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Playlist: Poet Susan Cook Poems

Compiled By: Susan J. Cook

...In 1933, harvests/in Ukraine were hoarded, deliberately,/a famine made for death, Stalin, farthest/ Credit: Susan Cook
Image by: Susan Cook 
...In 1933, harvests/in Ukraine were hoarded, deliberately,/a famine made for death, Stalin, farthest/

Poet Susan Cook Poems are written in a form she calls the American Sonnet. After submitting her collection "Blue: American Sonnets" to the Beatrice Hawley contest, sponsored by Alice James Books, she has continued to find new intricacies in this form, some of which are gathered here. She has now composed well over 1000. Traditional romance has always been the sonnet's domain but Poet Susan Cook Poems reminds us that human passion is called upon many times and in many ways in the tasks of living.

Sonnet for Looking for China

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :59

From the Spring 2023 Maine Arts Journal. A poem on the intricacies of grieving.

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Sonnet for Looking for China

(Maine Arts Journal, Spring 2023)

-Susan Cook-


I am in my garden when I fall on

my knees because I remember I can't

find you now. Things that call or that beckon,

what walks toward me, has not been you. It can't

be. So, because I remember behind

everything, there is always something more,

I start to dig. People have tried to find

China this way. You found it, I bet, sure

now, of where it is that loss goes, the fall

it brings. I will find it too and when we're

there, together, we will celebrate small

truths. "Woman burrows to China." We'll cheer

human accomplishment, what cupped hands can

do, know what it is we didn't know then.


An American Sonnet for The Woman Who Is a Journalist

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:17

During National Poetry Month, an American Sonnet to bring us to know better the women journalists of Ukraine.

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American Sonnet for the Woman Who Is a Journalist

For the women journalists of Ukraine

The moral righteousness of the human
spirit gradually appears as suffering,
a dark spot on the lungs, another strand
of fatigue. Her sustenance, enough, brings
the heaviness to us differently. Just there,
in her questioning, we see physical
intricacies of transformation. This
is how evil spreading its miserable
inhumanity begins to change. This
is how goodness brings itself to the small
crevice inside, asleep, reawakened,
rising from the body's cellular call
compassion, for all who are forsaken.
The softened voice speaks as if her bones find
words, chiseled there by those buried alive.

-Susan Cook-

Tell Me How Many Black Seabirds

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:02

In these times, a poem for the places we find resilience.

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Tell Me How Many Black Seabirds
-Susan Cook-

 

Tell me how many black seabirds

woke up this morning, flew to a high place,

shook off a thousand drops of river, heard

each one, in slow motion, fall, a trace

of where each one began inside. This is

a daily ritual. They celebrate

with such silence, quiet applause, which is

to say, this abundance will tell a (late

sometimes) lie. The absence of chaos, just

drops of water shaken off, lets the heat

from the sun's dependable rays, we trust,

bring heart to any body's weary beat.

Tell me how we remind ourselves to turn

to the deliberate, needing it just now.

Doing Good for Evil: An American Sonnet

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:07

My father often said his mother always told him, "Do good for evil." It's drawn from the Bible "This is your calling, your business in life- to do good and to do good for evil." I Peter 3:9

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Do Good for Evil:
An American Sonnet
-For G.L.-

-Susan Cook-

 

First, you take your place in the lineage

of humanity, right there. You are one

of many. Again, we see sin's triage

unfold. All and everything is undone.

You (and many others, after all) watched, stilled

by the sight and sound of desperation.

Where does the seam of evil come loose, filled

too tight, inconspicuous, impatient.

There is nothing left for us to do but

give what no one has asked of us, to tame

harm before its time, the knife lifted, cut

smaller and smaller, no evil star flamed.

Do good for evil. Do good for evil.

When we are left motionless, leave good will.

Remembering We Have Already Said Farewell: "Epilogue: To a Fire Gone" from "Breathing: American Sonnets"

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:42

An American Sonnet to those to whom we have said "Farewell".

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From "Breathing: American Sonnets"
by Susan Cook
(available from  GulfofMainebooks@gmail.com)

 

Epilogue

 

To a Fire Gone

 

After "Reluctance: by Robert Frost

Ah, when to the heart of man

Was it ever less than treason

To go with the drift of things,

To yield with a grace to reason

And bow and accept the end

Of a love or a season?

