E W Shaffer

Poetry & Prose

The courage of the poets is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness.  
—Christopher Morley
Copyright © Mike Shaffer, 2009



Not fast but fast enough,
lifting their bulky
black bodies up from

the street when moving
things get too close,
stopping off at a battered

branch, circling around
swooping back down to
where they were

to peck at debris on
the not-as-black-as-they-are
asphalt. Crows seem

to take delight in bounce
landing on streets, swaggering
their noise, heaving

their hip hopping, cawing
their way into bags of garbage
at the ends of driveways,

pulling wrappers and stuff
out, helping themselves
to whatever they want,

and making a big mess,
before the trash truck
steals their meals.

Flower Print Sofa
[First 9 or 18 stanzas]

I hope I can be like that when I get old and bedraggled—
walkin' along some highway wearin' some old
raggedy dark blue sweater and white socks.

I don't wanna be in some quiet dim-lit room off some dining area
sunk in some dark flower print sofa, my ass down to the floor
so far I can't get up. Every time i see'er she's wearin' that

raggedy old dark blue sweater jus' like mine, sometimes
over some other old shirts and sweaters and
walkin', if you can call it that, along that highway,

comin' and goin' around the middle of the day, always on
the east side away from the sumac trees and fat
fence posts covered with poison ivy.

Been seein'r walkin'along that highway for years, it's a
miracle she hasn't been killed by now, face all
scrunched up like it was clay and somebody decided

to roll it around in his hands and push it back into a ball—
walkin' along that highway, old and disarranged,
always carryin' bags, some kind of shopping bags,

sometimes carryin' two, maybe three bags along that
highway, cars whizzen' by makin' me ta smile
when I see'er and feeling guilty for imagin'er

spinnin' around like a top, like funny cartoon characters
that go into a twirlling blur when somethin'
goes past fast. I try not to think

that way seein'er out along that highway movin'
up nd down as she shuffles along sort
of sideways 'cause a some health problem, some...

FREE VERSE 3—Reflects poet's breath patterns, sensibilities of rhythm and sound as well
as how it looks on the page. There are no limits on content.-------------------FREE VERSE 4