Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spooky Photo; Men's Retreat; 2 poems

Besides noticing how Rachel seems somehow apart from me in the family photo to the left, I changed the caption so that everyone's expendable.

How horrible but how true.

But here's another picture from the last pictures I ever took with Rachel:

It makes light of my choking her, doesn't it? And that's how she died, poor dear.

Curioser and curioser.....


I just finished my second Mendocino Circle of Men's retreat last weekend. If you care to compare it to my former experience, this link should deliver you to the general area where I blogged about my fear in being swallowed up by New Age nonsense a year ago at the same retreat.

Fortunately this time I was not depressed and participated fully in all the rituals and encounters. I must say it was life-changing. Rather than employ prose, though I know I swore off poetry, I'm offering two poems that describe one very important aspect of our spiritual exercises.

The theme of the retreat was a fourth Jungian archetype for the masculine personality: The King.

A key exercise over the weekend was to stare deeply in the eyes of another man. I found that extremely powerful.

I know I gave up poetry, but it is such a habit of mind to reduce experiences to shorthand that I could not prevent myself. I needed to make sense of the weekend. So here:

Close Encounter

The difficulty, I think, is with the eyes.
Hold eye contact too long, the other blinks.
Christ called this portal “the window to the soul.”
We treat it casually while contact shrinks.

It’s hard for me to follow both your eyes;
My eyes go back and forth to follow one.
If I look at your nose in compromise
You think I see both pupils but I don’t.

After the Retreat

The angels swirl in orange sparks to heaven
In gyres and gyres and all the gyres agree
The redwoods set the naked dancers free
And all is judged and all likewise forgiven.
It is the age of seconds and degrees.
Life passes faster that we can absorb.
Here! There! Then! Now! Toward
the center? Is it there? Axle of peace?
What is a man that we should even care?
A bit of clay, some spit—yet brother to Christ!
I had forgotten the scent of regal spice
Until I dared to brave my brother’s stare
And scales fell from our suspicious eyes:
We saw the King in Full without disguise.

I posted one of these poems at the Alsop Gazebo Metric Poetry thread. I haven't posted to a workshop in a coon's age, but the indefatigable Pat Jones has finally pushed me into contact again. My chief objection to most online workshops is that they don't help you to be a better poet; they are more pools of self-justifying piranhas who scrutinize, with their razor teeth, any work whose disassembly confirms that their commentary is actually important. Per usual the critics are more interested in their own voice than the voice of the poet who throws his soul on ice.

Love to everyone!

3 Kilobunnies,

Your formerly melancholic guide,

C. E Chaffin M.D. (MD) FAAFP


  1. Coralpoetry5:35 AM PDT


    Whaaaaa? What’s up with the “support Empty Paras”?

    The New Age stuff seems like a good exercise, but you need to have tons of confidence, which I suppose you have, being a Dr. You must have been able to read patients’ illnesses from looking into people’s eyes. The eyes are a good indicator of health and potential problems.

    “Look into the other person’s eyes and they blink, or look away”. Some people view this kind of stare as rudeness and turn away because they don’t want their soul to be assessed by another person. At these kinds of experiments, I'm sure my reaction reaction would be profuse giggling.


  2. There's a reason they call the Alsop Gazebo the Shark Tank.

    I like the Sonnet Board much better ( They give good strong critique, but they're mostly not mean about it.

    I'm very glad you're feeling better. Hope the new medication continues to work well.

  3. The Gasblow isn't a shark tank. It's a waste of time.

    Sure, those who frequent the place can snarl and pontificate, but only when protected by their delete keys and forum rules. Most of 'em can't participate anywhere there's level ground. Not all of 'em, but most of 'em and it starts at the top. It's true, you know, the fish stinks from the head.


  4. Anonymous8:48 AM PDT

    With all due respect CE, I find your determination to give up poetry simply because no one has anointed you with fame, well, I find that all a bit churlish. You're a poet and you know it. It's as though your sanctioning a god-given gift because you have a sneeking suspicion no one is going to offer you accolades. Stop with the celebritizing drivel already!


  5. Anonymous10:27 AM PDT


  6. Norm--I always love a wet squirrel in the face but it was not about celebrity--my ashtray was full, poetry was dust in my mouth and my eyes. Am I jealous of some? Damned straight. But you can read about that openly in my essay in Umbrella.

    Tiel--too bad you never got to experience the kinder, gentler Melic board before its destruction.

    Voyeur anon: Confidential.

    Beau; love your "Gasblow." I'm just playing a little.

    Coral huh? "Empty Paras?"

  7. Coralpoetry2:13 PM PDT


    Your post is peppered with:

    if !supportEmptyParas (in brackets)

    When I tried to copy/paste this was my error code:

    Your HTML cannot be accepted: PHP, ASP, and other server-side scripting is not allowed.

    You must be using Firefox (have you recently changed over?) and I’m using IE


  8. I am seeing it, too, Coral.

    Glad the retreat went well, Craig.


  9. I do use Firefox; must be the problem. Maybe I should switch to explorer? It's not a problem, just need to import bookmarks. I just like using anything that's not Microsoft.

  10. Anonymous3:31 PM PDT

    My what long arms you have. do you put those on the rack?

    from the looks of the pics .. your daughters didn't get your nose?

    which brings to mind what my well intended bystanders would always tell my brother every time he'd get a nose bleed... "tip your head back and pinch it" the danger of wives tales I guess, he might have drown.

    oh, and one more thing..
    did you realize that Dr Frank Furter was modeled after Alice Cooper?.. just heard that couple of weeks ago on Kusp... I had no idea,,,, I love that movie!!!

    ... "We are all equals here"....

    does that mean you'll meet me for coffee?

    ... that's a funny.......

  11. Sure I'll meet you for coffee if you live nearby.

    I'm on Explorer now and I see what Coral saw. My next post I will try to do with Explorer instead.


Please share your opinion!

Unexpected Light

Unexpected Light
Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008 ON SALE NOW!