Sunday 5 May 2019

2 Poems by Eric Paul Shaffer

All There Is
            an epithalamion for Jon and Thierry

Winter in paradise this year is dry enough to call a drought.

            The grass isn’t green and isn’t growing in the season

            we call the rainy one. No clouds color sunrise,

and every night, stars deepen the sky. Ancient light rains

from cloudless darkness. If there were enough for everyone,

            the rays wouldn’t travel so fast. Light is a constant

reminder of the yearning between stars and all the worlds

            spinning in darkness, like this one, the one we love.

For this brown grass and the open space between stars,

            there’s not much rain. Never will there be too much

or even enough, so we celebrate and celebrate fiercely

            all there is. When the rain finally comes, I’ll stand

in the storm with my face raised. When the night comes,

I’ll lift my eyes to the light and take it in. Rain will grace us,

            and stars will burn. Light flies through the night,

and rain finds the earth for no reason we know, yet we leap

            to drink our fill of what falls from above to sustain us.

That House in California

We never resided within those walls, but we lived there

for a few days, and we had a room of our own. On the desk

                        were photographs in silver frames of children

            whose children now had grandchildren. Our meals

were prepared for us, served with wine or tea in low light

            and laughter, and ice cream churned on the porch.

Seconds were encouraged. The hours were kind. Scrub jays

fled their shadows on narrow tree-shaded lanes. The crows

were silent at noon, but mockingbirds sang all the local

            melodies they’d memorized in a medley at midnight.

Stars were everywhere, all the time. From where we stood

on the dark green, Mars was a dead, red disk, Jupiter revealed

                        four moons, and Saturn was a hayseed world

            of protruding ears. Upstairs were no closets. Instead,

there was a desk, a lamp, a bed, an open window, and a breeze

            carrying the comfortable rumble and moan of trains

through the valley. Skeletons danced across the walls, books

            tilting beneath their feet, and a rattlesnake of rainbows

coiled by the door. When we knocked, we were welcome.


Eric Paul Shaffer is author of seven books of poetry, including Even Further West; A Million-Dollar Bill; Lāhaina Noon; Portable Planet; and Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen. 500 of his poems have been published in reviews in the USA, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Scotland, and Wales. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.

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