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from The Lonely Road Home


Suddenly only darkness,
my hands no longer
the buck knife
of whiskey kisses,
matches teething
tears, a dance
through motel walls
eating everyone
in the end.
Suddenly I have nothing to do with us,
with each windowpane
framing rotted roses. 
Thorns stabbing our bodies
nearly to death and leaving
us touching fingertips
crushed under lust.
Suffuse every line;
dress them in warm clothes;
risk obsession: grab an end
and pull hard.
I am only scenery, a happy ending,
a paralyzed headlight improvising
savagely and insatiable. 
Tell me an unrepeatable secret; say,
“Hello darling, welcome home!”
and tear the rug burn
off your knees franticly,
as if to say:
              “There is no one else,
                            I love only you.”
It fends off time and loss
to say that narrators
live a comprehensive strategy,
prolonged heartbreak,
an animal struggle.


Forget that you are among the most beautiful
and deserving of punishment
and that not every love
operates this way,
to quote everything in one
crucial utterance,
to say the window is closed
tightly against our dreams.
Everyone suddenly sees darkness,
the part in the film where police
radios sing like mockingbirds
and imagine surrender,
but we know better,
you and I,
we know that every filthy
kiss beckons torrential rain.
You wanted happiness, an eclectic fence and
windows painted shut.
You wanted to be a sweetheart,
not the stabbing death
of every dirty volume
of my deranged
You wanted oatmeal crusted to your soul.
You wanted to fill each orifice with domestic devices.
You wanted to say, “Let it be the right one.” 
I imagine you falling away, but you
are here, you are here,
you are still right here,
in a safe place and nobody moves;
my neck is your neck and 
your tongue draws
a trail of letters
inside my cheek
until saliva
tastes of copper.
I wanted to take you home,
struggling in sleep,
dreaming of water lilies
dubbing another
expired overture.
Someone once told me
that everything
that was going
to happen
has happened.
I want to confess everything
without having to
tell you this story.


Joseph Cooper is the author of the full-length books Touch Me (BlazeVox 2009) and Autobiography of a Stutterer (BlazeVox 2007), as well as the chapbooks Memory/Incision (Dusie 2007), from Autobiography of a Stutterer (Big Game Books 2007), and Insuring the Wicker Man Shadow Created Delusion, co-authored with Jared Hayes (Hot Whiskey 2005). He is the 2009 winner of the Equinox Chapbook Award from Fact-Simile Editions with his chapbook, Point of Intersection. In addition, his work has appeared in numerous journals including most recently The Ash Anthology, Counterexample poetics: Assemblage of Experimental Artistry, Bombay Gin, Brown Bagazine, Sentence: a Journal of Prose Poetics, Sex and Murder, and Sous Rature.