By Carl Phillips b. 1959 Carl Phillips
If, when studying road atlases
while taking, as you call it, your   
morning dump, you shout down to   
me names like Miami City, Franconia,   
Cancún, as places for you to take   
me to from here, can I help it if

all I can think is things that are   
stupid, like he loves me he loves me   
not? I don’t think so. No more
than, some mornings, waking to your   
hands around me, and remembering   
these are the fingers, the hands I’ve

over and over given myself to, I can   
stop myself from wondering does that   
mean they’re the same I’ll grow   
old with. Yesterday, in the café I   
keep meaning to show you, I thought   
this is how I’ll die maybe, alone,

somewhere too far away from wherever   
you are then, my heart racing from   
espresso and too many cigarettes,   
my head down on the table’s cool   
marble, and the ceiling fan turning   
slowly above me, like fortune, the

part of fortune that’s half-wished-
for only—it did not seem the worst   
way. I thought this is another of   
those things I’m always forgetting   
to tell you, or don’t choose to   
tell you, or I tell you but only

in the same way, each morning, I
keep myself from saying too loud I
love you until the moment you flush
the toilet, then I say it, when the
rumble of water running down through
the house could mean anything: flood,

your feet descending the stairs any
moment; any moment the whole world,
all I want of the world, coming down.

“Domestic” copyright © 1995 by Carl Phillips. From Cortège, published by Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Source: Cortège (Graywolf Press, 1995)

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Poet Carl Phillips b. 1959

Subjects Love, Relationships, Home Life, Heartache & Loss, Realistic & Complicated

Occasions Anniversary

Holidays Valentine's Day

 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 Love, Relationships, Home Life, Heartache & Loss, Realistic & Complicated

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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