Philip Metres
Mixtape for my Twenties

         (in memory of David Berman) 


I am too much with myself,

I want to be someone else.

Where is my mind? Going up

the street like a leaf, high above


the busy little one-way, in my stupid

hat and gloves I lie awake,

wonder if I’ll sleep

like a poker in someone’s fireplace.


I feel stupid & contagious, out

till 3 a.m., pillaging the drinks

of friends. When you have no one,

no one can hurt you. Language keeps me


locked and repeating. Never tell them

where it hurts. Keep the bullet

safe inside. Someday the stone

will roll away, & soon you’ll see


that year, something I never knew

I had. Staple my lips shut, pour the milk

& I’ll say when. I want to go

back, but I’m halfway to the place


that we will meet. America

is just a word but I use it.

In the morning light, I’ll hold

that ashtray tight, waiting for


something to break. Here comes

a smile on her face. I’ve never been

too good with names.

Let forever be delayed.






A cento with lyrics from Richard Buckner, Buffalo Tom, Fugazi, Husker Du, Lemonheads, Minutemen, Miracle Legion, Nirvana, Palace Brothers, Pavement, Pixies, Replacements, Silver Jews, Spinanes, Superchunk, and Uncle Tupelo.



Found In Volume 49, No. 01
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Philip Metres
About the Author

Philip Metres has written ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon 2020), Sand Opera (Alice James 2015), Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), and The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance (2018), among others. Awarded the Lannan Fellowship, three Arab American Book Awards, two NEAs, and the Adrienne Rich Award, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.