Lustrum

By Carl Phillips b. 1959 Carl Phillips
Not less; only—different. Not
everything should be visible.
Wingdom:

doves. Not everything
can be. There are many parts
to the body. The light, like

I said. Gratia exempli, per
person more than one
heart. As, of hearts,
 
more than one kind.
As coin.
As thrust. To begin

counting is to understand
what it can mean, to
lose track. Is there nothing

not useful? Anything
left, anymore, private? Ambition,
like they said: little torch;

having meant to. Doom is
always in style somewhere
and, where it isn't, will

come back. Bird
in the bush, take me. Splendor:
nothing priceless. To believe

anything, to want anything—these,
too, have cost you. Flame,
and the beveled sword, set

inside it. This one,
this—what did you think
body was? What did you

mean when you said
not everything should
be said? The light as a tipped

cone, searching. The body
that breaks
finally, routinely faltering

before that. If a sword,
then without patience; if as
water–pearled, swift. What else

could you have thought,
when you thought
love–having known

the torch, having more than
meant to. Just watch me. Not
grand; only—distant. Weather,

and the bleachable skull,
set inside it. Locust-wind, small
through-the-yellow-sycamore

fingering wind,
Carry me,
let the prayer—valiant, up—

go. Some bright and
last thing
should.


Carl Phillips, "Lustrum" from The Tether. Copyright © 2001 by Carl Phillips. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved.

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Source: The Tether (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001)

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Poet Carl Phillips b. 1959

Subjects Religion, Faith & Doubt, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Carl  Phillips

Biography

Carl Phillips is the author of more than eight books of poetry, including most recently Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006, The Rest of Love, Rock Harbor, and The Tether, which won the Kingsley Tufts Award; he is the translator of Sophocles’ Philoctetes. Phillips teaches at Washington University in Saint Louis. He recently was awarded the 2006 Academy of American Poets Fellowship.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Faith & Doubt, The Spiritual

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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