C.E. Chaffin

5, 6

A pyramid is a quincunx in 3D, Jung would approve
with all his mandalas and his four-cornered personality test.

I think I am an ENTJ, best made a general, a manager of men.
I am good at that, but I hate the price, the sniggering soldiers

saying, “He don’t have to die.” This is a confessional poem,
surprisingly, though I try not to write them.

What I meant to say was that we have five fingers and five toes
and four limbs plus a head; it’s hard to deny the five:

Far and few, far and few, are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green and their hands are blue, and they went to sea in a sieve,

they did, they went to sea in a sieve
. Yet six is the number of man,
born on the sixth day, first creature God engaged

in conversation. True language divides us from brutes
Hindus would elevate to sentience. What was I saying?

Saying what? What have I ever said? “He that hath ears, let him hear.”
He that hath tongue, let him talk. I can talk your ear off, forgive!

Oh, how I wish for the heron clarity of Li-Po and Han-Shan,
which reminds me of a quote by Marvell Eliot used:

"When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,

She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone."

This is my revenge on Eliot, to use him as he used others.
“Great poets steal,” he said, and I believe.

He could write a phrase “that rings in the mind like a silver coin”
(Aiken, I think. There’s nothing new in criticism.)

I write poetry because because because
words are “a bracelet of bright hair

about the bone” (Donne, stolen by Eliot);
My wife is deaf and so these symbols matter.

Guilt 101

It’s not enough
to plan the final funeral
whose brass-handled coffin
is big enough for all,

not enough
to mean more than you say,
scrub floors with the blood of your intentions
while the envelope remains unstamped,

not enough
to lose car keys and fortunes,
be unwittingly cruel to your children
and mad about money,

not enough
to admit you were responsible
when your truck hit the deer
and you made sausage out of it,

not enough
to pound on the mission door at midnight
and beg for ketchup
because you only have mustard,

not enough
to weep in front of your family at dinner
and tell them not to worry,
you’re only insane,

not enough
to face your fears,
load up a shotgun with rock salt
and blast your own ass,

not enough
to pray with all your heart for a miracle
to a god without lips
who invented death,

not enough
to fit in unobtrusive as a mouse,
wearing your innocence
like a paper hat made of tax returns,

not enough
to excuse, implore, prevaricate,
say you were framed,
how could you know any different?

C.E. Chaffin published and edited The Melic Review for eight years prior to its hiatus. Widely published though tired of listing credits, best to Google “C E Chaffin” for more work. His new volume, Unexpected Light: Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008, is out from Dimuendo Press. Shoe size: same as mouth.

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