A River in Spring

Matthew Cooperman


“Who because they neither know their sources nor the sills
of their disappointments walk outside their bodies aimlessly”

–William Carlos Williams


going to legacy a river
in spring      thought what
it is to mean
in fluid pathways
seeing connections are
on a constant basis
scale or hale of white water
      perhaps a bit blind
my heart gets pulled
to the surface
of the river

the far away lands nearby
a rabbit has noticed
geese flock up a dozen
from coreopsis
the scope of all flowering
with moving center so skillfully
avoid seeing why?

why had I not looked
walked and lingered
everyday      so long ago
a he or she living along
the river

alongside it    trail or
culvert      train bridge a tag
of Rosas      a bicycle
blue      with plastic bags caught
in scouring elms
spider webs draping
or spooling or noticing
bee thrum and hornet nest
the park weaves leaves
the river

adjacent      along
waterplant detritus gas jet
a parking lot

now weave of roots appears
reappears through May snow
cottonwood willow marl
the river throughout
receded three weeks
begins to rise      June rise
what’s ahead with flash hail
alive from what’s dead

bacterial microphage      damsel fly
browns      are freckling freckling
the black sands

the black sands of fire
past fire of countless and speechless—

                leaves blown to ash
return again green
the river carries throughout
alteration of weather
cloud sun cloud      the grass whitens
the bones of the mice the fox finds
and dies another season

caught in different climes
the same place mortality
to call it bloom
yellow purple lichens akin to kin
or yellow flowering      yarrow
ranunculus      watch it grow
fireweed      and tansy
a nose for place

                                         what is a river
                                         and what is a season
                                         and what is a season of
                                         and what is a reason of oil

a season of oil
third landscape disturbance
alive and shimmering

we are alive and active
today watching with ears
the chit chit
of prairie dogs      burrows
gassed to get gas

a rhetoric of monuments
lingers      legacy

                    longing, to be sure
                    longing, to be clear
                    off or on this planet
                    a fire of speechless

The inland sea
a season      deposition
of ferns and brackens

To get gas go to the sea
the sea shore
down by the river

derricks for a time
a drone goes aerial      pumps
the sulfurous glow
a Walmart parking lot
thick with seasonal shoppers
carbon fibers
collections for a car
or gas marl

adjacent      along
the river throughout
a scene
or seen desert

or just now an argument
people on the river      relaxing
not relaxing      what the river’s for
what our “lifestyle’s” for

the locals local
about water from rain
race from growth
or blood from stone
people are looking and watching
the river      the progress
of a river

what is the progress of a river?

the water the water
they drink      an argument
jars      tests      tastes

words in their throats
thyroidial currents
gone astray awry
words in their throats
progress      something to say
or singing      a future off key

alongside a river an oil floes
avoid seeing why?

time passes
a March      or march of cranes
wet seasons going dry
the edge of grasses to mountains
a skirt rising lilt      alluvial
sometime toward fall

and sometimes you yell
“No!” No?
this is my water
my mountain my river

or a swimming pool
awash with cinnamon
privilege in imagining
this arrogance
this use of water


the pool of senses
each day an arduous thirst

enlargement parches
singes      sings

human      and fire
fire in the human

thirsts so alike
in the eons

drink it up—
                               a little buffalo grass
                a little skirt of grama
some mullein leaves for tea
the exacting fork
which rings rock from rain

stone      this is bedrock
to bend the sapling
keep it green

it is moving      morning
the pink gaze      the quartz eye
the charcoal rim

                               a cycle of grains
                               to irrigate fields
                               scope of all flowering
                               inspectral      in oil


Matthew Cooperman is the author of, most recently, “Spool,” winner of the New Measure Prize (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2016), as well as the text + image collaboration “Imago for the Fallen World” with Marius Lehene (Jaded Ibis Press, 2013), and other books. Cooperman teaches at Colorado State University. He lives in Fort Collins with his wife—the poet Aby Kaupang—and their two kids.