 

 

When was it less than treason? But what do

you mean, Mr. Frost? That’s for countries to

feel short-changed by. Loss happens to those who

see the passing on of days, years, one blue

time in life, one breaking, undoing a

treacherous rope they have been tied onto,

its deep burn. In the coldest time of day

or night, fires started that you thought grew

larger instead were, licked back into their

own intensity, remained confined on

one small patch of earth. You did not see where

the fire, some time later, died. You were gone.

Big difference, see, between countries resigned

to losing, small unfed fires, gone in time.

Sonnet for Justice

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:34

A sonnet about justice when it is buried and forgotten.

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Sonnet for Justice

Most of the world is doing stuff like that

most of the time. They are taking justice

out in the backyard in a body bag.

Most of them think, we’ll never know. Just this

should prove to us, clearly, reality

has its way, anyway. Our consciousness

knows the world can be a bad place without

actually seeing the men lift listless

bodies, you know, very carelessly, up.

The world cannot imagine justice placed

in some back yard like that, neglected, much

less the earth thrown over the shallow grave.

Consciousness can not protect her, listless,

in her shallow grave, breathless now justice.

 

-Susan Cook-

In "Breathing: American Sonnets"

The Discovery of Light: An American Sonnet

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :55

Thomas Edison and what his light did- understood through an American Sonnet.

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The Discovery of Light: An American Sonnet

-Susan Cook-

Thomas Edison discovered cotton,

carbonized, sent out strands of silky light.

The non-believers drove for miles, not in

fascination, but in doubt that night sight

didn't  require burning  fire first,

a kindling so much harder to ignite,

the loss of life, from time to time, the curse

of other lamps, the tragedy of fire

placed too close, times when frightened horses kicked

the stable candle, burning hay that brought

entire  towns  to ash, the flames that licked

up everything, the cost of fire caught.

Some still don't  trust a horse's fear, sudden

swaying, still not sure what this  light has done.

 

Sonnet for the US Ducks Independently Verified to Have been Neither Forcefed for Foie-Gras Production Nor Plucked of Their Feathers and Down During Their Lifetime

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:17

A United States outdoor clothing store sells coats, labelled to assure us that the down is from US Ducks Independently Verified to Have been Neither Forcefed for Foie-Gras Production Nor Plucked of Their Feathers and Down During Their Lifetime. Scott Pruitt who sued the Environmental Protection Agency over a dozen times had been installed as the agency's head, when I wrote this sonnet. In reading the label on a down coat, I have found consolation, hope and small victory that our environmental sensibilities will survive, sentiments presented here in a sonnet, in the Department of Poetic Justice.

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Sonnet for the US Ducks Independently Verified
to Have been Neither Forcefed for Foie-Gras Production
Nor Plucked of Their Feathers  and Down During  Their Lifetime
-Susan Cook-

I want these ducks to know my faith in our
country has been re-nourished by this feat
when they grow the down , in their pro-life hour
in their solitary stance against the elite
practices that feed the rich while the ducks
live lives of strangulation, the minute’s
peace, lost, the moment when the neck curves, tucks
itself inside the plush gift. Diminish
the significance of the gift, the down’s weight,
the coat that will keep anyone warm, no
matter their social standing, EPA
head or not? Surely, they’re not our new foe.
Even ducks saved from force feeding won’t feed
you, Mr.Pruitt, your stick figure needs.

Small: An American Sonnet

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :57

In the large, large universe, the mind's eye still sees what it will.

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Small
-Susan Cook-
It doesn't matter how diminished we
feel, situated deep deep within the
large, large universe, we now know, we see
more and more of, its every corner, the
source of a revelation, a surprise
appearance of something we did not know
was there but has been all along. The size
of anything is not important, no,
changes mostly depend on nothing more
than the sun's cast shadow, the patterns we 
create, in our mind's eye, largeness ignored,
the small persistent,  so convincingly. 
Small, large do not matter in the mind's eye,
in its slow watch leaving no place to hide. 

America's Sonnet

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :57

From America's Sonnet, "This sonnet's yours America, but you
will not take all my loves, turn my Black, brown, blue."

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America's Sonnet
-Susan Cook-
It is so hard to write you this sonnet
because I long for you in another
way. I want to feel justified, make it 
like "Shall I compare thee to a summer
day?" But there was that summer day, one man
with all those guns that you allowed him to
buy to kill. He was an American-
style imposter. I want you to be true.
I will not  just say they're your pretty wrongs,
in your pursuit of happiness, me, you,
Then you go behind my back. Someone conned
me, telling me you have more than you do.
This sonnet's yours America, but you
will not take all my loves, turn black, brown, blue.

