Even Homer Nods

Rowan Ricardo Phillips

You can be a mother who knows a god,
And you can ask him for magic armor,
A shield the width of Saturn’s widest rings,
Some helmet in the new or ancient style,
Fill your arms with defenses for your child,
Take the peacock feather you’ve been offered
And plant it in that helmet’s crown, or keep it
For yourself to use as a pen, note this
Was the only option you were offered,
Stylist or witness, witness with stylus,
So that you’d circle down the drain with death,
Mourning in either silence or sound bites,
Surrounded by silence and sound bites, life
Like this having been polished to shine
In the normal ways that things shine these days,
A dull lull, the type of insufficient glare
We used to call out on sight as useless
Glow but now, in new darkness, feel a need
For, a consolation of presence,
As when my mother passed me the soft shield,
The breastplate like rice paper, the helmet
Bright as faux gold can be, we already
Knew that this was part of the old cycle,
That I would die soon, without a weapon,
And she’d live on, and we’d do this again
And again and again, without ever
Knowing that we were the weapon ourselves,
Stronger than steel, story, and hydrogen,
Here in America, where we wonder,
Still, after everything that’s happened, why
Anyone bothers to read the classics.

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Rowan Ricardo Phillips’s latest book, The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey, will be published in November.

The Paris Review

Summer 2018

New York, New York

Editor
Emily Nemens

Managing Editor
Hasan Altaf

Online Editor
Nadja Spiegelman

Assistant Online Editor
Brian Ransom

Assistant Editor
Lauren Kane

Guest Poetry Editor
Vijay Seshadri

Since its founding 1953, The Paris Review has been America’s preeminent literary quarterly, dedicated to discovering the best new voices in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The Review’s renowned Writers at Work series of interviews is one of the great landmarks of world literature. Hailed by the New York Times as “the most remarkable interviewing project we possess,” the series received a George Polk Award and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. With the December 2016 redesign of the Review’s website, the complete digital archive of everything we’ve published since 1953 is available to subscribers. In November 2017, the Review gave voice to nearly sixty-five years of writing and interviews with the launch of its first-ever podcast, featuring a blend of classic stories and poems, vintage interview recordings, and new work and original readings by the best writers of our time.

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