Ed Shacklee is a public defender who lives on a boat in the Potomac River.
His first collection, The Blind Loon: A Bestiary, was published in 2017 by Able
Readjust your thinking and suppose
the world is not important past your nose,
your betters donít deserve to be your equals,
and children are not children, only sequels.
Originally published by Light Quarterly
Making a Monkey
Monkeys see and do like men.
They love to ape our ways, but then,
even more the monkeys savor
how often men return the favor.
Originally published by Per Contra
Drear and friendless, fear the endless droning of the Mope,
whose septic, soft, dyspeptic frettingís epic in its scope.
Its swinging moods are dreadful, like a dead man on a rope.
Disdaining food for thought, it spots the snot in the sonata,
the rat in five-star ratings, out of sorts unless itís got a
little cross to bear or else a prominent stigmata.
Insipid, uninspired, far too tired for a tirade,
its spine is wet spaghetti, and its final nerve is frayed.
Its sobs are often stifled but a trifle overplayed
as foresight warns, then hindsight mourns: it looks within, and sighs
a small, resigned lamenting sound, like heat escaping pies,
yet may not bore you with details, although Lord knows it tries.
Originally published by Light
Seventeen More Secret Histories
Hieronymus Bosch favored painting by numbers.
The Marquis de Sade had a Siamese twin.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, unionized plumbers.
Socrates danced on the head of a pin.
Robert Frost died of acute nymphomania.
Lyndon Baines Johnson wrote operas for mimes.
Buffalo Bill wed Marie of Roumania.
Einstein invented concoctions with limes.
Gilbert and Sullivan colonized Venus.
Attila the Hun pillaged France on a goat.
Ralph Waldo Emerson tattooed his penis.
Kafka gave tours on a glass bottom boat.
Sigmund Freudís mother enchanted Rasputin.
Draculaís uncle affected a limp.
The Golem of Prague went disguised as a Teuton
and Voltaire impregnated Sir Isaac Newton.
Donald Trump fathered a child with a blimp.
Higgledy-piggledy, nimini-piminy. . .
Originally published by Better Than Starbucks
Recipe for Grand Theft Auto
1. Set the poor aside: repress, then fleece.
2. Leave neighborhood to simmer.
3. Crush. Police.
4. Remove the father.
5. Add 1 child, quite sweet.
6. Garnish motherís pay.
7. Evict. Repeat.
8. Lace the paint with lead: let age, then peel.
9. Extract the child. Re-traumatize: congeal.
11. Suspend from school till sour.
12. Chill inside your condo for 1 hour.
13. Add a pinch of youth and let it rise.
14. Once car is poached and stripped, reheat surprise.
Originally published by Innisfree Poetry Journal
I Am What I Am
I am the money that talks in the bank,
a flaw in the mirror, a check that was blank,
the tip of an iceberg, the liner that sank.
I'm the isle of the blessed and the pirate who'd plunder it,
the veil of the night and the lightning to sunder it,
the boy in the bed and the monster who's under it.
I'm the sum of a part and the karmic subtraction,
the paralyzed thought and the frenzy of action,
the bile in my throat and a low satisfaction.
I'm the past I have checkered, the devil's detail,
the promise of love and a check in the mail,
rebellion in heaven, the quest for the grail;
I'm the grave of my death and the air in my head,
the puzzle I question, the answer I dread Ė
each shadow Iíve thrown, and the life that Iíve led,
the monster below and the boy in the bed.
Originally published by Steinbeck Now
The Terrible Beauty
"A terrible beauty is
born. . ." - Yeats
The doctor and all of the nurses
went in shock, then erupted in curses
as he held the odd babe up with scorn
when the Terrible Beauty was born.
Nine planets will wither, like plants,
all the canticles shrink into caníts,
and the stars will be starlets of porn,
for a Terrible Beauty is born;
and the mirrors will empty, then splinter,
the breath of spring turn into winter
and cows will get into the corn.
When the Terrible Beauty was born,
the bang and the whimper threw dice Ė
no one knows if itís fire or ice,
but the angel is lifting his horn:
a Terrible Beauty is born.
Now the dead have lurched out of their tombs
as room for doubt runs out of rooms,
and thereís no one alive we can warn
a Terrible Beauty is born;
and the Heart of the Dark is aflutter,
since the changes are stark, even utter,
but the death of the night is the morn.
A Terrible Beauty is born.
Originally published by Lighten Up Online
The Winged Boy
The cruel little boy with a bow
who feathers each heart with desires
has missed me so often I know
it hurts more to dodge when he fires.
Originally published by Per Contra
You Took the Kids
You took the kids. I got the car,
the one that took me fast and far;
not the one with all the doors Ė
you've got the kids, so that one's yours.
I kept the booze, the mini-bar,
cyclopean olives in a jar
that stare at me and ask what are
the odds he'll drown, the way he pours?
You took the kids
when nights grew cold, the lies bizarre;
two little casualties of war
who now, long distance, post-divorce,
say "Ed," not "Dad,Ē and prod the sores
it hurts to touch beneath the scar:
you took the kids.
Originally published by Tilt-a-Whirl
I took the way of stone,
not water, air or fire:
one element alone
could complement desire.
Not to quickly flare,
nor to slyly flow Ė
no fickleness of air
could whisper where to go;
for I was each, in turn,
as years unearthed the soul,
yet found no way to burn
but dark and pressed as coal.
Originally published by Calamaro