The Trouble With Being Understood by Storms and Storms of People
by Rob Cook

  1. The one who spat me out into the world
  2. doesn’t understand what I’ve written.
  1. Her accomplice won’t even acknowledge
  2. any writing has happened.
  1. He’ll say the binding of my book looks strong.
  2. That the paper stock seems professional,
  1. meaning it might survive more than one person’s eyes,
  2. more than one finger turning the pages.
  1. But nothing that needs to be read,
  2. or as Ed Galing would put it,
  1. your best bet would be the folks in the loony bin.
  2. It’s important to be understood:
  1. by children whose crayon-edges can still be seen,
  2. and by varsity teenagers,
  1. and women who hoard photographs of diamond rings,
  2. and by parents raising their children
  1. to peck at the walls of chicken-scratch cubicles,
  2. and by men raising lummoxes and icaruses
  1. to carry numbers on their backs, and by men
  2. who cannot hide where they married the deepest part of their hands.
  1. It’s important to make people remember
  2. all the holes in the sun still shine after the storm,
  1. that loved ones lurk behind the pearl fences
  2. of the rainbow, that everyone is in at least one person’s prayers.
  1. But not the freezing prayers of Osip Mandelstam.
  2. Not the prayers of Paul Celan’s body
  1. hitting the flowing steel of the Seine.
  2. That one prays for an ending to the barbed wire of daybreak.
  1. An ending to the search towers thriving
  2. beyond a word’s horizon-less surveillance.
  1. He knows God’s house is filled with many shadows,
  2. many children stranded in a permanent playground selection
  1. It’s important not to sound like a suicide
  2. and not to blame the sky’s harshness on the obscurity
  1. of the one who left it here. It’s important to say
  2. only positive things: I’m happy. I want to be happy.
  1. I saw happiness out for a walk and it led the birds
  2. away from their smiling ladders.
  1. Don’t, under any circumstances or ambition, say:
  2. Ed Galing is, at best, a dying part of the page,
  1. or here is the future, here is the future
  2. where I see the ripped silk children drifting inside
  1. a monarchy of watercolors, bleeding halfway
  2. to the ground and no farther.
Packingtown Review – Vol.12, Fall 2019

Rob Cook's latest book is The Charnel House on Joyce Kilmer Avenue (Rain Mountain Press, 2019). His work has appeared or will appear in Antioch Review, Notre Dame Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Epiphany, Crab Orchard Review, Caliban, Verse Daily, and Best American Poetry 2009, among others.

  1. Rob Cook
    Suydam Streetpoetry