Their leathery blue leaves
scented with lemon-pepper
and strands of umber bark
shed like snakeskin in the grass,
and their strange, gray acorns,
crossed like aspirin tablets,
do not belong here
in the northern hemisphere
where they threaten
the Monterey Cypress
by growing faster with less water.
Drenched by coastal rains,
their clamoring boles
surround this plodding conifer
like a circle of slow wolves
or giant, pale bamboo
rising to choke and expose
our dark green native ignorance.
An End to Summer
This is a Galveston summer
when the wind is immobile and glutted with sweat;
cicadas shiver their drone through limp trees,
I am wet with the stasis of all things.
Summer, season of surfeit
when dog days pad slowly down sandy alleys
and time is a quadriplegic.
No air conditioner can slice this pasta,
this thick lasagna of atmosphere;
the moon cannot cool, the sun cannot dry
this humid revolution of stars,
for night is worse for no relief,
warm as a wet pillow when fever strikes.
Believe in a fiery frost of sub-zero winds,
believe in an end to things
and the summer months may turn belly-up
like lounging elephant seals
before they plunge into the coolness,
the deep coolness of the sea.
C.E. Chaffin received a B.A. in English in 1976 from UCLA, winning "The Edward Niles Hooker Award for Outstanding Achievement in English" (top prize for students in the honors program, in which he wasn't). He also served as poetry editor of Goldenwest Literary Magazine and Carrion while an undergraduate. He has published a book of poetry titled Elementary, Edwin Mellen Press, 1997, as well as published poetry in numerous e-zines, including Agnieszka's Dowry, Recursive Angel, Web Del Sol, and Zuzu's Petals Literary Quarterly. Mr. Chaffin also holds a M.D. degree, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and is Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the University of California-Irvine.