Two Poems by Jake Sheff

To a Roadside Memorial

Your teddy bear has weathered well.
The plastic flowers look alive
enough to fool a hummingbird;
one just came by, but at the well
of grief, it understood: it heard
a falling leaf. A votive drive

to honor what we’ve lost is why
I’m here. Your cross and intersection
point the same direction bells
and I must go. With dates, subtraction
tells me she was seven; I
am not. And heaven knows (but tells

only the chosen) why she had
to leave so soon. A sign nearby
says Please Don’t Drink and Drive. This state
has moved to ban erecting sad
memorials; I forgive them. Fate
is not for hummingbirds to die.


Near Fort Pierce, Florida

The space shuttle Endeavor
avowed its name above
the Indian River. Viewed

by my brother and me – two
princes in the harsh
perfume red drift algae

rinses Titusville with in
spring – it too avoided
being seen and heard. To

consider brutal truces
unseats a babysitter: a
mantis shrimp crawled

in the shallows near us;
to brother him I bet
he wasn’t man enough

to pet it. Cut to a crippled
minute later: a thumb
split by feigned hubris;

a second bris. No cuter
with a rosy beard, his thumb
was flayed to seaweed

and sewed up in the ER
to become a killer shrimp
in time’s rough gloss.


Jake Sheff is a major and pediatrician in the US Air Force, married with a daughter and three pets. Currently home is the Mojave Desert. Poems of Jake’s are in Marathon Literary Review, Jet Fuel Review, The Cossack Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing). He considers life an impossible sit-up, but plausible.

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