E W Shaffer

Poetry & Prose

If growing up in an out of the way Appalachian town was not removed from the real world enough, growing up in the suburbs of an out of the way place was even more so. Historic Cumberland, Maryland in the 50s was running full tilt as a major east coast railroad hub and coal town with a couple of fuming factories but it made a fine place for family folks and an ordinary kid like me.
E W Shaffer, Prologue in Eddie and I, 2016
Copyright © Mike Shaffer,, 2009


Soccer Bowl
(Selected verses)

It zigzags along the wall, slides through a hole
in the corner of the garage, snakes underground
fifty feet into the yard like a line to one of those

white life preservers people use to rescue someone
that might be drowning but it's not rope. It's
copper tubing, recycled from one of his refrigeration jobs.

It steers water to a sink-looking fixture
about the size of a soccer ball.
Eddie cast it out there to rescue himself, to keep

from drowning in his own life, to pull himself
above the ordinary, to rise above
his ordinary house and job, his ordinary family.

Probably one of the few guys on the whole east coast
with a drinking fountain in his backyard.
White porcelain, a chrome valve that springs back

when you let go, just like at Howard Johnson's.
Sticking up white and erect, it's a shiny round lighthouse
beside the fireplace he built the year before.

So what if the water always comes out warm,
so what if it looks like it belongs
in a rest room, so what if it is only a half-minute walk

to the kitchen, . . .

Cheap Heat
(Selected verses)

On cold winter days Mr. Frugal liked to look
out and watch the snow caught up in eddies of white air
swirling between the kitchen windows and
the roof next door. What he didn't like to see
swirling between the window and the roof next door
was steam from his clothes dryer wafting
up from the vent in the basement.
It bothered him that perfectly good warmth
was just floating off into outer space.

Paying to heat air and then throwing it away
was enough to make his blood run cold.
So what if it had just dried the clothes,
to him it was going to waste.
Fortunately, mechanical whiz that he was,
he was able to do something about it. . .

Eddie and I—Entertaining accounts of the author's family life in the 1950s, featuring observations about his father, mother, himself and his extenfed family and friends.