Bob Cooper

Bob Cooper

Poetry? Well, I'd just started work and noticed people on the bus reading books so, on pay-day, I went browsing and bought The Mersey Sound (that neat little Penguin with Adrian Henri, Brian Patten and Roger McGough chuckling to themselves between the covers). By the time I got home, I was thinking like Yosser, (remember him?) "Wow! I want to do that! Can I do that?" I've been reading the stuff ever since. Everything from Li Po to Stephen Rodefer, from George Herbert to George Oppen... And the guy I keep coming back to? W.S. Graham - there's always something extra I keep finding.

I've recently discovered that, as a child, I used to live just down the road from where Wordsworth did his courting. My sister in law works just down the road from where he was born. And on my first day's rock climbing I climbed up what Coleridge first climbed down.

My best birthday? Well, it might have been back in '93 when I got to know I'd won my first pamphlet competition. I've won another four since then, but only one on my birthday!

And the most famous person I've ever had a cup of tea with? Well, that's got to be Mother Theresa.

And what do I do? Well... I still wander around the mountains. My favourite TV programmes are football matches. I've loved listening to Monteverdi in a medieval church, Stiff Little Fingers in an Elizabethan manor house, and Ravel's Piano Trio in a car while just arriving in Torridon. I used to work full-time as a Methodist Minister but now I help other people write.

Bruised Echoes Outposts 1977
Light From The Upper Left (with Jo Haslam) Smith Doorstop 1993

Beyond Liathach (with Frances Nagle) Tears In The Fence 1995
Drinking Up Time Redbeck Press 1998
Pinocchio's Long Neb Smith Doorstop 2000 (check out www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/books.htm for availability)
All We Know Is All We See Arrowhead 2002

Here are a couple of my poems:

Bringing Them Down

Having photographed the stocks at Broughton,
had a pub lunch, bought framed prints, postcards,
they're now surrounded by a flock of sheep
and the trees' spice rack of colours are blocked
by smells. Closing each air vent she's appalled
by teeth, taut lips, dark eyes, a tumbling rush
like the refugees in the Telegraph
her husband ignores as he starts to read.

All but the stragglers scuffle through a gate.
The dogs pin one by the car. A man comes,
stoops, grins, grabs two of its legs, chucks it high
over the wall, then shouts in a dialect
she can't understand. She smiles at him, stares,
and, white knuckled, screeching each gear, is gone.

All We Know Is What We See

And everyone in front of Fenwick's Christmas window turns round
from Geppetto at his workbench and the island with its donkeys

when, with all the passing children of half-term, we're speechless as we watch
the clown on his 2 metre unicycle, who, instead of juggling more balls,

now puts a gloved finger to his lips, and Shhh we all say as he smiles
then wobbles a little as he takes off his clothes, his red nose and over-size shoes,

and, with his whole body painted gold, steadies himself then completes a headstand
where he tries to balance, his willy pointing to each shoulder then, at last, to his chin

when he lifts his hand up to his crotch, tugs it off, and turns the right way up
and our eyes focus elsewhere - a woman, after all that deception - a woman

who stretches her arms up like the Northern Goldsmith's statue and begins circling round
while the newspaper seller, the soldier who'd repeated Buy a Poppy, Buy a Poppy,

the pensioners in groups, the children who watch as if they understand, all cheer,
and is she a lover, wife, mother, a customer complaints manager, is she hot,

could she, without being naked, be a barrister, or stand talking after church, is she cold?
All we know is what we see : gold skin, grease paint, a curly wig and white gloves,

as she leaps down, pulls on her clothes, then wipes off her black tear,
and pushes her wheel through the crowd like a pram, like Pinocchio's long neb.

Poems on this page Copyright © 2002 Bob Cooper

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Last modified: March 28th 2005