Jul/Aug 2002 Poetry

Four Poems

by C.E. Chaffin

Art by Bob Dornborg


Long Beach Sunrise

Gray-backed alligators
whose bellies are burning rose
float over Saddleback

while the purple San Bernadinos
loom lumpily above
the low hills of Whittier

whose horse-headed pumps
dip behind chickenwire cages
in the tinder-ready grass.

Yellow suddenly stains
the faint-starred horizon aqua,
the sea de-grays to silver

while offshore wells
suck long-chained carbons
into rush hour.


July 4th, 2001

Great hula-hoops sparkle
in dimestore colors,
they swallow the horizon.

Pop!—they die,
leave long-legged crabs
of smoke behind—

soon thinned by wind
to spidery threads.

Pop!—they live,
gold willows droop a mile,
silver dandelions sprout,
stalks vanishing
even as they bloom.


Not an Elm

I never saw elms
like these great anchors of shade.
Walk this sidewalk in summer
and no direct rays assault you

through these parasols woven
of hull-shaped leaves;

at most their luminous filter
allows a faint dappling of feet.
Ah, I am more a pine
garbed in needles

that never dissipate to leaf,
spear heaven as a warning,

bleed perfumed resin,
die in a duel with the sun.


Old Friend

Bob Dylan's on the CD rack,
his voice sounds like a heart attack,
his cords like shredded steak—
his voice don't bend,
just breaks and breaks.


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