January 19-25, 1998: C.E. Chaffin and Lucius Furius

Week of January 19, 1998-January 25, 1998

C.E Chaffin and Lucius Furius

C.E Chaffin


In 1997, C.E Chaffin had over sixty poems accepted for publication both here and abroad, including print-zines and e-zines such as Agnieszka’s Dowry, Beauty for Ashes, The Blue Penny Quarterly, Byline, Envoi, Free Cuisenart, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Moonshade, Pearl, Poetry Café, Poetry Super Highway, RealPoetik, The Rockford Review, Solitary Harvest, Slumgullion, Sparks, 2River View, and Zuzu’s Petals, among others He also published his first book of poems, Elementary, through Mellen Poetry Press (PO Box 450, Lewiston NY, 14092-0450 (716) 754-2788 $12.95 + $5.00 S&H Editors, of course, may write for a free copy!)

A second-generation native Californian and a family physician, Dr Chaffin lives in a high rise on the Pacific with his wife and three daughters Much of his poetry is about nature and falls somewhere between Wordsworth and Robinson Jeffers He avoids poetry about relationships He likes to explore contradictions in the encounter between consciousness and technology and has a dark sense of humor

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by C.E Chaffin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

L.A : Winter

Enameled in white,
the San Gabriels radiate purity
above the sulfur-brown smog
and its cinnamon haze

All the mazes
between these peaks and the Pacific
are circuits in a microchip,
neighborhoods too nearsighted
to comprehend a city

But if white pyramids
still rule the skyline
and the sea stays blue, then, 
like an island just beyond the horizon,
hope is always almost present.


I am at right angles to the world
like the hinged pin of a brooch
stabbing when it should clasp

Perpendicular to the flesh, 
I can make your breast bleed
like a Coca-Cola sign
rusting down a white brick wall
So I don’t belong here Don’t we all imagine
another home planet
when things go wrong?

Being contrary is all I know
as I walk upright
on the horizontal earth

I am the spike in the railroad tie,
the dissenting senator from Mars,
the dog from disobedience school.

My Testament

One night I blew six hundred dollars
at a swanky hotel just to do it, 
putting on the Ritz, you know,
with separate marble baths
and a great view of San Francisco Friends came over to party
I met them in a red kimono
and snakeskin cowboy boots, 
wrap-around sunglasses
and red licorice in my ears,
then played a few tunes on my guitar
(at which I’m surprisingly good)
and smoked some excellent pot,
and we all had a good time

Doctors call this my manic side-
like when I jerked the brass door handle
from a steel door with one hand
out of impatience, surprised as hell
when the thing jumped into my fist, 
or when I walked barefoot through the ash of Mt St Helens
for days without sleep over thorns and burrs
to toughen my feet until they became immortal
in the first phase of my secret resurrection

I understand Gordon Liddy
holding his hand over a flame
just to demonstrate his will–
the intensity of that, the pain, the deep burn But if mind abuses matter too long,
my doctor says, matter gets its revenge, 
and I may find myself curled like a fetus
in a hospital room, weeping wells
or supine with electrodes on my head
and sodium amytal swimming up my vein
while my brain is scrambled by electricity, 
only to wake up to the crushing disappointment
of still being alive
If I want to be beyond criticism, loved by everyone, 
flawless as a gem and incorruptible as platinum, 
having a holy hatred of evil and a desperate love of good–
and if I plunge into suicidal melancholy
when I realize how impossible this is, 
is it such a bad thing?

Tall Order

The founder of the tall people’s club died, 
the paper said She really had worked
at Disney animation on the seven dwarves
When she founded the club she insisted
than any member who married beneath them
(5’10” for women, 6’4″ for men)
be dropped from the rolls, 
not just for shrinking the gene pool
but reducing available dates
Everyone says they’d rather be tall
but it’s lonely up there
looking over so many heads
like a sea of poppies
That’s why she rounded up
the single giraffes into a herd (Or maybe she was just tired
of five-foot lovers
stuck between her long thighs, 
unable to kiss her lips )

The Long Freeze

At deepest south
the stars are points of ice,
no longer distant fires
to warm the imagination
with stories of interstellar travel
and supernovas

At deepest south
glaciers calve icebergs
larger than mountains, 
their great keels heavy with ice,
their sentence to melt
or join another coast somewhere

At deepest south
buttery seals dive
under pack ice, stiff penguins
shoot through caverns
of translucent white tinted green,
propelled by stubby wings

Where is the end of cold,
the dawn of thaw?
Not in the stars or glaciers
or icebergs drifting north,
but in these queer animals
at play under the long freeze.

