I have seen how the earth erodes differently
from the way that trust does. Likewise,
I know what it means, to come to love
all over again the very mistakes I
also know, looking back, I might better have
strayed clear of. Two points make a line—but
so does one point, surely, when pulled at
once in two opposed directions: how
to turn away from what’s familiar, for
example, toward what isn’t
defines hope well enough, but can define,
too, despair… When I look around
at all the wood that’s drifted ashore, been
bleached clean, and stranded, I think
to be stranded must mean giving in
to whatever forces make of strandedness
over time such smooth-to-the-hand forms
of trophy as these before me now, each one
distinctive. There’s a light that can make
finding a thing look more than faintly
like falling across it—you must kneel,
make an offering. I threw my compass away
years ago. I have passed through that light.
– Carl Phillips
this year has been full of such grace and heartache and unexpectedness so far.
writing to you from a field in Nebraska, full of crickets and wind.
In the coming months, I’ll have work in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Zyzzyva, Blackbird, and AGNI. “You’re really blowing up,” said to me yesterday, by way of congratulations, for The New Yorker acceptance. The truth is, I’m hunkering down. I let the poems live on their own for awhile. For a long while. These days, I don’t submit any work that’s under two years old — I revise and revise and revise. I trust my gut. I follow the example I’ve found in Eduardo C. Corral, who seems to hold his poems close for a long time. I don’t overestimate my first thought, my first spark of love for a poem — there is no rush. I believe in Rilke’s suggestion that everything is gestation, then birthing. Everyone has their own way. But I know how changeable I am. Perhaps my writing is the one thing I am really, in some deep essential way, willing and able to let go of.
happy september. i hope the fall finds you well.
“the only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance.” – david whyte
ANOTHER TO ECHO
How beautiful you must be
to have been able to lead me
this far with only
the sound of your going away
heard once at a time and then
remembered in silence
when the time was gone
you whom I have never seen
o forever invisible one
whom I have never mistaken
for another voice
nor hesitated to follow
beyond precept and prudence
over seas and deserts
you incomparable one
for whom the waters fall
and the winds search
and the words were made
– W.S. Merwin
i rarely read my work, but this week is different!
NYC *TOMORROW* 7-9pm : berl’s brooklyn poetry shop, with good folks.
PITTSBURGH, wed 24 may, white whale bookstore. grateful for the opportunity to read in my hometown, hopping in with toby altman’s book tour for a night!
& yes, I’ll have some copies of MEET ME HERE AT DAWN in tow. do come out & say hello. hope to see you. today is my birthday, so you can wish me a happy belated too. 34. i survived myself so far! amazing!