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