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By Rowan Ricardo Phillips

He never saw a violin.

But he saw a lifetime of violence.


This is not to presume

That if he had simply seen


A violin he would have seen

Less violence. Or that living among


Violins, as though they were

Boulangeries or toppling stacks


Of other glazed goods like young adult

Fiction, would have made the violence


Less crack and more cocaine,

Less of course and more why god oh why.


More of one thing

Doesn’t rhyme with one thing.


A swill of stars doesn’t rhyme

With star. A posse of poets doesn’t rhyme


With poet. We are all in prison.

This is the brutal lesson of the 21st century,


Swilled like a sour stone

Through the vein of the beast


Who watches you while you eat;

Our eternal host, the chummed fiddler,


The better tomorrow,

MMXVI.


Notes:

FOR POL STUDENTS: In regards to "MMXVI" either the Roman numerals or the year may be recited. 

  • Living

Poet Bio

Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Born and raised in New York City, poet, literary and art critic, and translator Rowan Ricardo Phillips earned a BA at Swarthmore College and a PhD at Brown University.  A contributing writer at Artforum, he has taught at Columbia University, Harvard, Princeton, and at SUNY-Stony Brook, where he’s served as director of the Poetry Center. Phillips lives in New York and Barcelona. His poems engage the acts of post-9/11 memory and ruin, lingering in interrupted or merged landscapes of art, rhetoric, and marginalia.

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