Ode to Mr. Roubini's West Grand Lake Bass Update

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:18

In Maine, Bass fishing on West Grand Lake is a destination respite for many, including Mr. Nouriel Roubini, the legendary economist who was almost single-handed in anticipating the 2008 housing collapse and world-wide recession. This "Ode to Mr. Roubini's West Grand Lake Bass " is revisited in the wake of the recent change in , let's say, the landscape under the "River of Financial Abundance".

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ODE TO MR. ROUBINI'S WEST GRAND LAKE BASS REVISITED

MR. ROUBINI, DO  YOU THINK IT WAS THE WEST GRAND LAKE BASS
THAT HELPED YOUR BRAIN CELLS  FORECAST THE 2008 CRASH?
WHEN YOUR FRIENDS HAD IGNORED THE CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP  DERIVATIVES,
AND IN 2009, BEGAN TAKING SELECTIVE SEROTONIN RE-UPTAKE INHIBITORS,
DID YOU GO HOME, OPEN THE FREEZER, REACHING DOWN   PAST  THE CASH,
 GET OUT THE BUTTER, AND SAY "LET'S HAVE SOME MORE BASS!"

LUCKY FOR YOU, SOME BASS STILL REMAINED
FROM YOUR SUMMER FUN FISHING IN GRAND LAKE STREAM, MAINE.
WHICH ALL BRINGS US BACK  TO THE VERY BIG QUESTION
OF INTRODUCING ALEWIVES , NOT YOUR USUAL ECONOMIC REFLECTION.
PLEASE FOCUS  THOSE BRAIN CELLS ON THE FUTURE AND THE PAST.
 TELL US, WILL INTRODUCING ALEWIVES TO THE ST. CROIX RIVER DRIVE OUT  THE BASS?
IF YOU THINK THAT THEY WILL,CALL A MAINE LEGISLATOR AND TAKE SIDES.
THERE ARE  EXPERTS THAT AGREE WITH YOU, THE GRAND LAKE STREAM GUIDES.
THESE ARE THE GUIDES WHO SHOW YOU WHERE TO FIND  BASS
( OMEGA-3S FOR THE MIND ) SO YOU CAN  MAKE A GOOD ECONOMIC  FORECAST.
WE KNOW MR. ROUBINI, YOU DON’T HAVE X-RAY VISION TO HELP YOU DELIVER
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE TOPOGRAPHY UNDER THE 1850'S ST. CROIX RIVER
BUT IF YOU WERE AN ALEWIVE FACING A 20 FOOT INCLINE
DOESN'T THAT  SOUND A LOT LIKE THE STOCK MARKET IN JANUARY 2009?
MR. ROUBINI, THE ONLY WAY FOR THE ALEWIVE IS UP, UP AND UP
BUT FOR ALEWIVES TWENTY FEET IS REALLY QUITE TOUGH.
YES, THERE ARE STRATEGIES, YOUR SPECIAL NICHE
BUT "BUY LOW, SELL HIGH" DOESN'T HELP OUT A FISH.
DON'T WE ALL WISH, GOVERNOR JANET MILLS HAD YOU ON HER SPEED DIAL?
WELL, SHE PROBABLY DOES AND CHECKS IT EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE.
MR. ROUBINI, MANY THINK THE COUNTRY CAN'T MISS
WITH YOU  ON HER SPEED DIAL AND YOUR WEST GRAND LAKE FISH.
MR. ROUBINI, YES, THERE ARE THE CRAPPIES AND LITTLE  SMALL TROUT
(AND NO, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT HOW THEY WILL  VOTE.)
YOUR TASTE BUDS ARE NURTURED ON MICHELIN 5 STAR CLASS
SO THAT MEANS NOTHING  QUITE SUITS YOU LIKE A WEST Grand Lake Bass.

The 2022 Prologue,

Mr. Roubini, time to fire up the grill,
Get out your best marinade, put the Allagash on chill.
Your very best guide in this time of ticker tape upheaval
is not Bloomberg News or today's Wall Street Journal.
To keep your title as Dr. West Grand Lake Bass,
your Omega-3s jumping, still saving our last
nickels and dollars from going out with the tide,
go to www.grandlakestreamguides."


