Chris Philpot




From a great distance you came
running as if to ask me a very solemn question.
"In what century were you last night?"

By way of answer I shake my fist
at a nearby haystack, stupid and golden
in the afternoon. What creature abides the stillness?          

What for? Lately I feel like dancing
to the sound of boats woodenly lurching
in the Adriatic but—alas!—I have no business

being spectacular. Doorways remind me
of my own inadequate dimensions.
When they see me coming, even statues look away.





On the steps of a gazebo anything is possible.

You can only be eighteen once or twice.

Coffee makes me an animal.

I am at the center of the map on my phone.




All the swans in England belong to one person: the Queen.

The atmosphere exerts its pressure on us without our consent.

I press a hard coin to the center of my palm.

It takes all day to drive around the lake.




The drama of the everyday renews itself with vigor.

We aspire to an experience unmediated by anything, not even ourselves.

I breathe heavily into the night.

It’s an honor just to be nominated.




In my language dread is its own pronoun.

Trucks breathe their black breath about the city.

I watch a video of a crow with a knife in its beak.

To be nervous is the best known workout.




The present is heavy with the threat of the near future.

We go for a walk, the wind troubling our hats.

You dream of a pistol taking aim at an aquarium’s glass wall.

I keep my feet at the foot of the bed.




On any given day I just want to look like a garden.
The longitude of the self astounds me.

You don socks patterned with birds of paradise.

I am beyond the reach of any lasso.




Clouds nuzzle the mountain, a tenderness.

Each day is an effort to prolong the present.

By evening I just want to sit among my succulents, thinking a single thought.

I don’t remember how I got this cut.




Every time I cross a bridge I get turned on.

The river is full of water or something too grotesque to name.

A man once wrote It would have been different had it been different.
When he said Pardon our dust, he was referring to his hands.




When one hand does something, the other hand gets jealous.

The generosity of strangers makes me uncomfortable.

A smaller darkness encroaches on the widening plain.

I sit back and inherit the sky.




I like men who smell like flowers and flowers that smell like meat.

To perceive the world with accuracy is my highest ambition.

An example: under the ocean there is an ocean.

The word diaphanous comes to mind.






"The Way to the Citadel" borrows its title from Paul Klee's 1937 [painting] of the same name.

"If a Flatter Flatness Were Possible" was written in response to "The Sky Vignettes," a series of site-specific dance videos by [Amelia Tarpey]. The poem takes its title from the The Nine Tailors, a 1934 mystery novel by Dorothy Sayers that I read at a time in my life when I was suspicious of everyone, myself most of all.