Possible Obituaries for Philip Santos Schaffer

after Sarah Sarai and David Ives

Philip Santos Schaffer was murdered today while walking home from work. His body was found shortly after by local police, notably sans wallet. After officers gave her the news, his mother is quoted as saying, “I just knew that neighborhood was unsafe. He should have moved home. Nice boys like him don’t live in Brooklyn.”

Late last week, Philip Santos Schaffer pushed a baby carriage out of the way of a moving semi-truck. In a bizarre series of misfortunes, the driver was narcoleptic, the road was icy, and the breaks had been cut. After a brief battle, Philip died today of head injuries he had sustained at the scene of the accident. His mother lamented to her sister, “we gave him a middle name that meant saint, but didn’t actually mean for him to become one.”

Philip Santos Schaffer accidentally walked into oncoming traffic earlier today, after having been seen bumping into various trash cans and asking a light post for the time. After stepping off the curb, he was quickly reduced to a fine red paste. Once Philip’s gutty mist settled into the pavement, his mother told reporters, “He always complained about having bad eyesight. I should have given him that damn vision insurance information earlier.” When pressed further by reporters, she added, “we use Blue Cross. Outside of this, it’s been a very pleasant experience.”

After a brief misunderstanding on the R train, Philip Santos Schaffer was shot today, somewhere between 45th and 53rd Street Station. Onlookers were shocked, but not that shocked. His mother shrugged and told nearby paramedics, “he liked to stare at people.”

While writing this poem, Philip Santos Schaffer walked right off a dock and into the water separating Manhattan and Brooklyn. The thick green slime sucked him under quickly and without remorse. His mother shed a tear, but did not deny that he was an idiot. Police hope he will wash up somewhere in Jersey.

Philip Santos Schaffer was abducted by aliens today. His mother is awaiting his return in Brooklyn, and hopes they use a small probe.

Philip Santos Schaffer walked home from work today. He wrote a poem, which he did not show to his mother, knowing it would make her upset. He has not died yet, but may eventually. Updates to come.


Poem From The Woman Sitting Across From Me On The Subway

Poem From The Woman Sitting Across From Me On The Subway

Look at this boy looking at me.
Tossing his eyes so secret-like.
Like I don’t see him each time
I look up from my book, pretending
he’s embarrassed to be caught.
This is not a game of cat and mouse,
boy, I just want to see how close we are
to Canal so I can get off.


trying to see what book I’m reading.
No, you probably have not read it. No,
it is not exciting that we both like books.
Stop taking all your books
out of your backpack to show me
that you have them, it does not
look like you’re organizing. It looks
like you’re trying to show me all your books.


why are you wearing those bags
under your eyes so proudly? Why
neck cracking like a mating call? We
are all tired. All beat. Your legs
are not more sore than anyone else’s.
It is still okay that you did not offer
your seat to anyone, this is New York,
but don’t think you deserve it.


they call it stealing glances because
I’m not looking to give them away.
When our eyes just met, it was not
a cute mistake. I was staring
to fucking intimidate you into looking
at somebody else. And
I saw you fix your hair in the reflection
of the train. Making it the


kind of messy. I’ve got my finger on the trigger
of your intimacy now, don’t I? You let it slip.
The way you made sure your hair was flat
on the sides and double checked the cross
of your legs. You wont ever say anything.
I can smell pent up pick-up lines
on your breath, you’ve been holding
them in your mouth for that long.


I don’t want that one-way ticket
to your day dream. This is not a poem.
This is the N train. I’ve got places to be
and no time for the type of silence
your kind deals in. And anyways,
I do not need wooing. My heart
does not need the keys you hope
to shape for it. Some of us


keep our hearts chained.
So erase all of this. Put away the pen.
I’m just someone on the subway. Not
the vehicle for your epiphany. Not
the photo thumb-tacked inside your
heart locker. I do not need
to be written about to be whole.
And anyways, I don’t need help with that.

