March 15- 21, 1999: C.E. Chaffin and L.S. Shevshenko

Week of March 15-March 21, 1999

C.E. Chaffin and L.S. Shevshenko

C.E Chaffin


C.E Chaffin is a SoCal native and attended UCLA

I’ve published a lot, mostly poems, but also essays, columns and stories I’m better known on-line than on-paper, often introduced at readings as a”cyberpoet ” Credits include everything from The Alaska Quarterly Review and Byline (print) to Ygdrasil and Zuzu’s Petals (net) Mellen Press released my first volume of poems in 1997,  entitled ELEMENTARY, available through
Presently a book-length collection of short stories, The Eric Chronicles, is being serialized in Savoy (net) where I also contribute a column I am editor of The Melic Review (net) and belong to the Zeugma on-line poetry workshop.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by C.E Chaffin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

To the Giants

I see you in the exalted journals,
astonished by your concrete subjects,
startling imagery and veiled conclusions Only you can do this Others try
to cage what has to soar You tie
one-pound-test to it and set it free When the line breaks you have a poem I?ve seen you write four hundred lines
on roasted meat, a hundred on zucchinis You can make poetry out of a dishcloth
I sent my work to one of you once Your secretary wrote me back: Mr S–
no longer comments on others’ work
because of his busy schedule
I thought your next book sucked I swear the two events were not related
Maybe you remember
how it was before you “made it “
I thought if I could slide one poem
beneath your discriminating nose
I’d have a chance Instead I drop
rectangular white prayers in mailboxes
and change commemoratives for luck When the rejection slips arrive I file them
under “What the editors missed “
They all say, “We regret
your work does not suit
our publication?s needs at this time
As if! As if they had needs!
As if it were a matter of timing!

I dream of an editor
in a blue paisley suit who likes martinis
rummaging through the “slush pile “
She finds my poem about the possum (1)
Her cat-eye glasses slip her bridge,
eyes squint like commas Another martini
and she thinks “Why not?” –until the Glucks,
Merwins and Ashberrys start levitating
from her in-box to divide
the sorcerers from the apprentices
I have so little time, she thinks,
and this is not the time for risks–
subscriptions are static, the board is short
of funds, besides, even angstrom-thin pages
could not accommodate all the deserving Prides already war over my bleached savannas If another craves entrance, let him bring rains
like Elijah, make the ink run

The Intruder

Evil seeped through floorboards Only the dead could endure it From a faint bud it blossomed
into a putrid flower
stuffing every pore, rank as hell
So I imagined
a dead whale beneath the house
in blubbery liquefaction,
or corpses bloated with gas,
or death itself, if it has a smell
The red velvet of my guitar case
began to stink We called a professional
I led him to the crawl space vent
where it reeked so thickly
I thought the air had died Gowned and masked for his
grotesque midwifery, he pulled
a rigid possum out, pink tail curled
like a stiff worm dangling,
fur falling out in chunks
like some cheap carnival toy
And the sharp-toothed grin
on that pointed face
with its obsidian eyes
looked mean, even vengeful,
as if he decomposed to spite us
(In a further irony, “The Intruder” has since been published by the e-zine,
Afternoon Magazine )

The Good Journals

Poets in the good journals
spout retractable ambivalencies,

ornament reversible subtleties–
(My critic says of these lines,

“Too abstract, latinate, non-specific “)
Screw her If I listened to her,

I’d never write a goddamned thing (“Too obvious,” she says )

So I read Emily Dickinson
(who wrote for herself)

or Robinson Jeffers
(who wrote what he thought)

Or Shakespeare
(who wrote for money)
until I get my bearings,
because there are too many voices

and not enough paper, not enough paper
to include this objection

(which may or may not be a poem)
in a good journal.

Irregular Couplets for an Inscrutable Deity

First, explain the platypus Then, middle-age adipose
Why do men build dark places to worship the light?
Why are poisonous things so often beautiful and bright?

You should have given them all rattles I wish politicians had them It addles

my brain to think you know all Why should I pray?
“Foreknowledge is not predestination,” theologians say,

but I find the distinction odd You’re not Cassandra, you’re God.

Kitchen Talk

The world’s expert on melancholy
cringes in the corner “It’s just my mood,”
he says, then scurries under the refrigerator,
safe in the compressor’s hum Herky-jerky he scales the wall
“Where are you going?” I ask
While that sweet motor still sings in my head
like the blessed cicadas, I must seize
this absence of self-absorption
to scavenge for food

“When will you return to human form?”

When my shell chafes and I crave light
and faces don’t look alien anymore

“What about my face?”

