Black Lawrence Press

Radio Silence

Static Wound

There is a silence as old

as silence. A dead blue jay

flat against a road, sewage

drain where its heart

used to metronome.

This story is a country

folding like a card table,

filled with cigarette burns

and blonde pillow hairs

from an old lover, sequins

along a pretty girl’s arms.

Trees collect kites, moons

swell inside other moons

like oysters unsnapping

beneath the charm of

a necklace, a sea of stars.

Think blood as the past life

of red. What is given and what

was taken. All we clamor for—

a shot at being happy,

a few wars to learn what

we love. The bar to be

as empty as the day it was full.


  • Philip Schaefer and Jeff Whitney have closed their eyes and listened: weathers, dance halls, bright-and-darkening towns…the blaze of certain silences, “flaring ghosts.” Radio Silence is an exquisite dream of transport.
    —Joanna Klink, author of Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy and Raptus
  • In these collaborative emergency poems, Philip Schaefer and Jeff Whitney remind us that silence doesn’t need to be disconcerting, even “in the chop of a storm/only the future saw coming.” But Radio Silence doesn’t fill in the gaps in transmission. Instead it attends to what emerges from those gaps when one really listens: Silence becomes noise; noise becomes music; music becomes a message—an old friend saying the perfect next thing. “There is the giving and the taking and the taking/back,” but what’s more there is what’s left over in the wake of disappearance, the afterglow of vanishment, the haunted present moment. These poems crackle with the notion that we are never alone, if we can only allow ourselves to pay attention (and participate!) with imagination and faith, in awe of the darkness and light that surrounds us.
    —Matt Hart, author of Debacle Debacle and Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless

Philip Schaefer

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Jeff Whitney

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