Friday Apr 27

Wyn Cooper’s fourth book of poems, Chaos is the New Calm, will be published by BOA Editions in May 2010. He has written songs with Sheryl Crow, David Broza, Jody Redhage, and David Baerwald. His second CD with Madison Smartt Bell, Postcards Out of the Blue, came out in 2008. Their songs can be heard on six television shows. He lives in Vermont and works for the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, a think tank run by the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. 

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Many Things
 
 
Chapel bells a mile away,
an owl not much closer,
Johnny Cash on the radio
of a car driving by,
the neighbor’s phone that rings
three times, more birds
than I will ever know,
two clocks ticking,
jet overhead screaming,
our new house settling
into damp ground.
 
I hear these many things
from my bed and think,
as always, of death.
 
 
 
Devices
 
 
Out of roiling darkness,
the unruly starkness
of what you didn’t do,
comes news of what you did:
worse than I expected,
your neglected self
left to its devices.
 
I miss you already
though you’re still here,
flaunting your style,
your demeanor calm
as the day I met you
under an umbrella borrowed
from a London hotel.
                             
                                 --for Liam Rector
 
 
 
Matter
 
 
Quantum Theory baffles me
as I ski across this field.
 
I raise my arms and let the wind
wave me toward oblivion.        
 
Birch trees bend west
as I try to go east.
 
Forces of good show themselves
as apples in my mailbox.
 
A ghost from the past
tells me to follow your voice.
 
It echoes into a canyon
where I once lived badly.
 
Your atoms make matter matter.
Don’t apologize for that.
 
 
 
Visiting Archie Shepp
 
 
I knocked on his Amherst door unsure
of what I might say if he answered.
When he opened the door he was talking
on the phone in German, motioning
for me to come in. He wore his usual
three piece suit that hot June day,
alone in his house, his saxophone
and music stand at rest in the living room.
 
The air was pungent with something foreign,
his garden serene beyond the window.
When he hung up the phone it rang again
and he spoke French for awhile, then put
it down and asked who I was. Nobody,
I said, and we talked for an hour.
                                              
                                                  --for Archie Shepp