The Flaming Hair of Kindness

Jake Sheff


When I look into it, I see
elephants of elsewhere, moving
backwards. Adolescent sunlight
cuddling with coldness. Ladies’
Men are what the oceans suffer
in tomorrow’s tomb, but murder’s
eyes are blue here, blue as beauty’s
toxic lack of death. Now kindness,
like a kidney stone, is squandered,
in a time spelled incorrectly,
on my body’s warmth, which never
learned to read, or travel outwards.
Nice things here are fatal, used to
envying attention mothers
get for making boredom useful.
Self-aggrandizing, the darkness –
knowing time is going nowhere
breathing kindly – shows me sunset’s
virgin corpses make a living
day smell awful, but cool symptoms
come with it: love, chance; rebellion’s
preternatural estate, trailblazing.


Kissed right on the cyst, a boring
lie; and death is positively
pissed. The destiny of dusty
light eats crow; death row’s annulment.



Jake Sheff is a pediatrician in Oregon. He’s married with a daughter and six pets. Poems of Jake’s are in Radius, The Ekphrastic Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. He won 1st place in the 2017 SFPA speculative poetry contest and a Laureate’s Choice prize in the 2019 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. Past poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. His chapbook is Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing).