A cactus flower
John Wilkes Booth.
Never plant it near white
stables or children. Never near
a cotton farm or a boat
with a compass, or a boat
with a sundial, never sing ‘Follow
the Drinking Gourd’
in its presence.
The ninth or tenth bud
will usually fraternize
with small black beetles
because it is scared
of the bigger ones.
If you ask it to, it will count
the mosquitos that surround your camp,
it will cup your nectar for you
and erase itself
it’s like grasping for blankets
on the run,
remember the real
dust at the theatre? Remember balconies?
and horsehair pistols? How coyotes howl?
How to drink? How to strap up? Out here,
where the small ones cry into red dirt
the sun combusts
a shot rings out
little fists break
into the matted fruit
of a cactus limb
Samantha Schaefer is currently a Follett Scholar at Columbia College Chicago where she is adjunct faculty and earning her MFA in Poetry. She works as editorial assistant for Court Green and is co-editor of the Black Tongue Review. Her work has appeared in the Laureate, the Albion Review and Columbia Poetry Review.