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American Life in Poetry: ‘The Address Book’

I’ve arrived at an age at which I avoid looking into my old address books, although I’ve kept them all. Too many of those addresses are those of people no longer among us. Louis Phillips, a New Yorker, catches that feeling of loss in this poem from “The Domain of Silence; The Domain of Absence: New & Selected Poems.”

The Address Book

How could I predict

That my life wd become whatever,

So many people

Passing thru—address books

Filled with names & numbers

I no longer recognize,

Pages torn loose,

Addresses crossed out,

Lives badly smudged,

Decades of earnest grief,

Missed opportunities,

Phones disconnected.

What am I now?

Just another old man

Among old men.

Turn the calendar upside down

& let the days fall out.

Poem copyright 2015 by Louis Phillips, “The Address Book” from “The Domain of Silence; The Domain of Absence: New & Selected Poems,” (Pleasure Boat Studio, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.