Don’t make me look

My Generation

I was talking to myself today
when he said, “Don’t smile at her”
–but I did anyway Said he:
“Your eyes are bloody as liver,
you’re a poster child for gluttony”

Once I had a nice butt on me
My generation complains
of drooping body parts
and murderous children
and dogs they put to sleep

while men pass away.

My Inheritance

I didn’t grow up poor
but I fear poverty just like my parents,
who lived through the Depression Mom hoarded rubber bands from
throwaway papers and after Dad died,
re-used dental floss
When Dad was doing well, financially,
he super-glued a loose tooth to his bridge
rather than pay a dentist He was so proud
until the tooth turned black “You gotta make a buck,” he’d say
Mom sampled mystery foods
from Tupperware containers
left in the fridge for weeks She couldn’t bear to throw a thing out “Never marry a woman who cuts
the twine on packages,”she’d say,
winding another orbit around her ball
After his goods were stolen
and children murdered, Job said,
“What I greatly feared has come upon me” What my parents feared never did Instead fear drove them to plenty
though they were always poor, like me.

L.S Shevshenko


L.S Shevshenko’s works have appeared in: Season In Hell, In The Wind Magazine, NEBO, Deathrealm Magazine (appearing alongside Poppy Z Brite and Clive Barker) Dream International Quarterly,  Poet’s Review, Sounds of Poetry, Nightroses, MEMO, Mojo-Risin’ Magazine and has worked the slam circuit reading in: Atlanta’s Little Five Points Star Bar, Forty Watt Club in Athens, Brewers Café in Milledgeville, The Stone Circle in East Port, Michigan,  and etc, etc He’s read and hosted Mercer University’s first “Poetry Slam” and has recently won a first and third place award from the Georgia College Press Association for endeavors at Macon State College.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by L.S Shevshenko and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

En Route

in the car
somewhere between
Heidelberg and
as a passenger
the head seemed to
pull towards
the window
towards the drizzle
as if
something called
was it
the golden trees or
the sounds of the cars in
at a light
the outside seemed to
whimper and
on the glass
tears slowly dragged
downward cracking the window
produced an answer:
it was a Zephyr
laughing up a storm.

tossing a wadded ball of thought

The Sun is in Pisces
and the moon
is soon to be
in your face Into a hangover
she comes (uninvited)
dragging along
her pill-poppin mom
this one whose forbade
her husband from
the internet
I learned
my day was gonna be
the horrorscope said:
“its a marvelous weekend
for classical music
beautiful gardens and
snuggling “
They leave her mother
here, grinning at me
they go to my housemate’s room The walls close in
on this pounding
in my brain
I reach down
for a bottle of Beam
then put the decanter back:
there’s not enough booze
on this entire planet.

as the gods looked on

there was the constant migraine
the neck I couldn’t turn
a hand I couldn’t feel
bills going
bills shuffled
to be paid
forms to fill out
people to see
the doctors, the surgeons
the federal compensation board
with its hearings
its red tape
in triplicate
and the drives
to and from the
Atlanta VA there were drugs, the pain
hot showers followed
by ice packs
followed by
more drugs and
no check what-so-ever
Then, there was her
an added insanity
and I kept thinking
it’s all for a reason
this shit, her infidelity, and
she found another
was gone soon and it felt
like my guts and mind
were being twisted I wanted
the tallest building
the shortest rope
the loudest gun and
when doctors said
I needed cutting
I begged for
-the fastest sword they had
on me
hopefully the gods will smile sofar
it’s Monday


this poem may be
hazardous to your health
it smokes
drinks, reeks of
lubricious lucidity penned in black ink
it could
and most likely will be
in various fonts
can be seen any-
time after
now and
-it could be hated
-could be loved
-could even be read
at last rights or
in some
whorehouse, but
it won’t give you
cancer and
it’s writer wills you
nothing but peace
for the eternity of time
watch your next step though
reality is not as forgiving
as the writer of
this poem


It seems
the greats are too good
for my words:
the baby
doesn’t need it
doesn’t catch the drift
but it does enjoy
the sound
and that in itself
is another poem
a future interest
Soon these words are off
again- from here
to the new yorker
to the kenyon review
even the american poetry review
to just name a few They
will probably send them back
bit I am persistant These words often leave madmen lost
totally screwed
or enlightened
but the words are
not for just a few
but for humans
even animals
and though some words seem trivial
and trite
and undaunted by stress of mark
they in form
still deem themselves
by others
radiant as the sun
It is the idiot that shuns
the greatness of these words
as a whole
but over time
stupidity too
as the sun, will slowly fall Mark my word.

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