Washington Mews

I won’t ever tell you how it ended.
But it ended. I was told not to act
Like it was some big dramatic moment.
She swiveled on her heels like she twirled just
The other day on a bar stool, the joy
Gone out of it now. Then she walked away.
I called out to her once. She slightly turned.
But she didn’t stop. I called out again.
And that was when, well, that’s just when
You know: You will always be what you were
On that small street at that small time, right when
She left and Pluto sudsed your throat and said,
Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche
Tú la quisiste, y a veces ella también te quiso.


Copyright © 2016 by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“Much to my surprise, I have found myself as of late writing a cascade of Shakespearean sonnets. They tell a story. Suddenly and from what source I cannot tell you, I have fallen in love with the problem inherent within a sonnet’s concluding couplet; namely, how easily it can take the form of merely anticipated machinery. In the particular case of ‘Washington Mews,’ the concluding couplet is an altered fragment from Neruda’s ‘Poema XX.’ Pluto—the ex-planet, the ruler of the underworld—gets the final words here: note that instead of boasting he takes the liberty to recite. These thoughts came to me after I had written the poem, not during and certainly not before.”
—Rowan Ricardo Phillips