Issue > Poetry
Eric Paul Shaffer

Eric Paul Shaffer

Eric Paul Shaffer, author of Lāhaina Noon; Portable Planet and Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen, has been published in the USA, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales. Shaffer was a Visiting Poet at the 23rd Annual Jackson Hole Writers Conference in June 2015. He teaches composition, literature and creative writing at Honolulu Community College. A Million-Dollar Bill, Shaffer’s sixth book of poetry, will be published in 2016.

Crossing An Intersection In Las Vegas

Dust never settles on the burning streets and steel benches,
and I don't need to wander the desert to know solitude.
In this crowd stilled by the boulevard, surrounded with eyes

dulled by invisible music, I am alone. Maybe Satan is
somewhere in this crowd, but He has nothing to say to me
     as orange numbers count down to apocalypse

or a safe crossing between solid lines through traffic.
Maybe one of the numbers is lucky. Furiously, the sun

dumps light on the pavement, and we cross the street
     among the idling engines, walking on our shadows
to the other side. We expect to arrive at a destination

somewhere on the cracked slabs of concrete littered
with wrappers and little else, cans and can'ts, pennies
     we will not bend to find and keys we just ignore.

Many pockets in this crowd are empty, but there is no
visible sign among the marquees. The buildings are large

and blinking and blank with broad entrances dim and loud
     interiors leaking chill. All is open and windowless.
Nothing reflects each one of us passing as light careens

on the street no one sees. The desert yawns around the city
and us, dry, deep, without direction, patiently awaiting
     the night and the stars lying about the empty sky.


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