Philip Matthews is a meditation teacher, writer-artist, and witch whose work roots in ritual and performance. His writing has recently opened to site-specific meditations and ritual practices to support fellow artists. Recent poems have appeared in Prodigal, If You Can Hear This: Poems in Protest of an American Inauguration (Sibling Rivalry Press), and Grimoire. He was a finalist for the 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship, and a recipient of a 2017 Tending Space Fellowship for Artists, given by the Hemera Foundation. He was a 2016-2017 Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and previous to that, the Assistant Curator of Public Projects at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis.

Philip Matthews

The Priest and Warrior

Priest who washes the blood from my breast … dove's wing cloth that peels a residue of necessary trauma from sunlit skin and eye at his lip whom Apollo blesses. Apollo's keen collarbone installed in him … where I place my temple and wait for his hand to fall down … pentecostal, epileptic, birdlike … strobic ride in the pine needles, tipped tar. What oracle droning through his open mouth and my tongue receiving. Violet gown thrown to the statue's feet. The flower-streaks there, tubes thrashed in the night wind, veins like full-burst lilacs, kicking, against slack blooms impressed like hanging mouths … * On this copper ground: heads bent to wind … honeybee doing its work from space to space where the violet socket eyes glow and the violet light cupping in softened palms. Where ants like onyx powder … crystallized … might drink that sugar unto coalesced, concentrated. Should I ask the mind to be strict in its gaze … film of easy storm over ocean and whale glimmer like flame in a bull's skull behind giant wave … I should ask what bigness is for when ground down into copper dust. How attached to each particle then I am. Wafer of copper sun arc.

From fan-email to Chani Nicholas, May 13, 2016: "Dear Chani, I'm writing to thank you for this week's video about transiting Mars: truly powerful … Weeks ago, you mentioned the relationship between the warrior and priest archetypes; that the temple would have served as the place for the warrior to be nourished and rejuvenated after battle. The idea struck me and has stayed close to me since." I'd first read the poem aloud around a table of poets at Everest Cafe in St. Louis. We were gathering together the preparatory notes for How to Grieve and Dream at the Same Time, each poet at the table sharing; Bhanu and Aaron and I, in the posture of holding. I felt there, the poem's electricity being received, felt charged by the other works given to the room. At some point, Bhanu squeezed wolf's milk from the yellow flower petals, poured it into Jennifer's hands.

Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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