Ed Shacklee is no one at all, really, poetry-wise. He represents young people in the District of Columbia as a public defender, and is working on a bestiary.
A clawed, carnivorous canard,
the mocking-voiced camelopard
is partly leopard, partly camel,
wholly myth and maybe mammal.
It dines with djinns on drifting dunes
beneath romantic desert moons
and plays with shrieking sheiks like mice.
A cat with humps, a plot device
dismissed by folk who know the rare
is equal to what isn’t there,
it’s half mirage; yet who’ll still doubt
who see its spots from inside out?
The Beast in the Jungle
A hydra-headed rose, a crown of thorns about to bloom,
a smell that got inside your nose and tickles like perfume,
you sense it’s close: a silver lining, hiding in the gloom –
or else an icy sliver sure to shiv you in the cold,
piranhas in the river you’ll be crossing once you’re old,
ties that bind but sever all you thought to have and hold;
a shadow bound to follow, though you’ve led a merry chase
around the inner hollow while you flee a dark embrace,
the beast you’ve feared will swallow you with its familiar face.
Worms in the End
He let his shadow slip the leash to give his stretch some room,
and showed his future how to fetch. He switched his who to whom,
climbing social ladders and then lowering the boom.
Lowing in the meadow, cows about to stalk the corn
believed the greenest ghetto would receive the ripest morn,
and just like them he said, "Oh, Bluest Boy, come blue your horn,
“for blues are what I feel inside – or like to say I do
while chatting up my neighbors as I’m knocking back a brew.
Living high upon the hog, we share a swinish view.”
When angels snuck him cakes or manna freshly baked by God
he mocked their stale hosannas, while demanding they applaud
his quest amid banana peels Fate littered on the sod;
yet finishing ahead, he found, was neck and neck with last.
A dirty blanket round him with the earthworms swimming past,
he reached the desk of no returns, and learned his die was cast.
They strapped him in the judgment seat, a wooden single seater.
“Who taught my shadow how to fetch?” the shade kvetched, while Peter
lounged behind the desk – serene, but frowning at the meter.