Wyn Cooper

Wyn Cooper Poems


'All I want is to have a little
Before I die,' says the man
next to me

How the hell are you, I want
to ask but can't—you're dead.
How hard the snow fell,
how slowly it melts.

Chaos is the new calm
violence the new balm
to be spread on lips
unused to a kiss.

The countryside's alive with movement:
a murder of crows flies over us,
cows in a field walk in line
instead of side by side, tractor

The mockingbird is doing the car
alarm in full shrill, so hard
on my ears I cover them.

For some the advent of June
means longer days of sun (boring)
for others the loss of layers

The hole in my head's getting bigger,
expanding at the pace of my heart,
which pumps blood there to help me
survive vectors of virulence aimed

Out of roiling darkness,
the unruly starkness
of what you didn't do,

Quantum Theory baffles me
as I ski across this field.

I knocked on his Amherst door unsure
of what I might say if he answered.
When he opened the door he was talking

These pictures what do they tell
the day is a widow the morning an open grave
it's not my hand that strikes them down

breath on a spool
that unwinds into
sounds so loud
they injure ears,

Tread lightly on the water or sink.
Go into a bar and don't come out.
Take tea at three and don't complain.
Trip on a word you're trying to learn.


It's opaque, secretive
to no purpose, circular
rather than linear,
a road that comes back


I put my hand on your wrist
not only to feel your skin
but to feel the blood below,
racing from heart to fingertip


Seismic disturbances
disturb us, size us
up for future reactions
to movements of earth.

Imagine you're on Mars, looking at earth,
a swirl of colors in the distance.
Tell us what you miss most, or least.

The teens have gathered, because they are teens.
They wear brown shirts faded to beige, black
boots, low-slung jeans. The way they stand

The abstraction of Rothko
square clouds on canvas
The drips of Pollock
rain that pours down

I can hear it moving through the night,
Wheels on tracks on dirt still warm,
A straight line west through two more valleys
And a slow turn north, then two full days

Wyn Cooper Biography

Cooper was raised in Michigan and later attended the University of Utah and Hollins College. He has taught at the University of Utah, Bennington College, Marlboro College, and at The Frost Place Festival of Poetry. His most recent book is Chaos is the New Calm (BOA Editions, 2010. His earlier books are Postcards from the Interior (BOA Editions, 2005), The Way Back (White Pine Press, 2000), and The Country of Here Below (Ahsahta Press, 1987). Cooper's poems, stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in Poetry, Orion, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Ploughshares. His and are included in 25 anthologies of contemporary poetry. One of his poems, Fun, was used for the lyrics of the Sheryl Crow song, 'All I Wanna Do'. Crow's producer Bill Bottrell discovered Cooper's poetry book The Country of Here Below in Cliff's Books, a Pasadena, California used bookstore. Bottrell adapted Fun into the lyrics for her song when Crow couldn't come up with usable lyrics—earning Cooper considerable royalties, and helping to publicise his book, originally published in a run of only 500 copies in 1987, into multiple reprints. He also wrote lyrics for a fictional band in Madison Smartt Bell's novel, Anything Goes. The songs were put to music by Bell, recorded and produced by Don Dixon and released as 40 Words for Fear in 2003. The second Bell and Cooper cd, Postcards Out of the Blue, was based in part on Cooper's book Postcards from the Interior. Their songs have been used on 6 television shows. Cooper has also written and recorded songs with David Broza, David Baerwald, and Jody Redhage. Cooper has served as editor of Quarterly West and recently worked for the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, a think tank run by the Poetry Foundation of Chicago. Cooper is one of the organizers of the Brattleboro Literary Festival in Brattleboro, Vermont. He currently resides in Halifax, Vermont, where he works as a freelance editor of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and memoir.)

The Best Poem Of Wyn Cooper


'All I want is to have a little
Before I die,' says the man
next to me
Out of nowhere, apropos of
nothing. He says
His name's William but I'm
sure he's Bill
Or Billy, Mac or Buddy; he's
plain ugly to me,
And I wonder if he's ever had
fun in his life.

We are drinking beer at noon
on Tuesday,
In a bar that faces a giant car
The good people of the world
are washing their cars
On their lunch hours, hosing
and scrubbing
As best they can in skirts and
They drive their shiny Datsuns
and Buicks
Back to the phone company,
the record store,
The genetic engineering lab,
but not a single one
Appears to be having fun like
Billy and me.

I like a good beer buzz early
in the day,
And Billy likes to peel the
From his bottles of Bud and
shred them on the bar.
Then he lights every match in
an oversized pack,
Letting each one burn down to
his thick fingers
Before blowing and cursing
them out.

A happy couple enters the bar,
dangerously close
To one another, like this is a
But they clean up their act
when we give them
A look. One quick beer and
they're out,
Down the road and in the next
For all I care, smiling like
We cover sports and politics
and once,
When Billy burns his thumb
and lets out a yelp,
The bartender looks up from
his want-ads.

Otherwise the bar is ours, and
the day and the night
And the car wash too, the
matches and Buds
And the clean and dirty cars,
the sun and the moon
And every motel on this
highway. It's ours you hear?
And we've got plans, so relax
and let us in -
All we want is to have a little

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