Lucius Furius


I am 48 years old I studied literature and Classics as an undergraduate, have a graduate degree in Computer Science, and work as a software engineer I’m married, have three children, and live in the Chicago area

In 1976 I took a 4-month, 4,000-mile solo bicycle trip through Europe.

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by Lucius Furius and may not be distributed or reprinted in any manner whatsover without written permission from the author.

Swan-Song of J Alfred Prufrock

J Alfred I’m sick of your whining —
get off your butt and *do* something!

Yes, I *know* life is meaningless
I *know* you’ve got a lot of time on your hands
Of *course*, tea parties can be boring
But let me just ask here: “Is someone *making* you do
Is someone *making* you hang out with these cold,
scornful women?”
Surely a guy like you could find *someone* to relate to It’s not *that* hard

No, you’re not Prince Hamlet —
and you’re not an attendant lord either
You’re J Alfred Prufrock!
*Eat* a peach, for-God’s-sake!
*Talk* to the mermaids!
Just *do* it!

Here’s To Those Who Suffer Voluntarily

Here’s to those who suffer voluntarily, 
who rise above the mean and merely momentary
pleasure that we feel sitting on a couch, 
eating Cheetos, watching reruns of “The Brady Bunch”;

those who exercise, walk fast (raising weights
with their arms in rhythm to their feet), 
jog, or actually even run —
as long as there’s no clear goal in mind, 
no Olympic medal, no short-skirted cheerleaders
proffering kisses;

residents of Blakely, Georgia, and Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, 
who steadfastly resist removal to California
and similar climes, knowing intuitively
that delight in perfect weather is born in sub-zero winters, 
in summer’s humid swelter;

those who do without air-conditioning, 
using the money for a violin
or books or trips to the local swimming pool;

those who fast, mortify the flesh, —
or at least skip breakfast occasionally, 
refusing to indulge every bodily whim, 
letting them ripen, at least now and then, 
into actual, robust hunger;

monks in solemn Kentucky silence, 
some, I suppose, are misanthropes, here I speak of those
with a normal affection for chat and hubbub
who restrict themselves to a reverent silence, 
speech being used only in extremity;

blood donors.

In The Fullness Of Time

go out into the evening, 
leaving your room, of which you know each bit, 
your house is the last before the infinite, 

(from Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Eingang”, MacIntyre translation)

The light which strikes my retina
as I look at the Great Galaxy in Andromeda
left there two million years ago
(Hominids made tools from stone then, but had not yet learned
the use of fire
Genetic material from certain of these hominids has been
from one being to another and now is in my own body )

Millennia from now, humans who have
colonized the farthest reaches of our galaxy, 
laboriously creating and maintaining Earth-like atmospheres, 
will marvel that there once was a place so perfectly suited to
human life
that such labor was unnecessary (Just as we marvel that
whose precise temperature and humidity requirements would seem
to necessitate
a greenhouse, grow wild in the Amazon )

I cannot believe in a personal God, 
intervening in human affairs, but stand in awe
of the terrible force which set the stars and galaxies in
–strewing them like so much confetti–;
the life-force running through each living creature, 
as straight and true as a ray of light from that galaxy in
willing us to live, grow and be fruitful.


Oh Rick, if only things were so simple
If only there were Nazis shooting children, 
bullies like Major Strasser waiting to take over, 
women like Ilsa —
so beautiful and passionate
that just the memory of their love, just the shadow, 
is enough
We would sing the Marseillaise
and in the air itself, 
just breathing in that hot, dry air, 
would find all the meaning we need

But we live in an everyday world, 
with everyday human beings
And we must start again each morning, 
with scraps of faith and feeling, 
to *make* the world’s meaning in the foundry of our heart