Phoebe Wilcox – Three Poems

Boot photo 2 (1)Phoebe Wilcox has published two books, a novel, Angels Carry the Sun, and a poetry chapbook, Recidivist (both published by Lilly Press in 2010). ”Angels Carry the Sun” was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award the Pushcart Prize. Her short stories have been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and her Rhysling-nominated poem, “A More Significant Sun” was included in the 2010 Rhysling Anthology. She was the 2012 winner of the Gertrude Stein “Rose” Poetry Prize awarded by Wilderness House Literary Review.



The sun shone like a new nickel
in spring mist.

This morning I nearly fell asleep
in the narrow channel
between two chores.
Allergic to a cat that loves
me enough to scratch
at my dim consciousness,
I pretended to be the Cheshire cat,
and imagined smiling
with perfect teeth
at whatever busted-shrapnel treasure chest
a Thursday afternoon
in a nursing home
might bring.

And then, finally
at the end of the day
–the crowning achievement,
you could say–
this poem,

like a new nickel down a well,

a sound,
a single note.

Tax Deductible Kitty Cat

The cat is tax deductible.
Is everything the cat tears up or attacks also tax deductible?
–It’s okay, nothing is that fancy here.

I’m so glad I don’t eat flies and mice.

Life could be worse, you know.
I could feel compelled
to jump up onto the kitchen table
in order to eat someone’s
leftover scrambled eggs;
no one is going to spray me in the face with water
or shake a terrifying tin of pennies at me
every time I seek out
an exciting new flavor.

I am not very much like my kitty cat,
although a cougar I may be.
I do not put my ears back
when I am hunting.
My heart does not palpitate with joy
every time I open
the door of my bedroom closet.
(Though maybe if I had
a new wardrobe,
perhaps that would change.)
I feel guilty
for circumscribing
kitty’s little life,
but then we all have boundaries.

Everyone spends their lives
testing limits
and looking for
the next good thing to chase.


The Muse Resigns her Post

The muse resigns her position as Chief Inspiration
after being rendered, represented,
suggested, reworked,
embellished, exaggerated,
tweaked, twisted
–and thoroughly dehumanized as is attendant to the task–
in so many sculptures,
a fusillade of odes,
the cold shoulder of portraiture
(and that of the absorbed creator).

The artist sees the glint in her eyes
without recognizing tears,
so the muse refuses to sit any longer for the pose,
although the lighting is flattering
and her endurance strong.
She overturns paint pots,
throws brushes like daggers,
and sprints her naked rage
out into the busy street.

No, you can’t capture my essence anymore.
I won’t allow it.
Not unless you capture me first.
And at second thought,
that won’t work either.
Just enjoy tweaking and reworking the sunset.
It will go down forever for you.
And you can make it whatever damn color you wish.


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