Rob Cook


The deer live in my mother’s house.
They sing to the shivering television.
(Really a window attacked by rain.)

of me.

(What my mother calls the rain when it’s tired outside.)

I lure my unfed clothes down the hallway
past the cold-blooded

I call
“Deer Run.”


I was a deer when I was wrong
and that is all I’m able to figure out.

I will never know where they plant the stolen houses
or if the rain in each room
is enough to eat.

I’m eighteen years old, though,
and weigh eighty-seven pounds.

A boy stranded
on the always aroused television
tries to warn me:

vanish as far as
the room whose shadows need
to be fed,
but do not tell anyone
about our emptiness.

When I look,
it’s just the window,


to the same emptiness,

where each rain drop hides
a fawn
and its imaginary stairwells
that lead to a minute’s

bird crumb

and the holes where I save
the noise of even smaller bodies:

the screams where I went
for the clothes
my mother wore.

The deer do not follow me into my sleep.
The deer do not soften the walls when they wander.
The deer do not live in my mother’s house.

Nano-Surveillance Myths


That moment when nobody speaks
the city vanishes
and comes back with one less
name meant to hide
someone, one less

apartment tower standing inside a pigeon
whose children mark the tar-black window
while its wolves go dead.


A pitchfork shelter
where God

from the hitlers of rain

and the man nobody likes
who keeps asking:

Who hung a picture of the city over the city.
Who hung a picture of the silence over the silence.


A rattlesnake’s firmament
the noise God makes when he shatters.

Not stars in the night sky,
but cameras harvested
by a shadow that belonged nowhere
on the ossuary wall.


Was that one of the clouds I heard behind the mirror?

“We are protected by the information
passed along by trees,” my father says

from the logarithms of a heliotrope when it loses the rain.


There were never any birds,
only depraved children
that could be suggested

from the mosquito blood-counts,
the scalps of light
whose hepatic machines

clenched like leaves
on the ground when it failed.
And the children didn’t chirp—

only the leaves chirped
where any machine
could survive its belief-grade

shrike embryos, the spleen
and its unwashed flowers
the moment they began to shiver.

The Sicknesses Between March and April

In my apartment I felt the hiss of a radiator tickling the dampness of my shirt. The bedroom whispered with dust caught in live traps, wind groping down the hallway carrying a map of someone else’s insomnia.

And because it called itself my friend, the fog was forced to leave. It sold itself as a tired form of laughter that accompanied a televised inebriation.

A week later drought arrived
with its anonymous dictators

and the room licked at my sweat until only the fear remained.

I could feel every sore on my bed,
having survived the season’s
autoimmune conditions.

And because water was illegal,
I drank from the trickle of a spider’s church bells.

The clock wasn’t afraid.

It lived, like everything, on wooden shards of sunlight.

My clothes gasped for flesh under the kitchen glare that watched over the stains and shoelaces thawing on the already forgotten floor where everything was lost:

boulders of crumb cake,

old flashlight beams,

eyes that could still see new days
named after nothing

before the laboratory printouts repeated how it was no longer known if the nurses who held each other inside the black sheets of my liver would survive.

And I insisted that the cries crowding that depleted animal would never frighten away the rest of my body and so far they haven’t. But something still trusts the light, false by now, itching at the swollen windows even when it causes my biopsy wound to stay awake for days inhabited by the same repeating tremor, the same bloodshot curtain scratching with its lace claws from the cringing of the fire escape.

Rob Cook is the author of many collections of poetry, most recently Empire in the Shade of a Grass Blade (The Bitter Oleander Press), Asking my Liver for Forgiveness (Rain Mountain Press) and The Undermining of the Democratic Club (Spuyten Duyvil Press). 
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged by Posit Editor. Bookmark the permalink.

About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.