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February 23, 2018 | Poetry

Five Poems

David Schaefer

Five Poems photo

Magnesium Nitrate

My bee colony was swearing in church.
The kilowatt was still contagious.
Once in a blue moon, prehistory snubs me
Like a dinner plate broken over the back of a donkey.
“Ah well,” is all I can muster, spilling my
Milk Duds down the long, droopy corridors of love.
Sister, when is Thanksgiving?
200 days at the helm of a jet ski
And all you’re left with is a shrug.
If warp, then weft.
If a room of obstinate teenagers, then a 401K.
The self soldiers forth on the foot soles of minnows.
I am so hungry and yet still all on my own!
By June, a sailor spitting pennies.
In Chicago, a rose grows yellow to the sky.

Blue Hole

On the back porch, worried again about money,
a little green mantis on my lap. One can reassure oneself
of the riches of the spirit, just as one can continue to eat
spoiled ham. Whooping asthmatic, bug-bitten ankle,

bag of trash from the last 1,200 years, what makes you all
so mean? Last night, the trees hurled acorns upon
my roof like teens with a crate of eggs. I’m sure
the alpaca dismantling collectivism in yesterday’s Tribune

is just as groggy in the morning and no less aroused
than I. Every one of us has made a deal with life
in death, but locked neither by the lip in the end.
I will swing my glass accordion into the rafters as a plea

for better times. The propane tank hissed as you
uncorked it, just as the oracle would speak through her
99 missing teeth. No kisses there. No compost bucket there.
All you can do yourself is ready your anima while

the rest of us prepare for Lyme. Or at least those of us
carping back in Amherst. I become so easily hurt amid
the strong-armed glances of the young! Who was it that
made me this spiritless, this floury, like an armadillo in

a shouting match with an elephant gun? Most things
you want, you know where to find. Some folks are made
to give themselves to another. Some only give to take
back, the illusory freeze and requisite thaw. I can scowl

on the highway to those whose high-beams blind me all
I want, but I am the only one who blinds me and I am 
the only one spilling foie gras. The cowboy tunes his
plainsong to reach the key of Z, the sheet of plastic made

articulate in the heretical wind. I turn to the toad
nailed to the pauper’s ceiling. It will never be enough.
I turn to the geiger counter who speaks for the ecstatic.
It just may be enough.

You pick your battles like avocados. The young boy looks
for a father in the command of older men. The little green
mantis does its dance. Only some of us will die.

The Heights of Machu Picchu

You do not find yourself hurrying through the hemlock
like an interloper with his violin.
You do not belittle the mitten crab tunneling its way
to the center of your macaroon heart.
It is Monday. The cosmic eyelash has fallen once again.
An Australian winter wends its way across your autoharp,
gravel beneath the gila monster’s claw.
Riotous in the light of the vitamin aisle,
Arturo, your best friend and closest confidant,
completes the mosaic of the century,
all burning flesh and labradors in the throes of their passion.
It is tragic what desire affords.
It is magic what desire affords.
Nevertheless, the pyramids still plunge
toward irresolution like a ski hill in late March,
the biplane stutters as it types false love notes
across the medicinal skies.
But you, plaid pilgrim, you have gone and left your life,
gone and made a mattress
from maps of Des Moines and a spray of ten dollar bills,
each one facing up to meet your gaze
as you stumble on home
from the heights of Machu Picchu.


Fata Morgana in the slipstream.
Hyphens of artillery for the blue-blooded mare.
I am robbing myself blind.

The papers curl as they are burned by heroic forces.
My brother, what was it you wished to be?
History tells us we must not whisper into the cauliflower,

That trains will bully past in all their ripening deafness.
In the city of the midnight sun, I was a locksmith,
And only for a moment the fool in red with his wine.

Oh, arachnid, the wet leather of your chest. 
My home is my home in prospect alone.
Every answer infirm in its plea.

Prussian Virtues

On the snowbank I’m asked,
“Is that your onion on the ground?”
At the base of the driveway I’m told
“The mountain lion is coming back.”

It can’t be this way forever,
And yet it is. Mosquitos nibble
At your bank account,
The Wurlitzer goes grand.

This is the most difficult sermon,
The one where the disciples
Burn the hamburger buns and
Christ nearly misses his train.

When Rosie speaks, the colonel listens.
I cannot account for each part of my pain.
Around here, we allow our angels all
Their ick, the asterisk its post-coital um.

I am typing letters to those still
Treading zeros. A Zamboni thus arrives
With a message from the hieroglyph.
You can do so little in a day.


image: Aaron Burch