Bryan Cook was born
in Monroe, Michigan on June 22, 1951. When he was a freshman in
high school, his dad decided to pick up and move to Tazewell,
TN. It was a difficult transition - living in the hills and
looking out a back window only to see cows. But as soon as he
graduated, he returned to Michigan. However, four years later
he moved back to Tennessee, and enrolled at the university in
Clarksville. He thoroughly enjoyed learning and the academic
life. In 1978, he went to Western Kentucky University to attend
a reading by Gary Snyder. After that, he found himself reading
about the beat poets and attending poetry workshops. His writing
poems continues to this day. But he has a bad habit: he saves
everything he writes from time to time rewrites it again and
again. In fact, the poem he submitted to The Tower was
originally written in the 80's or 90's, but has been been
totally transformed. He believes that his poems should have form
like the essays he teaches in his composition classes. That's
why he writes most of his poems in pentameter. They should also
have rhythm and a certain flow; hence, his preference for
Ask to Answer
The English Walnut’s leaves had withered brown.
Its branches still held them despite a cold,
cold night. But as the sun rose higher they
began to fall. Within the hour, I saw
through limbs as clearly as the skeleton
that hangs from porch. I’d never seen leaves drop
that fast! It called to mind Dad’s death: abrupt
and leaving only starkness. As I searched
shed for a rake, I wondered why the tree
had jettisoned it’s leaves. Could shorter days
be blamed? Did plaque-like growth impede its sap?
Guess signs of Dad’s demise and walnut’s fall
share similarities. And they agree
with words the Preacher penned in ages past
that indicated season and a time.
The wary chipmunk
inches into headlong leaps
on breath heavy paws:
Wind gusts tumble peach blossom
petals from grass to pavement.
The crossing signal blinked. Our steady pace
abruptly stopped–my noisy hunger pangs
continued. They became acute when smells
that I craved vented from a nearby kiosk.
I edged in line–read menu–watched crosswalk
till I heard rustling from scarred garbage can.
A pair of grimy jeans bent over it–
then slim trunk, arms, and hooded face emerged.
He spoke unending diatribes
or litanies. I’m not sure which.
And shook small fists at passing cars
but pumped an arm at diesel truck
until the driver sounded horn.
Delighted by success, his lips
uncurled a grin. Internal fiends,
I thought, concocted laughter. His
head swayed revealing stretched ear lobes.
When he removed his stocking hat,
upright comb like a cleaver. I
saw his lumpy and sagging shirt
as he unzipped his parka. IT
ALL CLICKED. Hips were too wide–wild eyes
too tender. It was safe disguise.
The light changed. She grabbed her
plastic bag. I sipped my
latte. Crowd lurched across.
Before the trail wound into shade,
and far from any shrubs, I saw
a berry. It was bright and plump
beside a piece of clay-like shale.
I wondered how it got there? I
bet some bird all wings fumbled it
anticipating huge breakfast.
This morning I’d dropped my last slice
of bacon on the restaurant
floor . . . too. It made meal incomplete.
It’s strange another klutz makes my
mishap easier to digest.
I see it clearly–as if yesterday–
the village lighthouse, dunes, lake, and of course
canoe I thought magnetic. Seems strange how
my paddle was drawn to its side. Guess it
could have been my awkward stage. Camp friends’
grimaces and grins said so. Doubtless, I
protested notion just to disagree.
When muscles burned, chest heaved, and waves sloshed knees
and tennis shoes, we glided into cove
to catch our breaths–feel sweat evaporate.
I remember looking at the lake floor
where lazy tangled snarls of seaweed swayed.
Then I glimpsed shiny dappled shadow lurked
there. Drop from paddle dimpled surface. Huge
walleye like lightning flash in cloud of sand.
It happened just like that near fifty years
ago–this time I stayed in my chair. Their
amazing realism boggles mind.
No liquid crystals, static charged dust,
or magnetized grains were required. Or type
conveyance shuttles image–me through past.
There’s rustling in the orchard late July.
Windfalls. They startle Zeke. He lopes from tree
to tree his ears sharp–eyes intent. If he
knew they were apples, I don’t think he’d stress
as much. But only hears me when I’ve food,
a Frisbee, or I’m angry. Zeke is Zeke.
I think it would be great if he could talk
and understand that both Golden and Red
Delicious didn’t correspond to types
of rodents, or he grasped the theory
of Newton's appled finding. But would Zeke
still fetch, chase squirrels, bark at enemies?
Mountain peaks serrate twilight; Potholes
provide kinetic effects.
He’s off the moment I flick it sidearm.
Gun metal eyes engrossed like a career
purse snatcher’s. Follows its trajectory
according to coordinates of pines
and willow. When its level of descent
whiffs halo-like, this spatial mastermind
lifts masked face so nonchalantly makes snag.
He celebrates success with victory
jig–stub tail fast as trigger finger. By
the time I can convince him to behave
his Frisbee droops like Bogie’s cigarette.
Copyright © 2010 Bryan