Featured Poet

C. E. Chaffin

( Mendocino, California )


To My Left Pinkie

You were not sprained as I twirled,
slamming each shoulder in turn
before my helmet broke.
How dare you play the fool 
and insist it’s you that hurts!
You’d make my neck a liar.   

Your pain, though real, is referred
from the distant tower of my neck
along my inner arm and elbow
to the ulna’s tip until 
it absolutely concentrates 
in your three-jointed misery,
as if you broke or were frostbitten –
but there’s no bruise or swelling,
no strange discoloration,
just your wrinkled cylinder
with two tufts of blond hair. 

How odd to be upstaged
by such an undistinguished part!
Your pink and yellow flesh tones
strike me as psychedelic.
Are you showing off? 
The indignity!  I cannot play 
a 7th chord on my guitar. 
What should I do, rail at you 
and indemnify my spine? 
Who switched a deuce for a queen? 
And if I can’t trust your trumped-up signal
how can I trust anything?

Perhaps the Empiricists were right:
if a disk is crushed in a forest
and all I feel is my finger
it must be the finger.
But this view invites error: 
a headache may result
from undetected hemorrhoids,
bursitis from a hangnail,
my fluttering eye’s tick
from an abraded knee.
How would I know?
So much for the perceiver!
If you were a middle finger
I could make the right response.

Your insult is one of disproportion, 
encapsulating suffering 
into one mean appendage,  
oppressed and oppressing, 
without splint or dressing,
a nobody turned celebrity
in the brain’s pagination.
Traitor, puppet, fall guy, shill,
least valuable of digits! 
Worm not worthy of a ring, 
usurper of my first-born pain,
poseur, impostor, not even 
my first choice to pick my nose!
Still your riddle is easily deduced; 
after the damage you are the false caboose.

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