This month for Poetry 365 we’re featuring the lyrical debut of Rowan Ricardo Phillips. In The Ground, the Stony Brook University professor meditates on both the beautiful and ugly of post-9/11 New York City in 44 poems of “fiery intelligence and inescapable music.” Reminiscent of the work of Derek Walcott, Wallace Stevens, and Rita Dove, Phillips’ poems are infused with the flavor of his West Indies’ roots and showcase an original voice that is at once timeless and contemporary. So check out this masterful new collection, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.
These factories, their pipes’ smoke, plume like skunks,
Rise as one and few and many and all
And forty fireflies bound for JFK.
Forty more circle where here be dragons.
Nature is a lapse in city life.
Whether red birds sit and sing from rooftops
Or rappers cipher deep into the night,
The gun-in-your-mouth talk of a ransomed
God, nature is a lapse in city life.
The soft green ground that ends an avenue.
The red rust-spew stifling a drain.
Pigeon-dropped icicles. Nature is a lapse in city life.
Those kids on a New Deal rooftop
Staring at the wonders of Moses,
Who with a wave split the Bronx asunder
And dropped the Cross Bronx
Down in his wake,
May they know this map of the world
As only a map of the world.
One of many that will lead them
To and from their doors.
Russell J. (Readers’ Services)