Dear Jeff I’ve decided to host a dinner party and serve nothing
but sugar. Turbinado, muscovado, demerara.
I’ll paint a molasses X on the tree bone
of my chest and beg every guest to arrow-tongue
their way through this lost highway soul. Each person
must wear a sad wedding dress, violent red lipstick,
something to resemble a drop of blood glistening in a porcelain
bowl of powdered confection. I want melted chocolate
to river-vein down my left forearm, onto the carpet, and I want
the whole crew to drown in the news of its hardening return.
I get it. My face is a piñata patient for a wooden kiss.
This is why I interpret love manually. When I say sugar
I mean reverse horoscope. When I say white-nosed bats
swarm the attic I’m suggesting you call the town doctor.
All seven pharmacists. Get the whole hospital ballooning up
these lungs. There’s something sweet in the moment
before the moment is over. Like gun smoke quilting the ladder
of the sky after the trigger turns a body into a lie. Sweet
like salvation for everyone burning in this world. Everyone but you.
"Dear Jeff" was a finalist for the 2018 Up North Poetry Prize.
Philip Schaefer’s collection Bad Summon (University of Utah Press, 2017) won the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, and he’s the author of three chapbooks, two co-written with friend and poet Jeff Whitney. He won the 2018 Thomas Morton Poetry Prize published by The Puritan, the 2016 Meridian Editor’s Prize in poetry, and has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and in the Poetry Society of America. Some poems can be found in Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Journal, Thrush, Guernica, Salt Hill, Bat City Review, Adroit ,Redivider, and BOAAT among others. He tends bar in Missoula, MT.