Church of the Morning After
Party so over the counter shimmers,
the glasses rinsed and laid to rest,
the plates stacked and hushed.
Thirst the lesser force.
No congregants gather
at the bathroom mirror altar.
The nave’s a tub of holy water.
The organ plays only minor chords.
The offering plate’s a frisbee
that sails to heaven on the wind,
boomerangs back to earth. No one’s
forced to fork whatever over.
A lone cigar rests on the tile,
its bitter end burnt umber.
Unsigned boldface proclamations
pegged to bulletin boards:
dependable gauges of sentiment.
The turn from tranquility
to knots tied firmly, sacks
sealed tight to keep bad air out.
Levers of misplaced emotion
pulled to little effect. Rice
that boils over, no longer white.
Drone of drones that land on water
and lap what’s left away.
Chronicle of mistrust:
graph that rises as it moves across
a page that will not turn.
Wyn Cooper’s first novel, Way Out West, was published by Concord Free Press in 2022. He has also published five books of poetry, including, most recently, Mars Poetica. His poems, stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, AGNI, The Southern Review, Five Points, Slate, and others. His poems are included in 25 anthologies of contemporary poetry. In 1993, “Fun,” a poem from his first book, was turned into Sheryl Crow’s Grammy-winning song “All I Wanna Do.” He has also cowritten songs with David Broza, David Baerwald, Jody Redhage, and Bill Bottrell. In 2003, Gaff Music released Forty Words for Fear, a CD of songs based on poems and lyrics by Cooper, set to music and sung by the novelist Madison Smartt Bell. Their second CD, Postcards Out of the Blue, based in part on Cooper’s postcard poems, was released in 2008. Their songs have been featured on six television shows. Cooper has taught at Bennington College, Marlboro College, the University of Utah, and The Frost Place. He has given readings across the country, as well as in Europe and South America. He is a former editor of Quarterly West, and the recipient of a fellowship from the Ucross Foundation. For two years he worked at the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, a think tank run by the Poetry Foundation. He lives in Vermont and works as a freelance editor.