A permanent home and museum for poets and poetry

Poems by Patrick Phillips

Variations on a Text by Donald Justice

By Patrick Phillips

I will die in Brooklyn, in January,
as snowflakes swarm the streetlamps
and whiten the cornices
of the sleeping brownstones.

It will be a Sunday like today
because, just now,
when I looked up, it seemed
that no one had ever
remembered or imagined
a thing so beautiful and lonely
as the pale blue city.

No one will stare up
at a light in the window
where I write this,
as taxis drag their chains
over the pavement,
as hulking garbage trucks
sling salt into the gutters.

Patrick Phillips is dead.
In January, in Brooklyn,
crowds of people stood

on subway platforms
watching snow
fall through the earth.
Yellow traffic lights
blinked on and off,

and only the old man
pushing a grocery cart
piled high with empty cans
stopped long enough
to raise his paper bag,

then took a swig, out of respect,
as a Cadillac turned slowly
in the slush, and slowly
made its way down Fulton.