Lover's Eye Press
Featured Artist: Becky Cooper
The End of Everything
With thanks to the scientists at Nasa’s Hubble Telescope site from which a line of this poem was derived
We listen to this music and it’s dark
outside. Guitars and strings sawing
together in a descending minor scale;
we both like to be longing for something,
so much that I can only look at you
sideways. From under the eaves,
one star rises in the sky
above our porch.
That’s where we sit and watch.
In no sooner than five billion years,
our galaxy will collide with Andromeda
and her spindle shape will appear
large in the northern autumn sky—
“Like plugging in a string of Christmas
light bulbs, dark knots will light up
as millions of stars burst into life.”
Astronomers describe these events
with more passion and poetry
than I’ve written in years.
How embarrassing to admit
I’m torn between envy and
envy. I want to witness
this spectacular event
and I want to write about it.
Someone grills his dinner.
There’s a moped schlepping up the hill
of our street. A pair of Mallards settle
down for the night—I don’t know what brings
them here each year, but I’m glad of it.
—What creates this pull: is it appetite?
Is it desire? What makes you
turn to me at night,
point to the sky and say, There.
So easy, to make me burst into light,
to pull me toward you.
And those stars aren’t moving fast enough;
they’re moving too fast.
Chicago is colder now;
lighting a fire might keep us
from turning further away.
We will drink all this
wine and sleep together—it’s still
your brother I want, always.
A flip of a coin, merciless
and cavalier: you are what I’ll take.
You tell me to freeze,
that I’m perfect and I know
you don’t mean beautiful.
Maybe you watched me walking
to the brownstone through the snow,
bathed in the protest of the stars
(but for the street lamps).
You were listening to something difficult
and exquisite: Boulez or Stockhausen.
Those stained fingertips rested
against the window, then automatically
traced my form in the fog on the glass
as I waited below for you to buzz me in—
I always forget my keys.
Everybody else has left the party;
we only have each other and the New Year.
At least you tried to fill the space: lush
fabrics and ripe fruit, wine and wallpaper.
I’ll give you that. But it’s light without
warmth. You take better care
of your records. Strip it back down,
black out the street lights—
let’s be more naked. We’re both waiting
for something else to happen here.
I like this blurring of hard lines—
going for a drink this late
since the bars closed an hour before
the air is thick, humid
and mists foggy in the streetlights
because I can
be happy alone
in this coffee shop thinking
about Satie’s Lent
I don’t wonder about the why—
just what is giving up
given up, willpower I don’t have
the grace notes an embellishment.
I smile to myself, Satie
wasn’t giving anything up
grace notes lick and kiss and question
sometimes you might miss
the main point but so what
maybe that’s it
that’s just fine and that was us
walking down the train tracks
through the preserve—
crossing the ties until we
had to lie down
in columbines and Queen Anne’s lace.
I told you we were going to plant
flowers so byzantine, we would need
new words for them.
You laughed, touched my arm,
recalled the snow globe
I tried to make: something so rickety
and absurd it broke the first time
anyone shook it—
a flaw in the design—
Caffeinated now, I decide to play
chess against myself
but the house board is missing
pieces and besides, I can’t pretend
not to know what I’m doing.
I’m writing to you about going
to the grocery store last night—
I bought two deli items, you know,
in those little plastic containers and some
apples. The moon was up bright yellow—
no clouds, but no stars, either.
I promise my heart loves this world
even though you accuse me of esoteric
meanderings. The abstruse, the difficult
designs call me, but I did not give anything
away to prove myself able to.
Pantoum of Blue-Black Words for Paul Celan
There was earth inside them and they dug*
for years to find the world stuffed in the heart—
a mass of tangled whispering blue-black words,
underneath the sloping ribs and breathing.
For years to find the world stuffed in the heart
they sang to it and cried green cries, but too dark
underneath the sloping ribs and breathing
a not-giving-back was formed.
They sang to it and cried green cries, but too dark
to keep pushing air into the lungs, in each alone
a not-giving-back was formed.
So ask, how did they sleep? What did they do
to keep pushing air into lungs, in each alone
the language was lost, cracked and split.
So ask, how did they sleep? What did they do?
There was earth still inside them, and they dug.
*from Paul Celan’s “There Was Earth Inside Them, and They Dug” from the collection “Die Niemandsrose” 1963
Catalogue of Birds
A small black tornado of starlings
and you can not quite understand
what it is they laugh at or why.
Maybe the reflection of bottles
broken in the yard or the feeling
of suddenness. I remember
feeling the neck
of a jug of wine hidden
behind the box of shoes in my
mother's closet. An immovable
roundness like her glass laughter
raining shoes, I frantically shoved
them away, back, and in. Once
she locked us out and
all through, Olivier Messiaen
imitated the birds with piano—
composer under the thumb of god—
while we watched from the branches;
hunched over the broken.
Becky Cooper is the English Chair and AP instructor for the Academically Talented Youth Program at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. She also teaches courses and serves as a thesis mentor for the Lee Honors College where she is the faculty editor for The Laureate journal, a showcase for undergraduate writing and art, since 2008. She has received the Significant Educator Honor through the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center twenty times since 2005, and the Significant Educator Award for Excellence in Education in Kalamazoo County eighteen times since 2006. Recent poetry and essays include: “The Study of Lakes,” featured in Jacquelyn Vincenta’s novel, The Lake and The Lost Girl (Sourcebooks, 2017); “An Invitation to Connect High School Readers Critically and Creatively with Bonnie Jo Campbell’s Once Upon a River” (Midwestern Miscellany volume XLVIII, Spring 2020); and “A Happy Childhood: Identity and Anxiety During Pregnancy” (Bad Subjects, 2012). She holds an MFA from Western Michigan University, and she is presently working on two young adult novel ideas and seeking publication for her poetry manuscript, How the Body Learns to Float.