Elegy for a Broken Machine
Elegy for a Broken Machine is a son’s lament for his father. It takes us from the luminous world of childhood to the fluorescent glare of operating rooms and recovery wards, and into the twilight lives of those who must go on. In one poem Phillips watches his sons play “Mercy” just as he did with his brother: hands laced, the stronger pushing the other back until he grunts for mercy, “a game we played // so many times / I finally taught my sons, // not knowing what it was, / until too late, I’d done.” Phillips documents the unsung joys of midlife, the betrayals of the human body, and his realization that as the crowd of ghosts grows, we take our places, next in line. The result is a twenty-first-century memento mori, fashioned not just from loss but also from praise, and a fierce love for the world in all its ruined splendor.
About the Author
Patrick Phillips is the author of Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America, which was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and Smithsonian, and received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He is also the author of three poetry collections, including Elegy for a Broken Machine, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and Chattahoochee, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize. Phillips has recevied fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, a Fulbright fellowship at the University of Copenhagen, and the Lyric Poetry Award of the Poetry Society of America. He teaches writing and literature at Stanford.