Poetry / May 2008 (Issue 3)

Five Poems

by Tom Chandler

Stan's Hands

When he reached for his beer
they looked weird,
blushed as baby swans,
those ballerina fingers,

each nail more perfect than the last,
as if their gentle clasp had made his life
a compensation, a story
to prove his own two hands wrong,

show they belonged to other arms,
build a colossus of delicate gestures,
the sharp stone scraping his palms raw,
just to finally stand on top

waving twin middle finger salutes,
waving them crazy in everyone’s face.


I love to watch them
plunge in the slightest wind,
nodding their answer,
so agreeable
on clearly blue days
like this,
handed down to the world
from somewhere
clearly not the world
but another place
where so many days
with exactly three clouds
sliding toward sunset
are gathered
that one slips away
and becomes right now.

Getting Saved

I was that back pew boy too shy
to have thoughts, who accepted
his Jesus for no other reason than
I was eleven and it was the summer
I was lost on the farm with beheaded
chickens and everyone praying in rows
of pink foreheads with beaded sweat
and eyes clenched tight as fists while
the organ bled tears and the preacher
shouted for sinners to rise up and walk
down the center in sight of the assembled
and ask to be forgiven our worst secret horrors,
let the Lord crawl up inside us and I went,
terrified to the altar, trying desperately
to conjure some worthy perversion
so no one would think I was weird.

Put Your Hands Together

Because we got through it all somehow,
and the list of everyone to be thanked
drifts in a giant scroll from earth to sky.

And while we're at it, let's give high fives
to that blue bowl of light that sits over
the whole world at once and watches us

or doesn't, a splendid backdrop,
you must admit, for all those
colorful flags that ripple bravely

somewhere beyond banality
as the crowd breaks out spontaneously
into yet another heartfelt round

at the sound of their own screaming faces
reflected in a hundred million screens.
So c'mon, let's hear it one more time,

get off your butt and make that palm music
reach the stars, happy pre-dead folks we are,
let's give everything a big standing ovation.

My Memoir

Did I actually win
that barroom knife fight
back in Crested Butte?

And did the space pod
really land precisely in the yard,
or was it merely buzzing by?

Of course, the big election fraud is more
than halfway partly true, at least one
stolen vote did shed its chad on solid ground.

And though I clearly heard the gunshots
echo from the grassy knoll, who can blame me
for not telling you till now?

All the organ transplants go
without saying, as does the chapter
on my role in bringing peace.

And the ending? - thoroughly beyond dispute,
no one can say I lied;
despite the glitter of it all

my heart closed up its little shop,
I dropped the planet I was molding
with my hands and died.
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.