the writing disorder



New Poetry


by H. Alexander Shafer

My dear sweet brother, hate
Burned by fleeting fathers of your younger days;
I sing sweet words, so not to relate.

O the first, he was fueled to fornicate
As much as pleased, with no way to raise
My dear sweet brother, hate.

He came, then left, aimed to complicate
A new wife with an old; in many ways
I sing sweet words, so not to relate.

Then sweet spoken words, which wouldn’t hesitate
The slick headed man came in like a blaze;
My dear sweet brother, hate.

Later he’d say “No way to communicate”
And like the first, saw you at a young phase;
Icing, his sweet words, so not to relate.

Now we look old, no time to procrastinate
At dawn, your daughter is born and the past in a haze.
My dear sweet brother, relate!
I sing sweet words, so not to hate.


this environment brings me closer
to nature in a way that sprawling
rivers of busted asphalt, separating
tree lines, never could.
evergreens and big leaf maples
cover dirt & rocks & everything else
surrounding snoqualmie’s gaping
mouth. from a lookout point over
the watery falls, a sole trail
winding downwards to
snoqualmie’s mouth enters my
view. a sudden & dusty wind
then throws little pebbles
at the backs of my calves, &

the big maples shade my
charging feet, as i pass over a
thin hemlock bridge & into the
forest. the sun’s high hanging
glow submits to a treeline of
spruce & maple & larch. but also
the nursing trees, which after
experiencing death by lighting
bolt, lumberjack or innovation
of man, sprout baby seedlings
from their hollow trunks, & over
time, explode with evergreen life.
mother nature’s offering of trees
growing out of trees. life growing

from death. eventually, the treeline
breaks, shining light at the trail’s
dead end, dangling above a fifteen
foot drop down into snoqualmie’s
mouth. all at once, i panic but
press on, deafened by snoqualmie
as she rains rivers of water two hundred
feet before baptizing rocks gathered
in her mouth, till i stand all but alone
at the waterline. snoqualmie’s water,
once blue, are now the color of ever—
green from algae velcroed to the
surface. little ripples of water,
dying off from the falls

impact, collide against my dirty
stained feet & i bend down for a
look at my reflection. instead,
snoqualmie paints a brown faced
girl with black hair balancing on
a rock-ledge draping over
the lagoon. she dances
circles with arms raised up to god,
as if reaching for his hand or for
the hand of a snoqualmie mother
& screams on the stone altar
when neither hand appears. turning

away from my false reflection, the
snoqualmie girl stands on a bolder
behind me. her toes wrap around rock’s
edge for dear life as she looks through
my eyes & straight into the water. without
notice, she lets her knees buckle, like the
trunk of a tree under a lumberjack’s
axe. my ankle loosens above the rocky
beach, lunging for her as she
falls onto the rocks below.


the busted asphalt under his smooth
soled-shoes is what he knows best.
he walks the streets, muttering,
always in his red sweater, his nose,
durably beet red. he looks like he
will fall, wandering alone when i
pass him in my car. in the summer-
time, with growing grass, i’ve found
him cutting neighborhoods for a
dollar or so, or guiding his rusty red
mower above concrete, in his
inundated red sweater & his nose
stained with the smug beat of
oklahoma summer, high pitched-
muttering of a day’s work well
done. he spends the rest of the year
scanning plastic and cloth items,
in the little store on the east end of
town, where the red of his sweater
is contrasted against the white of
his name tag & where his double
master’s of philosophy & english
do not merit & where his slow
vibrating hands agitate patrons.
& where his muttering of kant &
dostoyevsky, black friday savings
& store member-ship, without taking
a breath, aggravates patrons. during
the winter snow his meandering
slows, weighed down & bundled
with black coats & throwaway hats,
& a nose frost-slapped, red as fresh
blood. i heard he started muttering
& wandering alone when the young
red head he loved at university, met
the drunk at petersberg & 3rd. often, i
think to stop & give him a ride, but
like before he will only say, “no.”
i feel so bad to let him limp along alone.
at least today his red sweater is clean.


at around 2 a m nurse toppan prepares
a dose for mister davis, who waits
restlessly under blankets & fear
in boston during winter nineteen-nineteen.

she walks through davis’ darken hallway, stopping
in each room, & kissing out each candle with
her red painted lips before, nurse toppan
stares down the hall’s last room, where
davis lays

                                                                                    quiet & alone

on a bed, yellowed from months of
supporting his slowly decomposing body.

—are we ready for a nighttime sip?
              asks nurse toppan.

thinking about the man’s weakening heart,
she gathers up a syringe from the medical
bag that she’d been telling people for years
was given to her at cambridge with nothing
more to say of the matter, & grabs out
three ½ bottles of clear liquids
with white labels.

—morphine’s for the pains,
              she says showing davis the bottle.
—sugar water
—& a bit-a strychnine for good measure,
       wouldn’t wanna botch the job, yeah?

davis lays motionless in bed six months
now, only able to tilt his head upward, which
keeps him from drowning on shallow
drinks of water. he eyes nurse toppan’s
forward advance, the needle

dripping clear penhead drops of so-called
emancipation poking out of her right
hand, till she stands hovering above his face.

              she whispers

holding the needle to her lips. backing
away nurse toppan softly unzips her white
coat riddled with yellow stains and removes
her black leather shoes. davis’ eyelids dispatch

out a single tear closing, as if seizing up when
he feels his left arm for the first time in six
months. & removing the needle, a small drab of
blood lands on davis’ bed-side-table. nurse toppan
slipping innocently next to him, pressing against his
body with her arms around his chest,

              she holds him tightly & whispers
—now stop breathing


Up, down, and back, I take left—
To the South there is little to be found,
But little men and little women, in little cars, which they drive,
As little as they can.
To the East, the reconstructed versions,
Of faded, broken business building
Some whose windows inhale
February mornings.
To the West, if I squint my eyes, I see
The immaculate representations of post-this and pre-that.
A new mirrored, shinny built building
Stretching upwards — which is the only direction
I don’t see—
The brown and grey, foggy cityscape—
The frozen river road, cracked from underneath—
The sun drenched men in breads and time to spare—
My dirty brown boots, cemented with familiarity—
I step through the snowy mud mounds,
Drifts of snow parting the slick grey roads beneath,
Their bottoms turned down Wanda’s Way, behind what use to be
Willie’s Dead Cold Saloon, where for
Fifteen minutes and a quarter bottle, an old bluesman
Will tell your future.

H. Alexander Shafer is a writer of poetry, film and is a musician living in Oklahoma City. He has be writing for several years and holds a B.A. of Journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma, where he is also pursuing an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and works as a Reading and Writing Consultant. Shafer’s main poetic influences range from Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Charles Bukowski to Langston Hughes, Kevin Brown, and Billy Childish.

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