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Song of the Closing Doors


“Song of the Closing Doors reckons with love, loss, and the space between the two that we call life. It’s a deep comfort to rock next to Patrick Phillips in these poignant, sleek poems that travel through grief’s tunnels. Clear a space for these blues and warm yourself in their everlasting light.” —Tomás Q. Morín, author of Machete


From New York City subway encounters to memories of pickup basketball games on Fourth Street, a love letter to the past, and to all the relationships and memories our homeplaces hold, from the National Book Award finalist.

“I will consider a slice of pizza,” opens Phillips’s poem “Jubilate Civitas.” “For rare among pleasures in Gotham, it is both / exquisite and blessedly cheap.” Thus, as throughout this collection, he celebrates a simple pleasure that “in a time of deceit . . . is honest and upright, steadfast and good”; even the busted buttons we press when waiting to cross the street make for elegy in a collection that brings us this poet at his burnished best.
Phillips finds his love of a complex, vibrant city extends to his dearest people—he writes for his friend Paul, dying of cancer; for his wife’s stormy eyes when they fight; for the baby boy he once woke at night to feed and change. All these and more pass through Phillips’s elegant yet colloquial lines, in a book that shines with love and honesty on every page. As he writes, “If you’re reading this / we were once friends.”