E W Shaffer

Poetry & Prose

I've read some of your modern free verse and wonder who set it free.  
John Barrymore

Old Kids

When I was a kid my mother and her sisters
called each other "old kid." I don't know why.
It was an oxymoronic age. I'm not sure about
old kids today but kids are what
I call people half my age and younger.
My kids are kids. My nieces and nephews
and grandchildren are kids.
Teens at the mall are kids and so are
girls walking though our yard and running in the road.

Kids are everywhere. They're on TV, crashing cars,
selling me books and groceries, dying
in stupid wars, killing each other in the streets
and poking their fingers into wireless things.

I used to be a kid but I didn't hang out at the mall,
I wasn't on TV and I didn't kill anyone.
I'll admit that I ran through a lot of people's yards
but there weren't any malls and few TVs.
The only thing wireless I had was a flashlight

But I am older now and so what?
I'm several kids old as a matter of fact
and I guess I have to get used to the word.
Are any of you old?
Old rhymes with mold you know.

Just the other day I did some research
and found out that I am older
than plastic bags and answering machines.
I'm older than personal computers, automatic
transmissions, window air conditioners, spandex,
the internet and all things digital, plastic straws
and weapons of mass destruction.

But I am younger than pencils and chairs.

Soft Pillow

I retreat to a horizontal position

when things need to be thought out—

a big sofa in a cool room

with bright light all around (never dark),

maybe some sun streaming in,

bouncing off green plants,

legs crossed at my ankles,

feet stuffed into a heavy blue blanket

that makes them sweat,

extra flannel shirt, jeans,

eyes angled at forty-five degrees toward the ceiling

when not closed, left hand in left pants pocket

with left elbow hanging over the edge,

right hand on chest,

head propped up on a soft pillow,

and a big warm cat sprawled across

my middle twitching and chatting

in a strange language as he dreams.

FREE VERSE 1—No rhyme, no patterened rhythm, no rules, reflects artists own emotions
and, aesthetics. Began in U.S. with Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass in 1855. -----FREE VERSE 2
Copyright © Mike Shaffer, 2009