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Peter Cooley

Peter Cooley is the author of seven collections of poetry, most recently A Place Made of Starlight (2002) and Room Where Summer Ends (1999), both from Carnegie Mellon. He is professor of English at Tulane.



I Nearer to heaven, though she disclaims its presence, my mother, since I last saw my parents, a visit to them confirms, naps longer each afternoon, awakening to prepare dinner, always a great event for her, the readying of others' pleasure. Even if [...]


This light reflecting light within a child's face approximates what they once called the holy. Here at my son's nursery school, squatting a chair beside him, half a dozen lit like him encircling our table, I am a celebrant. Blue-smocked little priest [...]

Van Gogh, “Stairway At Auvers”

Up, up the gold staircase the sun has run and faced this goodman with a cane bent to his slow descent. Then let him pass. So goes the sun's privilege, to look on everything and take in nothing. Here on earth the celebrants go forward two by two, four [...]

Moving Away

This mirror has held my breath up for the last time, the last touch of April on my window mornings has chilled to snow. Tomorrow the floor will sway or level under another's foot and steady the dark will gather on me in a warmer state, continue knitt [...]


Now at your first word its interior is dissolving into deep gold, haze your eyes can steady on. Steady, the far fields squat & stretch rounding towards summer; lake flies film your stare. And here you are: another spring torn off your life asking you [...]

Driving Through Small Wisconsin Towns

All this winter I was sleeping, restless in another body, turning some living secret of the unborn, my features anyone's or yours. Now as my windows darken with rich, brown furrows of the spring, my small car rides the wind going into you; Eden, Lit [...]


There is no Spring in Michigan this year. I should know. I am visiting the unfamiliar sitting down to dinner in the nursing home with my parents, every night and out of time— Spring will come later, after Fall or never. The weatherman announced it [...]


Winter 2004 | Poetry

There is a Florida beyond the stars.
It is the same state I find waking here,
alone with my aloneness in the dark,
all things now possible because my own.

Not Stevens’ Florida

Winter 2004 | Poetry

Ponce de Leon, I live in you today, my little barque awash in Florida such as the stars and I alone can know. These are mornings I'm sailing through your name, years falling from me as I take it in, foretaste of that great future we sail to, imaginat [...]