“…the fire of wild flowers.”

In Memory of Charles Leonard Phillips

by Ellen C. Warren

Farewell Chuck! Good friend to many. My friend. Marvelous poet. Owner of the unforgettable and inimitable resounding voice. Mentor and advisor to the young. Lifelong seeker and, sometimes, finder. Wise man with a heart of gold and a vision that roiled from the deepest darkness and leapt to the most beneficent light.

You will be so very missed. No more “dadang’s” or “son of a gun’s” to delight our ears. No more resonant renditions of “Healing Waters” or any of the other of your poems we loved to hear from your mouth. No one can come close to a Chuck Phillips performance of his work. “The Baptism” will never be finished, even though it has been thirty years in the making. And, yet, it will always be perfect.

The Barnabas Business Center, where you toiled for twenty years, named you their Poet Laureate. But I always thought, and told you ad nauseum, that you should be the Poet Laureate of the United States.

You managed to keep that diabetes in check, to avoid accidents when driving like a madman, but doing a good turn for your mom toppled you to a sudden, premature death. Dadang. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

I’m hoping you are, right now, surrounded by your loved ones on the other side: the beloved nephew you very recently lost, my dear dog Rudy who adored you, among them.

On this side we’re going to keep loving you, and loving your poems and seeing you in the nature that you believed was “a lens through which one could see the soul.”

Farewell, good friend! See you in the “fire of wild flowers.”


Spring Flowers


Spring begins,

When sunlight,

Growing stronger,

And after filtering through the empty branches,

Melts the snow into drops of water.


And then with more sunlight,

And warming air…

And just as suddenly as the melting snow,

The grip of ice is broken,

The soil is thawing…


And seeds, and roots, and buds on branches,

Dormant since last fall…

Feel the pull of light and warmth

And begin to swell.


And rising from out the frozen earth,

Tender stems, trembling in cold winds, endure,

Surviving the freezing nights,

Clinging to life into the dawn,

To lift their buds up towards the sun.


Until petals bursting so scream with color…

That they seem to run from beneath the trees

And across the meadow

…and where here and there

They’d grow so thick,

That from afar,

They would appear,

As a mist of golden yellow.


And how they rush and strain to spend themselves,

To rip their seeds…

And send them across the waves…

To where next spring,

…A field…Or rising hill…

Is alight with the fire of wild flowers.


– Charles L. Phillips


Many thanks to JoAnn Chang, Eric Gafner, Harvey Taylor, Tim Kloss, Philo, Desmond Bone, Charles Goldman for their help and input.