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  • Writer's pictureLover'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.


(Grace) Note

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.

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