Ugly Duckling Presse

Manual of Woody Plants
Manual of Woody Plants

Phil Cordelli

Poetry | $17 $14
Buy"Perfect with fries, also."
The product of years of investigation and husbandry, Phil Cordelli's Manual of Woody Plants is a field guide to the workings of memory and perception within the creeping and ebbing of the natural world. The poems, each named for a type of North American flora, move with a light precision through the myriad intricacies and immensities that combine to form each human ecosystem—and explore how these systems blend from one person to the next.
Excerpt ˇ


Quercus velutina (Black oak)
From this oak hangs cake
heavy metal 1938
raking rubble from the nineteenth century
to now
Look down at the pentagon
consider the forms of height
and fall
Look down at the pentagram
some kids scratched here
a small memorial
Heraldic, indifferent
the cap of the pen
skitters to the ground
in writing
a small memorial
Cut from a larger mass
the trappist still has mail
de Goya and light, luminescent
Close ˆ

About the Author

Phil Cordelli
Phil Cordelli is or has been a poet, editor, translator (amateur), filmmaker, painter, farmer, gardener, teacher, carpet cleaner, dishwasher, waiter, surveyor (one who passes out surveys), Marine (by mistake), marine biologist (also by mistake), courier, activist (for one day), and probably a few other things along the way. He currently resides in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. He is the author of New Wave (Blazevox e-book, 2008); Book of Letters/Book of Numbers (Agnes Fox, 2010); and is, along with Brandon Shimoda, The Pines.

Advance Praise

Pulled over here at the El Matador Lounge in Socorro, New Mexico; having just driven past the White Sands missile range, and the site of the Trinity atomic bomb test. Feeling giddy about sniffing the fallout, staring down the outrageously vast tracts of ash-green shrubs and wash-outs. We stopped for some chili and fries, and to drain the miles out of us; left Tucson this morning at 6:30, to beat the heat—we're heading for Santa Fe tonight. Your poems are the current company, and feeling pretty drowsy, they SNAPPED me to attention, and somehow—miraculously—brought the last 300 miles into radiant focus, despite nodding at the window, as if your plant indwelling enforces (or inspires) a policy of acute vision, and memory. There is nothing short of an autobiographical atlas here, and again, these poems—well, fuck "poems" ... these are monuments, in sweating, unwieldy, grizzled, crystalline miniature—are easily obliterating whatever else I've been pooping through the last couple of weeks. Perfect with fries, also.—Brandon Shimoda