=POET, I believe you [stop] Mean well [stop] Do well [stop] Bring teeth’s teeth for your bite [stop] Make your ditties and dirges hum [stop] Won’t forget to play the water-filled glasses, the cowbell, those chicken bones, [breathe] clunky kettles, the cluck roof of your mouth, your belly or thigh [stop, stop]
Go on [stop] Gumbo ya-ya when all the scribes decide to Kum Ba Yah [stop] Be a Poet [stop] For real [stop] Show your whole butt to the stanza popes and the concrete image nuns [stop] Be magic [stop] Realism [stop] Say you’ve kissed Komunyakaa and Stern between the Pulitzer and papyrus [stop] Yep, they’re both men [stop] Point to the picture of dead Emily Dickinson as Jesus in pincurls, a hairbreadth corset [breeze] and a satin petticoat hoisted up to her Lordamercy, I feel faint kneecaps [break]
When English fails you, do this: Imagine [stop] Especially what you don’t know [stop] Remember the tulip is just a flower [stop] Neat beauty [stop] Everything beneath a hot marble of sun is music [stop] Find yours [stop] Get to the handsome twang of decibels before there was meaning hammered into your swollen Poet’s ear [stop] Live inside every leap and bluff that is not Them or Us who told you so [stop] Tell the tight-faced critics when they ask that I sent you [stop] And I will send you again=
Added: Thursday, March 21, 2019 / From "Exquisite Heats," (Salt Publishing, 2008). Used with permission.
Cherryl T. Cooley is a poet, playwright and fiber artist. She has published two volumes of poems, Utterance: A Museology of Kin (Sadorian, 2003) and Exquisite Heats (Salt Publishing, 2008). Her art/poetry chapbook Chops, produced in conjunction with Nexus Press in 2004, won an AIGA Gold SEED Award and is permanently housed in the Museum of Modern Art. A recipient of literary fellowships from Caldera, Cave Canem, the Vermont Studio Center, Idyllwild Summer in Poetry, Indiana Arts Commission and Fulton County Arts Council, Cherryl's work has appeared in Poetry, Essence magazine, North Carolina Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Anthropology & Humanism and numerous anthologies. "Percussion," a poem from her unpublished manuscript, "Hoofer," has accompanied a Lincoln Center for Performing Arts concerto by Brooklyn, NY-based musical ensemble Sō Percussion.