Philip Schaefer

Get Happy



The days stick together like June

bugs to a garage door which means it’s easy

to forget how we became so bad.

I choose not to remember the moments of impact,

the weddings or campfires or teenager

who hung himself with garden hose

in the neighbor’s shed. Instead I collect

the invisible hours, the sleepless

shadows, the everything everyone else

forgets. There’s a way to tie red yarn

one foot above the floor of your broken

apartment and pretend it’s a security

system. Some weeks I don’t eat

yet I stand in aisle 23 all afternoon

staring at milk, feeling my body

temperature lower, the revolver inside

my head click one roulette closer.

Don’t get me wrong, this is what happy

looks like. Today I’ll find a church

and consider how many prayer licks

it takes to get to the middle of a soul.

I will dress like a baby giraffe

and walk around town passing out cotton

candy while singing Leroy Brown.

Give me a story you can break with pliers.

A warm meal to toss in the air. They say

the older we get the more we start to look

like the pet animals clawing within us.

When I take off my suit, my skin, and jump

completely out of myself, I am an hourglass

made of salt. Grab a hammer. Make me happy.


PHILIP SCHAEFER’s debut collection of poems 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 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, MT.