Rowan Ricardo Phillips



On First Looking into Being Forty

for N.L.


On first looking into being forty,
Hours in, you’ll notice little has changed;
Some celebratory texts, emails, cards,
A few of them (wait, how would you say it)
Taking the piss, a few of them sincere
Which stings more than the ones taking the piss
Because you’re sincerely old as fuck now,
Harvey and Katherine having cheered you
The way new experts cheer their expertise,
Being the birthday fundamentalists
They’re supposed to be, for they came from cake
And confetti like you and Z and this, Nick,
Is when empathy and sympathy die
Like Cortez staring out at thirty-nine.


Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of The Ground and Heaven, both published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. He lives in New York City and Barcelona.

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