The Rest of Love

Carl Phillips

Carl Phillips writes a bare-boned poetry of self-examination, in which the body and all its desires are the route to spiritual awakening, an enlightenment that somehow is always just out of reach. In his seventh book, Phillips uses the framework of Greek mythology as a map for his explorations of the human heart and its relationship to the divine. The title poem gives us Orpheus after the loss of Eurydice as a starting point for love, and not the end it is so often thought to be. In “If a Wilderness,” a beautiful stranger reveals a secret: “The difference between / God and luck is that luck, when it leaves / does not go far.” Ultimately, all of Phillips’ poems are love poems, but they’re to the human soul, “by which, it seems now, he meant in / no way a thing / unholy.”