Ed Shacklee


The Lost Map

It was the age before the age mankind invented wings,
when native gods were nosy and pursued demented flings,
when truths were grand and gaudy as the bard, contented, sings;

when phytophagic crocodiles were lank of leg, and quick,
the Fates would never cheat at cards and sometimes missed a trick,
while timber wolves still pined for pigs in houses made of brick;

a belle époque when butterflies were born in tubs of butter,
our kings would crown philosophers with useful things to utter,
most heroes herded cows or sheep, and prophets didn’t stutter.

The Earth, they say, was flat and made of spit and cotton candy,
the baby mountains, molehills, balmy deserts not so sandy;
and gods, as I discussed above, were near and rather randy.

Devils, on their tippy toes, delivered goodwill baskets.
The watch that is the universe had all its working gaskets,
and no one yet had slept among the fishes, or in caskets.

The apple on the Tree of Wisdom dangled, ripe and polished.
The farms were wild, the seas were mild, all selfish walls abolished
within the paradise that Cain so ably demolished:

a golden age before the time when clocks were armed and wound,
when hearts were high, the end not nigh, our feet still on the ground,
where vultures were not circling Prometheus, unbound,
for which I bought us tickets, but the map was never found.

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who lives on a boat in the Potomac River. His first collection, The Blind Loon: A Bestiary, was published in 2017 by Able Muse Press. (Book review here.) His poems can be found in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Light, and Rattle, among other places. If you’re interested, the Facebook Group “The Blind Loon: A Bestiary” can be found here.