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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 22, 2016.
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

Washington Mews

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.

Copyright © 2016 by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 22, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

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.

by this poet

poem

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

2
poem

The soul of swift-soled Achilles hearing me
Praise his son, silvered, and then was gone,
His long strides causing him to blend, light-bent,
Into the shining, maize meadow cloudbank						
Shadowed by that one solitary tree 
It takes sixteen years for light, let alone
A soul, to