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Big Bang Theory
by JEFF SHAMPNOIS
To the chick, the awakening impulse
is a big bang.
Behold, the shell is shattered,
the chicken coop expands.
What Was Lost
by JEFF SHAMPNOIS
Out of these dead dreams,
out of the milk and honey,
the yes I can
Ma’m, the voices liquid,
manic, electric, out of the factory smoke,
the hot rod cars, the hollering haws,
and hot damn cracker jack salutes, reeling
out of bars, out of churches,
only the sky assembling.
than old, weird America was lost, not just
that slapdance music, the how’s things
in your neck of the woods chatter, or that skinny man
sprinting his once-a-week emergency
in Sunday Best, to be saved again
from the straw, sweat and drink.
than all these butcher boys,
these American nerves twitching,
in the last slants of light.
Look, yonder is the ball game,
a midsummer heatfest,
articulated in the snap, crackle, pop.
Here, unfathomable vectors, oases
of breezes, hawking
vendors, circling pigeons,
and the shocking anomaly
of a line drive
Here, the transported maudlin
Middle American rage, and automobile
lines and space age
sonics converge in some
impenetrable nexus, no wonder
the game survives. Speed
was only what we thought we wanted,
we wanted some explanation for this, this what
this mundane, fantastical assembly?
these jet trails, pigeons
and the Texas Leaguer?
Later, we sat for years in the bus terminals,
the great promise of a century
rusting down around us, watching blinking
one-eyed pentacostal drunks,
beseeching ministerial ticket agents,
in smoke-choked booths,
but confessing only to a need
for one way passage out of Ithaca, out of
Junkyards, East Pharsalia, NY
by JEFF SHAMPNOIS
“Armies akin embattled, with the force
Of all the shaken earth bent on the fray”
– from Lucan’s Pharsalia or Civil War (1st century BC)
The Royal Elephant carcass of a bus lies mangled
among legions of Fords
and Chevrolets. From shrinking drifts
broken doors and mirrors reach out
like Chief Bigfoot in Death. All of Pharsalia
melts again into the stone boot-prints
of mile-heavy ice.
Their triumph and defeat
merging and disappearing
in water, like elephant
Jeff Shampnois probably should have gone into dry cleaning like his guidance counselor suggested. He went to Cornell, was too lazy to leave, works at a library, lives for his wife, dogs, cats and duck, builds stone walls, regrets giving up boxing, writes when it’s unavoidable, carves marionettes when he isn’t reading Beckett or more likely sleeping. His work has hitherto appeared in the mail boxes of annoyed friends and relatives.
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