February 2009

Phillip Sterling


Phillip Sterling's most recent poetry collection is Abeyance, winner of the Frank Cat Press Chapbook Award 2007. Other books include Quatrains (Pudding House, 2006), Significant Others (Main Street Rag, 2005), and Mutual Shores (New Issues, 2000). He is the founding coordinator of the Literature In Person (LIP) Reading Series at Ferris State University, where he has taught for many years.


For night's envy of the blackness of crows
     I am thankful
For the election of crows
For the distances crows do not in straight lines travel
And for the spackling of crows
     at the first throw of a cold front
     in the Manistee National Forest
     (somewhere between Hell
     and Paradise) I am thankful

For the distances I have traveled in the meantime
     I am thankful
And for the Potomac River
     the wonder of it to raise
     a white reflection of monuments
     even on a day like this
     I am thankful
For the crow-oil of the Potomac
For the distance it covers
     under cover of darkness

For both the rain and the absence of rain
     I am thankful
For the slick marble of rude monuments
For the brick-tinged leaves
     scuttling the yellow runways of airports
     and car parks I am thankful

For the rain of cellular transparency

(For the rain dark in your hair, for the rain
     darkening the roan mare
     in its gray-fenced pasture . . .)

For the rain that falls in the forest west of here
     which surfaces as from a Great Lake
     and becomes, in effect, the rain
     that falls on the sculpture gardens
          and hotels of cities
     great distances away

For that, I am thankful

For circulation I am thankful
And for the morning light
     and for mornings without light
     and for this light before morning          
     in a city of white monuments

Shame on my sadness!  Shame on my loss!
Shame on my unused running shoes
     cooling their heels
     in the vacancy of a walk-in closet
     hundreds of miles from here
     (the way the crow flies)!
Shame on central air!  Shame on the hungers
     of the homeless!

For crows blacker than the cold Potomac
     I am thankful

For the lesson of your loving
     I am thankful

     I am thankful
For the politics of crows


                                      —for Jane




Phillip Sterling: Poetry
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