by Philip Schaefer
And we wonder what pulses brighter
in the tacit skin of young Orion –
his three-toothed waist or the lone
parenthesis of his bow. In Montana
we shed our names likes ceramic ash
until the wind turns us loose, burns us
into a jolt of cold vowels left like letters
in the pockets of the dead.
And from this palmed orbit
haven’t we too become brittle
constellations? Detroit pulling back
Boston’s hair to release an arrow, New
Orleans the neon bulb of a bent knee.
Each street a string of lights waiting
to pop in the mouth of the sky.
And perhaps we mean a painted mask
forms a pool in the clown’s bowled hands.
His eyes frozen glass, sparked white
mountaintops and the kites of lightning
they shoot out. His chest spreading
into a small fire with no one there
to fan a blanket, to beat him
until the song rises like flowers
from the shell of Christ, a vase
of bones where the vase is a lie.
Philip Schaefer has been shortlisted for the 2015 Berfrois Poetry Prize.
About the Author:
Philip Schaefer’s collaborative chapbook Smoke Tones is forthcoming from Phantom Limb (2015), and his poems are out or forthcoming in Forklift Ohio, DIAGRAM, Fourteen Hills, RHINO, alice blue, Columbia Poetry Review, Toad, BOAAT, and Whiskey Island among others. He can usually be found tending bar at the craft distillery in Missoula, where he recently received his MFA from the University of Montana.