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Weekly Poem: ‘To Drown in Honey’

By Carl Phillips

Now the leaves rush, greening, back. Back now,
the leaves push greenward. —Some such song, or
close to. I forget the most of it. His voice, and
the words pooling inside it. And the light for once
not sexual, just light. The light, as it should be …

You can build for yourself a tower to signal from.
Can become a still life. A slow ruin. You can
walk away. They all say that. Sir, I see no way

out of it. I have put my spade to the black loam
that the mind at one moment lets pass for truth,
at the next, oblivion. I have considered. I know
what’s buried there: emptiness and renunciation and
ash, and ash … Why, then, so suddenly—overnight
almost—all the leaves again? Why now, rushing back?

Carl Phillips is the author of 10 books of poems, including most recently, “Speak Low.” He has won the Pushcart Prize, the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Lambda Literary Award and the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize, among other awards. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Library of Congress and has also been a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is Professor of English and African-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also teaches in the Creative Writing Program. Check back here this week for his conversation with Jeffrey Brown.

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