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Eric Paul Shaffer

Orphaned at Sixty

I‘m so old sixty still sounds like a speed limit to me.

My orphaning started long ago, for the man

who claimed he was my father died long before

the man who said he was not my father,

even though both looked like the same man. The limits

were roadside signs he ignored. He drove

half-asleep, with the whole family wide-awake

and watching, crying when tires crossed

the centerline or dropped from the roadway

to the shoulder. The miles disappeared beneath

heavy lids and a heavy foot. Nobody slept

but the driver. Anyway, the keys are mine now,

and the world is emptier and bigger and fuller

and brighter and, some say, flatter. With no father

to obscure my vision, the world is open to my eyes,

so if the horizon is not the edge of the world,

somebody say so, because with miles rolling beneath me,

I’m awake, watching, approaching the imminent.

Eric Paul Shaffer is author of seven books of poetry: Even Further West; A Million-Dollar Bill; Lāhaina Noon; Portable Planet; Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen; RattleSnake Rider; and Kindling: Poems from Two Poets. More than 500 of his poems have been published in national and international reviews in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, and the United Kingdom. Shaffer teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.

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