Ed Shacklee

About Ed Shacklee

Ed Shacklee is a Washington, D.C. public defender and poet who lives on a boat in the Potomac River and represents young people in his law practice. His poems have appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Journal, Light, and Rattle. His first book, The Blind Loon: A Bestiary, will be published in 2017 by Able Muse Press.

A Poem of Self-Discovery

Image of "I Am What I Am"

I Am What I Am

I am the money that talks in the bank,
a flaw in the mirror, a check that was blank,
the tip of an iceberg, the liner that sank.

I’m the isle of the blessed and the pirate who’d plunder it,
the veil of the night and the lightning to sunder it,
the boy in the bed and the monster who’s under it.

I’m the sum of a part and the karmic subtraction,
the paralyzed thought and the frenzy of action,
the bile in my throat and a low satisfaction.

I’m the past I have checkered, the devil’s detail,
the promise of love and a check in the mail,
rebellion in heaven, the quest for the grail;

I’m the grave of my death and the air in my head,
the puzzle I question, the answer I dread –
each shadow I’ve thrown, and the life that I’ve led,
the monster below and the boy in the bed.

Illustration by Russ Spitkovsky courtesy of Ed Shacklee.

A Trio of Animal Poems for The Age of Donald Trump

Image of the Slink

The Slink

Charming as a flophouse with a bathtub full of adders,
it flouts the laws of science, slickly climbing social ladders
by trickling antisocial thoughts like urinary bladders.

Its tongue’s a snaky shadow. A disruptive syncopation
of moves behind the scenes forecasts its leapfrog ambulation.
Its hunting cry a subtle, slimy, sly insinuation,

it’s scoped us out as birds to pluck, but first it plans to fatten us
on patter slathered lavishly with compliments gelatinous
and up to seven deadly sins to tempt the inner brat in us;

yet larger Egos love a Slink, and never feel alarm
till one has stabbed them in the back while walking arm in arm,
selling Brooklyn bridges while it’s buying them the farm.

Image of the Ankylosaurus

The Ankylosaurus

Observe this early turtle, one of myriad
herbivores from the Cretaceous Period,
short on intellectual propensity,
since armor’s not his only form of density,

who doesn’t have a brain, but has a pair,
and isn’t very smart, but doesn’t care;
which seems a way of thinking that illumines,
given how much thinking does for humans.

Image of a Joust of Narwhals

A Joust of Narwhals

Little longer than its horn,
part cigar, part unicorn,
the narwhal frolics, disinclined
to use a sword to speak its mind.

Men have always found it odd
peace should flourish in a pod,
flummoxed that these placid creatures
won’t employ their martial features,

inciting fights on what their use is
amongst the apes on arctic cruises,
till decks are swarmed with skewered corpuses,
alarming the disarming porpoises.

Illustrations by Russ Spitkovsky courtesy of Ed Shacklee.