The 2023 Addendum:

Mr. Roubini , there's truth 
and then there's fiction
And then there's The Maine Legislature
Which some people  consider an affliction.
Well,  wrap your mind around the latest proposed bill 
To eliminate Bass fishing in some rivers
 by removing  any  and all existing  restriction .
So any hope we might have that  Novavax executives
Might sneak up to Maine and chow down 
on your favorite Omega 3 derivative 
Or some from AstraZeneca, Crisper
 or  others in the biotech sector,
Or  Biogen  now that everyone's not
 referring to it with an expletive.
We might see their stocks  soar 
or we might go so far as to say ,
By eating Maine bass, they will salvage
 the company’s fiscal
Hope for a 20 percent rise
 not only in workplace serenity 
But in their  52 week high 
reported by none other than Kai Rysdal.
Mr Roubini, the Registered Maine Guides 
will make room in the hearing room
So your testimony  insures LD 537 redacted 
by Maine’s elected political hackers.


As ever, Mr. Roubini, time to fire up the grill,
Get out your best marinade, put the Allagash on chill.
Your very best guide in this time of ticker tape upheaval
is not Bloomberg News or today's Wall Street Journal...
to keep your title as Dr. West Grand Lake Bass,
your Omega-3s jumping, still saving our last
nickels and dollars from going out with the tide,
go to www.grandlakestreamguides." 

-SUSAN COOK-

Sonnet For The Baseball Teams Playing "Sweet Caroline"

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :54

This is a sonnet for the baseball teams who after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon each played the song the Boston Red Sox play during a game when they score a home run.

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Sonnet for the Baseball Teams 
Playing "Sweet Caroline"
                 -Susan Cook-
Buddhists like to call it spontaneous
arising. Buddhists don't "like". They abide.
They await the day when the gain for us
is staying with what is here now,  a kind 
of seeing things as they are. So when two 
men made a bomb, and placed it at the race,
killing, stealing legs and arms, Buddhists knew 
showing compassion, would out distance base
and evil fear, the cruelty of the mean. 
Baseball teams in this country, knowing time
arises and dissipates, what is seen
is what there is, then played "Sweet Caroline".
Boston Red Sox fans knew then we are one,
hearts' score humanity, compassion's  run.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:07

Some years back The House of Representatives' healthcare bill denied maternity care and denied health insurance to 18 to 25 year olds. Back then, Maine's Representative Poliquin fled to the restroom when reporters asked about his vote to pass the bill. Only a sonnet conveys the stark neglect of others in his proposed bill.

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Sonnet for Whom the Bell Tolls
-Susan Cook-
The bell does not toll unselectively
anymore. It tolls for whom white men  want
it to. Those for whom we’ve wept - give me
your tired, your poor, your huddled mass, who want
to be free, remember- are left on bare
Mattresses. Newborns are a wealthy man’s tax
burden, babies denied health care, once they’re
born. Mr. Pro-Life’s knife, stabs at their backs
and ex- Representative Poliquin
hides in the men’s room. The truth has a fist,
that now endures and cannot be hidden.
In his healthcare vote, newborns don’t exist.
The bell tolls now for white men, who squander
this country of hope, the lost who’ve wandered. 

Sonnet for Donald Hall (after reading his essay on growing old)

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:07

Donald Hall died on June 23rd. A sonnet written after reading his essay on growing old.

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Sonnet for Donald Hall
(After Reading His Essay on Growing Old)
-Susan Cook-



Oh, Donald Hall, of course, you know that
barns, for generations, have been lost
when one last winter snow storm tears the past
apart, barns like time, there until they're not.
And Donald Hall, I'm coming by to cook
for you, who've lived the inexplicable:
that foods are truly love, the loves that look
you in the eye, the meal that leaves you full.
And Donald Hall, your tree sees where you sit
and all who've watched before sitting by your
side. Bending back in time, were you a finch?
The tree a boy? We'll never now for sure
if trees were boys or men were birds. We knew
only this man. That's you, now.  See? That's you.

A Sonnet for Negative Ads

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :57

Sometimes, there is an ineffable quality to the offensiveness of negative campaign ads. We turn here to the sonnet to express deep concern about negative political ads. Thus, for this 2014 Election Campaign season, "A Sonnet for Negative Ads".

