Shawn Pavey





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Shawn PaveyShawn Pavey
is the author of Talking to Shadows (Main Street Rag Press, 2008), Co-founder and former Associate Editor of The Main Street Rag Literary Journal, Host of The Main Street Rag Poetry Showcase every third Sunday at The Writers Place, and Vice President of The Writers Place Board of Directors.


His first book, Talking to Shadows, is available for purchase locally at Prospero's Books on 39th and Bell or at www.mainstreetrag.com/store/books.php. 


A graduate of the University of North Carolina's Undergraduate Honors Creative Writing Program, he likes his Tom Waits loud, his bourbon single barrel, and his basketball Carolina Blue.

His poems, essays, and journalism appear in a variety of national and regional publications. For 2010, Shawn is a "Poet In Residence" for www.presentmagazine.com.   




*Shawn Pavey photo by Shane Keyser, Kansas City Star

Cold Afternoon


snowfall makes no noise,

falls as forgetting falls,

flake after flake.

~~ Miguel de Unamuno, “The Snowfall Is So Silent,”
                                             as translated by Robert Bly


We imagine ourselves atmospheric,

waiting for a thick covering of snow

that we know will come.

I build a fire.


We blanket ourselves before it,

fill our space with warmth –

these rooms from which we will see

white flakes fall from the gray sky


through the cold glass of windows

shut tight against the Kansas wind

that seems to seep, still, through

cracks and seams around frames, under doors.


It is like this in winter.

It is like this when skin

shivers at the touch of air

colder than water frozen in the ground.


We settle in, adjust to walls familiar

and worn, to furniture that holds our shape,

to the warmth of our blanketed bodies.

The tea kettle whistles,


steams  the windows.  Outside,

we could see our breath and imagine

ourselves as storm clouds

shedding snow crystals over the stubbled plains,


as snow clinging to the bare branches of maples,

to the needles and cones of pines,

coating browning lawns, covering

the sidewalks and the streets.


We imagine the quiet and imagine the snow,

imagine a day spent bundled up

in the warmth of each other,

hastening that which we know will come.




Ladder to the Moon

                      for Georgia O'Keeffe

When it's time, you'll know.

You'll see it hanging in front of you

as if it had always been there,

a hand-made wooden ladder

above night-blackened red desert hills,

its bottom rung too high to even jump for,

top rung reaching nothing

save the space between earth sand and moon soil.

And somewhere past this desert,

past every thing,

strains a music of cinder blocks,

choirs of cranes and car horns,

and towers in New York reverberating a struggle

to reach only higher than they can.

If you can just see what is here,

then maybe a ladder will fall within your reach,

maybe it will carry you up

to touch and stand on a moon of your own,

to look down on towers of concrete, steel, and glass


that seem so small from there.

                                                      © 2008, Shawn Pavey 



Tempus Fugue

"Do I dare disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."

  -- T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

And on the moonlit sundial on Morehead planetarium's lawn
we lay right down
you and I
accompanied by trumpets of breeze moving the flesh
of raven leaves resonating eternal rhythms
of chlorophyll filled veins stiffened toward stars in prayer
in the center of all things born and dead and unborn
echoing at once
a symphony of spheres staining the night in a resolute
paradox of existence and non-existence
light and dark
all time and no time without time to measure

and we
drunk on complexity's thick nectar
of chaos and order
bound to all things here and there
now and forever
then and never
by grace

became travelers in time and space
grasping at the impossibility of moments just passed
giddy like children

when at that moment a camera
would have captured us static on our backs
lying in the middle of the round ball of all time
your tiny slender fingers woven into mine
creating a single connection
on a dial unlit by sun
calculating nothing
as two dark bodies at rest stared
pupils wide
up to where explanation finds only mystery
and God balancing
now and never
then and forever



All poetry on this page
© by Shawn Pavey
, 2010


Rumbling Through Dreams



At midnight and two, it shook walls

with a diesel and steel roar

that could wake the deaf,

yet in a little house built next to tracks,

my brother and I,

stacked in bunk beds,

slept a practiced sleep

as the Burlington Northern rumbled West through our dreams.



Walking in measured steps

from crosstie to crosstie,

I followed that line,

eyes forever to the horizon,

never losing sight of the point

where it all comes together,

stopping only to mine the best pieces of rose quartz,

mica, and coal,

from beside the tracks.


When a train would come, off in the distance,

before moving clear,

like an Indian, I put my ear

to the rail just to hear

the music of steel rolling over steel.


And, at the end of the day,

all walked out,

I dropped my treasure in a tattered sneakers box

with collected stamps, Bicentennial quarters,

Navajo tears, and letters from grandparents

half a continent away.



In the mornings before breakfast

in arid Colorado summers,

I ran to the tracks

to the special place on the rail where I put pennies

the night before,

smoothed flat by impact and mass

of trains carrying coal from the mountains,

sugar beats from the eastern plains,

delighting in the occasional remnant of Lincoln—

a nose, an ear, an eye, a texture of beard,

an e pluribus unum,

each atom of currency destroyed each a different way.



I dream of riding trains,

of snaking serpentine through the American patchwork.

East Coast forests blending

into Great Plains wheat,

rolling Ohio hills flattening

into the Kansas horizon

slamming into the sheer granite faces

of Rocky Mountain cliffs

and then, through desert sand,

to the sea.


I dream of salt mist and factory smoke,

ponderosa pine and sequoia,

of rain pelted windows and thick valley fog.

I dream and in my dreams, I ride trains

and do not make good time

but rather ride forever on trains that never stop,

longing to reach the place just ahead,

the elusive point of perspective

where the rails merge,

where the separate become singular,

where all things bind together

to be the one thing, whole.




At The Waffle House

"Behold, I show you a mystery;

we shall not all sleep

but we shall all be changed"

                        --- 1st Corinthians 15:51


Out of beer and out of time,

last call puts Tyler and I in a place

where mysterious blendings of caffeine and nicotine

work our Budweiser dulled brains awake,

where redneck jukeboxes full of whiskey voices

lament great losses of the true ones

and how we all get stomped

flatter than lonely Texas highways

complete with tumbleweeds and dust devils

simply by love.


So where are the rest of those Hank Williams poets

whose tears fall to the ground like rain

making puddles only bleary-eyed drunks

drinking their way through their blues can see?


When thy cup is empty, it shall be filled.

When she gets around to it and isn't bellowing side orders

of bacon with those hash browns.


So go ye then on down to a place

where things somehow come to short order

in those small hours before dawn

through fogs of conversation

rambling through coffee steam

and cigarettes piling dead in testament

to a new faith healing

busted hearts in confirmation

that you will never be the same.

© 2008, Shawn Pavey




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