Reconnaissance: Poems

Reconnaissance: Poems

Language: English

Pages: 64

ISBN: 0374536554

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A powerful, inventive collection from one of America's most respected poets

. . .There’s
a trembling inside the both of us,
there’s a trembling, inside us both

The territory of Reconnaissance is one where morals threaten to become merely “what the light falls through,” “suffering [seems] in fact for nothing,” and maybe “all we do is all we can do.” In the face of this, Carl Phillips, reconsidering and unraveling what we think we know, maps out the contours of a world in revision, where truth lies captured at one moment and at the next goes free, transformed. These are poems of searing beauty, lit by hope and shadowed by it, from a poet whose work “reinstates the possibility of finding meaning in a world that is forever ready to revoke the sources of meaning in our lives” (Jonathan Farmer, Slate).

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that I should have to say such a thing, and yet I know myself better than that. Therefore, what have I done? * Just the way it’s always been: first the word for twilight, then the word for deer light. The meadow darkens in the wake of another year’s only Full Thunder Moon. All of it done, now. The years reduce to a gone-to-rags-at-last chorus of blinded messengers dwindling fast behind me, like what remains of love, the parts about it still worth understanding, I mean, not the parts

What I see: a fox paw for a paperweight; the 19th century as random taxidermied sparrow—domed in glass, mid-flight … Maybe not the wings, this time; not the underwings, either. Dare me to stay. I’ll stay. MEANWHILE, AND ANYWAY Otherwise, what of empathy, or any way to get there: upriver, and then what? Leaves, or the burst and fall of them, or just the stripped-by-now branches—comes to all the same: false witness, a smell like licorice, stolen seawater as it begins to turn,

as victory, even if a restless one—if I’ve been restless, then the way a compass can be, and still be true. AT BAY Coral bells purpled the fallen sycamore leaves, dead, the dead versus those who attempted death, versus those who effectively fashioned out of such attempts a style akin to electric guitar shimmer swelling and unswelling like starlings when they first lift off, or like stars when, from their fixed sway, they come suddenly loose, the hero lets go—all gone, a career spent

“The Greatest Colors for the Emptiest Parts of the World” (as “In This Light”) The Pinch: “The Buried Life” Ploughshares: “Chromatic Black,” “The Length of the Field” Plume: “For Night to Fall” Washington Square: “Discipline,” “Shield” (as “Each Like a Branch Thrown Slant Across”) The Yale Review: “For Long to Hold,” “The Strong by Their Stillness” The epigraph is from James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room (New York: Vintage, 2013). “The Greatest Colors for the Emptiest Parts of the World”: The

title is from the last two lines of “Octavia,” by Tim Dlugos, from Strong Place (New York: Amethyst Press, 1992). “Steeple”: The opening sentence responds to an assertion by Gillian Rose in Love’s Work (New York: New York Review Books, 2011). “For Long to Hold”: The title is from Hart Crane’s “The Broken Tower,” in Complete Poems of Hart Crane, ed. Marc Simon (New York: Liveright, 1993). “Spirit Lake”: Gracchus here refers to the hunter in Franz Kafka’s short story “The Hunter Gracchus,” with

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