Jeff Whitney: Nobody Likes You When You’re Counting Demons

Jeff Whitney: Nobody Likes You When You’re Counting Demons

Dear Phil,

Nobody likes you when you’re counting demons

all the time. For example, oh, it’s such a nice day

shame about those demons. What great weather, too bad

the eternally damned will ruin it. Sorry

is not the same as forever and I’m sorry

Pluto isn’t a planet. Sorry the celestial body

is pooping out. My biggest wish is to be

in the audience at my own funeral cracking

one-liners until nobody remembers

the greatest trick of Death

is a barbershop where we all lack hair.

If we were the type to buy stocks,

to go on 1980’s cocaine benders,

I’d be rubbing my gums right now

and you’d be yammering

about the tennis ball economy. Thank god

that isn’t us. That we never learned

to be quiet. When you’re down

there is always a highway in Montana

with your name on it. And cities

keep their lights on all night.

I’ve tried to say one great thing

or several somewhat great things.

This is god, this is god. This is

what one says no matter the language

they are speaking. The earth

is a red horizon, cloudless ocean.

Strange bird coming always back to earth.

Jeff Whitney is the author of five chapbooks, two of which were co-written with Philip Schaefer. Recent poems can be found in 32 Poems, Adroit, Baltimore Review, Booth, Meridian, Oxidant Engine, Prairie Schooner, and Verse Daily. He lives in Portland.