Monthly Archives: June 2006

shoe cancer

she’s a mermaid drowning in fur
she has face cancer
but it’s not contagious
her life is strapped into the dentist chair
secured under that heavy radiation bib
bills to pay
cancer notes
she’s a mermaid in 476 dollar kate spade shoes
asphalt is not her medium
grit is not her purpose
she’s a mermaid
she knows she’s a mermaid
because she just can’t breathe this air
because her hair wisps out like seaweed
because she keeps her crotch closed
but now they’re telling her she’s only a girl
spinnng lies on a dying earth
they say she has attitude cancer (contagious)
that she needs to polish her phrases to fit
sometimes she’s just plain angry
she stamps her high heels
and shakes her fists
everywhere the sharks sharpen their teeth
sign paychecks
rubbernose into her business
it’s late afternoon and she wants to soak her face in the green sea
to breathe in the mystery of fishes
to forget she ever owned a vagina

wendy shaffer

Sandra’s Advice

Dreams don’t belong in stories, she says.
They’re just haphazard clippings,
Leaves in a teacup.

I dream of floating off a bridge
To the brackish Cuyahoga,
arching on a gentle breeze, yet

It’s unclear if this is an accident.
There are cars involved, true, and passersby,
Concerned and curious: my first love,
The old, homeless woman,
And other stock figures

That arrive to offer me bread
Or their binding history
Or reason to fear.

Sometimes there is concern over this mishap,
Or event, or disaster,
Boaters hovering their crafts below, a crowd.
Yet I savor the danger of floating down,
The gentle dark arc of pleasure.

My first love will soak me to the bone,
I will writhe the wet, regretful dream,
I will become the homeless woman
Who offers me bread because
She has enough.

Sandra asks, Where is the tension in the story?
Where is the desire that drives
The characters, the denouement,
The mishap, or event, or disaster,
Where they resolve into who they really are,
Only different?

I am the creature caught in the wire cage
By the boy caught in Aristotelian dreaming,
Eying carefully this odd specimen he feeds
Pellets, kale, a science diet,
A water tube. I am

The curious creature who keeps breaking free,
Drawn to the stream below,

Only to fail on the dank steps down
Weaken on the cement stairs,
Lapsed lungs, fluttering heart.

But I am the studious boy too.

Tell me Sandra, I want to say,
Isn’t loss the real denouement,
Without tension, without tense?

Isn’t death the end of every story
To which we flow as rivers do?
Aren’t we actually immersed and played
Up and down, and finally splayed,
As accidental as
Leaves in a teacup?

Elizabeth Hayes

Presence Sensor

They watch you while you pee. And it’s not even
the NSA, or the
urination chaperone
from the county. Not even,
not technically, a gang of voyeuristic
perverts. Just an infrared
eye. A nation of infrared eyes,
thousands upon thousands of them
staring at you

A man astride his urinal knows
a primal intimacy. But no kidney,
no bladder
is an island. From above
the stainless steel plumbing fixture,
beyond the remote mass-produced glossiness
of cold porcelain, that vast fungible Duchamps
Dada exhibit that is, precise and pristine
in its sanitary ambitions, the American Standard
waste-land, the presence sensor
monitors you down to the very
geyser-nozzle, anticipating
your completion.

And when, with a squeeze and a shake,
you depart, there is a swish and a skidding slurp,
to prove
you were there.
The sound of the presence sensor
detecting your absence. Letting you know
you exist.

Terrence Provost


it is the darkness
that is kissing me
no face
no shape
the sweet chocolate night
closing over my eyes
my neck
my breasts
with its warm lips
smooth skinned night thick
as oil rolling down the small
of my back
oil poured tongue
filling my ear
filling my mouth
filling my needs
till they stretch and purr and nuzzle
skin drinking deep sex rooting in
far into the frosty dawn

i want this sweetness
in my nose
and on my tongue
like incense
even after the sun
has burnt these kisses away
even after this thing
that has happened in the dark
with no faces and no names
lies dead in the road
paws up
to people always in a hurry
to get somewhere else
somewhere else
and somewhere else

wendy shaffer

profligate june

lust crawls bricks backed up
into heat city arms
pinned into thrust razor
buzz and sniff mock
fist love slap
thickening traffic past
lust lips stubble tongue rough
bite and pull
knee sliding into
to nudge his penis he pinches
your nipples he pinches
your nipples
on the sidewalk june heat
thickening in your throat
tires singing asphalt heat
freedom and grip
hair pulled freedom
in bondage into
lust the rough eyes
of the tattoos
want this
the old bargain hunting
man wants this
the slaves of wheels in heat
want this:
what your tongue takes away,
your body sensate
and prickling ripe
in the mouth of june heat

wendy shaffer

we’ll be together forever

he’s holding me forever
on the verge of midnight black
hands of the lake
slapping his falling shore forever arms
that play dinosaur in the dark
vacant thunder and flash forever
where the little red and blue
warning lights blink on top
of the nuclear power plant
the forever steam like living earth animal
clouds climbing against the black
still his dinosaur forever hope
solid arms around me
unafraid of the word
leaving his own forever mouth
the lake dances
its happy tune
while everybody’s having babies
everybody’s cooking
a future nuclear steam pretty picture
window to believe in together believe in
his forever arms
his forever arms
in the dinosaur falling dark

wendy shaffer