Monday, January 21, 2008

Poetry for the People


by 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.

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