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Paul Cook: Three Poems
The Moon Over Maricopa | Midnight Snack | Mid-winter

The Moon Over Maricopa

The moon over Maricopa
Is a carved heart,
Or one
Caught in progress—
The paring knife checked,
As if in doubt with whatís
Been done so far.

Iíve traveled this route before,
Seen the same desert lights
Of the far Walapai farms dangle just
Out of human reach,

The horizon always imagined,
Never where you think it will be.

In this corridor of light
On the highway north
Of Tucson
You sleep beside me,
Your own darkness recently shorn.
I forget the magicianís name

Or why it had to be—
Though I see how your lips
Easily recall his name as you dream.

I watch the moon over Maricopa.

There is blood light everywhere we turn.

Midnight Snack

Long around the bend in the stars,
The moon ever tired behind a lazy antenna.
Sounds like a song, doesnít it?—
Something eternal,

Its moment in time
Separated by time—

Not really a song,
And not nearly as ancient as
A left-handed sandwich in the old folksí home,

The evil custodian,
The dot to the i,
The cross of the t—
But letís not talk about crosses,
I hate crosses,
Crosses with the moon like this,

Running through the trees like skeletons
Fresh from the Yaqui graveyard.
What graveyard?
Guadalupe, Arizona just over the hill.

Over the hill . . .
Letís not talk about that either.


No place to be at fifteen above
Even at sunset
Where the light off Lynx Lake
Skims into knives of ice
If seen at the wrong angle.

To us, itís just
An after-dinner walk
To watch the floes jostle
For position now that
Night is nearing.
For the woman alone
In her station wagon at
The campsiteís cul-de-sac
It must be something else.

Elk have been here recently
And a kind of wild duck
Native to these parts
Has left its stiff tracks
Quick in the blue mud.

But who is she who stares
At the lakeís glass eye
And does not for a moment
Acknowledge us? The browse

Is sparse for the antelope
Who winter in the hills here,
Little to feed on and the same
Must hold true for the rest of us.

But does it? What we
Need can rarely be explained by
The places we suddenly find ourselves.

It could be a lake. It could
Be a woman with nowhere else to go.

Poet's Biography:
  Paul Cook teaches English and American literature at Arizona State University. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Utah. He is the author of seven science fiction novels (the latest of which is The Engine of Dawn) and one mainstream novel (Thinking of You). He has published poems in journals such as The Georgia Review, The Seattle Review, The Chariton Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Agni, Epos, and The Southern Review. Mr. Cook has always felt that poetry has its roots in the language of a people who inhabit a particular landscape, both inner and outer. He prefers the visual image over the abstract statement and metaphor over mere journalism.

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