Silver: Poems

Farrar. Mar. 2024. 80p. ISBN 9780374611316. $26. POETRY
Phillips (Living Weapon) opens his latest collection with this deep, wondrous thought: “not the meaning but the meaningfulness of this mystery we / call life.” Yet, intriguingly, his search for meaningfulness is delivered not as philosophical reflection but as lusciously written, even near-mythological musing: “Blue Papa of the cosmic canticles / That the moistened plums sing to throbbing stars, / Stay awhile.… The larks / Are still asleep inside your old guitars.” Moving gracefully from soccer celebrity to visions of Barcelona and Key West to his grandmother’s affectingly portrayed death, that search spotlights less formula or prescription than a sense of things: as autumn approaches, “one final / Song of summer / …that feeling that comes and goes, what is it?” Song is indeed crucial to the poet’s understanding of our richly lived mystery, from “The Triumph of Song” to poetry as “a song of force,” but it’s not as simple as humming a merry tune: “It was the right power / For the wrong fool. / It was the wrong hour // But the right tool” says the poet at one point, and elsewhere: “There was no preparing for it, an ear / Either knew it or not, nothing easy.”
VERDICT From fox to car to misty morning, silver glints throughout this polished collection, woven in like meaningfulness in life. A strong entry, appealing for most readers.
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