Three Poems by Michael Cooper

Michael Cooper

Michael Cooper

Michael Cooper is an Inland Empire poet, social worker, and father of two great sons: Markus & Jonathan. You can find his work in The Berkeley Review, The Portland Review, The LA Review, H_NGM_N among other fine publications.

Divertissement i.

Without a parachute the first pilot had no choice but to stay and burn
           in the experimental aircraft as it fell
           from the sky
the pilot after them was cut in two
           by the tailfin passing thru his and his body then the next
pilot split their legs off at the knees that flared outward as they
           egressed—a bloom thrown inside out into unfriendly
           sky—the jaw of the smoking fuselage still gripping
           khaki scrap of her upper thigh in its final descent
each new counter
           measure evaluated for what would survive what best and most
           often—mad terror of parenting someone—pushed unexpected
           out into the fall
cold from the fire vomiting
           fractured house—its bone and wood truss super
           structure heated by the fuel of itself—what it carried
           on to sustain our flight
but in our mind, because we yet live:
           it was always someone else’s fractured leg
           someone else’s broken back, or the unlucky one—whose
           cleaving canopy failed to jettison itself,
           whose body stains the shattering glass
           as they are thrust through it     
           then out into the slip-stream slips
           the drunken drogue chute that
like a wedding dress
           posing with its train in the surf for photos drinks
           its fill of the ocean—drags its bride out
           into the rip-tide
           and down.
Divertissement ii.

Every single home is strapped to the top
           of an ICBM—ready to go
           like our first manned missions into space
           once lift off begins you are committed
to the family in the way
           the branch that reaches for Luna’s face—still
           feels its roots not far
           from the origins of its birth—the seedling
I see my son reflected in the surface
           of a pane of safety
           glass wrapped around the Gemini reentry
           vehicle display—a burned whorl pattern in its heat
           shield matching the copper coil of his hair
           and the shock of his half smile—barely visible
           in the half-life florescent
           museum the sum
           of all these shallow
orbits—of our days—the glory
           of cold cereal in the morning
           eaten alone or
his stern-brave face at the mirror
           brushing his teeth and confronting
each day through the subway tunnel
           of school
           unrequited as we are
           folded into the preceding generations
           of each other—the cars rock-shuttle
           shove into each other the fear that the low
           slung bully rising up from the scattering
is more real than the boogeyman growing within us
           that tells you—be prepared
           bide your time
           they will come.
Divertissement iv.

Looking into the Gemini
           space capsule—you wonder who will you find to love
           you—the shortest way to travel between two points is to find your
singularity—luckily I have the gift of going nowhere
fast—if each of us is nested inside the other
           if we are the womb of: root and branch and safety
           glass altimeter
           artificial horizon
           attitude indicator
           if we are zero
           altitude zero air speed ejection seats then
what courage it takes to stay shot into space
           or left behind
here on the ground—what love to learn
           to disarm our frontal lobes so that when the enemy
           escapes us—we find ourselves alone—lost as sons and daughters
we can pull our ejection seats coiled
           black and yellow d-ring rigged overhead to escape from
           the cabin
           Pull down the protective oxygen mask at last mother
           your hose
           trailing life into the hard vacuum of your hospital beds as the explosive
           bolts let lose
            jettison us into some new free
space—we learn to hug ourselves—each other
           nested in our branches
           our roots—womb-of-all-one-being.