Posted by: hshuler | December 19, 2012

The lid comes off

Firefly leaned an elbow over

the rim of the jelly jar

and lit a cigarette on his

rump thank god that’s over.


He blinked at the Saturn Bar

triangular neon cocktail and

did not hate it for being pink

and garish, rather, he felt


thirsty for the first time. He blew

a smoke ring and darted through it

streaking a jet trail of light,

grateful for bug breaths of


cool free air, and wings.

Posted by: hshuler | December 2, 2012

Trials of a Teenage Transvestite’s Single Mother

My son’s black ruffled skirt is shorter than the straight denim one

he usually wears. We’re late for school. Don’t dawdle, I say

as he swings one leg out of the truck and then the other, far unlike


how my grandmother taught me—knees clasped, pivot at the hips,

feet land together, and stand, ladylike. Those were Iowa manners;

this is Eugene, Oregon etiquette, twenty years later. A little copper


cowbell clanks against the glass door of the convenience store

as he rambles in, lanky stride long with steel toe boots and fishnet

knees as far out in front of him as a grasshopper. His delight


in the flounce of his skirt is a grasshopper wishing to skip.

The Maybelline black eyeliner applied like someone not long past

crayons and coloring books is a stealth acquisition from my makeup bag,


returned with a flattened tip which I dedicated to his shaving kit,

grateful we don’t share a similar preference in hosiery. At six feet tall

and narrow in the shoulder and hips he strikes an attractive silhouette,


despite the signature slouch of a 16-year old still frightened

by the violence of the body’s jolt of height that put him suddenly

at eyelevel with teachers, store clerks, and muni passengers. Draped


against a lamppost downtown his accidental elegance betrays him

even without the fake fur coat, his graceful knobby hands flutter

with his story and unconscious laugh. I saw him there one Saturday


evening before we agreed I wouldn’t do this, and crossed the street,

sidled up to his longtime friend from back in the days of Oreos and milk

after school and skateboards carving concrete riverbeds in the driveway,


and I asked this boy in a man body like a lifeguard, like someone

who could protect if need be, you got him? Junior lifeguard assures me

with the unpredictable tenor of a new Adam’s apple, You know I always


got his back, nobody gonna hurt him. As I wait, two fellas in a semi-rusted

Subaru wagon parked beside me eating breakfast chalupas from yellow paper

grease spotted wrappers are watching him in the store. It’s a wager


I hear. It’s I hope it IS a faggot I hear. The one from the passenger side

is up and it’s the copper cowbell clank I hear. I can see my boy in the back

of the store at the refrigerator leaning on the open glass door probably


looking for the blue skeleton drink with the skull and crossbones

on the bottle because he’s a kid and I remember when he was

a very little kid but big enough to run fast and chase the chickens


and then the rooster turned on him and stood ground and danger

was suddenly close, much closer than me, and how would I run fast

enough to grab him up in time ahead of that beak, those spurs and claws?


How did he get so far away, my boy with beautiful brown eyes? Chalupa guy

pretends to peruse the next soda case to get a look at him; I’m too late,

he’s laughing. I run. But when I reach the crackerjacks and close the distance


I find chalupa is laughing at something my son has said.  Back in the car,

as if we’re playing a board game, playing battleship on the coffee table,

he mocks my she-mama-bear hurling through the 7-Eleven mad-dash,


Honestly? Was your sum total game strategy ‘kill him’? He laughs again

and bends my rearview mirror to straighten the black satin bow

bobby-pinned in his hair, and scrubs a fleck of lipstick from his tooth.

Posted by: hshuler | November 30, 2012


Papery triplicate –

petals, sepals, leaves,

thrice each – blowing

flutters your beauty.

Woodland charm

white crowns

that quell the forest dark,

who would guess

we owe the ants

thanks for your propagation, for

bringing your ovary tunnelling home?

Ant supper, and the seed of you

cast away. You heart is eager to


Little wake-robin

you squirm to blossom

as your woodland neighborhood


Oh give me a tiny

bead from a rattle

to leave in the dust.

Could be

the very best part of me

is overlooked

until I’m gone.

White flowers are best

to hold

the evening light.

Posted by: hshuler | August 9, 2012

Fruit Cocktail

I am your unctuous side dish-

slippery, pulse-red

cherries, lacquered

grapes, moon-glow pears

and peaches radiant.

Forgive my sloppy affection

and my perky longevity.


I long to be a larger section

of your metal lunch tray, perhaps

the middle square rather than

this tinny triangle corner.

Not in the back, dust coated,

but up front in your cupboard,

longed for, to be consumed soon.


I am, hopelessly

optimistic. You will

want me more than once.

Perhaps if I dollop a nipple

of cool whip on my head

and cozy myself into a cut-glass

footed compote bowl. Scintillating.

Posted by: hshuler | July 26, 2012

My Sunday morning obscene phone caller

wears his hair in a radical comb-over

when I meet him for coffee at Denny’s.

Everyone knows his mother, the trouble.

I thank him for calling,

and compliment his stellar blue eyes,

ask does he know how purely beautiful

they would look, glowing from the bare skin

of his shapely naked head? My attempt

to answer his word bubbles from the bottom of the sea

that cling to a wish as they loft

through the weight of dark stone water

with hope that someone will hear them surface

Down here, look! Orange and purple starfish

longs to reflect in eyes and astonish

fingers to find a fossil-like oddity still has

life and movement inside.


Posted by: hshuler | March 27, 2012

Smoking with Santa at 3 AM

Santa is lit on the frozen lawn

and so am I, neither of us

is sleeping. I take a drag,

gaze at him, inspiration

for good behavior,

our differences

make me sigh

and I keep on sipping.


Posted by: hshuler | February 23, 2012

Armadillo Love

I am the lovely

Tolypeutes Matacus

from Argentina.

I am invincible in love

and nice to have

around the nest. Shapely

as a pith helmet with a

pokey snout hood ornament,

black bling eyes, front plates,

rear plates, and three

movable plates in my middle

of complex neutral colors,

I am sexy. My underparts are covered

with soft skin and fur. I am complex

yet straightforward.

Some call me Three-Banded

Southern Armadillo but

to me that sounds combative

or musically overcommitted.

I am a good lover when I love

which is rarely, so seldom

do I disappoint anyone. I know

sometimes it’s hard to be a mammal.

Remarkably I am one of just a few

who can roll up completely

in a tight little ball, snap like a purse.

This is sad. Nobody wants to be

clumsy, hurtful, insensitive, mean.

With me, you are safe,

ping ping ping off my back

go all those words

you never meant to say.