You do.

the essence in the flesh

how many freezing winds has winter breathed in this man’s face to carve lines so finger deep? and when did these twisted, ashen roots spring forth to replace his fingers? these could not be the fingers of his youth. even young man’s hands do not play claw as well as these. it is these claws that must have filled his mouth with hay. his voice is thick with paper, kicking out of his throat with every bullet sentence.

still, he is the cardboard delivery man who looks the most like a cardboard delivery man. his coat, his hat, his boots, are the clothes of his profession. the snow knows to ignore shoulders sloped like his, the cold has given up its assault on his toes. his hands, twisted as they are, lift and push the cardboard as if we were meant to watch this. and his voice, grappling its way down the shotgun of his throat, barks orders so efficient we begin to learn dance like him.

under his strict guidance, the back of the truck blazes and we all turn lightbulb, so fast are we firing cardboard onto the dock and into the warehouse. the cold turns around and goes home. our aching arms stop creaking so loud. our grease remembers what it is here for. it takes mere minutes to empty the truck, so cardboard delivery man is this delivery man.

when he goes home, does he keep everything on the counter in order to avoid opening a single box? does his wife massage lotion into his shriveling skin? does he throw off his beaten clothes and drape himself in furs? I imagine instead that he sleeps on a stack of cardboard. that he loves the smell. that he knows he is the best, and proudly teaches his child grace, waltzing boxes back and forth across the living room.

and if he ever dies, and I wonder if it is possible, I imagine him buried in a box made of cardboard. I imagine

he would want it that way.

the subway smells of piss and lemons.

and I am riding along
and it’s running express
and there is a crumpled newspaper dying
on the seat across from me. it seems
to hold a shape impossible, and
I am writing guesses on slips of paper:

there is a dead pigeon underneath.
there is actual human fecal matter.
it smells of piss and port-a-potty,
it is compost.

a baby cries, it smells of piss.
there are no seats, it smells of piss.
yelling, piss
headache, piss
a man glares at me and piss
leaks from his eyes.

a woman’s nails
match her bag, match
her sweater, it smells
of lemons.

she smiles in her sleep,
a pretty smile, a pile
of lemons.

an old man listens
to quiet music,
nods his head. I

am not running late and
the subway’s not rocking,
and the woman across me
(the one in all orange)
may just
brush my hand
when she reaches her stop.
maybe Not.

in the meantime,
the newspaper’s fallen
all flat.

It was lemons.

It smells of lemons.

thoughts while pissing on a dumpster outside the Brooklyn Public Library

my mother (a principal) calls it “going
wee-wee.” My father calls it “pishin,” no
doubt a vein of the farm his parents
once lived on. My worst ever baby-sitter,
Candy, who my spite is still coddled by
12 years later, called it “tinkling.”
But I have no pretensions, and
when it is against a dumpster outside the
Brooklyn Public Library, the only appropriate
phrase for what I am doing is “taking a piss.”


I’m not even drunk right now. Though it
is 4 a.m., and I did just force two
plain donuts down my groping gullet
(poor things, they didn’t even taste good).
But my eyes are not lusty, I do not
feel invincible (quite the opposite,
in fact), and I am not plagued by
breadloaf hiccups, so I am mostly sure
I am not drunk.


I hope no one catches me, out here,
with my wiener in my hand. At best,
my penis is usually a wiener. It is
rarely a cock. Right now, it is
definitely a wiener.


If I were stopped by the police
right now, could I rightfully
call that “getting busted,” or is
that phrase saved for buddy cop
movies and Law and Order?


If I were to be busted by the cops
right now, would the proximity of
my uncovered wiener to the public
library merit a sexual misdemeanor?
Even if I am 95 percent sure the
library is closed? Would it help
if I told them how disappointed
my parents would be? Or said,
“no way I’m a sexual predator-
some of my best friends are kids!”


Could I blame it on Miley Cyrus?


I feel constantly unimpressed with
how cold New York doesn’t get in
summer, despite the bi-weekly storm.
I always carry a jacket
in my bag just in case. And
because I like how I look in a jacket
more than not in a jacket. If I
were wearing a jacket right now,
it would probably help to cover my
wiener. But, because it is 80
degrees out, and not raining,
I would probably look more crazy.


The question of covering one’s
wiener or looking crazy is the
biggest issue America faces today.


Shout-out to Carlos Danger for making
a poem about dicks into a political statement,
even though I didn’t mean to.)


You know poetry has come a long way
when there are shout-outs in poems.
You don’t know in which direction.)


It would be so easy to mug me right
now. But, even a mugger may be
hesitant to approach someone in my
current position. If I were a mugger,
I would not choose the man with his
wiener in his hand if there were other
immediate options.


Who did you picture when I said
“a mugger”?


I have a library card and pay taxes,
so maybe I’m entitled to this.
Plus, it feels really good. Despite my
fear of getting caught or mugged.


