April Poems

Monday, April 06, 2015


As I have done for the last several years, I'm writing a poem a day in April for NaPoWriMo.  This year, my poems are over at Poetrycrush, along with poems by J. Hope Stein, Lauren Hunter, Bridget Talone, Lina Vitkauskas, and Christine Kanownik.  Happy April!

Come On

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

(For Todd Colby and Jennifer Lazo.)

Mostly a person who walked around with a smile plastered on her face would be assumed to have something wrong with her.  Except maybe Carol Channing.  Even so.

In my town, certain people have obtained orange vests for the purpose of staying safe at intersections when they are begging.  This is cheaper than feeding, clothing, or housing them.  It has the added benefit of making them feel conspicuous.  Some of us are men and some of us are women.  Sometimes we are metal or diamonds.  We are all people.  Hungry and wanting.  The more "cheeky" among us sometimes forget this.

I no longer have favorites.  Desire and delight and fatigue fade in and out like a scrim at a play your mother took you to.  What is being hidden and what revealed is something I could ask myself.  Two things I could ask.    

My small son wakes up and walks to the living room to sit in a box, saying, "All aboard."  Calling after his father in the morning, he says, "Be safe.  Don't be upset."  He stops in the middle of breastfeeding to stick out his hand and say, "Nice to see you." 

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.

Elephant

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.
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