And Then Snow


In stock

poems by

Phillip Sterling

ISBN: 978-1-59948-627-7, ~80 pages, $14

Release Date: May 9, 2017


psterling_bookstorePhillip Sterling is the author of In Which Brief Stories Are Told (fiction), Mutual Shores (poetry) and four chapbook-length series of poems:  Significant Others, Quatrains, Abeyance, And for All This: Poems from Isle Royale. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Fulbright Awards (Belgium and Poland), a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, and multiple Pushcart Prize nominations (in poetry and prose), he has served as Artist-in-Residence for both Isle Royale National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Phillip Sterling is our Buster Keaton of poetry: there he stands in front of the most common of houses looking deadpan straight ahead when suddenly the house falls down around him. After offering a shrug, he shuffles off to attend to what matters. In Sterling’s surprise-dappled collection And Then Snow, instead of lapsing into cynicism’s easy stance, the speaker tilts his head and notices that right over there is a poignancy he can’t dismiss or a vision such as “udders smug as smiles.” What are we supposed to do with that!? Time and again what we expect will follow in the next line disappears, and we come upon what we’ve never seen or thought of “that way” before. In his poem paradoxically titled “Lapse,” he whispers, “ . . . So I will not say, It’s nothing. Instead I tell her: ‘Come, / lie down. We’ll romp in drifts tomorrow.’” At a time when the houses we live in could come down around us, we need Phillip Sterling’s poems. He teaches us how, after we lie down, we too can romp in drifts. ~Jack Ridl

November 1


Rain keeps opinion to itself.
For days the sky has failed to devise
weavings worthy of our attention,
lasting that will last. We own

trends, temerities, the lines a mower
angles on the lawn. All else
is borrowed: wood, stone, cast iron
graved in names of improbable saints.

Who’d have thought it would come to this?
We long to hear rain speak of snow,
or to find in a day’s ride from here
a far sight whiter, more stunning.



November 8


By the time I’d stepped
through vapors of my voice
lifting like a whistling swan,

and set my stemmed glass
on the porch step,
and raised the gray binoculars

to my wine-dry eyes,
the eclipse
was nearly done

or undone, if doing
is a kiss of shadow
on the moon’s sober face.

Not an intimate kiss.
Not the kiss of a sailor
returned from war,

a sailor embraced on a wharf
swarmy with sailors
returned from war, and all

soundless (unimaginably)
as Life photographs,
and so close—lip-to-lip,

tongue-to-tongue—no one
could possibly make out
the face being kissed,

the face kissing,
but for some vague memory
of breezy, polka-dot skirts,

a white
shade-brimmed hat . . .

By the time I’d remembered,
the eclipse was no more
than a brush of dark lips

on a well-soaped cheek,
a parting
of proper acquaintances

along some cobbled street
smelling of rain, faintly,
and mayflies, and roe.


Liberty Tack


Awake, we find the rain
relearning freeze

in the way the body
lifting its firm hand

to the face of a belligerent child
learns arthritis.

Is there sympathy in the promise
of snow?

Or will these fence posts
in their stern, wooden memories

speak of ice instead:
a saddle that will take some breaking in?

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