Somewhere Holy

By Carl Phillips b. 1959 Carl Phillips

for Erin, for others

There are places in this world where   
you can stand somewhere holy and be

thinking If it’s holy then why don’t
I feel it, something, and while waiting,

like it will any moment happen and   
maybe this is it, a man accosts you,

half in his tongue, half in yours, he   
asks if maybe you are wanting to get

high, all the time his damaged finger   
twitching idly like on purpose at a

leash that holds an animal you can’t   
quite put your finger on at first, until

you ask him, ask the man, and then   
he tells you it’s a weasel and, of

course, it is, you’ve seen them, you   
remember now, you say Of course, a weasel.

There are men inside the world who, never   
mind how much they tell you that they’re

trying, can’t persuade you that it isn’t   
you, it’s life, it’s life in general

where it hurts, a fear, of everything,
of nothing, when if only they would name

it maybe then you’d stay, you all the   
time aware it’s you that’s talking, so

who’s going anywhere but here, beside them,   
otherwise why come, why keep on coming,

when you can’t get to believing what   
they tell you any more than you believed

the drugs the other man was offering   
wouldn’t harm you. Still, you think, you

took them and you’re still alive, enough   
to take the hand, that wants, that

promises to take you to where damage is   
a word, that’s all, like yes, so Yes you

say, I’ll come, you tell him Show me.

Carl Phillips, “Somewhere Holy” from Cortège. Copyright © 2002 by Carl Phillips. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Source: Cortège (Graywolf Press, 1995)

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Poet Carl Phillips b. 1959

Subjects Religion, Faith & Doubt

 Carl  Phillips


Referred to as “one of America’s most original, influential, and productive of lyric poets,” Carl Phillips is the author of a dozen books of poetry and two works of criticism. He was born in Everett, Washington in 1959, and his family moved frequently around the United States. He earned a BA from Harvard, an MAT from the University of Massachusetts, and an MA in creative writing from Boston University. Before teaching English at . . .

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SUBJECT Religion, Faith & Doubt

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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