Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Book Is Out, Hallelujah!

And Amen! Can I hear an "Amen!"?

Alright, folks, it's party time! You can now order my book directly through the publisher at the following site:

"Unexpected Light"

Only the hardback is available as yet; we ship throughout the known universe. In fact, we just got an order from the space station. Think how valuable that will be! Yet the shipping and handling are naturally enormous--but what's a few more dollars in the national debt? Here's a poem I think might fit well with the astronauts:

"Ground control to Major Tom" wait--I stole that.

Night Train

Dark, dark, dark
the moon a scimitar
Venus below
a dull round diamond
through low haze beyond
mesquite and mud
by the moon-pebbled lake.

Suddenly slicing
through the night-blue file of trees
comes the train’s
brass foghorn
and Cyclops’ beam

Through high gaps
in the trees’ soft palisade
I see the hard edges
of boxcars disappear
as flatcars sneak by--
the hulking rectangles return,
vanish again--
lights on the caboose.

Box snake,
mechanical river,
pram over cobblestones
(won’t wake the baby)
irregular rumble
comes from darkness
plows through darkness
recedes in darkness

In the lonely spaces
the dark shape
through the darkness
hugely moving
yet small against the hills
and endless highlands.
Tumbleweeds shiver
jackrabbits prick their ears
a coyote approaches
under cover of sound.

By this campfire
beside the moon-pebbled lake
I imagine the stars
as receding trains
head beams staring back
an infinity of cars
stacked behind them
snaking through the black ether
Doppler shift confirms retreat
the universe waving good-bye
constantly from its center
good-bye Stephen Hawking.

A lone train in the wilderness
mysteriously comforting
black obelisk on wheels
slicing through night-blue
beneath the imperative stars
moving to its own syncopation
into the Mexican night.

(published in Tryst; one of the longer pieces in the book)

Now the challenge of the book boils down to marketing. How do you market a book of poetry, esp. in the U.S. where the demand for it is likely less than in Europe or elsewhere? I must overcome the narcissitic quotient: Everyone in America thinks they can write a poem, by golly they did so in high school, so what's the big deal? And among poets: "It's really I that deserve a book, and I'm not going to contribute to another poet's narcissism by buying his!"

Malcom Gladwell in "Outliers" just posited that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. I guarantee I have put at least that much time in the reading and composition of poetry, not to mention near a thousand publications. So do not fear; you are not in the hands of an amateur.

I listed twelve reasons to buy my book in a previous post. Is it too early to throw my ambitions on the bonfire of charity and beg you to buy the book, so I can feed my dog and afford a cardboard shelter as a starving artist? No, I haven't come to that juncture of marketing humiliation yet, but stay tuned.

The mere existence of a book does little; it is only by purchase and word of mouth that a buzz is created, and once the buzz happens, it can snowball, and soon healthy sales result.

I guarantee you, as in the poem above, that my book will stretch your mind and help prevent Alzheimer's. I say this as a doctor and a poet.

So, what else is new? My darling baby daughter turned 20 yesterday, the same day my book became available, a nice coincidence or synchronicity. Here's a picture of her for those who don't remember her beautiful mug:

She's not only beautiful but talented, a star of stage and screen majoring in theater. Although she turned 20, I heard a rumor that there might be beer at her party--of course, only for friends that are 21. Right, and I'm going to win the Pulitzer!

But back to my plea: It is you, the long time readers of this blog, who now need to step up and do your part in sustaining my dream of being a recognized poet by not only purchasing a copy but telling your friends. The first version available is the hardback, but it's by far the best deal for the price and will last a lifetime (especially if you put it in a plastic bag and don't read it, although that is not the usual purpose of a book. Some think books should be read, unlike my younger brother who is more a collector--but that's another story).

The secret of marketing is twofold: First, branding--you gotta make your name known, especially in your marketing niche, which in the case of this book is mainly enlightened beings (to whom I'm already sending telepathic vibes). Secondly, you gotta make people want the product--because their lives are incomplete without it, because without it they won't be current, and besides, as everyone knows, poetry is the caviar of literature--and just the fact that you read it will elevate you in the eyes of others, leading to romance and riches and a generalized respect for your intellectual powers. Moreover, a book of poetry is convenient, as it can be read in one or two sittings or relished slowly poem by poem. But I guarantee, for those who take public transportation, the fact of your reading it will invite admirers and discussion.

There are those who read this blog from China, as well as Kuwait and other Muslim nations, where the act of purchasing the book may lead to problems with the authorities, but I say, stand firm with me on freedom of expression. Still, don't be in a hurry to share the book with your local Imam or Communist censor. The work does contain a couple of words that might be censored elsewhere--but only a couple. I won't tell you which ones, because I'm trying to generate prurient interest as well. After all, the book contains 20 love poems.

OK, I've had my say. Here's that link again:

"Unexpected Light"

Do not think this will be the last mention of "Unexpected Light," but I will try to temper its promotion with other posts about the usual suspects, poetry and manic-depression and life on the redwood coast.

In Worldwide Solidarity for Free Expression in the Fine Arts, and in Expectation of Support by All the Readers Here,

C. E. Chaffin

p.s. Those who do buy the book, please write me or comment here, won't you?


  1. Looking good, C.E. Although I had to spend 10 minutes re-configuring my PayPal account because I hadn't used it for so long, I have successfully placed my book order and am looking forward to reading it.

    You're a good man. Good luck!

  2. I'm so glad you took the chance. It should pay back handsomely.

    And if you are the Richard I suspect, the material will be rich in potential meanings, enough to keep you thinking for quite a while.


  3. p.s. All you should need to order the book is a credit card. PayPal is set up for that. That's how I usually use it, having forgotten everything to do with my former PayPal account for The Melic Review.

  4. Anonymous10:29 AM PST


    Great pics both of you and your daughter. You look, well, riterly, and she looks every bit the part of a budding, beautiful actress.

    Yes, will. Will is the observer collapsing the quantum wave, dictating a linear reality that he or she will forever more regard as the trajectory of personal exprience. In this regard the New Agers have a point. We do create our own realities, but in a subtle interplay of the old conundrum, will and predestination. I think we are engaged in a process of willing what is suppoosed to be, a seemng pardox which only the 'fullness of time' will make clear. The Many World theorists suggest that a series of realities are unfolding. These are 'birthed' by Keats' negative capabilites, a shadow-will that does no get top billing in this particulalr reality but that which, through imagination, is provided life somewhere else. This should embolden the artist to realize that he is birthing --or giving voice to (hence the deja vu feeling)-- separate realities.

    Your stuff is very compelling of late. Your two-tiered Judeo-Christian notion where both traditions will be fulfilled is rather quite ingenious. Is there a precursor to this in theology?


  5. Good thoughts, Norm. Like I wrote, for the Almighty word is will; for us as well, I suppose, because until we speak a word with will, that word is worthless.

    As for my solution to eschatology, it is not new, it is essentially fundamentalist--except that they neatly bail Christians out with the rapture, about which I think there is far less evidence. But that the Jews are God's chosen earthly people, and that they shall have a physical kingdom, should be believed by every Christian who trust the Bible and studies prophecy.

    Yes, all my daughters are gorgeous. Sometimes the DNA twirls in one's favor.



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Unexpected Light

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