Coral-bells purpled the fallen sycamore leaves, dead, the dead versus those who attempted death, versus those who effectively fashioned out of such attempts a style akin to electric guitar shimmer swelling and unswelling like starlings when they first lift off, or like stars when, from their fixed sway, they come suddenly loose, any man letting at last go of a career spent swallowing—trying to—catastrophe’s jewel-studded tail, un- swallowable, because holy, in the way of fanfare, its gift for persuasion, how it can make of what’s ordinary, and therefore flawed of course, a thing that’s holy, for a time it seemed so, didn’t restlessness seem to be, little god of making, no less impossible in the end than any of the gods, where’s the holiness, they sleep never, they tire infrequently, to be tired bores them, distraction refined by damage would be their drug of choice hands down, if they could choose, even they don’t get to.
About this Poem
"For some reason, I have only thought of the phrase 'at bay' as meaning something like 'at a safe distance.' I was interested to learn that its chief meaning comes from hunting, that moment when an animal is forced to turn and face its attackers. Originally I wanted to call this poem 'Artillery,' after the George Herbert poem."
Born on July 23, 1959, Carl Phillips's collection The Rest of Love won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation Poetry Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry.
Date Published: 2013-12-03
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/bay