Even masterpieces have their moments. The glass
slipper eventually breaks, the orca forking the horizon
returns to its wet anonymity. In my dreams the hero
always bleeds a different paper currency I can’t afford
to clean up. But waking is dead oranges, the money
a new version of thirst. I long for the day I don’t
wish jealousy upon my closest friends, sheer admiration
from my loyal lover. Why must I see the ghost
white eyes of loss in others in order to understand
wholeness? This is a wound begging to grow deeper.
A girl with hands full of red magic, still bored.
I cut off until I’m cut loose because I’m so used to
folding a noose, rubbing out the blue dot of a pool cue
on my cheek. Now I look children through their untouched
souls and tell them maybe tomorrow. That maybe bad
isn’t the opposite of good. Maybe it’s a past time,
a buried novel, a word for your father your mother
never quite spat out. Here we are, lord, try to save us.
If we scream it means nothing. If we don’t, we’re lying.
Philip Schaefer’s collection of poems Bad Summon (University of Utah Press, 2017) won the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, and he’s the author of three chapbooks, two co-written with friend and poet Jeff Whitney. He won the 2016 Meridian Editor’s Prize in poetry, has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and in Poetry Society of America. Individual work is out or due out in Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Thrush, Guernica, Salt Hill, Bat City Review, Adroit, Redivider, and Passages North among others. He tends bar in Missoula, MT.