When Pleasure Boat Studio published The Domain of Silence/The Domain of Absence: New & Selected Poems 1963-2015, Joe Benevento in Green Hills Literary Lantern (2016) observed:

Phillips' poems grab the reader right from the beginning, with striking titles such as "The Act of Seeing Is A Moral Choice," "Try This Poem Before You Read Any Others," "I Do Not Understand French," "The Marx Brothers In ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'" (I wonder if Phillips is aware that Groucho and T.S. became friends in Eliot's last years; I'm betting he is) "Giant Caterpillars Devour A Major City On The East Coast," and, my favorite, "Reading Philip Larkin Fucks You Up." There is no top-heaviness to his work, though; each title ends up delivering a poem worthy of it, including the absolute tour de force that is his re-rendering of Eliot's masterpiece within the framework of the Marx Brothers' best movies: "In movie lobbies, men, some balding,' /Come & go like Captain Spaulding."

Louis Phillips is also a social critic, as in his "Our Poets Are Haunted By Dead Deer," where he undercuts poems by "Cummings, Stafford & McGrath" by reminding us that in the big city "our headlights/ fall on darker game, one/ we cannot dispose of/ by tossing down/ a mountain side." The very next poem, "Death in the Country" suggests that only in a world of dreams can we take death from its natural place, which he makes us see through the absurd vision of "Placing my arms around the neck/ Of a twelve point buck,/Hugging him,/ His melancholy face/ Against my face/ & no one dies ever." Yet these poems are never cynical or glib, just accepting of what is.

Pleasure Boat Studio is now proud to announce the publication of The Domain of Small Mercies: New And Selected Poems 2. Available by direct order from the publisher or from Amazon for $17.95.

The Mansion

Falling to sleep —
Can it be a slap
To the face of existence,
One more chance

To flee
Ordinary fears
Of real life.
The lost child

Returns home, pushes
Open the door, rushes
In laughing
& waving

His arms.
There are more rooms
Than you can possibly imagine
To welcome him.


Nobody wants to ride that train.
Speeds up to 1500 miles an hour,
Scenery nothing but a blur,
Entire landscapes in ruin.

Passengers hide behind newspapers,
Tap computer screens & cell phones.
Every so often a conductor appears
To collect tickets, announce towns

Whose names are unpronounceable.
Then, suddenly, we take a curve
Too fast, and cars rattle & swerve.
Finally our train jumps the tracks,

Topples over into rubble,
A catastrophe acceptable
To most of the passengers.
Because only a few were comfortable

Knowing where we were heading.


Whirling electric Muse of Astronomy
Descends with "star-bespangled" song
To confess: Copernicus, with his heresy
Has been proven wrong:

This poem is the center of the Universe
& you, Dear Reader,
Are its beloved satellite. You orbit,
Orbit all around it.


How delicate the windchimes,
When , in early morning,
A light breeze crosses the porch.
It is the sound I shd. like
My words to make in your mind
When, late at night,
You lie in bed,
Thinking about the meaning of your life.

A Fig for The King

The pool of economic neglect:
Dove into its deep end once too often.
Well, la-ti-da. Prefer High Noon
To High Tea. In fact,

No Immelman Turns with Howard Hughes,
Nor sipping Canadian Club
At The Copacabana
With Jock Whitney. So it goes.

When did I last jet to Paris?
Or dine at London's Winfield House;
I might as well fish on another planet,
Skating across tiny ponds of tiaras.

America's dirty secret: Class.
But then my wife & sons
Run down the street to remind me
We have tickets for Porgy & Bess.

Or, as Cervantes wrote in his Prologue:
Under my cloak. a fig for the King.

Bob Hope at the Hot Gates of Memory Loss

His memory slips
Into his shoes &
Small bulbs
Of feeling

Slowly burn
At odd hours.
Why did the comedian
Cross the road?

Old ski-nose honking
Older than Euclid,
Not nearly as geometric.
Bob Hope, at 94,

Sails the Lesser Antilles
Of one-liners.
He who cd turn heads

Simply by walking
Down corridors,
He who cd hoof

Like Eddie Foy,
Or yuk it up
With Der Bingle;
He who chased

Marilyn Maxwell,
Miss Universe, &
Miss Mattress Eyes
Of l966,

Learns the hard way:
There are
No Academy Awards
For growing old.

A Vatican of writers
On call day & night.
What did he whisper
To Dolores?

"I did not wish
To be this much alone.
Not this much

Gaga. From the French
Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Thanks for the memory.

Amid the Landscape of Loss

Sunlight in several volumes
& rain on the cypress trees.
I must be the only poet in the Western World
Who has not tried to do justice to such sights.
Look! There it is again!

A Poem of Fits & Starts

I start: Nothing fits anymore,
Not even Wednesday
Which suddenly appears so large
That I can step out of it
Without disturbing one living thing.


Not that Easter shd go to waste,
The owl-piped moon,
Drenched with April,
Pulses to the edge of the pond.

Sweet the loose tufts
With so much death & resurrection
Riding blind over them.
It is a happiness to dream.

What the Days Make

We cd start with wind-lashed sighs of elements —
Oh hell! Let's start with that,
With misplaced afternoons &
Brief inquiries into snow,
Declined departures of rain.
Unlike some other animals,
I cannot slough off my skin.
The days hold small & large losses.
One minute after my son died,
Monday became forever.

Strangeness in Proportion

The divine made manifest rises from my heart
& snaps my life in two.
It has nothing to do with me,
& nothing to do with you.