Poetry by Jillian Phillips

January 15th, 2011

Still life : Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers,

by Vincent Van Gogh






She was whiskey to him.
   Swirling around him.
   Curving over his tongue
       and into him.
The wicked spiciness burned his throat.

Her smoky, Irish laugh drowned him
   As she freed it to trip
   Over her teeth and out.
       Out into the open air, her laugh
Tumbled over him like an expert gymnast
       (a flick of the foot to bend the ear, but
       never misplacing a twirl to disrupt the rhythm).

She made him drunk with her dancing
   Twisted, traipsing feet
    Throwing up the hem of her skirt
       Falling back onto the floor like stones
Cast by the beat of a drum
    from an unseen neon jukebox.

Her scratchy voice tickled the corners of his mouth.
   The bite of her wit aimed at confusion
     And tried to chew the insides of his cheeks
       But tasted like a tonic fire.
And he wanted another sip.

He wanted


Sitting With Vincent



Perhaps your ear was not a gift
for a young mademoiselle,
but a sacrifice to the muse,
payment in kind, bloody and pulsating,
in return for the beauty of sunflowers
allowed to escape from your brush.
How was it you managed to evoke such
a beautiful sadness, a luminous tragedy,
with such a happy color as yellow?
I have seen your self-portrait,
the stubble, the hollowed, ruddy cheeks,
the bandages and stoicism.
But feel as if that was the painting of
your shell, the landscape of your façade,
simply a picture of what other people saw,
a cold blade cutting against the grain
forcing the split of your talent
and your mystery.

How true is it to say that the sunflowers
were a more accurate portrayal of your soul?
That they were a portrait of
what you saw deep within yourself?





Ella Fitzgerald in Her Living Room



I find comfort in a downpour.
The sound of intermittent pings
is almost a sonata, lulling me.
If Beethoven played on tin,
it would sound like the rain on my roof:





His fifth symphony forming
puddles on the sidewalk
as I watch and listen
through my window.




About Jillian Phillips

Ms. Phillips’ work has appeared in NOTA and Cellar Door Anthology. Her short poetry collection “Reflections Made in Nature: A Pastoral Memoir” received an Honorable Mention awarded at the 2009 Sigma Tau Delta International Convention.


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