Death and the City
Yesterday’s newspaper becomes last week’s
Newspapers spread out like a hand-held fan
In front of the face of the apartment
Door. A dog does the Argos-thing inside,
Waiting beside O as though his body
Is but an Ithaca waiting the soul’s
Return. Neil the Super will soon come up
With the key but only in time to find
Doreen, the on-the-down-low-friend-with-perks,
There already, kneeling between the two,
Stroking the hair of both O and the dog,
Wondering who had been walking the dog.
Copyright © 2015 by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 28, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“Proximity and indifference are the two sides of the murky coin that is city life. And whether it feels precious or cheap (may it always feel the former), life always holds itself up to the mind’s glare. Sometimes I want to look away, but I never look away.”
—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.
Heaven (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)
The Ground (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)
When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness (Dalkey Archive Press, 2010)
Date Published: 2015-10-28
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/death-and-city