Friday May 24

CooleyPeter Peter Cooley is Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Tulane. His eight books of poetry, all with Carnegie Mellon University Press, are The Company of Strangers, The Room Where Summer Ends, Nightseasons, The Van Gogh Notebook, The Astonished Hours, Sacred Conversations, A Place Made of Starlight, and, most recently, Divine Margins.  The poems featured here are included in the manuscript of his next book, The Night Bus To The Afterlife.  Other poems are forthcoming or have recently appeared in Boulevard, Hotel Amerika, Commonweal, American Literary Review and The Literary Review.



What Rises Keeps Us Here, and Rises Here
How the poor appear in autumn
Now the first chill dawns, hurrying to come on.
At the bus stop they huddle as I drive past.
Between them and me?  Nothing much stands but wind.
The wind rises, they will pull their scarves tighter,
When each of us tonight closes our eyes,
Won’t it be this same wind rocking my car
Stalled at the stop light, winding around our beds?
If I could, I would write about the rich
In houses wired to keep out everyone.
The same wind waiting for us when we wake?
The day is young, the wind is very cold.
The wind is gold, I say, then green or black
Sifting through the trees, wind is ours.
Wind blows the open spaces of temples
In our imaginations and the hues
Cathedral windows shine through. It lifts us.

Poem Ending with Sententious Sentiment
To sit with you and look up at the stars—
what else could I ask for the end of life?
But I know better what sky orchestrates
no, legislates, my parents’ end
was separate, if eleven months apart.
First Mother, while Dad watched the morphine sleep
tossing her as she mumbled her last word
not even words but pieces of the light,
the very faint light always standing there.
I was afraid to name it. Look, light’s here.
Maybe not in the glory you would call
this page if you were St. John the Divine,
a long robe, golden sash across its chest,
the page’s right hand holding seven stars.
No, not that, all I have is this morning
I saw that after both my parents died
with a new difference, indefinable.
I don’t have time to wait until the end.
Look, love, it’s here: sharing light, it twice shines.

And Eating Out of My Hand
September 5, 2005
Now that they are no longer visible
the wild parrots who have shaped my trees
with their cacophony in chartreuse dress
moving en mass in chorus higher up
or out of sight perhaps do not exist.
They may be Peter’s green imagining.
Is it survivor’s guilt imagined them
to  outlast Hurricane Katrina’s wake
while hundreds died and we remained to sing
all of us shrilly, unmelodiously,
my little song testifying I’m alive?
But of course I am not imaginative.
While I’ve been writing, one has come to perch
on my windowsill, not imagined, real.
If what I feel is only what I see
then feeling’s everything-- I’d want to be.