No Ode


The infinite caste and the soluble membrane, the papers of a wasp.
“Earth has nothing I desire besides you…”
Not a hand nor a bird nor a bicycle, never the one for delay…

Systole: remembering the days of his youth it was ba-boom, not happening.
As in square, ba-boom, the box. Not the sense of style
but the sense of impending monument.

A cruising altitude of 30, 000 feet is not anywhere close to heaven.
Never sky: “a place where nothing, nothing ever happens…”

On a Thursday at the zoo the thing wasn’t really moving, not the bear
nor the landfill, nor the quickening sense of feed,
a pentabulous world grown cold. In this way the green man

is not happening. Bad harvest, knots of locust. A typhoon scattering
of all lowlands. “So as to speech the lily goeth, so as
to seed the gentle deer goeth…”

In the bare trees after the late storm there was one thing (a cardinal) against
some things (larch pines) against everything (the snow
tableau). Call it what you will (the man at a window).

In my head the great debate of worth and self-loathing. In the Mayan
calendar a constellation of zeroes in the 21st century.
Zot, the king of rendering, and Greed, the queen of disease.

In Gerald Stern a benign fibrosity, and an attachment to old felt,
and a memory of coal dust,
and the color of blue lentils,
and his conjunction resisting the void.

Not motive nor asseveration. Not a sea full of oil, nor an office
full of bluster. Not a corporation,
not the October morning moving
to incorporate a neighborhood. He thinks

“these are blossoms     Astor Place     a marble salute
and an incoming bomb, who is wearing
an impervious hat?”

Come toward him now, his no generation, the image of less

from space
as it’s moving


This is not a narrative of progress. Peoples
are confused. Decades creep like fluvial debris, limbs,
like nations, gather at the curb.
Never a dull moment and never a dull moment.
The piles of a winter desk slowly gathering steam.
The papers of a wasp.

Noh, as in theatre, everyone caked in astonishment.
“No,” as in the bad date, and the hovering close to the body.
So goes the mercury

into the fish, so plummet the man from the cliff.
If it were nothing there would be no landing, no attempt
at the funeral, no monument at Ground Zero.

Everywhere in the marshes a thousand resting cranes. Legs up, a P
singing here, here, here,
how the impulse to deceive is a fear of profusion, one poem
becoming another. My soluble membrane,
his rage, transmission from the void…

White fog lifting & falling on mountain brow
Trees moving in rivers of wind
The clouds arise
as on a wave, gigantic eddy lifting mist
above teeming ferns
exquisitely swayed
along a green crag
glimpsed thru mullioned glass in valley rain

All the valley quivers, on extended motion, wind
undulating on mossy hills
a giant wash that sank white fog delicately down red runnels
on the mountainside
whose leaf-branch tendrils moved asway
in granitic undertow down—

No imperfection in the budded mountain,
Valleys breathe, heaven and earth move together,
grass shimmers green
sheep speckle the mountainside, revolving their jaws with empty eyes

The great secret is no secret
my skull and Lord Hereford’s Knob equal,
All Albion one

sings Allen Ginsberg to William F. Buckley, an August night, 1969, and I am five in the television glow, and I am alive in the rising wind of the poem, something strange on my father’s brow, something strange in the shining teeth of Bill Buckley who is one, and I am one, and my father is one, too. Savage deceit in the smell of war. He shuffles the sheaves of the CHRONICLE and calls Buckley a prick, and smoke curls upward from the ashtray, and all of moody heaven’s starless black.



Who begets whom in the grammatological afterlife?
Jesus, language sucks, I ode you too in this hubub
The zeal of the blue tie the red tie the blue
The ghost of the phone booth, the wrath of the sea…

Colony stretches Capital to Empire, what a show!
while microphages joy up willow green,
willow green after rain. To call it praise,
and to call it critique, imaginary sermons housed in real trees

How someone stands on a wooden soap box, it was the 70s,
it was the 80s, “Holy, Holy, Holy” goes the lamb
fucking stolen again. See it on the counter
of nyet! All languages for all things, not

the mind simply perceiving
the instance, the brachial droplets of blood
evenly spaced, the prostration of robins
in street puddles and bright signs

Not the tanker at sea full of cheap cargo, nor the sea
like a gray hill        Not me not mine a not-in-my-name
Not you in my orchestration
of you     not simply
the rote roll of days

Not Buckley with his gun
Not Ginsberg in his acid
Not Albion nor his father     nor his Old Father Weary Blues
Not Naomi in her psych ward     nor my mother in her chair
Not my daughter in her psych ward     nor the students in a line

In my country “men, their rights and nothing more,
women, their rights, and nothing more”         the Land
its rights and nothing more in my country

This is a history poem        a form breaking down       in my country there
is no history           the lesson we didn’t know

What is a family an igloo?     The outward manifestation
of climatic doubt     the inward arrangement of graces     I do not know how
in these fits and sweats
in my country I do not know how
Now the eyes of my eyes awake     the papers
of a wasp aflame     my country

is no Albion     and my country desires the rack
the crumbling façade and the pothole    the poison
in the school

I am here at the park     in the bedroom    I am here
in the bower of my country     no has a voice and a missing
no will not stop in my country

It is raining     it is snowing     he is taking a drive
the places and faces of a newborn no
tendrils      to tell of my country


*Read and listen to the other two panels of Matthew Cooperman’s “American Triptych”:
Snow Globe
Matthew Cooperman is the author of the text + image collaboration Imago for the Fallen World, w/Marius Lehene (Jaded Ibis Press, 2013), Still: of the Earth as the Ark which Does Not Move (Counterpath Press, 2011), DaZE (Salt Publishing Ltd, 2006) and A Sacrificial Zinc (Pleiades/LSU, 2001), winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize, as well as three chapbooks. A founding editor of Quarter After Eight, and co-poetry editor of Colorado Review, he teaches in the Creative Writing program at Colorado State University. He lives in Fort Collins with his wife, the poet Aby Kaupang, and their two children.