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Sonnet for Negative Ads
-Susan Cook-
The ads have turned negative trying to
win votes. They imply it’s Godzilla now
running for office, a gorilla who 
loves big fat liberal doctrines.  Don’t ask how
he says it. Apparently he’s signing.
He’s now been discovered, his cover’s been
blown. He’s taking your tax dollars, mining
social security, this with a  win 
on Tuesday if he's succeeded, deceived
you into thinking he’s really human,
stands on two legs, counting votes he’s  received.
Voters beware! Gorillas are looming.
Out, out with the negative! You’re the real louse,
harming all creatures including the mouse.
 

Sonnet for President Obama's Tear

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:11

First published on the eve of Martin Luther King Day , we turn to our preferred form of political expression, the sonnet, to acknowledge the compassion President Obama has brought to the Presidency. Today, we offer a "Sonnet for President Obama's Tear''.

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Sonnet for President Obama’s Tear

Susan Cook

 

His tear is for every person lost since

illegal guns became more, much, so much

more available. How do you convince

the NRA these dead are  theirs too? Touch

the darkness of those who will not ever

know who their guns took, experience

wretched calculations of forever’s

duration, time with no end, grief re-sensed.

They calculate abstractly the time passed

for those whose children died, who are not here.

We only know one madman’s moment lasts

lifetimes when we can’t bear Obama’s tear.

Obama’s tear tells what must be retold.

Compassion’s time is for whom the bell tolls.

Sonnet for the First Fish, Best Fish

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :51

Sonnets are a way to find optimism in difficult times. This is a sonnet that acknowledges that the first fish is the best fish and can provide for many.

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Sonnet for The First Fish, Best Fish

-Susan Cook-
The first fish is remembered as the best
fish. It is the one that when it was caught
(remember, there were only two, the rest
elusive that day) it ended all thought
and fear they'd  have to go without, suffering
where it didn't need to be, unfounded.
If there was one, there would be enough, bring
in more the next time. We were astounded
that what looked like deprivation for so
long might not be that at all. The first fish
meant that those who had been turned away, no
compassion for their need, could be fed with just this.
The first fish will be the best, where the start
begins, for our minds, the eyes, for the heart. 

Sonnet for Gorbachev

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :57

The vision of Gorbachev now is destroyed by Vladimir Putin. A sonnet will remind us of what Gorbachev made possible and what is now lost by Putin's polarization.

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Sonnet for Gorbachev
In Independence Square that day, her face
held in his hand, they kissed. Back then, detente
protected them, his arm around her waist, 
that year, that day. Cold War memories still haunt
them, when love was impossible, above 
all, she without him, he without her, caught 
in diplomacy. But then Gorbachev
imagined a boy, a girl and love. Arms ought
to be for holding, international 
relations, so Gorbachev created
detente. That day, with things more rational,
in the square, love was reciprocated. 
Putin would like to end such caressing,
love his nemesis, countries confessing. 

A Poem to the President of the NRA

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:09

This poem to the President of the NRA has no statistics, no logic, no legal reasoning or principle. Only profound grief and sadness..

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A Poem to One President of the NRA
-Susan Cook-
Let's begin, Mr. Lapierre. You too
visualize: death's examiner, see
where there's the trail strewn with bloody hearts, blue
bodies, drained of life, their luscious mouths, we
can't begin to open because each one
comes back to this. We feed our young with spoons
of silver, gold. Someone acquires a gun
or leaves the door wide open to the rooms
and rooms where the guns are manufactured,
with a day like this in mind: someone, scared
(it could be you) whose fear has finally lured
him into thinking: This is truth or dare.
Whose child knows now, guns mean death, do not care,
don't distinguish truth from fear, fear from dare.

The Mass Shooting Sequence: In Memoriam

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:46

We know too much of the sequence of the aftermath of a Mass Shooting Sequence.

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The Mass Shooting Sequence 
I.
Somewhere today is not the day their thoughts
imagined. It is draped in the sinewed
muscle of a policeman who daubs
tears from his eyes, seeing slaughter. Renewed
belief in human goodness becomes an
arduous reexamination and
grief, failed human empathy, succumbed and 
suffocated by the self-serving hand
of the NRA and the greed of gun
makers and perpetrators of myths:
the mass shooting, one lone misstep, among
ten uncounted seconds,  or more, dismissed.
Somewhere the day they thought it would be is
drowned in oblivion's self-serving fist.
II.
Now they will be telling the world just who 
the victims are. The lawn chairs blown to bits,
yes, their bodies riddled with bullets, too,
how old they were, if there were little kids
with them who also were ripped apart by
the delirious-looking man's assault
weapon. Now they will tell us the heart's side,
who they leave behind and quickly. The fault
will be placed on the mental illness of
the young man, who found the gun he wanted
the most. Now they photograph the stillness
of it, the NRA speaks, soon, undaunted.
It's like the stillness has dropped from their mind,
like a stone, a drowned body no one finds.
III. 
The stillness after the mass shooting is
the time of immobility because
now the people cannot move, they list
to the side each of them fell on. We fall
aimless, when the body becomes lifeless, 
its intent lost to the splay of bullets
from the shooter's weapon. Now the time best
spent, listening, where there's no sound, pull its
last drops from the air, which cannot be breath
now. In the stillness it is clearer, now.
The explosion's detritus has now left
the air, fallen to the ground, nearer now.
After this life is siphoned off, the killed
innocence makes no sound, no blood to spill.

Sonnet for the Higgs Boson. The God particle.

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :49

Upon the passing of Dr Peter Higgs, a Sonnet to explain how the Higgs boson comes into our lives.

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Sonnet for the Higgs boson

-Susan Cook-

 

You, Higgs boson, you come out of nowhere,

once you're blasted, hard enough, then, they say

indifference turns into desire, prepares

these subtle transformations, mystery's way,

bringing  things together. Beauty, boson.  

A boy beside me pulls me to my feet.

His truck is dark, darkness all in motion,  

moving  in the heat. Higgs, that was not heat

alone. Heat, remember, cools so quickly,

his, a perfect truck, catching you.  You've known

that darkness deep inside a truck, thickly  

threading all as one. I think Adam owned

a truck, magnetic wheels. The moving sent   

him off.  A truck, a truck, world without end.

 

 

 

 

 

On the death of Stephen Hawking "Sonnet for The Black Hole" "Sonnet for A Loss"

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 02:03

Stephen Hawking has died who brought us all to imagine what black holes are and to recognize ourselves in them and him.

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Sonnet for The Black Hole

After Stephen Hawking and A Brief History of Time

-Susan Cook-
This is the problem with love. He wrote it
in a book. There are places far from earth
where once you're there, you will know it .
Leaving's struggle, to escape, just not worth
the time, the gravitational force on
the feet stronger,  even though the mind may
say, "Time", time has become love's distraction
what once seemed stardust, that too swept away.
The only choice is stay: "passing that point
of no return, without noticing it",
collapsing, in tiny increments, joined
no longer. What will never again fit
is this: the logic of the light that drew
you, stars still sparkling far away and few.


Sonnet for A Loss
Death is about thoughts, really, practically
speaking, I mean, it has  only happened
when I know you have died, I mean, I see
you not being where you were at the end,
you straddling that big stream  that's  rising up,
threatening  to separate you from yourself,
you from your own, your reach not wide enough.
We're made of all  those days we find that shelf
of river's edge, climb up,  and get there, strive
for that (time, now and then, dipping into
that thirsty bowl of water called a  life).
Your straddle grows still wider, merely you,
who one day is here, then one day it's you
who's moved away from you, away from you.

Imagining where love came from: Sonnet for the Primordial Gravity Waves

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:14

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to those who offered proof of the existence of Primordial Gravity Waves. Einstein theorized they were there. Thus a Sonnet for the Primordial Gravity Waves, another way Einstein might have known.

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Sonnet for the Primordial Gravity Waves
-Susan Cook-

Just after the universe began, love
started too. There were no people yet. It
was so, so hot, far too hot, above
all else, for touching. No one was kissed
in that airless, stifling burn, New York flat,
the hottest night at the time. Desire though
had begun, primordial, yes, that
bearing, preoccupied, down. We now know
that was love.  Things became much cooler and
the universe transparent, light perceived,
attraction thus visible, hand-in-hand,
no one there to give, to taste or receive.
Falling had been heard, though, long riffs of jazz,
the beat started, before the heart it has.

Three Poems for Hard Times

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 03:12

"When Loss and Innocence", "What Courage Wears to Bed", "The Meaning of Life". Poems from the author of "Breathing: American Sonnets"

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 When Loss and Innocence

When loss and innocence are juxtaposed

fast, I mean, in a matter of seconds

on a crystal clear day, when no one knows,

how could they? Here's death: whimpering, loud, reckoned 

again with our presumptuous faith in

 ourselves, the surefootedness of each day.

Just then, the fear's deception, a faint sin

and all the pastors beckoning, "Come this way",

priests, Buddhist monks clearing out bad karma's

failed sensibility, the dory oars

missing, the rower not home yet. Harm, a

disinfectant sifts through open doors.

We are watching the edge of the world, held

by a vision, the persistence of breath.


What Courage Wears to Bed

 

This is what courage wears to bed. In the

winter, her robe is thicker than what's worn

in spring, the tighter collar, anathema

to my idea that resilience (I've sworn

her to it many times) can stand the change

in temperature, from cold to steaming hot.

She takes her suffering on the chin. What's strange 

won't touch my girl  at all. She revels not

in what's predictable. She won't confess

more than she has to, takes her chance, see,

just like me. I'll find her size. Slip her dress 

on, buy her boots, circumstantially.

I want to be much more like her,  the dress

she wears in fragile moods, her sulkiness.

The Meaning of Life

"How we spend our days is, of course how we spend our lives."

- Annie Dillard-

 

In the moment, where we are, it all seems

smaller, softer, far from what it should be.

But that's how life is, the way it flows, teems

inside the jar of us, the mortal sea

of who we are. No, it is not that we're

so  different all the time. All we are

is there and who and what is living here

not so different, from before, not so far

away. Ah, but it's believing it  that

comes hardest. No one is entirely

content that all they have to do is catch

their breath, take the next step, at times tired, free.

What is loud and vibrant, what is vivid

easy, life's meaning a gift we give it.  



Journalist Suppression and Fear for Democracy- Sonnet for the Journalist Who Said 'Wink, Wink'

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | :52

Sonnet for Wink, Wink

-Susan Cook-

There are places here on earth where a wink

at the wrong time means you will be walking

home one night, because your boss made you think

if you didn’t stay ‘til dark, you locked in,

almost, to your workplace, you’d lose your

job. He didn’t say, ‘Someone wants to harm

you . He didn’t say ‘ You think they’ll ignore

your wink.’ The winks what they want to disarm,

your long walk home, unaccompanied. Hour

by hour, totalitarian heads

of countries fear criticism’s power.

They’ll blind that wink, before anyone knows.

Winking is in the beholder’s eye, first,

oppression’s vengeance comes next, unrehearsed

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I heard an NPR discussion recently in which  a journalist claimed that CNN had ‘quoted’ a dossier containing  salacious information on the soon to be inaugurated Donald Trump. Many shook in their shoes as Mr. Trump, during his first pre-inauguration press conference, berated a CNN journalist as delivering ‘fake news’. Many NPR listeners shook in their shoes as a Saturday  discussion came to whether CNN had  directly quoted the salacious report. A female journalist said CNN did not directly quote the dossier but ‘Wink, Wink’ had  named the website.   Of course this brings up the important question; what did  ‘wink, wink’ mean to that journalist. Is ‘wink, wink’ a code name for discrediting him. Some countries suppress journalists, jail them and vilify them because a government official implies a ‘wink, wink’  is involved . Suppression of a free press in a free country terrifies because a democracy needs ethical journalists to present the truth and - if there is ‘fake news’ uncover that.  To vilify a journalist  by subtly implying that a ‘wink, wink’ is involved,  threatens freedom of the press. Sanctioning a soon-to-be-inaugurated president for berating a free press is a dangerous, frightening precedent.


                                                                                                                Sonnet for Wink, Wink
-Susan Cook-
There are places here on earth where a wink
at the wrong time means you will be walking
home one night, because your boss made you think
if you didn’t stay ‘til dark, you locked in,
almost, to your workplace, you’d lose your
job. He didn’t say, "Someone wants to harm
you ." He didn’t say. "You think they’ll ignore
your wink?" The winks what they want to disarm, 
your long walk home, unaccompanied. Hour
by hour, totalitarian heads
of countries fear criticism’s power.
They’ll blind that wink,  before anyone knows.
Winking is in the beholder’s eye, first,
oppression’s vengeance comes next, unrehearsed

Remembering September 11, 2001: "The Fall"

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:03

On the anniversary of September 11, In Memoriam , "The Fall"
(submitted 9/16/2013 in "Blue: American Sonnets" to the Beatrice Hawley (now Alice James) Poetry Prize)

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                                       The Fall
                         On the anniversary of September 11, 2001
                                           -Susan Cook-
The difference between nine and nine-fifteen
is a shade of light, a shade of darkness
depending on where you stand, how it's seen.
Always is a matter of more or less.
In the Emergency Room, no one knows
what happened just fifteen minutes before.
They only know that now you're here. It goes
the way the body's many clocks have worn
the time that life provides. They will decide
if (as you fell each story took away
a minute more of what's there to abide)
this time, the shadow's length would end the day.
Light's not the only measure of darkness,
time not the only way to know what's less.
Copyright 2008 All rights reserved Susan Cook
(Submitted 9/16/2013 in "Blue: American Sonnets" to the Beatrice Hawley (now Alice James) Poetry Prize)

The Falcon Teaches World Democracies about Intervening in Ukraine: An American Sonnet

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:15

The conviction of the falcon, not the eagle, is the model for Democracies to call upon to Intervene in Ukraine. "An American Sonnet for the Falcon."

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The Falcon Teaches World Democracies About Intervening in Ukraine
A Sonnet for the Falcon

-Susan Cook-

 

Tonight, the falcon hears the falconer.

She has no intention of leaving him,

talons resting gently, gloved finger, her

ancient reassurance of this system,

knowing she'll go places he can't find.

She does then,  sees him peering skyward,

wondering if she's gone for good, his mind

caught too. Absence pierces silence, is heard

even when it's very brief. Birds of prey

prepare us for predictions we can't make:

the clock that stops when someone stays away,

the meal the falcon can't return to take.

Tonight, falcon and falconer rehearse,

those lost, now found, dream of the universe.

"A Sonnet for the Waterfall" Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:15

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at age 87.
" When the spark had finally stopped,
ending finally, the luscious waterfall,
(the opulent deceit, the pleasure seems
so innocent, relentless, after all)
stopped."

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 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Remembered

Sonnet for The  Waterfall
All the while there you were, your un-tampered
brain, fully  active, every day, not 
once missed. Then one day, your brain cells scampered
of like mice. When the spark had finally stopped,
ending finally, the luscious waterfall,
(the opulent deceit, the pleasure seems 
so innocent, relentless, after all)
stopped. Every single thing we do redeems
us (no matter what is done) from dying
until then, but you, how could anyone
imagine you, listless, no deciding, 
no lighting of a fire left to be done.
And even inevitability
gone, no waterfall, no fragility.

"A Sonnet for the Waterfall" Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:15

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at age 87.
" When the spark had finally stopped,
ending finally, the luscious waterfall,
(the opulent deceit, the pleasure seems
so innocent, relentless, after all)
stopped."

Earringsbest_small


 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Remembered

Sonnet for The  Waterfall
All the while there you were, your un-tampered
brain, fully  active, every day, not 
once missed. Then one day, your brain cells scampered
of like mice. When the spark had finally stopped,
ending finally, the luscious waterfall,
(the opulent deceit, the pleasure seems 
so innocent, relentless, after all)
stopped. Every single thing we do redeems
us (no matter what is done) from dying
until then, but you, how could anyone
imagine you, listless, no deciding, 
no lighting of a fire left to be done.
And even inevitability
gone, no waterfall, no fragility.

"I see Trees Standing in Deep Water" From The Department of Poetic Justice (and Poetic Reckoning)

From Susan J. Cook | Part of the The River Is Wide series | 01:49

The town of Brunswick, Maine is set to remove 2/3 of the trees on Maine Street because it is too expensive to work around them as they install new sidewalks. Thus, an American Sonnet about the oxygen trees create as they breath.

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The Town of Brunswick, Maine is set to begin to remove up to 2/3 of the trees on Maine Street (23 trees, according to their website) in order to put in a new not even brick concrete sidewalk. It is too expensive to work around the existing trees, but not to buy a $400,000 armored vehicle for the Brunswick Police Dept, local Gulf of Maine bookstore owner Gary Lawless wrote to his friends.

 

Here, An American Sonnet.

 

Sonnet 1081
-Susan Cook-

I see trees standing in deep water, their
roots, saturated. They have never had
an immersion like this and now they bear
vulnerability, standing as they have 
since growth's inception, since the first seed grew,
waiting for just the right temperature, heat
seeping in to warm the earth. All we knew
of fear changed just then, fundamental needs
provided for, the breath of trees to take
their careful measure of air we deplete,
trees breathing out, the oxygen they make,
inextricably tied to fates we meet.
The trees don’t know we need them. We depend
as they do on breath, theirs, world without end.