Festival of Choirs, The Procession of Things to Come, & Fragmentation

2021 Allied Arts Foundation Poetry Award

Linda Cooper’s poem “Festival of Choirs” was chosen as this year’s winner of The Allied Arts Foundation Poetry Award, by guest judge Anastacia-Renee. Congratulations, Linda! And thank you Allied Arts Foundation for sponsoring this award.

Festival of Choirs
Linda Cooper 

From the inside
of a mountain, chamber walls,
           basalt and silica, sea of bubbling
magma, I am slowly raising the earth.
Because lifting is not the same
           as being lifted. My brother is inside
another mountain. I know this
because I cannot see him.
           He sounds like black flowers
and a bitter pear. Like butter
melting inside the moon.
           I can do only this: listen.
The table holds a glass bowl
of bright dahlias and lemons.
           My brother comes to me in dreams,
tells me it is alright to forget
that I am grieving. He does this because
           longing is different than being longed for.
Being near him is like the color blue
or the spark of an orange’s first bite.
           His hands are a vessel of fire.
The Procession of Things to Come 
Linda Cooper

The body knows
what the mind is catching up
to: the lip
of a conch shell,
long-necked bottle
on the ocean
you all dressed up
for a funeral. Eyes
luminous. Full moon.

The cancer hasn’t
spread, or it has, or there
is only waiting at the end
of waiting. The shadow
side of a white plate. A dying
star or the hand
of God. I don’t know
about you, but I’d rather
just breathe.

There is a tall boy
in the back of the room.
His sister
holds one white rose
against her black silk

The body lets loose,
petals rise
leaving only a shell. We
hope to hear
something worth knowing,
the words
still counting us
among them.

Linda Cooper

While the motive is usually defined as the smallest identifiable melodic idea in a composition, “compound” motives can be broken into fragments (sometimes called “germs”). —R. Hutchinson

Place potting soil in each tiny pot.
Do not overfill.
There is a thumb-sized spot
for each seed to germinate.
A blanket of dirt. Water.
I saw her dark form
from behind
a waterfall. Spattered light
and mists. Pillow
moss and wild daisies.
My nephew stands on risers
in the concert hall. His voice
deep water and a boat.
Ancestry woven in his smile,
his stance, his open-mouthed
My brother still comes to me in dreams.
I hear his voice again,
and I lose mine. Why did
we leave him alone
in his little house all these years?
When I wake, realization
hisses and roars.
—did he who made the tiger
make the lamb as well?
Once the pots are filled
with soil and seed, you must
water, warm, and wait until
green seedlings emerge.
You will check often
and see nothing.
A waterfall snakes
into a river and into the lake.

Just below the surface,
sleek salmon rise.
His father gone thirteen years,
my nephew is singing a solo.
The whole room quakes.
—if something is broken
both ends can meet—
When you see the lively green plants
first lift from the soil and stretch
their little bodies toward warmth,
a part of you is born. Some lie
dormant. Some don’t rise.
The bear stares from the base
of a tall cedar next to the lake.
Up in the tree, a wide-eyed cub.
Some tragedies can be avoided.
Some approach with a gun.
My nephew was once a boy,
then a teen, and now a man.
The music, fragments of seed.
History. Silence and its absence.
His friends surround him
on the stage. Their voices
rise and build around his.
Once the seedlings flourish,
prepare the plot, and plant
them in rows. Some results
are dependent on your actions.
So much is out of your control.
—even after all this time the sun
never says to the earth ‘you owe me’—

Linda Cooper lives in Ronald, Washington, where elk graze in her backyard. She completed her MFA at Eastern Washington University. Her poems have been published in Verse Daily, Hayden’s Ferry Review, West Branch, Many Mountains Moving, Willow Springs, Third Coast, Tupelo Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Hubub, Elixir, Diner, Permafrost, Pontoon, Midwest Quarterly Review, Weber Studies, Redactions, The Far Field, All We Can Hold, Railtown Almanac, and Rock and Sling. She also won the 2015 Orlando Prize for Poetry.

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