By: Peter Shaheen

From the Author: “Readers of the Iliad will note that the shield Hephaestus made for Achilles is perhaps the greatest example of ekphrasis in western literature. Homer’s detailed description speaks to the value of a structured, meaningful existence. My life lacks that structure. Perhaps value and meaning too. I am just a regular Joe lacking the sophistication of the ancients, trying to be sane in an insane world, but realizing it’s just not rational. So the speaker in Ekphrasis comes to an ironic situation and reaches an understanding of his motivations and limitations when reflecting on a personal masterpiece.”


In ceramics 101 teacher said
Go to your wheel and create
An artifact that screams of you
Expresses your desires and wishes
Explains your dreams and hopes
And makes me want
To fall in love
With you


So for a semester I struggled
With clay and wheel
Engineering an intelligent design
Vulnerable but strong too and firm
Yet flexible enough

Five circles of love and life
For Faith: a Eucharist split by sword

For Love: two beating hearts
Joined as one

For Truth: a flame burns
From the pages of an open book

For Work: a farmer and harnessed
Horse plowing a fertile field

And for Hope: a phoenix in flight
Rising from its cremated ashes


Years later
I brought home a lovely girl
With long Repunzel hair
Whose ladder of love
I couldn’t wait to climb

Tits that pointed north
And braless nipples that stuck
Out like Bing cherries

And there on the mantle
my soulful artifact displayed
screaming all of who I am
Inner thoughts
venerable and tender
stood I.

Only for her to say
This is an ugly thing

I know

Shaheen is mostly normal. He is older than he wants to be and not half as wise as he would like to be. He is not the poet he wants to be but is learning to settle. Peter Shaheen is a blue collar poet. He has written for a variety of venues including Lucky Jefferson, the Underwood Press, Inside HockeyTown, Indolent, The National Council of Teachers of English and more.