Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good News! And Two Poems....

I was just notified by Lynn Strongin, editor of the upcoming anthology, “Crazed by the Sun,” that I will be appearing along with...many well-known contemporary poets...a former student of mine...a poet acquaintance from LA... and Theodore Roethke, Marianne Moore and e. e. cummings!

I had just gotten a letter from someone about my essay, “My Struggle with Literary Narcissism,” which she enjoyed, especially my musings on how much luck had to do with any success. Then the news of my inclusion with the immortals!

Irony is not dead! Kairos still concentrates experience! Here's to Jungian synchronicity!

I also received a letter from a new paying print venue, The Sigurd Journal, notifying me that my poem, “Dare,” will be featured on the cover and my interview on the back cover.

When it rains it pours! But I'm waiting for #3, since these things usually come in threes. I can't think of what it might be but I won't hold my breath.


I really need to get on the ball and start submitting my book on Eliot to academic presses on a regular basis. Since coming out of my depression I've been doing what my shrink advised: “Enjoy yourself.” And so I have, posting at various boards, entering debates, spilling my mind and guts where they might prove of interest. But my long-term publishing ambitions always seem to come last, likely for several reasons: First, the bother of print submissions, cover letters, research of markets, yada. Second, the sinking feeling that it is all in vain. Lastly the distraction of whatever my latest project is, whether a poem, and essay, or participation in a discussion at a forum or blog.

I'm alive! I'm alive!” --Baron Harkonnen in David Lynch's “Dune”


I have remedied the cats' decimation of my flower garden with an ingenious device known as “The Scarecrow,” which by photoelectric activation sprays any moving object within twenty feet of the flowers. Now my flowers are doing much better. Some may remember the poem I scribbled about it, I'll put the latest version below:

Drugstore Flowers

My cats kink and snurl together,
slink effortlessly up the windowsill
and pose, contemptuous of their grace,
as if it were expected,
as if the world held nothing else--
meanwhile destroy my garden,
a two-foot strip around my porch
I dared to punctuate with flowers.
They claw out plugs of hothouse blooms
and leave them baking in the sun;
mainly they trash the marigolds.
Still I re-plant, water and wait,
hoping the roots regenerate
while fearing the trauma's too severe
for drugstore flowers to persevere.

Here's a poem I've been working on, still sort of a draft, one a friend has tried to help me with (I won't mention his name lest he be associated with a bad result).


Someday when you were meaning
to look out the window
you will notice your face instead,
a map to the Holy Land
contained in the luggage
of your eyes, spread in lines
from their corners
like shatter-proof glass
resisting shatter.

See mine, beard quilled in white?
The scar of a cop's baton
juts out from my eyebrow
and my mustache was divided
by a brass knuckle's kiss,
a face more public than I wish
though it doesn't take a gypsy
to divine a face; it screams itself.
Mine's not a rich man's face but I hope
rich in love and free of envy.

The rich man rubs it in
whether he wants to or not.
His mere existence powers envy
which powers ambition
which powers achievement
which powers comparison
which powers dissatisfaction
which powers envy again.

It's not the thorn against the rose
but both against the deer--
the deer make them equals
and the sun, confederates.

Still on the blind horde runs
urged on like wasps
disturbed by a lawnmower,
pockets stuffed with lottery tickets.

On the human engine runs
toward the swimming pool
purchased on credit
from a second mortgage
toward the notion
that having all
might cure not having all.

The Buddha smiles
at the ouroboros of desire:
cyclical, predictable.

I smile back at the window.

That's all the good news for today—so far.

2 Kilobunnies,

C. E. Chaffin


  1. Congratulations on the good news! Unless I miscount, there are already 3 items, so maybe you can relax on that.

    I like "Drugstore Flowers" -- which reads, in part, like a catalog of verbs to describe cats. "Kink and snurl" is perfect.

    In "Face in the Window," I was at first resistant to "lines / that fan out like shatter-proof glass resisting shatter" -- but after a little thought, it seems the best line in the poem. The repetition is not redundant, but reinforcing.

  2. Congratulations! I can imagine what a good day it must be for you. Mine, instead, is just ordinary.

  3. Thanks, May, I stopped by your site.

    Yes, Anhaga, the '3' I realized afterwards; someone actually reading and enjoying an essay of mine is equally good!

    We cast our bread upon the cyberwaters and rarely does it return. Readers don't know how much its means to the author to hear something.

    "Face in the Window" is a strange poem, but I like it for reasons I cannot explain--it has that central spiritual chant, bounded by reality, so to speak... though the discontinuities are more than I'd like... still, does it work or not? I'm afraid to workshop it, it would likely be chop-shopped.

    I stopped by your blog, you probably noticed my comment on your ambivalence about that poem.

    All the best, and congrats on your recent pubs,


  4. I have a new site. If you are interested in reading the diary of an ordinary person who tells unimportant stories, let me know.

  5. That's great news, congratulations!

    I like both of these poems, I really like 'punctuate with flowers' in the first one and 'spread in the luggage of your eyes', 'brass knuckle's kiss' and 'pockets stuffed with lottery tickets' in the second one.

    So glad to hear you're doing well.


Please share your opinion!

Unexpected Light

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