Goodbye, Goodbye

Saturday, November 26, 2011

by Joanna Penn Cooper and Todd Colby

If you put in three to four hours per day of deliberate practice,
within ten years the air around you will become firmer, making it
easier to stand upright, even in a wind storm.  Many friends accuse
me of being from Oklahoma, so this is something I know something
about-- wind and survival, funnel cakes and gas station tacos,  a strong
core. And the people, I forgot about people: How each person I met
seemed to hold a message of some sort that I would decipher years
later while scribbling in a notebook, the code revealed as quickly 
as it was extinguished. I love myself sometimes in my love for
the people, how noticing is like the whole world sitting up straight
and giving you a sad smile, or like taking off your own shirt and loving
your animal warmth apart from yourself.  But you can't just say that.
What?  I didn't say that.  Together we can envelop the news, and I do 
mean what we read in the papers, what is sprayed on the walls, 
or whispered in paneled dens over a sleeping sibling. Brother, I'll be 
over here, like Thoreau on a stalled Q train on the Manhattan bridge, 
scowling at the wondrous implicated sky.  Sister, let me illuminate
the electric green muck of the Gowanus Canal. I am all about
forgetting, even when memory comes trudging up the stairs in the form
of a poem I shall never write in order to simply say goodbye, goodbye.
OK, fine-- I remember you.  Goodbye.


Friday, November 25, 2011


Monday, November 21, 2011

My little brother used to be this guy (with me as a teenager in a portrait from Sears).

And this guy (with me + antenna).

Now he's this guy (with the mayor of Orlando, receiving an award for his photo of the historic district).


Monday, November 21, 2011

There is a light that never goes out

Monday, November 21, 2011

I think this person was about 14 years old when she made this video.  What would it have been like to be that cool at 14? 

Also, this person is the daughter of this person, who has a very cool blog. 

Wings of Desire

Friday, November 18, 2011

I’m thinking of becoming a full-time flaneur, moving
through the city at dusk or just before dusk and just after
dusk to notice things.  Thus, I cultivate the most angelic
eavesdroppy parts of my personality.  Exhibit A:
A young woman at the sushi place near St. Mark’s sets
a metal thermos next to her water glass, tells her friend,
I like to use this thermos to drink vodka in public
and also sometimes to drink tea.  I mark.  I bend to
my notebook and record.  This is my benediction, you
can tell by my large, shapeless overcoat and slicked-
back hair.  I mean the business of listening to the music
of the spheres, tilting my head like that, doing that most
difficult and beautiful job between light bouts
of bemused habitual scowling.  You’re welcome. 
Bless us all. 

A film by Joseph Cornell

Thursday, November 17, 2011

. . . with music that sounds like it's from a David Lynch movie . . . can be found here.


Friday, November 11, 2011

"He puts his paws on the table, waiting, like a gentleman, another boarder-- but more polite, actually-- for his food to be served.  He's wearing his bow tie, bright red, and an oversize fedora with a matching band.  He eyes the apple core, but he knows better than to reach for it.  He's a well-trained bear, delicate, refined.  And old, too.  He looks especially frail today, his chest sunken, and an extra huskiness to his normally labored breathing.  His eyes are weak.  He sniffs at Alma with his flared nostrils, a polite inquiry as to how she's faring." 

from The Madam by Julianna Baggott

New collaborative poem

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Human Resources
by Joanna Penn Cooper and Todd Colby

When last we saw our hero, she had taken up residence
 as a manufacturer of good vibes.  Her methods,
while outwardly sound,  gave off a sheepish, though powdery,
glandular scent. The kids loved her smell.  By kids, we mean
guys she met at poetry readings who followed her home
and mooned at her  through various apparati.  She had
graduated from the Bergtraum School of the Business of Veils
and Hunches and Improvised Esoterica, where her attempts
at being graceful met with laughter, but where all found her
realistic way of showing emotions to be soothing in the cramped
quarters of her single room.  Like the small woman from Poltergeist,
she was mockable, but you wanted her around when ectoplasm
started messing with your shit. Short and magical was how
she described herself in personal ads, when in fact
she was rather tall and ordinary, and sometimes rumpled
and perplexed.  But Xanax made her feel wrapped in cotton batting,
so she reverted to her practice of pretending to be a shaman who
gave psychic makeovers in the subway. She lived with ghosts,
laughing at the people who warned of their inability to clean
up after a tirade or a party.  She'll tell your fortune at her
discretion, for barter only and by appointment. 
It will make you sleepy.  It will change your life.


Friday, November 04, 2011

If you thought I never went on a day trip to Portland, Maine around 1999 or 2000 with my friend Wendy, where we took overly-serious pictures of each other dressed in black-- you were dead WRONG. 

Nervous cells

Friday, November 04, 2011

 “Everything around us is radiations . . . luminous radiation, caloric, electric, sonorous . . . . Why doubt telepathy, the influence from a distance of thought on thought?  The rays which escape from the nervous cells are most capable of exciting other nervous cells from afar.”     
--Henri de Parville, writing about the Curies’ Nobel Prize  in Le Correspondant [quoted in the Marie Curie biography, Obsessive Genius by Barbara Goldsmith]

Two prose poems I wrote several years ago and just found on my computer

Thursday, November 03, 2011


They sit at a table next to a painting of a chimpanzee wearing a ballgown and a tiara.  They begin talking about how there aren’t very many good restaurants in their town, but how in the past two months, they’ve gone to almost every mid- to upper-range date-type restaurant.  How he’d done her that service, at least.  They briefly touch on whether they should really break up.  Then her salad comes.  She puts her fork into the salad dressing that she has asked for on the side.  He dares her to drink the salad dressing straight.  She thinks for a few seconds.  Says it would take $500 for her to do that in this restaurant.  He says he would do it for $40.  Then they begin talking about butter eating contests they have seen or heard about. 

No Languages

Sometimes the languages enter my consciousness, though, the ones I don't speak, as when I say, "Is it free?" meaning "Is it clear?" when I'm driving. 
Or when I stare at the word "die" one day, not knowing what it says for the longest time.    

My cat reminds me of the times I woke up late, lying on my alarm clock, frantic to realize that I had only been dreaming that I got up and got ready for work.  Seeing Andy curled up beside me, I blurted out, "What time is it?"  before remembering that cats don't speak or tell time.  I did this twice.

What do we fall through in those moments when we forget how the lock on the front door works, forget the name of someone we know, wake up in the dark and can't figure out where the door to the bedroom is or which wall we're facing? 

One of my friends loves the feeling of being lost in the week, no idea which day it is.  I get panicked then, turned around.

This same friend, though, is scared by my favorite falling in-between: at dusk, the twilight tingle of voices with no words in the head, wondering will you turn down an alley and out of your body. 

Posture of Victory

Thursday, November 03, 2011

(after Todd Colby)

Garrison Keillor tells a nice story
in his red shoes. But don’t talk to him
at the cafe.  He doesn’t want to be bothered.

Mint Green Pants
It’s true your brother would never get on board
with the dark clothes you tried to buy him. 
You break down and buy him colors.

Provoking Animals with Political Buttons
The student who uses the word “swaggerjacker”
also calls Audre Lorde “ballsy,” causing the mind
to stop, a minor fit of staring into space.   

Hibernation System
Who among us are great animals?
You call the cops about your missing property.
They are unhelpful, but do not beat you up.

Vanishing Point
Dream of the lady poets
like Macbeth witches, standing around
being supportive of your progress.

Poem written for me in 2009

Thursday, November 03, 2011

3 lines for Joanna

when I look at fine women's boots
I think the air must be nice in Florida
& do people skip much in Italy?
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