Three Poems

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Gun Ode

A dollar with a gun in its mouth, a daisy with the sun in its mouth

Dream is a noun for possibilities, as in everything reminds me of threat

Learning to live in opposition, suspension, accretion, the catalogue of parts

     to their parts––where have all the flowers gone?

                        Gun––what have you done to our bodies?

            A ripping, then a keening sound, incredulous chalk marks in the square

If what you’ve got is a country sickness, seek the cause as the cure, push the paper
     pace, register, register, dismantle the ‘gun figure’

                        My hands don’t fit the bitter hasp

     As in, naked and afraid, without means of protection, they were forced
            to love and evolve

O America, tired of being an ode, why don’t you ever use your Kevlar® shield?

            O First Responder, thank you also for being America

Once in high school, going to a gun range somewhere in the oaky hills,
    maybe it was a dump, it was foggy, Scott Carlton had an Uzi, and he
            sprayed out a bloom of bullets that surprised us all, it was
                 foggy, the remains of the red squirrel glowing everywhere

                             If what you remember haunts you pop the ghost

     If what you’ve got is a problem wrapped in prayer, dismantle the problem’s
                 conflation, unwrap the ammo from the prayer

                                                Gun––
breathe back your noxious vapor, unstain the trigger finger, clear the site, friend up
     a glory in something other than a flag

What would that look like, sound like, taste like?

This is not a memory                                       I am not a shooter,
     I am not afraid, my shoulder’s on the wheel, everyday

But them Russians, them Russians, and them Oligarchs, too, not your
     huddled masses shot in their Sunday pews

                        Unbolt Unbolt Unbolt Unbolt

If what you’ve got is a trunk full of weapons, disperse them, spend them
            in flowers

                              Recall Recall Recall Recall Recall

Whose hands need harms, a militia, these times? A queer shoulder
            and a disabled wheel, melanin stupidly caught in the wheel

As in, America, you’re the safest country in the world from foreign intrusion––
                        Pearl Harbor? 9/11?
            Compare that with, well, just about anywhere…
                                    Why do we need a gun?
    Exactly who are we fighting if the enemy is within?

            Beretta     Bersa     Smith & Wesson    

                        Browning     Colt     Mossberg     Glock

                             Ban     Ban     Ban     Ban     Ban

I shot a blue jay once with a pellet gun, it sickened me for an hour
            as I watched it die in the rotty creek behind my house

If a vision of earth, all of ours, now and eventually, if the color of dust
                 and pollen, everyone’s dust and pollen

I mean, all or nothing, will the American dog ode eat its foot?

                      Ban     Ban     Ban     Ban     Ban

I am writing this poem in the pall of fresh sulfur, another school,
     another disheveled disgruntled white guy––to say it––a cut cut cut
            like a rat-a-tat-tat, the vermin high in the sky or behind the wheel

If a more general male viciousness, then something to control

                                    that that that that that

                        What can we grow in a garden with too many holes?

                                    Remington     Ruger     Savage     Steyr

                        Winchester     Uzi     Sig Sauer

                                         Drop your weapons!     Disarm your alarms!

                 A kid at camp––Friendly Pines––lost an eye one summer
                        in the mountains of Arizona, a .22, I think his name was Derrick

           Mitch, an old friend, he drifted, dropped out––I heard he got shot robbing
                a liquor store, near Fresno

     My wife’s best friend fought demons, he lost, he blew his head off with a
                        shotgun in November, his name was John

     I can’t think of one happy memory ever associated with a gun

                        Disarm     Disarm     Disarm     Disarm

If the impulse to destruction is greater than the insight to love, we are
              doomed to a garden of graves

If freedom is money spent on guns, what is American grace?

                                    Gun—
                                                your time is waning
                 In the stupid west wind you are rising against yourself

          I am not a shooter, I am not afraid, I gather my army of flowers

––a dollar with a dream in its mouth

                             a daisy with the sun in its mouth


Late Music

Feeling the lonesome sky on a long drive home, you make it so

   First frost, and the Black-eyed Susans staring, apparently

“Existence precedes Essence,” he said, we say

Soon you will feel a foreboding in the Winter you have conceived

  pain in the belly, a weather map of the eastern seaboard, organ
                              music grinding the Messiah, a child
                                            on a curb covered in powder

white, the film clip slcks ominously, see?

                  Rain follows fire turns to snow of ash

                             White, what have we done to Civilization?

   There is no snowman you have not rolled from memory

Naturally, you can’t always be reasonable, Humanism is
     what humans do

                                                         Wash the blood from your hands

                    Walk to the distant farmhouse covered in frost

Spring, you pack, make a pact, choose murder, lust, compassion, shame

       There is no such thing as not choosing


Time, and Its Monument

In the long run recurrence

The stacking of shells

Days certain seasons

The steeple accrues

Those spaces and structures

To seem so essential

Gather a stop time

Clearing or wall or well

A place of their own

Generally divine powers

Scattered in rows

Streets of dominion

The adoration of earth

A mineral thirst

Every space is limited

Sky or the human group

To defy gravity towers

A message to night

In the long run recurrence

What stands up


For more from Matthew Cooperman check out this January 2019 interview by Michael M. Weinstein or his webpage.