Love puts holes in things.
Walls for example, 5-year plans, checking accounts,
seedbanks, Sundays.
In the buzzing of fluorescent bulbs
you can hear the ecstatic agony of atoms being pulled apart
and then contracting back
with the fundamental forces of the universe.
Even batteries are the silent scream
of rust, of one thing retching electrons from another
in a soup that nourishes
the speed of their decay.
The capacity for suffering
is a prerequisite for light,
even for the things that do not burn.

Despite everything, my parents raised me.
They even loved me. These things
should always be surprising.

The end of the world is coming
every single day.
You have choices to make
even though it looks like they won’t matter.
The world has always been abandoned,
draughty, blighted, boarded up, and cursed,
the crops aborted
oozing black out of the ground,
the children enslaved and weighed down
with parasites.
But a little light inside the world
for longer than never
is so much better than nothing ever was.
The miracle of knowing anything
of being able to know you don’t know.

I’ve written so many poems
pretending to be a person I’m not,
because I am those people.

The universe is baffling, mass baffling,
light baffling, baffling stones, baffling ice.
Baffling man and baffling woman and baffling wave
and baffling island risen over centuries then gone.
You can wrap your mind around a loss and make
a cozy little room to spend your life in.
Zeros have no corners. Gone makes perfect sense.

Only nothing is perfect, especially an absence unobserved.
There wasn’t supposed to be anyone
and even there being someone, it was not
supposed to be me.

Dad got the surgery that apparently didn’t work.
There’s no reason I should be here,
but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be here.
You can choose at any time to be a candle,
and the time in need of candles came
before our parents ever opened up their lungs
and gave space within them to this world.



|Poem of a Monologue Spoken by One Partner to Another to Comfort Both After Both Have Made a Good-Faith Effort to Make Things Work, to be Open and Vulnerable While Still Balancing Self-Care with Support and Celebration of the Other — and After Both Have, Together and Separately, Come to the Tumorous Conclusion that What Each Needs is Not the Other and that to be Apart From the Other, Though Love and Complete Understanding of the Other (as Far as that is Ever Possible) Will Likely Persist in Each for Years — and After the Despair at Knowing that, Even if Either Partner Should One Day Find a Love that Similarly Takes them Out of Themselves While Reassuring them that they Do Actually Belong in the World, it will be Tainted by this Failure to be in Perfect Love, and at Knowing that Each Has Done this to Themselves and the Other, and at Knowing this has Led to Brief Flashes of Cruelty, the Claws of the Starving, the Most Dangerous Animals being the Wounded Ones — and After Realizing that the Time has Come to Release Themselves from the Duty to Protect even the Possibility of Hope as Far as the World of this Relationship and all its Possible Variations, its whole Multiverse of What Could Be, is Concerned — and having Argued this Point with themselves without Success Until at Last Arguing it with Sufficient Success to Momentarily Silence but Not Erase All Doubts.

COOPER WILHELM is the author of Klaatu Verata Nikto (Ghost City Press, 2016), DUMBHEART/STUPIDFACE (Siren Songs/ Fall 2017), and an as-of-yet–untitled chapbook about pigs coming out this fall from Business Bear Press. He is also the host of Into the Dark, a talk show about witchcraft on Radio Free Brooklyn and iTunes, and sends poems on postcards to strangers at He tweets @CooperWilhelm