Poem | Besides

“I could invent the jaybird in my yard / but he is singing” (John Sailer, Unsplash).

there’s never-heaven always in my hand
reminding me my fingers have no grip
on Heaven ever, coming through the trees—

that kind of fastening the morning holds
on everything the sun allows to pass
under surveillance, possession, loss, loss, loss...

Once I thought I was here to name the stars.
Wasn’t that yesterday? But now I know
in this blue moment I’ll find everything.

I could invent the jaybird in my yard
but he is singing. That’s how I fly from here—
already he is more than I can bear,

his music tearing me up inside till I die,
rise, die, rise, die. This is just metaphor.
And this: I’m resurrected every day.

Published in the April 2021 issue: 
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Peter Cooley is Professor Emeritus of English and Director of Creative Writing at Tulane University where he taught from 1975 to 2018. His eleventh book of poetry, The One Certain Thing, was published by Carnegie Mellon in February. He is poetry editor of Christianity and Literature and was Louisiana Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.

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