I fear that nothing could possibly feel
better than this incredible release.


I fear that when I die, this will be
the only poem you remember.



in a small room nestled
tightly in the crevice
of a rock-and-roll jukebox
and a statue of George Washington,
the Poets made a nest of a few old couches
and packed their shoes tightly
with the newspapers and coffee stains
they had written their latest works on.

a large quilt was knit with the jackets
they had left at the door,
and was currently being used as a
facsimile Persian rug for the Poets
to stand on. as they each removed
their shoes, to retrieve their fresh
picked verses, they rubbed their socks
against the carpet in order to power
the lights. Everyone wore wool socks
for this purpose, and as it was summer,
they were all too happy to let their feet
breathe anyways.

one man came
dressed as Hercules, and he was kind enough
to strip off his lion’s head and
add it to the patchwork rug.

Spare electricity was beamed out
the lion’s blue glass eyeballs.

the Reading progressed as normal,
but during a particularly rousing
performance of an interpretation of
Ozymandius, s foreign yellow light
entered the room, with no consideration
of what was happening therein.

my first guess was it was Elijah
the Prophet, yet others seemed
to think it was merely a being
trapped between dimensional planes.
luckily, the mystery was cleared up
when we heard a tin voice shout,
“smoke,” somewhere nearby,
punctuated by the siren of a fire engine.

still, the Poets and I, after a real,
legitimate vote, decided to continue
as planned. after a few more
pieces were read, the first lick
of yellow flame declared its
presence from underneath the
floorboards. The lion head lit up,
burning, but the combination of
the blue light it cast and the
saffron embers threw such a pretty
emerald on that moment’s reader
that we just could not leave at that
exact moment. The green light
was particularly appropriate, as this
poet was reading from her nature series.

when it was my turn to read, the room
was pregnant with the lusty flames
and I quickly edited a dramatic
jump through a window into my poem.
immediately after my theatrical exit,
the building gave in to the fire,
which kissed the moon once goodnight,
and then sucked itself back into
the ground. I had barely just escaped,
and my pants were thoroughly singed,
but I knew full well the task at hand.

and so, I compiled all the greatest
works of the Poets, and published
them in a posthumous anthology.
the Book, tastefully laid out and
full of tragedy, was compared
by critics to the works of Plath,
Van Gough, and Bukowski. My publisher
removed the short poem I had written
and inserted, as it tainted the overall theme.
I was disheartened, but agreed
with this decision.

The book was a New York Times

no parking Sunday

turning left
on 56th,
I step out of Brooklyn
and into a festival, the
moment my feet leave
the sidewalk.

in the distance I see
the whole street blocked off,
and decide to make my way up
on the pavement.
it feels no different
through the rubber soles
of my one pair of sandals,
but the breeze seems
more accessible, here,
separated from the rising buildings.

without fear of rushing cars,
barbeques have sprung up
to offer all their smells of summer,
and trays full of burgers
are eagerly passed around to
hungry grandmothers, who,
finishing each in three bites,
argue over which has been
prepared best.

children blaze by on tricycles and scooters,
all of which are the same
candy shade of pink.
the kids tirelessly race
each other down the small hill
of this block, before pushing
themselves back to the other end,
scooters dragging limp behind them.
some pass me two, and even three
times as I continue walking,
their hair sailing and smiles
set firm in their cheeks, as the
eyes of mothers hide secretly
behind tables, with
hands ready to spring out
and prevent any impending crash.

an inflatable pool is filled with
young boys in t-shirts, and
cupfuls of water are brandished
against any girls who
make an approach.

a haphazardly tossed Frisbee,
also pink, makes its descent
out of the sky and lands
directly in front of me.

Dare I pick it up?

I too have reveled in games
of catch in the middle of the street,
though one very distant from here.
Perhaps I could toss it back
to the triangle of boys, and,
seeing me join the game,
the men nearby would put down
their deck of cards
and come play as well.

visions of a street-wide game
cross my mind, as well as of me
sitting with the grandmothers
to judge the burgers, and, later,
being taught the secrets of dominos.

with a thick book under my arm,
my eyebrows firmly serious, and my
too nervous anticipation of rain,
it becomes clear that this street
was not closed off for me.

so I leave the families
to the cool breezes they have
rightfully won from life.

and I head upstairs.
to apply for jobs, and eat
leftover pasta, and find my hill

that is worth climbing up
just to race down.