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

Interim Editor: Nicole Rudick
Poetry Editor: Robyn Creswell

==Founded in Paris by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton in 1953, The Paris Review began with a simple editorial mission: “Dear reader,” William Styron wrote in a letter in the inaugural issue, “The Paris Review hopes t

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