Two Poems ~ poetry by Jake Sheff

Exiter Riddles


I place my emphasis on penetrating
Matters: desiderata as the personal
Errata satiates my savagery, and I,
Its. Cynical, meticulous, the mapless
Man in white officiates my yaw,
These graceless arabesques into and through
Internalized, familiar song-and-dance,
The names and reproductions of delights,
Etcetera. The wizened wizardry I whiz by
Has taught me happiness exists in memory,
Prospect and art; the eternal returns of the sane.


I fenestrate placental and omphalic
Matters; the personality’s deciduous,
Erotic eye that salvages and satirizes
Shit. Mellifluous and clinical as maples
That officiate my yawns, the man in black
Retraces introductions so familiar change,
Externalized by chance, becomes an airy bisque;
The shame of that electrical reduction is
Ecstatic. A weaselly and whistled wisdom
Has caught me Chaplinesque, resisting memory’s
Respect for art, as the eternal’s refurnishing flame.


III. Scholars debate the answer to this riddle: a number have argued convincingly for “A bullet to the brain,” while a not insignificant opposition has done likewise for “A poem.”

VII. (See above)

In Warning Shot Attire: A Game of Chicken

Based on the 1965-1966 rivalry between Bob Dylan and John Lennon

“My tea party is the peril, and this peril is very, very ordinary.” — Judy,
played by Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause


No fraternizing fire lit Norwegian
Rum for the aroma; no gallant wine
Or thunderbolt to break your eye –
Or should I say, the bird that flew from
It – was sent to hum by tautologically:
That shit cray! Admiring a Gorky
Print, like protein for your grand mal
On stage, is fine and dandy – no boo-boo,
No crawl – but intercepting fairies
To submit them to a man’s laughter
Is no keener crutch than bloody baths
Or rugs that bide a burning chair.


Ha! Your fellowship forgets Jamaican
Gum with dirt in it; your wooden armor
Brokered ears more like a trident –
Or should I say, the bird that flew from
A teleological point of view – than a drum
Bat-shit crazy. A Porky’s film
Admixture, more protean than grandma’s
Wheelchair or a dandelion’s drawer full
Of buboes; no introspective furloughs
Manumit you from that suit of manslaughter
Catherine Keener called cute: that bloody bed
Of plugs that worked you like a shoo-in curfew.

Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force, married with a daughter and three pets. Currently home is the Mojave Desert. Poems of Jake’s are in Radius, The Ekphrastic Review, The Brooklyn Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. He won 1st place in the 2017 SFPA speculative poetry contest and was a finalist in the Rondeau Roundup’s 2017 triolet contest. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing).

Show Jake some love via PayPal at jjsheff(at)gmail(dot)com.