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
Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Born in New York City in 1974, Rowan Ricardo Phillips earned his BA at Swarthmore College and his PhD at Brown University.
He is the author of two books of poetry: Heaven (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), which was a longlist finalist for the National Book Award, and The Ground (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), for which he received the 2013 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Poetry and the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award.
In her review of Phillips’s debut collection, Evie Shockley writes, “The poems in The Ground carry the authoritative descriptions and rhythms of Walcott, the philosophical and symbolic flights of Stevens, the subtle humor and cosmopolitanism of Dove, but in a language whose musical blend of the contemporary and the timeless is all Phillips’s own. These poems assert cycles—they repeat, recur, and return—but where we end up is not where we started. “
Phillips is also the author of a book of literary criticism, When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness (Dalkey Archive Press, 2010), and a translation of Catalan poet Salvador Espriu’s Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth (Dalkey Archive Press, 2012).
Phillips has taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, Princeton University, and Stony Brook University, where he was also director of the Poetry Center. In 2013, he received a Whiting Writers’ Award, and two years later, he was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. A fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University, Phillips divides his time between New York City and Barcelona, Spain.
Date Published: 2016-08-22
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/washington-mews