Back to Issue Ten.

Human Aviary



Instead of burying the shoebox,
we take off our shirts and kiss
the ground. Again, the moths fly
out, the gross wonder. We’re still young.
Shaped by summer and its lesions.
We toe the line between field
and sun until it’s light
in our mouths.

I’ve picked up carving linnets in the attic
of an abandoned house to hold onto
something flightless. To be uncrushing.
Outside, the wind curls talons
from the ice near what used to be
a kitchen window. If you close your eyes
you can smell the river from here.

I remember us buying peppermints
from the gas station outside Florence
on our way to Chernobyl. Your tongue
a radioactive stripe until we drove
to the ocean where there was nothing left.

Imagine this is still the late nineties.
The man scratched in rags on the bench
behind the church drinking the ship
right out of the bottle. On his back
he finally hears the angels’ light
breathing. They say nothing, which is:
I’ve been waiting for you my whole life.

Philip Schaefer’s collaborative chapbook with Jeff Whitney, Smoke Tones, is forthcoming from Phantom Limb (2015), and his poems are out or forthcoming in Forklift Ohio, DIAGRAM, Fourteen Hills, RHINO, alice blue, Interim, 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.