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SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

[Four Poems]

by David Shaddock

Female Desire

She wants it! She wants it!
The pubescent mantra
that has drawn my life
into the future for almost
50 years. These days,
flush with the curious
grace of late middle age,
I’m ready to believe
She does! She does!
Though I still have no clue
who she is or what ruse
I’ve used to entice her.




A train sighs down toward the station in Anytown
USA. Trash everywhere, concertina wire 
Chunks of scrap rebar, smashed concrete like a hoard
Of medieval weaponry. Everything’s broken
It says in Kabbalah, because creation
Couldn’t hold the sparks of God’s light and shattered
Into a million fragments. Lots with leaky
Drums, clotheslines behind a few makeshift houses.
You detrain amidst a swirl of skirts and suits
Past the candy stand and florist, up the long
Escalator out to the pumping city.
All day you pretend you’re fine, but the broken
plinths and half buried tires in the estuary 
Need you, since you were a boy you have known that.



Vernal Pool

They were playing the hits from ’66 on
KFOG this morning. I was meeting Toby
At the oncologist. Don’t be alarmed it’s
All good, they can go cell by cell to get clean
Margins these days. She doesn’t even need much
Radiation. I was expecting something
Like Iron Butterfly, but it was all Otis, the Byrds
Dylan. Later, to celebrate, we walked
North from Inspiration Point. Despite the drought
There were orange poppies and forget-me-nots
Vernal pools with a chorus of croaking frogs.
I thought of Cape Ann, years ago, how we listened
For hours to the bullfrogs and spring peepers
Convinced that we’d found the ur source of music.




It’s always been tradeoffs. Finish your lasagna
If you want that leftover cake. I won’t drop
Acid till the last hour of my shift at the
Warehouse. If the A’s win the pennant, I’ll wear 
Green socks for a year. My near-misses have back-
Stories. Those Econoline black ice 360’s 
Were at dawn in empty Wyoming because
I told the truck stop cashier you gave me too
Much change. You can’t go Hi it’s me, God, David
Remember the time I blah de blahed? It’s more
Like the California carbon exchange
Where you plant some trees to offset your smokestacks.
They keep track at the Capital. That’s why I’m 
Still here, I flossed and took the dog out to pee.


—Except for “Female Desire,” these poems are from Vernal Pool, which is forthcoming from Kelsay Books (White Violet Press Imprint) in January 2015. All poems are reprinted here by author’s permission.


SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

David Shaddock’s

book Vernal Pool is due out in January 2015 from Kelsay Books (White Violet Press Imprint). Previous collections include Dreams Are Another Set of Muscles (with an introduction by Denise Levertov) [In Between Books, 1987], and In This Place Where Something’s Missing Lives [Alileah Press, 1991].

His poems have appeared in Tikkun and Mother Jones, and have won the Ruah Magazine Power of Poetry Award for a collection of spiritual poems and the International Peace Poem Prize. His play, “In A Company of Seekers,” was performed at the 2012 Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

Shaddock received a PhD in psychoanalytic research from Middlesex University London. He is the author of two nonfiction books on relationships and couples therapy and maintains a psychotherapy practice in Oakland, California. He lives with his family in Berkeley.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury