By Wyn Cooper
for Liam Rector, 1949–2007

How the hell are you, I want
to ask but can’t—you’re dead.

How hard the snow fell,
how slowly it melts.

How to tie a knot big enough
to choke the wild pain.

How to listen carelessly
to words used carefully.

How philosophy handles death:
with great reluctance.

How answers to questions
often contain no answer.

How to wind a watch
so tight time stops.

How silent the trees, how
loud the shots of hunters.

Today’s poem previously appeared in AGNI Online and appears here today with permission from the poet.

Wyn Cooper’s fourth book of poems, Chaos is the New Calm, was published by BOA Editions in 2010. His poems appear in 25 anthologies of contemporary poetry. He has taught at Bennington and Marlboro Colleges, the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, the Frost Place, and at the University of Utah. He has written songs with Sheryl Crow, David Broza, Jody Redhage, and David Baerwald. Songs from his two CDs with Madison Smartt Bell can be heard on six television shows. He lives in Vermont and recently worked for the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, a think tank run by the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. He currently works as a freelance editor of poetry, fiction, and non-ficition.

Editor’s Note: Whether it is because I lost my father earlier this year, because a dear friend is right now at her grandfather’s deathbed, or because Dia de los Muertos is around the corner, I am interested in poems that honestly share the experience of loss. Today’s piece captures a range of emotions and occurrences that losing someone encompasses. The instinctual desire to call them coupled with remembering you can’t, the questions you ask to which there is no answer, and the way their absence comes upon you like a panic, leaving you wondering how to “tie a knot big enough to choke the wild pain.”

Want to see more by and about Wyn Cooper?
Wyn Cooper’s Official Website
Wyn Cooper’s Books at Boa Editions


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