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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

Wither me to within me:
Welt me to weal me common again:
Withdraw to wear me weary:
Over me to hover and lover again:

Before me to form and perform me:
Round me to rill me liquid incisions:
Behind me to hunt and haunt me:
Down me to drown indecision:

Bury me to

poem

a young woman came in
speaking Arabic  I said are you Iraqi
she said I haven’t eaten  for three days
I said what do you mean  she said
I need to turn  turn myself in
this was a strange language to me
a different logic  Come and sit I said
food brought out  she ate  finally

poem

your face translates
            for river and ever
translates your fate

sign her your sins
            and ever forgiver
sings she your sins

pay her your pay
            for debtors endeavor
to spit in the river

your sins will be
            and severed forever