VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Jake Sheff

Looking for Harajuku Girls During Hanukkah on SW Nyberg Street

After a rough night on a soft bed, my oral

Fixation – for serious – had me seeking some

Bone-blonde flawless flame at New Seasons

Market. Honestly, the only animal that is

Territorial around ideas was getting kind of

Fistic in my chest, inside that smoking cloche

Of half-regrets. Now beauty walks in beauty’s

Absence, or it isn’t beautiful at all. But as

I walked between Cabela’s and MattressFIRM,

It hit me: normal animosity is always there

For no good reason, either in a sleeping bag

Or silver-colored scarves. I don’t believe free

Will a thing, but know that into being paradise

I sing: I took this nostrum and a look into

LA Fitness when the cuckoo clocks went off.

Greed for money’s bad, but greed for meaning’s

Worse; as always, the twain contended – like

Science and equality – as I gazed upon the teller

Inside Banner Bank from outside. Her face

Was full of one, her fist the other, but my

Scientific fact-checker – blind to things

Like poetry and pride – said I had to move

On. And like so many times before, I didn’t

Ask, “Move on to what?” – the very question

Frightens the living. Honestly, the day took me

In stride, as if the very phrase, “as if,” was

Now sci-fi. Honestly, I never try to change

Another’s nature; that’s a rare achievement,

Rarer yet, is it not worth the effort. Still, I stood

Outside Batteries Plus with a girl on her


Cigarette break, and said, “Flowerlike, my snow-

Flake: your person and your personality…”

To which my learned company replied, “You know

Who has no dignus? You, dingus!” The mRNA

Of oblivion; I think she was Bolivian…

I acted American, and it wasn’t until I sat

Down by my lonesome in The Good Feet Store

That she and I were on decent footing again.

I answered my own question there with, “God only

Knows,” and meant it, without believing in Him.

The devil can be so Homerican! It’s safe to say,

I’d leap over barrels and five-barred gates to

Meet the Sugarplum Fairy at Pieology or Mud Bay.

Good people only know good facts. I only say

Bad facts out loud if the Philharmonic Orchestra

Is warming up, and I never answer honestly when

People ask, “How are you,” unless I’m in Home

Goods. I put bindweed in my ears when I walked by

The highly intelligent higglers in GOLFTEC.

Gallantry, gall and Girl Scout cookies were getting

Me ready for a nap, but the galaxy wouldn’t stop

Spinning. For serious, I’m sad to say, some jolly

Fellow – a widow’s man – was moving through

The aisles at Michael’s like King’s knight to bishop

Three. I don’t know what it means if my tea leaves

Are teal…Someone outside Red Robin said I

Have a basenji’s baseness, and her friend accused

Her of “charitably characterizing again.” Now there are

Two ways of disliking the non-pharmaceutical

Interventions life will offer: one is to dislike them,


The other is to write a nice Yelp review – some well-

Off words – for Bright Now! Dental. Permanent

Ephemera can’t give critical thinking toxic megacolon.

For You, I Beat the Living Shit Out of my Inhumanity

The crowd is jeering, as I make myself

My pet peeve’s bête noire. My cruelty,

Whose crown is golden, looks at me with

Sorrowful eyes. Some witnesses have second

Hearts for brains, to bathe themselves

In the muddy, midday light of empathy,

Whose crown is golden. Ingratitude takes

Hold of me. I’m strangled by the desert’s

Wings; pale black, night-blooming wings.

Sweet nightmare, why’d you have to go

And do that? Selfishness makes wisemen

Lazy. Phony magnanimity might brush

Your mane, my bruise-bronzed heart is

Fine. It goes both ways – correction’s fist –

And I’m no overzealous corpse. This isn’t

Any form of love… Sometimes the meaning

Wears the word out. Would you look at

That! Norman Mailer wrote the donning

And doffing protocols for golden crowns

On garlands of paper flowers. I think it’s

True, and dangerous to forget: too much

Respect grows best in majolica flowerpots

Painted by Toulouse-Lautrec. If it’s the whip

My anger wants, it’s the whip my anger gets.

A Pillar of Snow
After John Ashbery, “Into the Dusk-Charged Air”

He used to walk a runway like a hotel with

an appetite, like India away from Taj Mahal.

The crowd was his sierra, tempting him

with exodus; a tango for an over-40 thrill.

He could’ve won an Oscar as the charming

side of March or Romeo, but the heart

cannot be dressed in Yankee Doodle genius.

Instead he kept a hotel in his eyes and Nissan

Altima. In India, a Chevy Malibu had washed

his feet with headlight madness. A Ford Sierra

lost its grip on reality by the light of his tan. Going

for Apollo’s car, he blew a kiss to pull the sun

faster than an Alfa Romeo or winged minute. He

turned a Volkswagen Beetle’s brain into a Yankee:

“Out, out –

The beauty spot – a stain

On man’s eternal eye;

A fact – or two – are slain

To prove fertility” 

He offered up tonight as a hotel for tomorrow.

India had taught him violence was a bad joke.

He wore the Sierra Madres to officiate all of

yesterday’s tangoes with today, and vowed

to avenge tomorrow’s death. (The o-shaped scar

on Romeo is from that ruined breath.) His

catwalk flowed into the Yangtze river out to sea.

Sex and Information: Three 11-year Sun Cycles

Man:

Your body is a list of facts: “Humility out-virtues

All virtues,” and, “There is nothing more odious than

Being humbled,” to name a couple.  The sound of

Light is something in your breasts I wouldn’t dare

Behold, but your booty tells me: “Behold

Suffering, the opiate of the gods and spice

Of paradise for men!” And copulation, in a space

Without direction, reminds me in your eyes

It says, “The hawk was born of riddled fire; the hawk

Was lust in love expired.” Then laughter comes into

The sky, a supernova not in line with doctrine.

Woman:

Your body lends appearances a speech, the most

Repulsive malady in other people, but you

Mumbled. And my interpretation (to light a

Sound) was, “Something in the beast you shouldn’t dare

Behold,” but your shoulders told me: “Behold

Suffering, the piety of men and the spice

Of paradise for none!” The population in your eyes

Was sent to space without direction, reminding me,

“The mother’s map is in my lover’s lap.” I forthwith spun

The wheel of fascination, and a selfless axle

Birthed a fiction purely friction to the doctor.

Blackbird:

This bodiless adventure is a word embodied;

Sex: akin to blackbirds that out-shadow shadows.

To name a couple – Crumbling Light and Timeless

Sound – is something in your rest that isn’t dark

Or cold, but your grunting archways tell me: “Behold

Suffering, the poetry of gods and the spice

Of paradise for minds!” The most repulsive melody

Is space without a blackbird for the eye; remind me

Why: the man is hawking riddled tires; the woman’s

Map is plainly just a line of frisson poorly drawn: frozen

Fructose. From where I’m docked, I see more levels.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: