Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Bornand

 

TO AN OLD FRIEND IN PARIS

I haven’t seen the ghost of your mother.
But I have seen your poems about the ghost
Of your mother as she brushes by you
Near the Seine, or as Linda Gregerson,
Or in the unseen acts guiding those poems
About the ghost of your mother, that chill
As you write that withers into something
Lithe, words for the weather suddenly flush
With lavender and salt, barked line breaks hush,
The poem opening like an ear pressed
Against the cold, clicking door of a safe.
Day comes to dark caves but darkness remains.
And the only way then to know a truth
Is to squint in its direction and poke.

 

*

 

LUCAS AND MARK

I sit sandwiched between two Chuck Closes:
Luckless “Lucas,” made up of small fat dots
Bursting against black-backgrounded colors,
His unkempt hair, unkempt beard, unkempt stare
Shot past the small bench between him and “Mark.”
No one in the Met has ever looked more eager
To be at the Met than “Mark.” Every pore
And razor scrape happens. His buck-toothed grin,
His out-of-focus neck and shoulders share
The running joke of being real with us.
Like Buscemi he is a look of love.
His plastic union-grade frames reflect lights
That he alone sees. In twos and threes
They pose with “Mark”s giant head: the orange
Italian girls in expensive peasant
Dresses throw up peace signs and then blow him
Kisses. Meanwhile, “Lucas,” left alone
On his side of the room, where he is real
From a distance, instead of the crazed pixels
He’s revealed to be up close, drops his eyes
To me, as though he knows I am watching
And hopes that I know he’s really a man.

 

*

 

THE PRIMUM MOBILE

O land of one tree, land of all as O,
Framing all fled feeling with first fire,
As I, the poet Rowan, laureate
Of phoenix nests and ash, never know you.

* *

Image: Myriam Bornand

Rowan Ricardo PhilipsRowan Ricardo Phillips is a poet, essayist, and translator. His book The Ground, won the 2013 GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry. His other books include When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness, and a translation from the Catalan of Salvador Espriu's Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth. Phillips has taught at Harvard and Columbia and is currently Associate Professor of English at Stony Brook University, where he directs the Poetry Center. He is the recipient of the 2013 PEN Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry.


Published on September 24th of 2013 in Poetry.



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