Two Poems – Cooper Wilhelm


Squeeze tight.

If anything is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.
Where was I?
Your mother loved you enough for you to make this cake,
to sell enough catheters to make the house payment, to finish the job
when your 16-year-old hits the cat
with the jetta your mother helped you buy when you left college
for nothing really, nothing, still nothing,
and now this.


Probabilities will collapse.

My grandfather loaded
his cupboards with mostly sage and buckshot,
murder and repair, a couple coupons.
The breath that lifted out of him was like incense,
holy with blood,
savory and cedar and rose.
You watch him huff in a morning cold,
frost everywhere but the leaves still somehow wet,
and see to sweat is to betray
some humility in the uncouth effort presumably
city folk don’t know. Get home.
Bake. Wring your hands around each other
to free them of their dirt. I love you
means so little from a saint
you can let go of not hearing it said that much at home.


Each new day enlightens me
to the entropy of getting old.
The brain and body overstuffed, a trunk your full weight
can’t quite close.

Just clearing trees.
You provide more space for possibilities,
as in, given ample time replication will decay
once in such a way that science must remove a breast
for you to survive;

as in, if you drive 20 miles each day,
in a finite and knowable number of days your likelihood of death will rise from, say,
1 in 2, to 1 in 1, or 2 in 1, though you may still at that moment be alive;


When the old hunters would share a pipe
with a fawn they’d jumped
as a way of saying we are family,
we are family and I remember and I’m sorry.

as in, you are more likely to die from your own heart
or cancer than suicide
suicide than in a car,
in a car than in a space shuttle or plane,
in one of those than from bees or lightening or a dog;
as in, whenever astronomers or seismologists or studiers of plague
talk about the next big wave of death
they say from what they know today
could be the day,
we’re due.

Grandfather the pipe smoker, throat closed up with bark.
If you listen to the trees make their knock and static,
your brain seeking to please you with patterns,
might make them speak.
Trees or no, my grandfather doesn’t speak,
not even in these poems.


About Cooper Wilhelm

Cooper Wilhelm is a writer and researcher living in New York. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from Rust + Moth; Flapper House; Yes, Poetry; Arc; The Opiate; and elsewhere. His microchapbook on necromancy, Whitman, and breakups, Klaatu Verata Nikto, came out from Ghost City Press this summer (available at He also hosts Into the Dark, a talk show about witchcraft on Radio Free Brooklyn (available at and on itunes). View all posts by Cooper Wilhelm

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