Thursday, April 17, 2008

James Cook

Night Shift At The Machine Shop

Out in the dark
past the grime-caked windows
I feel pain begin to stir
in the wombs of animals
while here under a smear
of ugly lights
the lathe scrapes out
its archaic rhythm constantly
until the raw mesh
of my nerves starts to hum.
Its an old song
of brass shavings and sweaty faces
and there is something
necessary to it
if we're ever to understand
why the dreams of our fathers
grew terrible
and left their hands
scarred like maps
to cities that are always
just a few miles off...

Memory Of September Light

September light
was falling through itself
like smoke
and you were wearing
the dress your aunt gave you,
the one the color
of the Icelandic word
for "moon"

You kept asking me
if I knew what it was
but I didn't.

We imagined it would be
the sound of a piano
tuned to falling rain
or snow dissolving
in the air before it reaches the ground,

and then you asked
if I remembered
the seedy seaside hotel
with its cracked flowerpots
its tinny music
piped in from the other world

where sailors took turns dancing
with the same beautiful whore
how, one time, at dusk
we saw thousands
of monarch butterflies

dying on the stones beside the water,
wings flickering
like flowers
about to burst into flame

and, terrified, returned
to our bed without saying a word
while the sailors
played cards all night
in one of the empty rooms

James Cook is the author of a chapbook, Kingfishers Catch Fire (Foothills, 2003) and is a machinist. His work has appeared in The Cortland Review. He lives in Upstate NY and is currently working on his first full length collection, Moments At Point Light.