To the cicada flushed under storm. Ode
to the woman smoked in overalls, feeding hens.
Darkness which starts with lung puncture and never
ends. Dream logic and what it’s kept from me.
To work over work over the man
banjoing his song along the moon’s spine.
The stars unload their light
on the earth and here’s one to the carved back
muscles of starch and hard clay that form
a day. One ode to missed family, to Xmas
in the Midwest, to every prayer we can’t
outlive. The buried archaeologist
in China, halved surfboards, camera
slides hanging in a dark room and the writing
along cave ridges that twilight never finds.
To parking tickets and the invisible woman
who hides them under wipers. Ode
as belief or trial, some way to interpret
the earth from the rain toothing down
the tent side, bringing water succulent
as cut melon. Here’s to light beer and all
it never solves. Aubade baseball gloves,
mathematical ambiguities, paper
butterflies on the ledgepost, warming
their wings along flaking metal columns.
Oh homeless me, oh harpsichord cheek
bones. I want eternity. To paint hydrangeas
in cuneiform. To owe the future one
less. To Lodi and the cosmos splitting into bits
of glass. In Ohio they bury their flowers
with the dead. Nothing but bulbs of rain, beltless
Orion working on slabs of sparked marble.
We cannot stop at oceans unnamed, writhing
in silence, waiting like children to be palmed.
In some universes the crossroads say sorry,
we never knew you, we regret everything.
Philip Schaefer is the author of three chapbooks. [Hideous] Miraculous is available from BOAAT Press, while Radio Silence (2015 Black Lawrence Black River Competition Winner) and Smokes Tones (Phantom Books) were co-written with poet Jeff Whitney. He won the 2016 Meridian Editor’s Prize in poetry and has individual work out or due out in Thrush, Guernica, The Cincinnati Review, Birdfeast, Salt Hill, Sonora Review, Adroit, and Hayden’s Ferry among others. He tends bar and tutors in Missoula, MT.