Joanna Penn Cooper

How to Make Movements

The forfeit & victuals are your life. Take the weird specific advice.
—Mia Nussbaum, “Saw This & Marked It”

You could go for years without fixing your mouth.

A bad feelings machine.

Between the hours of 9:30 and 10:30 a.m., someone assembles a rink for curling in the apartment above yours, a challenge when you are trying to medal in naptime. They with their sweaters and brooms. Impersonal exuberance.

The guy in your bed follows your movements around the apartment with his gaze. Becomes alarmed when you go through doorways.

He is not a mascot. His alarm and bonhomie his own engine. Origin?

How to remember this is your actual life.

The only advice: Turn on the fan during curling time.

“Is this black embroidery what we have now for trees?” is something you dreamed the baby said. Or something you read before sleep.

Unequal Bittersweet

Having passed April’s low hurdles, I feel you like a corner.
—Maureen Thorson, “Rocking the Pathetic Fallacy”

There were further portents
Like Jane Eyre’s split oak
Jung’s split table when he split with Freud
Johnny Cash cracking the ceiling with his thought vibrations

The family photo falling off the wall

One plant growing tall, the other stunted

One year, I carried a blue rock with me everywhere
or green— the rock was green
I can feel it in my palm
hidden in my coat pocket
when I had to be on a bus
in a city alone
on the way to a job

but holding my power
in my little raccoon hands on the bus

In other years,
the presence on the ceiling

the dream of someone throwing a baby
someone catching it

The door ajar

How many more Easters do we have together?
It depends what you mean by we/ by together

The baby slouches in his stroller in a red hoodie,
the velcro of one red sneaker undone, as is his preference
tousled brown hair,
gold in the son sun

He is tired
covers his ears when a siren goes by a few blocks away
makes a gesture when he wants another ice cube
fingertips of each hand to the thumb, tapping his hands together

This is a person doing the hard work of understanding more words
than he is able to speak

There’s a grace to how he’s doing it
(Knock wood
Dress a decoy of a boy so the gods or devils don’t know where he lives
or know where he lives
Daimons, not demons my motto)

A few people in the neighborhood look at him appreciatively, slouched there,
cooler than Iggy Pop
“Man is together,” one woman even says (or something like that)

We will make our own luck
Nobody here but us chickens

Joanna Penn Cooper’s full-length collections are What Is a Domicile (Noctuary Press, 2014) and The Itinerant Girl’s Guide to Self-Hypnosis (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2014). She lives in Durham, NC. More information can be found at
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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.