As the possessor of a cool PhD in renaissance literature, and as a man accustomed to reading his poetry out loud in a friendly voice, Patrick Phillips is no stranger to "hip pal lip tricks." He was also a finalist for the 2015 national book award in poetry. I say was because the winner has by now been decided: Robin Coste Lewis, whose work we read 2 weeks back.
Philip Levine, a MV stalwart, called Phillips’ book Elegy for a Broken Machine "a real discovery… the language is quiet and accurate, the details precise, and the emotions–though never insisted upon–are there, unquestionable and complex." Sounds like about all we could hope for. Here’s a slightly older piece with a pleasant 1st person. -ed.
Touched by your goodness, I am like
that grand piano we found one night on Willoughby
that someone had smashed and somehow
heaved through an open window.
And you might think by this I mean I’m broken
or abandoned, or unloved. Truth is, I don’t
know exactly what I am, any more
than the wreckage in the alley knows
it’s a piano, filling with trash and yellow leaves.
Maybe I’m all that’s left of what I was.
But touching me, I know, you are the good
breeze blowing across its rusted strings.
What would you call that feeling when the wood,
even with its cracked harp, starts to sing?