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  May 2006
volume 4 number 2
-table of contents-
  home   (archived)
  featured poets
  Jack Cooper
  Michelle Daugherty
  Mark Dixon
  Ro Gunetilleke
  Ellyn Maybe
  Octavio Quintanilla
  mailing list
Jack Cooper May 2006



    Jack Cooper studied psychology and English literature in Norway, attended graduate school in alpine botany at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and has written for television, film and the stage. His awards include runner-up in Georgetown Review's 2006 writing contest and Honorable Mention in California State Poetry Society's 2005 annual contest. His poetry has appeared in The Evansville Review, The Pelican Review, The Meridian Anthology, Tundra, California Quarterly, Poet Lore, Runes, and many other journals. He lives in Valley Glen.




Like rogue species
of a shadow life,
unforgotten agreements
circle back
season upon season,
mood upon mood,
defying taxonomies,
hungering for completion.

and so many days before,
it was the failed test,
the fumbled ball,
the broken jaw;
your old crippled friend
who sent you away
then swallowed all the pills
youd left by his bed;
the dog that ran
under your tire,
writhing in the rearview mirror
as you drove on in the twilight.

Then, today,
from your crying silence,
came the girl down the street
who once landed on your porch
looking for sugar and milk
and stayed that lonely afternoon,
the same young mother
you passed in the park
the very next year,
the one with the baby,
the one who followed you
without seeing you,
like eyes in a painting.

copyright 2006 Jack Cooper



Vice Versa

Stuck in traffic
behind the firebreathing cars
of basically good people,
and vice versa,
I am cut off,
unsignaled, bad fingered,
completely stopped.

Out my window is a clutter of uneasy pairings
an empty whiskey bottle
alongside a prayer book in Arabic,
pieces of a tail light
scattered across a little pink blanket,
the remains of a mourning dove draped in a plastic bag
with something unnaturally purple in it.

So it is, how life and death
have it out on the side of the road,
the mr. and mrs. of meaning
squabbling about progress,
about destinations lost
in the great chain
of being and unbeing.

Instead of dying Id like to be
granted a wish to live on,
killing nothing therefore eating nothing,
therefore throwing nothing out of windows,
a life of good works only
Jimmy Carter forever young,
Mahatma Gandhi, only better looking.

Heres what Id do every day:
Id get up and drink water.
No harm done there.
Id go out and tend my weed-filled garden
for the poor and the hungry.
And Id draw little pictures in the air,
letting the wind find a place for me in the sky.

copyright 2006 Jack Cooper



Open Window

When the sun sets
turning us into shadows,
we crave the ancient order,
a transformation
from nowhere to somewhere,
from me and you to us,
a truth not there until seen,
not seen until named,
not real until held.

Being alive is to organize this chaos.
A Bach fugue does that,
so does a cut diamond, a daisy,
a bird that flies in through the
open window to a world with no sky,
no certain landing,
no familiar enemies,
like in old castle towns
where the streets were built as mazes,
where armies would see the prize
but not the way to get there,
turning back on themselves,
biting their tails like hoop snakes.

Take away our
pacemakers and metronomes
and the world narrates fragments
of fantasies of what we used to be,
like old photographs stored out of sequence,
all emotions conflagrated
into some opera of the past.

We need to trust that
the fire will stay in the oven,
the truck in the lane,
the baby in the crib,
that our songs are whole,
our cells are clean,
and the blood in our wounds
will always return to the heart.

{first published in Ibbetson Street (Summer 2005)}

copyright 2005 Jack Cooper