A Wolf in Clothing

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

(a collaborative poem with Todd Colby) 

Certain things will cheer you up:
Holding a pencil between your teeth 
to make a sort of grimace, breathing
cool air through your nostrils, or simply
sitting down when everyone around you
is standing up. I've been practicing austerity 
but there are things I might want later
like a knife fight with a Boy Scout
or maybe a simple dinner with someone
named Virna in Uruguay. I'm multitasking 
as I write this, eating crackers and crying a little.
I'm pretty sure this house is haunted. At least
I have that comfort. At least this headless snowman
leaning toward me in early March tells me 
Florida seems like a pretty awesome place to live,
mostly because of NASA.  Florida is so Florida,
but then so is every other place.

Late February

Monday, February 23, 2015

1.  "I shall not pass this way again."  --William Penn

2.  A child in white.  A tug on the foot.

3. Boots in the mud, then a bird call.  Lifesong pull in the chest.

4.   The child places a sticker depicting a cat as a little girl over a puzzle piece depicting a ship.  "The woman is going on the ... ship."

5.  People who are most themselves.  Their excitable hair.  

Two collaborative poems

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

by Joanna Penn Cooper and Todd Colby

Peacock Crossing

We have no photographic evidence of our time together, save that one picture of you looking stunned at the border. You always were so fussy about your papers.

Quest for Consideration 

My quest for consideration began on a damp
bed. I knew from the smell of the room that it was
a Saturday. Sometimes you want a drink first. Other
times you find yourself crawling through it
all stone cold sober. You or I, it's all the same.
Did I ever mention The Rolling Stones in a poem?
Exile on Main Street is a lovely record. One of us is
Mick Jagger to the other's Marianne Faithfull. I mean, 

it's possible Mick has had his heart really broken once or twice,
but you'd never know it from the way he moves his hips. 

I Have Been Tasked with Letting You Know

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

(a collaboration with Todd Colby)
Which world are you staining? It appears blurry.
In your frenzy to avoid kitsch, you've rendered us
all as broncos in a western painting with an orange
sunset advertising a dude ranch.  Someday I'll make it
out west.  I meant to be one of those wandering anti-
heroes, Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas, but even that 
plan didn't take into account the enormous sum
for the film stock used to document my movements. From now
on it's one of those self-help books that instructs you to notice
your life, five items at a time.  Item one:  A toddler
strapped in the backseat wants to sit in the driveway
listening to an acoustic version of "Save a Prayer"
by Duran Duran, but halfway through begins scrabbling
at the seat belt yelling, "Get out!" And just like that
a well of emotions is unleashed, diminished only by
a buttery shoulder rub and some sweet meats.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Elephant" is one of the words my 21 month-old son says.  It is also the subject of this poem from my chapbook Crown.  (The "Men's College" is a reference to A Room of One's Own.) 

Elephant Goes Downtown 

(after Carlos Drummond de Andrade)

My elephant's all shy and pretty-eyed in the marketplace.
My elephant's made of the cloth of unknowing.
Elephant's strolling through the Men's College, longing for lunch.
Elephant feels crepuscular.
My elephant sat at a lovely wooden table with a view of the Hudson.
Had no idea what to do with the sky.
Elephant has all these talented friends.
Beauty does hurt, elephant said.
She moves her mouth to one side like that.  Stretches out her trunk.
Takes a sip of her drink.
She flaps her ear a little.  Sighs.

Mad Max

Monday, November 17, 2014

Early in our relationship, my college boyfriend Jason compared his affection for me to the last can of gasoline in a Mad Max-like world. If you had the last can of gas in the world, you wouldn't go around *talking* about it, would you? 

Part of the conversation went something like this:

Me:  But you do have a can of gas?
Jason:  I can't talk about it.  For obvious reasons. 

This conversation was typical of our exchanges, and for most of college, we got along quite well.  I'm not sure, though, whatever happened to the last can of gas in the world. 

Sunday Essentials

Sunday, November 16, 2014

1.  I'm not sure I can be attractive enough to distract you from mortality on a daily basis.  Maybe in a series of carefully selected and arranged photographs, but not three feet from your face every morning.  I will work on it.  Or, well, I will ponder different things "attractive" can mean.  "A lighthearted honesty of spirit" might be one.

2.  This morning I wrote a message to a friend I met when we were thirteen.  When she came to my house for the first time, we rolled to see who would go first in Monopoly and came up with the same number ten times in a row.  (Did that happen?)  At that time, my mother and I lived in an apartment in a large, black converted barn by the Neckar River in Heidelberg.  We had a sizable terrace which looked toward the river and the Alte Brücke (old bridge).  Sounds interesting, right?  At the time I just wanted a bigger room and was tired of "all the castles."  (Eventually we moved to another apartment in the same building, and I had a larger room with a skylight.  I could lie in bed and watch the weather.  I remember appreciating it at least once.) 

3.  I looked at a blog of another friend this morning.  I met him when I was in my 30s at a poetry reading in Brooklyn in a spacious loft overlooking the Williamsburg Bridge, and I thought that's what New York would be like.  This friend tried to get me to buy a lambskin jacket on sale, but I refused.  I was eventually driven out of New York, possibly as a result.  Last night I dreamed that I kept running into this same friend all over Europe.  He was in tour groups being led through the sights and could not stop to talk.  Therefore, I made fun of his girlfriend's name. 

4.  The other morning, Curious George was having a fever dream.  He dreamed that he and a cat went down his own throat.  First they stood for a bit behind his teeth and looked around.  It was the cat who figured out how to run the machine that would take them farther down. 

5.  People Magazine reports that Drew Barrymore is really getting into whale vomit (ambergris). 

6.  There have been complications with the plan.  But I have this coffee and this blueberry muffin.  I put oatmeal in the muffins.  I hope that's ok.  But, to paraphrase Katharine Hepburn, "Always please yourself because then at least one person is pleased."  

7.  "Don't act ugly."  --something my grandmother used to say about unkindness
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