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Creation and Criticism

ISSN: 2455-9687  

(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal

Devoted to English Language and Literature)

Vol. 07, Joint Issue 24 & 25: Jan-April 2022


Virgil, as a Woman and Other Poems by Jake Sheff

Jake Sheff (b. 1984) is a pediatrician in Oregon and veteran of the US Air Force. Poems of Jake’s are in Radius, The Ekphrastic Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. He won 1st place in the 2017 SFPA speculative poetry contest and a Laureate's Choice prize in the 2019 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. Past poems and short stories have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. He’s also published translations of poetry and reviews of translated poetry collections. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). A full-length collection of formal poetry, “A Kiss to Betray the Universe,” is available from White Violet Press. He resides at: 14480 SW Chardonnay Ave, Portland, OR 97224 and can also be contacted through email:


1. Virgil, as a Woman, Studies Modern Nature


More important than our intelligence, our

bravery. Civilized with a wild streak, we

keep our eyes closed, taking a punch and our jobs

seriously. Very


insecure, our wisdom is out of place in

perfect worlds. Not caring about the wrong things,

manly chins and visions devoured forests;

gracefully dittoed


self-control’s pursuit. The impermanence of

pain and friendship plans our society; hardy

semi-knowledge works for us. Hardihood is

memory’s temple.


Born with likability, our republic

fails to warm the cockles of elevated

hearts. I love a man, his preponderance of

overseas pity.


Hardier than all of the rhino calves* in

dreams, he oversees – with his missing eye! – my

spiritual foundation. To each his owner’s

magical posture


is parental. Drowsy and drunk, a thought-crime

sells itself, but this one’s a rental. Working

ends in shame with naked enthusiasm’s po-

etic technology.


*Rhino calves are known to stay by their mother even as hyenas eat her body from the inside out.


2. Elegy for Dog II: A Failed Acrostic


“If that’s not high praise, tell me higher, and I’ll use it.” 

- Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


Control it all! A memory frisbees by

Offhandedly. Fall also rises; this

Prepares me for the days what’s past is nigh.

Potential grief’s blind eye despises this

Emotion; joy improves my worth. The place

Reunion happens houses you the best.

Tenacious love can taste like herb-of-grace:

“His floppy ear was buried in my chest.”

Enough! Enough! My words still couch your fur

Or thunder lavenders my night. You hide;

Dreams rearrange misfortune’s furniture

On purpose: you receive me so glad-eyed

Redemption hurts. You chose to brecciate,

Ere early’s loss, what can’t depreciate.


Celestial keyholes above are not

Occult when violins on vinyl cry

“Pare it all down!” What Scooby-Doo forgot

(Parents are poor parentheses; we try

Endlessly not to be) was Mother Nature’s

Regular irregularities:

That rock and roll’s not here; another nature’s

Hospitality and home it is.

Electric loss, electric absence pains me.

Obedience, where firesides reside,

Delights no more. Nobody’s knob maintains me;

Observe what faulty faculties deride:

Relief from known oblivion; they mourn

Embarrassed Plenty’s supernatural horn.


Copper’s face. Copper’s face and loyalty

Oppress my heart today. Copper, you’re cute;

Perfected cuteness is too cute for me.

Protect your flaws up there, where sounds transmute.

Everyone knows, when death asks “wasn’t it?,”

Replies are verb-like, very verb-like nods

Together; beauty fetches, doesn’t it,

Hellacious loves we lost, recast as gods?

Empires calm what dust dismays. You stand

Outside of time, with opposition’s charm,

Denying a hard row to hoe needs land.

Old saws give man its ever-wrestling arm…

Rekindled tug o’ war? I feel your worth,

Embodied by this tug still here on earth.


3. A Ronduet on Learning to Shoot Trap and Skeet


When the moon shines on beautiful

Nonsense, I break it; they’re a dime a dozen

In a dreamer’s head.

Forgive me this long night of memories frozen

And thud-thawed by my dutiful


Reminder; dreams are not why midnight’s ulcer

Lingers. Morning’s cause

Célèbre: shooting nothing dead

Until history’s paws

Are licked. The fields cried, “Oh Mylanta!,” falser


Than what game birds are okay with. 

It hits like Funky Cold Medina; clouds

Part too, when a hagridden

Clay evaporates. If part two clouds

My shotgun’s aim, we’ll spend a day with


My cleaning kit, whose rod is somehow fey.

Root-filled, I ask for woodsy

Targets. Clay abides. “Good riddance!,”

Cries the high house, sudsy-

Voiced, with an affection none can weigh.


4. A Minuet for Watson Falls


I bet your brooks brook no dissent. They bus

Time’s hypothalamus

Through Douglas County. Oceanic aerie;

I bet your fall’s not scary


When viewed from memory’s isthmus.

What’s none of my business? I bet it’s your asthma’s

A tenured migraineur

Or TV with a built-in VCR


To bums in Idleyld Park’s sequestrum.

I bet here’s the best restroom:

Three graces grace three crags; slugs with e-cigs

Lack egos (pagan’s eggs);


It’s not a hopeless quest,

Au fond: revising every heart’s request.

You invigorate Hegel’s

Second fiddle; I bet water haggles.


5. Two Silver Trumpets of Hammered Work for Pat Tillman


“Nor do I see any longer

The sway of my strong,

And wealthy,

And multimilitant

Brother Yaroslav…

Eight-minded Yaroslav of Galich!” (The Song of Igor’s Campaign, trans. by Vladimir Nabokov)


“We bards

sing of you both when we begin and conclude - it cannot be

that one forgetful of you remembers sacred song.” (Hymn 1: To Dionysos, Homer)


Some say we scrape the floorboards’ bottoms in heaven’s basement

To hear the mountain speak, some say in the meter of Homer’s

Hymn to Demeter we meet her (the voice of the deepest speeds

And mountain’s peak), still others maintain us poets meander

Through lands whose tresses are trees and best guesses to find who won’t die,

But I say to them, what summons the muses, what sets all our memories in

Motion, is witnessed communion with nature, holding that slithering

Thing by the neck until it’s a rod – to the glory of God!


Most likely the soul’s obsidian dagger is hatred, the one

Inscribed, Peace is good, but war is great, that we sheathe in our pride.

When the rains took the shape of evil, he cried. With the stamina

Of a thousand rivers, he chose to partner with liberty, whose arms are

Always hugging her struggle. The dreadful scream in his chariot’s

Dream was all that he heard. He chose to join Ares’ utmost

Brotherhood. And he abandoned both fortune and fame to exceed

The immortals in morals.


Secular seconds run amok

In the holy hours a war brings. With the stamina of a thousand

Thousand eternities, liberty won’t give up on herself, although

Humans are doomed to die. Freedom, who knows her duties and always

Exists, is rarely broad-pathed; she’ll be sad for days at a time,

Or too hard to see under yesterday’s blood bath. Raided by raiders,

Our free wills need constant self-discipline. Choosing to make itself decent

When the rains come, it might say, What a piece of work

Is goodness, or make goodness more than a friend; it might cover

Its fear in pale honey for eating, or make its fear more than a foe;

It might go be great in some ways, but not all, and have little time left

To play football again for a laud-loud crowd – to the glory of God!



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