the poetry that matters

Joseph Cooper

Joseph Cooper is currently writing in Princeton, WV and is the author of the full-length books TOUCH ME (BlazeVox 2009) and Autobiography of a Stutterer (BlazeVox 2007). His work has appeared in numerous journals including most recently Diode, Dear Sir, Fact-Simile, Jellyfish, Other Rooms Press, Otoliths, Peacock Online Review, Phantom Limb Press, and The Internet is Dead.


Fertile Ground



every day you gather me and put me away
the components of the missing half simply line up and fit
and there will be no question of desire except through its conventions (preconjugal love story)

and yet preserving against all odds and distinctive forms
there are two worlds of action
you died and yet you are here again, except this time you are alone

as the culmination of this part of the poem is not an accident
where you will wake in someone else’s coffin and find it is your voice vibrating under duct tape





the unlucky mouse in the cat’s mouth is not dead
thus the lesson given by the master must turn against him
and retain the vague impression of being exploited

until it results in a field of layered, overlapped, and finally unreadable text
called from the page like a name from memory
chosen, consented to, and self-determined

anyone who is acquainted with this work will immediately recognize in the poem certain references to
huge fragments of lifeless ocean





it’s hard to tell why anything ever existed in the first place
to distinguish what is constant from what is variable
the unspeakable laws that one humanity imposes upon another

also, I notice that in your drawings and paintings you tend to depict people, human figures
as phantoms trembling beneath their silk
an unattuned body dreaming in a sort of hateful frenzy

one veritable transitory power
an often neglected acumen





it is saddening to report
the tangible space of the body
we’re experiencing is only a “discouraging” and faraway nightmare

revolving like a complex wheel
around the same familiar human form
staring back at us from the depths of the mirror

just as the one-eyed voyeurs
puzzling over the last thing they saw



meanwhile, it’s not so bad in here
this geometry of lines, surfaces and volumes, raucous or shrill voices, whistling, palpitations, rough, tender skin, cries—
the first appearance of an idiosyncrasy: open fly, lack of discipline

using these stencils, and a thick, heavy, greasy black crayon
just to show phantoms stalking to the staircase
and that’s the way it’s always been





but for me, the good is you
each tissual stratum
the commercial breaks with a happy family eating cauliflower

resenting patterns of conventional language
awaiting a donation of lips
the pair of them well-designed to go together

and should they have the right to smile
whether ecstasy, despair, boredom, or triumph?



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                                                                                                 March 13, 2013