poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Philip Metres was born on July 4, 1970, in San Diego and grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. In 1992, he graduated from Holy Cross College in Indiana and received his PhD in English and an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University in 2001.

Metres is the author of four poetry collections: Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron Press, 2016); Sand Opera (Alice James Books, 2015); A Concordance of Leaves (Diode Editions, 2013), winner of the 2014 Arab American Book Award; and To See the Earth (Cleveland State University Press, 2008). He has also translated the works of such Russian poets as Sergey Gandlevsky, Lev Rubinstein, and Arseny Tarkovsky.

Metres is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, and Watson Foundation, as well as the Cleveland Arts Prize. He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he lives.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron Press, 2016)
Sand Opera (Alice James Books, 2015)
A Concordance of Leaves (Diode Editions, 2013)
To See the Earth (Cleveland State University Press, 2008)

Checkpoint

each day I enter with open / papers & snake the coiled
wires & barbed cattle chute / Qalandia / & bunker sand

-bagged heads / to study the very ground / & watch oneself
being watched / a ticking watch / other’s hands handing over

to red-haired & fretting / Uzi itchy with questions
& half a world / from his birth / a passportless plastic bag

scuds & tumbles past border / its blue flag blessed by wind /
O to be winged / & not locked in the fate of checkpoints

outside the milk of oxygen / held up / outside the /
in /no man’s / land / to lift outside gravity’s root & float

in the matrix / the mind a stone / bones grinding themselves
like teeth / in this mouth / vacuum-locked / suspended

till he gloves back / the papers / aviators glinting back
this alien’s alien face

Copyright © 2019 Philip Metres. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, January/February 2019. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2019 Philip Metres. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, January/February 2019. Used with permission of the author.

Philip Metres

Philip Metres

Metres is the author of four poetry collections: Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron Press, 2016); Sand Opera (Alice James Books, 2015); A Concordance of Leaves (Diode Editions, 2013), winner of the 2014 Arab American Book Award; and To See the Earth (Cleveland State University Press, 2008).

by this poet

poem

How a Basra librarian
could haul the books each night,
load by load, into her car,

the war ticking like a clock
about to wake. Her small house
swimming in them. How, the British

now crossing the limits
of Basra, the neighbors struck
a chain to pass the bags of books

poem

1.

Outside, in a country with no word
for outside, they cluster on trees,

red bunches. I looked up
ryabina, found mountain ash. No

mountains here, just these berries
cradled in yellow leaves.

When I rise, you fall asleep. We
barely

poem

dear descendant
of the dis
appeared you ascend

the pillar
of your own air
spin & span

whole abysses
with lines
translating there

to here & here
to where
wind winds

in dry wadis
hoists sea
in handful

after invisible
handful