April is Poetry Month: Poem a Day #4


Taken from the Knopf site; direct link below.


We are excited to announce that Patrick Phillips, the author of two previous poetry collections, joins the Knopf list this spring with his Elegy For A Broken Machine. That machine is, of course, the body, betraying us as we age. As the poet comes to terms with this process, he catalogues enduring sorrows and unexpected joys, and elegizes people, places, and even practices we’ve had to leave behind.

To share the Poem-a-Day experience, pass along this link.


Elegy for Smoking

It’s not the drug I miss
but all those minutes
we used to steal
outside the library,
under restaurant awnings,
out on porches, by the quiet fields.

And how kind
it used to make us
when we’d laugh
and throw our heads back
and watch the dragon’s breath
float from our mouths,
all ravenous and doomed.

Which is why I quit, of course,
like almost everyone,
and stay inside these days
staring at my phone,
chewing toothpicks
and figuring the bill,

while out the window
the smokers gather
in their same old constellations,
like memories of ourselves.

Or like the remnants
of some decimated tribe,
come down out of the hills
to tell their stories
in the lightly falling rain —

to be, for a moment, simply there
and nowhere else,
faces glowing
each time they lift to their lips
the little flame.

~ Patrick Phillips