Two Poems by Carl Phillips


More theatrically than I’d expected, 
the trapped hummingbird won’t stop
beating the mason jar’s glass.

The staghorn sumac’s
splayed geometry
tilts on the wind.

You are the knife,
and you are also what the knife
has opened, says the wind.

Each Like a Branch Thrown Slant Across

So there are things in the end—don’t—that, 
               like the restoration of order to a
shambled kingdom, shouldn’t last, or aren’t at
               least supposed to . . . If briefly I’ve cast
the world, though, as a place you almost
               believed in enough to stay—stay
inside of—I say it counts as magic: wind coming
               shoreward, night coming down
all over again, lone atlas moth hanging, providing
               color to its patch of shade, where it mates,
then dies, not so much victoriousness
               as victory, even if a restless one, if I’ve
been restless, then the way a compass can be, 
               and still be true.