July Fifth


By Mike Schneider

He who goes forth with a fifth on the Fourth may not come forth on the Fifth. — Grandpa Harry, July 4, every year

Free espresso Monday is one way
to crank the starter of happily
lazy neurons, morning
after the Fourth. Last night’s thunder
bangs the anvil of my inner ear, burnt
powder tingle in the nostrils. Red zephyrs
to the stars & cascades of jade salt
as if from the hand of a God
who can’t sleep & wanders
into the kitchen of the oldest part
of night to make a sandwich —
such is the movie playing in my mind
as afternoon arrives & shadows
jitter the floor of Daniel Boone’s
forest, Jeff’s cabin, Kentucky wind
through leafy arms of copper beech, white
oak, yellow poplar. Black squirrel
tails twitch into question marks
as acorn bombs rattle the tin roof.
A ruby flash of minuscule pterodactyl
at the nectar dispenser: Helicopters of Birdland
my friend Trudy called them, seventh grade,
her biology paper that made her famous
in a pleasantly Ohio, small-pond
way. I too hover at the feeder.
Listen. Purple scratch marks scatter
from my Uni-ball micro-vision pen.

Mike Schneider has published in many journals, including Notre Dame Review, New Ohio Review and Poetry. In 2012 he received The Florida Review Editors Award in Poetry. In 2017 he won the Robert Phillips Prize from Texas Review Press, which published his second chapbook, How Many Faces Do You Have?