the poetry that matters

Ruth Ellen Kocher

Ruth Ellen Kocher 's work has been published in Callaloo, Cimarron Review, Ploughshares, African American Review,The Gettysburg Review, The Missouri Review, Washington Square Journal, Crab Orchard Review, ninth letter, as well as other literary journals, and has been translated into Persian in the Iranian literary magazine She'r. Her first book of poetry, Desdemona's Fire, won the Naomi Long Madget Award for African American Poets and was published by Lotus Press in 1999. Her second book, When the Moon Knows You're Wandering, won the Green Rose Prose and was published by Western Michigan and New Issues Poetry and Prose in 2001, who also published her third book, One Girl Babylon. She has been a fellow at the Bucknell Seminar, the Cave Canem Workshop, and Yaddo. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The Window Cleaner Dreams of Grass


A morning can be all about earth

and the epistles that spring from it.


Scene 6: The day is unremarkable. Magnolia

takes up flourishing in usual lushness.


it is summer it is summer it is summer

Window squares reflect crosswalk-lines

interrupt sky upon blue sky

upon blue


Scene 6: The smell, somehow undone, first picked

green, yes, but familiar to the body that takes it,

accords it light in a way


most opaque  sifted

turned out


moss creek on her breath.



Anatomy of a Mule


as the beautiful thing confers on the perceiver the gift of life,

so the perceiver confers on the beautiful thing the gift of life—Elaine Scarry


His cock spins that not possible

opposite of universe starry


spiral unfolded         beaded

pearled ass clench    useless swell


(a wolf in his chest    ears back

fur bristled black           white then gray)


nostrils tendril inward hollow the face

the skull’s caverns


the straddled sternum’s cleft paddle

ribs reach      cage


his mute heart                   reverberate

the internal walls indifferent


dumb pump             hoove

each in love with the ground’s small


eruption              dust billowed at the gallop’s

clap clip         slowly raised foot coming


back again always to earth’s bridge

straw’s give   stone’s round resistance.



Doctrine of Release



Vector: a moment worth remembering,

traffic light, orange poppies choking a field.



Gravity: any closed conducting path, the way pines

lean as the day goes on, the earth asking them back.



Resistance: coconut popsicles bought on your own. A lover.

Palm trees. You are lost. You are lost. You are lost.



Fundamental Constants: god/God/Jesus/Buddha. The eye behind you.

Landlord has a key. Housing and Urban Development.


Coordinate Systems: magnitude and direction,

the yolk of an egg, its simple task, exposed.



Potential: rain meets and releases earth.

A flirtatious turn of marigold at 5 a.m.



Radiation: begin with an oar and find a boat, a boat

and a pond, a pond and a wood, a wood and a mountain.



Friction: movement inhibited. Burnt patches

of Kazakhstan in rows of singed grasses.



Momentum: slug, roach, maggot, moth,

beetle, worm, lice.



Impulse: equal to the difference of momentum, a body

at two instances. Collision. We, moving with.


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