Wind as a face gone red with blowing,
oceans whose end is broken stitchery--
swim of sea-dragon, dolphin,
shimmer-and-coil, invitation. . . . You Know
the kind of map I mean. Countries as
distant as they are believable . . .
Carl Phillips lyric explorations of longing and devotion, castigation and mercy, are unrivaled in contemporary poetry.
In Rock Harbor, his sixth book, Phillips visits those spaces, both physical and psychological, where risk and safety coincide, and considers what it might mean to live at the nexus of the two. Sifting among the upturned evidence of crisis, from Roman Empire to westward expansion, from the turn of a lover's face to the harbor of the book's title--a place of calm fashioned of the very rock that can mean disaster--these poems negotiate and map out the impulse toward rescue and away from it. Phillips's pooling, cascading lines are the unsuppressed routes across his unique poetic landscape, daring and seductive in their readiness to drift and reverse as the terrain demands.