Monthly Archives: January 2006

the second coming

when jesus comes again
she’ll come with gonads
and breasts

she’ll have a tail
in the middle of her back
and will never remove
her shirt in the company
of human beings

her skin will be rich
deep luminous chocolate
that her earth father will love
too strongly
that her earth mother
will spurn

when jesus comes again
she’ll be a bus driver

the chosen people will pull themselves up
onto her bus with chafed palms
and aching feet,
their hamburger weight jiggling to work
beside small round-faced girls with beaded braids
swinging their legs and pressing
their noses against shiny poles

when jesus comes again
she’ll drive to atlantic city
and walk along the night beach in lingerie

no one will see

jesus will know the love
of the dolphins and the city rats
she’ll talk to the pigeons
and bless their struttings
with day old bread
she’ll pray to the saints of masturbation
and she will never desire
to duplicate herself

when the trumpets come
blaring their wide mouths from the clouds
jesus will sigh and step
out of her flesh
the way a beautiful woman lets
a robe fall from her shoulders
as she steps up to the jacuzzi

jesus was not meant for this world
of dolts and assholes
and she never will be

wendy shaffer

borrowed evening

you looked stunning
only you knew
the price tag
was still attached
tucked up under your black silk sleeve
everyone asked you
the name of that dance
separating you from yourself
you couldn’t tell them
you knew you would never
do it again
like the dress
and the way your hair fell
in question marks
it was only this one night
the next day you went to saks
and got your money back

wendy shaffer

ja rhythm

i have been in the room
where death sits & preens herself
for too long —

how she warns with blood
in shit months
before infecting too many organs,
the surgeons cutting everything
out & away —

how she visits a brain
in the night
blood burstng and drowning
pathways, head down
on a table, on a pillow —
it’s your son,
it’s your wife,
it’s your father

once, in the unit for cancer patients
specimens in poverty
for experimental treatments,
i listened for death’s breathing
as my friend told me
he was ready to meet his maker,
his thin body under the hospital gown,
his lungs still blowing the little blue ball
up the plastic chute —
it was only months before
that he’d given over
the fisted angry rule
of his daily living
to hope
for a place in his invisible father’s house

tonight i’m going to travel
with the spirit of the yellow
faced rasta man straight
into the sensual rumble & tweak
of bass and lead, the slow
but steady whacking of stick
on bongo,
i’m going to the place where god
smiles & turns in her sleep
before coming back
to this room full of death,
my kittycat, her still & quiet
purring oblivious
to the pressure.

wendy shaffer

last nuzzle

slaughter of worms
beloved pet tied in black plastic
sheets hanging in rain

she nuzzled you on the sterile steel table
wet nose fervent into your nose
eyes drawn
she was your friend for ten years

here comes spring sprouting
out chunks of beige clay misery
delicious blossom shroud
your pretty girl planted in the ground

wendy shaffer

curls falling

because my mother is shrinking
tilting dizzy on her uncertain walk
across unraveling time,
my trepidation has dissipated
and she becomes the small part of myself
who shelters inside my arm.

because my mother’s bones have been leached
of their strength
her words don’t sting like pin missiles
ripping into my heart
and i have become the strength that holds us

my mother expects to die soon,
asks me to teach her
to use the computer.
the capitals, the spaces, the period, the returns
exhaust her
she drinks her tiny bottle of kahlua
and lies down —
a little woman on a big bed

i visit her once
every two years
and as i approach the visit,
my fear, my dread, grows like a black hog
chomping on the mud of our failed relationship.

this year i know the fear
is only the other side of love,
but it still chews at my entrails.

my mother is so happy to see me
that she fails to criticize me
in our first hour together.
usually, she wails about the state
of my hair, saying

let’s go get your hair cut!!!!!

you’ve roooooooooooined your hayyyyyyyer!!

i’m going to CUT your hair
while you’re sleeping!

before this visit
i spent sixty-five dollars
at the hairdresser’s.

it was all i could do

this year i bring my boyfriend with me —
he’s handsome & mannerly
creases ironed into his khakis,
a concerned, attentive expression
that absorbs the answers to his questions,

we take mother to a japanese restaurant
where she sits smiling, small and quiet
buzzing with pleasure —
in the food, her daughter
in being taken out to dinner.
we drive through shadows to a recreation center,
pay three dollars apiece
to watch the big band with geriatrics
in cowboy hats & sparkling glass
jewels dancing crazy, crazy
for thinking about you . . .
for feeling so blue
mother and my boyfriend sitting
close to the band,
my brother and i playing pool in the back room.
i worry about the band blasting
my mother’s eardrums, go back
to suggest cotton, ask
if she’s okay
when she beams at me, radiant
as a young girl
“we’re wonderful!!!!!”

on this visit, i allow
three days with my mother
padded by maps and highways
all the way south,
alligators and hemmingway’s cats.
i thought the visit with my mother
would be the torment that tainted
my vacation

but i was wrong.
she was the child
i’d never had
she was my precious lost prococious
girl teetering beside me.

the rest of the vacation,
with its oceans of miscommunication,
blown expectations
tiresome tvs
was a disappointment.

after the first few hours
with my mother,
she complains about the one large sausage
curl in the middle of my forehead —
it doesn’t bother me.
she asks me to cut her hair
where it’s white in the back
where she can’t shape it.
we spread newspapers under the kitchen chair
my fingers splayed in the stretched white strands,
i snip,
the large curls falling

wendy shaffer

A Poem By Russell Vidrick

The incense burned
for an hour
and smoke filled
the room but not
a prayer was raised
to you
with a sound
so delicate
it could be crushed
by a hummingbird
I called out
her name

Russell Vidrick


he walks straight up
into my body
(standing on the sidewalk)
asks if i know where
he can get some action
and i don’t move
one inch
i stand there

i don’t answer

and if you ask me
what i want
i’ll tell you it’s some
sensitive guy
who looks good in flowers
not some
death jacket pose
leather eye behind shades
walking a tall thin angle
and pointing his cowboy boots
at me
not some dark moon downer drinking coffee
and lying about his sexual exploits
not some extension of a motorcycle
and if you ask me
about the hook
why anyone would be attracted to someone
who used all his resources
making it look
like he didn’t even notice you
it’s because he’s only half a person
sloping at that cool angle
behind his disguises
so pale he looks like he’s dying
from terminal loneliness
and all he needs is you
you think you can turn him
into a human being
just by letting him in
but i don’t think that way
and if you ask me
i’ll tell you
i’ll be sleeping alone tonight
that’s what
i’ll tell you

wendy shaffer

god & the cleaning lady

everyone needs god & a cleaning lady
in their life
not to mention
an iguana to come home to
a box of candy-coated rules
and some ocean in a bottle
life under any other conditions
just wouldn’t be right
life is more than one toilet
that flushes
more than an angry place to sleep
sometimes you can find god
in cleaning ladies
sometimes you need a prescription
for quiet water
feeding local rocks
sometimes the bottle is empty
and the iguana is sick
sometimes you can only trust
the night
and wrap yourself deep in its mink arms
waiting to be born

wendy shaffer