Three by Jeff Shampnois

Big Bang Theory

To the chick, the awakening impulse

is a big bang.


Behold, the shell is shattered,

the chicken coop expands.

What Was Lost

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.


Something more


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.

Something more

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


“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.

Here pool

retreating forces.

Their triumph and defeat

merging and disappearing

like ice

in water, like elephant

into earth.


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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