In every blown out river I see Oregon, in every Oregon
another farm up to its neck in cloud water. It’s that time
of year when the girl on the picnic blanket has been waiting
her whole life. When the dog’s one good eye turns black
hole. When I kick the telephone line with my steel toe
I understand how old men’s backs are made of gunmetal
and thunder. Their hair late harvest, their money
no good anymore. So they live in the rocking chairs
their grandfathers built, who are now nothing but fertilizer
for another unvisited cemetery. I’m thinking this time
I’ll pack up forever. Maybe what I’m trying to say is God
left me, not the other way around. My parents nightly kneel
with my name on their lips, dove hands in the hope
that I won’t become my brother. Though who doesn’t
eventually turn into the other version of themselves.
Today represents the birthday of all your greatest
failures. I’ve made you a cake with my initials on it.
Don’t feel bad, old friend. When I nudge you to swim
what I mean is there is a galaxy between plank and shore.
Philip Schaefer’s debut collection of poems Bad Summon (University of Utah Press, 2017) won the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, and he is the author of three chapbooks, two co-written with friend and poet Jeff Whitney. Schaefer won the 2016 Meridian Editor’s Prize in poetry and has work out or due out in Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Thrush Poetry Journal, Guernica, The Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill, Bat City Review, The Adroit Journal, Baltimore Review, diode, and Passages North, among others. He tends bar in Missoula, Montana.
Ben Giles is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives in Norwich, England. He was born in Bury St. Edmunds and studied in Kingston. Nature, metamorphosis, light, colour, collage, collaboration, juxtaposition, repetition, excitement, evolution, manipulation, music, television, improvisation, participation, and seduction are all components of his practice. Find out more at: http://benlewisgiles.format.com.