Tag Archives: Eric Paul Shaffer

My Feet Over My Head
by Eric Paul Shaffer

When I was little, I could not grasp the distinction
between my shoes and my feet. I called both pairs

“feet.” I once said, “I need to learn to tie my feet.”
When I wanted to go and both seemed nowhere

near, I’d cry, “I can’t find my feet.” When my sole
wore through the rubber, I’d tell my mother, “I need

new feet.” The heels, arches, and toes at the end
of my legs were still what I walked on, bare or not,

and I could fly down the sidewalk as fast as I needed,
with or without, swiftly pursued or simply exuberant.

Once, after we swam a creek, my brother, grinning
demon that he was, snatched my feet from my hands

and launched my twin soles skyward, laces knotted,
tongues spinning and eccentric. I had tied the laces

tightly, in a newly-mastered bow. I was amazed
to follow their loopy flight, and when I saw my feet

over my head, suspended, sparking on black lines
drooping from leaning, weathered poles and bellied

earthward beneath gray sky, I could see the new
height required scoldings, spankings, and shopping.

Staring up, barefoot on that dirt road, I knew then
I needed to know my shoes from my feet since one

pair shod the sky, and I was going somewhere else.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 1.

Eric Paul Shaffer is the author of five books of poetry, including Lahaina Noon (2005), Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen (2001), and Portable Planet (2000). He received the 2002 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, a 2006 Ka Palapala Po’okela Book Award for the book Lahaina Noon, and the 2009 James M. Vaughan Award for Poetry.

See all items about Eric Paul Shaffer

Visit Eric Paul Shaffer’s contributors page.

Midnight Snow and Stars
by Eric Paul Shaffer

No gods will be born this December eve

as we stand shod to knees in snow

under hard stars within a black ring of pines
circumscribing sky. At such a moment, we pause

to ponder the fathomless blue infinite

over our heads and the silence

ice and the tilt of the planet grant

the land. Starlight illuminates our tracks

among boles and branches, and the silver

cloud of our breath fades, and gleams, and fades.

Yet when I shake this bough, the weight of winter

will scatter from limbs and needles

the light of two thousand suns through millions

or more of miles of darkness.

That darkness encloses me, the same night

the light crossed with merely an imperative

to shine through a blackness

these fierce, fleet rays, falling at my feet

in glimmering drifts, will never know.

From a clearing at midnight in a snowy wood,

the universe is too large to bear gods and too small

to bear the light we carry into the darkness we find

in our eyes when we look toward the stars.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 1.

Eric Paul Shaffer is the author of five books of poetry, including Lahaina Noon (2005), Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen (2001), and Portable Planet (2000). He received the 2002 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, a 2006 Ka Palapala Po’okela Book Award for the book Lahaina Noon, and the 2009 James M. Vaughan Award for Poetry.

See all items about Eric Paul Shaffer

Visit Eric Paul Shaffer’s contributors page.

Posterity
by Eric Paul Shaffer

From where I sit, the papaya reveals a green ruff
of fruit swelling beneath a loose canopy of green
hands catching morning light.

The neighbor’s new
roof gleams like a penny in light that might silver
if there were more, but the clouds return the rays
to the sky,

bouncing them back into the universe
after an eight-minute flit from star to blue planet
and now, for eternity,

a long, lightless rush through
space between stars that stars cannot illuminate.
Light seeks sand, sea, and mountains, to reflect on
some work of substance,

to wring color from beams
full of rainbows and release one, an announcement
that of all of the colors the sun contains, this blue,
this red, this yellow,

this green the eye entertains
is truly the only color this sky, this mango, these
bananas, and the ripening papaya

do not accept.
And so, as this speck of earth arcs among the stars
around the prodigal sovereign of the sun,

we are
known by what we are not. Shadows cast black
contours where light falls, but leaves and legs
pass along gravel and grass

as we do when the time
comes to rise and go, but the sun feeds the green
above and below the crown and heel,

and the stars
light our way, and after we pass, the fruit golds
and falls, and only the sun burns for the earth.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 3.

Eric Paul Shaffer is the author of five books of poetry, including Lahaina Noon (2005), Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen (2001), and Portable Planet (2000). He received the 2002 Elliot Cades Award for Literature, a 2006 Ka Palapala Po’okela Book Award for the book Lahaina Noon, and the 2009 James M. Vaughan Award for Poetry.

See all items about Eric Paul Shaffer

Visit Eric Paul Shaffer’s contributors page.