Philip Schaefer

The Smoke Detector Where Your Heart Should Be

Test weekly, or: how to start small fires
in the kitchen. I place my lips to your chest
where the beating is red. You throb and throb.
Read: do not paint. Read: I am learning
to understand this language of never again.
I take paperclips and link them like train cars,
drape them around your neck and together
we see how everything is important, or: see
owner’s manual for complete instructions, or:
we take our clothes off in the dark and feel
for the walls of our bodies. Our breathing
patterns like whales signaling to each other
beneath the world. This air its own form
of water. I touch your eyes and think
luminal static, glassed lightning.
 

Growing Down

We buy animals to replace other
animals. We fold paper and give wings
to a swan. This isn’t the way we imagined
our dying – rolling around in the clay
to better understand fire. Cracking
a little like sunburst in the middle.
Quietly we scream into the earth,
quietly we give back. We’re learning
what it means to say yes. To sink
beneath the soil until a girl walks by
scattering seeds, placing the watering can
gently on our heads. The idea of moisture
so close we can taste the metal. So thin
it begins to melt, then dissolve.
 

Practicing Invisible

I keep staring at this bent elbow of ducks
in the sky, wondering which of us will break
first. Eventually everything returns to glass.
My breath against a window, the ocean.
I cock back my finger to drop them
one by one into the town pond. I draw
a trophy for myself with the clouds.
If I could bring back the dead I would
only be able to bury them again.
 

 

Philip SchaeferPhilip Schaefer is the author of three chapbooks. [Hideous] Miraculous is forthcoming from BOAAT Press, while Radio Silence (forthcoming 2016 from Black Lawrence Press) and Smokes Tones (available from Phantom Limb) were co-written with poet Jeff Whitney. Individual work is out or due out in The Cincinnati Review, Prelude, Forklift Ohio, DIAGRAM, Sonora Review, H_NGM_N, cream city, Columbia Poetry Review and Spry among others. He tends bar at a craft distillery in Missoula, where he received his MFA from the University of Montana.

 

 
 

 

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