjacketed in silk
thumb of god, wrapped in wings,
waiting to ascend.


Wild Seed

Randy’s getting the hell out of town:
Silver ’73 Cadillac fishtails
a dirt and gravel cyclone
like a meteor chasing
its own steaming tail,
sirens swarming banshees.

Shades wrapped tight.
Arms coiled like pythons.
Tattoo of flame-eyed Jesus
on a chopper riding his bicep.

Randy’s a livewire low-rider,
rompin’ stompin’ ball of hail.
He’s got Natassia glued tight
600 horsepower and high-test gas
tires shrieking like castrated pigs.

He grew up in a shotgun-spackled
trailer with old pappy and cousin Susie,
crib-reared to fight and drive.
Natassia, all halter tops
hot pants, cat eyes and mascara.
Randy says “she got legs
up to here, hair down to there,
she got dynamo hum
in her underwear.”

So they’re burning up blacktop at 110
hot-rod caddy and a fifth of gin,
hard rock wide open on the radio.

Randy’s sideburns, sharp as hatchets,
Natassia’s tongue, worming his ear
like an eel exploring a conch.

fire island

Down on the beach
an orange umbrella is torn.
A hand rests on the hot sand.

Nearby a scorpion waits,
hook tail quivering.
Pale poison glints like
syrup on a pin.

Shivering in the saw grass
your eyes are captivated
waiting for the sting.

~ Craig Shaffer


In the olden days:
Summon the hooded ones to surround the jewel,

lift their veils to scarlet-shrouded moon,
murders of crows jag the light,
anise and sage misting darkness.

Or, the post-modern approach.
Rent-A-Demo. Parade and party.
Topple that skyscraper,
tear the motherfucker down.
Occupy Galaxy. We deserve to
overcome overwhelm oversee
for our foes are
dumb and evil, ugly too.

Grouping of groups, nomenclature
of numbers, from clan to klatch:
Sunday bells clang for the crown,
Buicks and Lexi arrive for the show.

In swamplands rouse congregations of alligators,
tending squirming pods of their scaly young.
Rabbles of caterpillars defoliate grand catalpas,
coalition of cheetah savage baby
springbok at dawn, bastards they are.

Trashcans hurled through
Starbucks windows: Such potent blows to the Empire!
Smug rebels tweet and text Iphones up the street,
camo and jackboots, kerchiefs and armbands.

Just another clutter, clowder or litter,
rout, swarm or cast.
Mind-hive. Mobpsyche. Groupmind.
Agitprop. Media herd.

There are no issues.
There are personalities.
There are no issues.

Same boss, useful tools;
masses, mobs, convocations, armies.
Consortiums. Committees. Corporations.

Skulk of foxes hunting hordes of gerbils.
Tribe of goat, warren of hare,
aerie of hawk, array of hedgehog.

Wiccan covens skydance enthralled.
Teamsters rough up loathsome pickets.
Rabid fans siege sexy celebrities.
Protestors storm conventions.
Fervent musters, tribal

kingdoms, sects, colonies or cloisters.

To the alien legions,
please visit our cackle of hyenas,
our stinging smacks of jellyfish,
our annoying charm of hummingbirds.
Shall the earth be cleansed
of such familial fratricide.

Lost Swimmer

Water silvers stinging flesh
blistered from vicious sun.
Giant ocean, whistling
mountains, emerald troughs.
Innocent cumulus, brilliant azure,
beautiful, terrible day.

                ~ Craig Shaffer   09.08.2012


It was the year he became
the blind man
whose fingers
were chopped
bumbling a sawmill
while dreaming a shrine.

Watch how he pitches about in
dust and briars, desperately looking for
each severed piece.

No one has told him
certain things can’t be reattached.

Listen as he holds his breath mute.
Men built tough; boy not cry.

With the fetid stump
he brushes damp earth
around his dad’s fresh tombstone,
shadowy reflections in granite.

The yellow and purple variegated pansies,
that survive even down to 10 degrees

The indentation of the wedding ring
still faintly visible on one of those missing fingers
were he able to find it and note the
gentle slope and alluvial valley where it wore thin.

Victimhood’s devout religion
the wronged find their shriek,
the forgiving hand in the
tiger cage shredded.


What was said was said.
No taking it back.
Once the sword went in.
Time machine deactivated.

Now we’ve got a mess.
On our hands.
Across our lands.
Jerk out arrows;
suture wet wounds.
Before it’s too late.

Before it’s too late.
How a trillion mistakes
of timing or execution summon
grim justices of contrition.