Poetry: Matthew Cooperman

Still: Pioneer

Craft: a means of moving forward by focused attention to presence in physical form

Object: Shangri La, Valhalla, Elysium, Cibola, Shambhala, Arcadia, Utopia, Pleasantville, Dick Dale, Moby Dick, Ojai, Daisen, Asphodel (that greeny flower)

Expression: Why, you’ve got to fire it up to see how it goes. Look under the hood, check the punctuation. I mean how will we get anywhere inside ourselves or off the planet if we’re not trying to move the ark forward

Craft: Pioneer 10, a gem of an ark, which explored the outer planets and left the solar system carrying a golden plaque on its golden front, a man and a woman in a circle of names, a man and a woman are one

Alarm: It is not easy to be every pioneer and musician, particularly between the years 1800 and now, for the way of the pioneer is often one of failure, or what ever I was thinking, renewable energy also creates more jobs, so I picked a field where I have been very interested and settled there, for to me Arnold was a pioneer, and very interesting in a religious way including Jesus, one of Alaska’s strengths, well I think I’ve said this 44 times, an honest pioneer makes work hard, as did my grandfather along with Carnegie, how America is a civilization that destroys things, and furthermore Yemen too is a leading source, on every side “pioneer,” this genius is the very eye of exploration

Willa: There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before, like the larks in this country, that have been singing the same five notes for thousands of years

Object: Pioneer C350 Integrated Receiver, 150 watts per channel, 1974 Consumer Reports “Best Buy”; Sons of the Pioneers “Tumbling Tumbleweed” Golden Boot Award; “Return of the Blackfoot War Party,” Frederick Sackrider Remington, 1888

Guard: The fountain will be back on within the hour. Please step away from the emu

Teleological Concerns: “The discovery that a historical narrative reflects the perspective and concerns of its author might seem a relatively recent development, or at least one that reaches back mainly to Hegel. If you think that the meaning and value of all historical events derives from their ends or purposes, that is, all events in history are future-directed , then I’ve got concerns. Aristotle’s thought is manifestly teleological; of the four “reasons” or “causes” (aitia ) for things, the most important reason is the “purpose” or “end” for which that thing was made or done. The Christian worldview is also fundamentally teleological; all of history is directed towards the completion of history at the end of time. When history ends, then the meaning and value of human historical experience will be fulfilled. I mean four horseman?! This concerns me.”

Questions: who were the Pioneers? wh-why did they travel to the frontier? where did the Pioneers travel to? what are some of the trails they used? are they still there? wh-what did they take with them? how did they travel? what were their wagons like? can you still see a wagon? what was a wagon train? what wagon, why train? who led the wagon train? what were their lives like on the trail? did they wear camouflage? did they get new homes? what did they do after reaching their new homes? who’s in charge?

Doctor: The surgery will be, by necessity, exploratory

Pirate: Avast! I’ve lost me way and me purpose

NASA: Mysteriously, five spacecraft that flew past the Earth have each displayed
unexpected anomalies in their motions, seeming to experience a tiny but unexplained constant acceleration toward the sun

West: Only a savage may ask the purpose pursued by a stone lying by the wayside. The savage imputes a soul to nature and to the stone. A stone does not set any goals for itself, any more than does the sun, or any of the planets, or the entire solar system, or the Milky Way. I just wish people would leave me alone

Mae: well, peel me a grape!

Milky Way: It’s not like we were built in a cosmic day, you live on an arm in a halo of stars, a trillion stars from a bulbous center, form is whatever in this seems to be turning

Young Pioneers: ! here to join the revolution


Process statement: “The still poems continue (still) to be a mechanism of containment. After ten years of writing them I am still struck by their categorical need. What is a subject and what is a form? How is a poem about (a subject) and how is a poem about (being next to) and how is a poem about (a country’s dis-ease). To diagnose the weather, to turn us about ourselves.


Matthew Cooperman is the author of DaZE (Salt Publishing, 2006) and A Sacrificial Zinc (Pleiades/LSU, 2001), winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize, as well as three chapbooks, Still: (to be) Perpetual (dove | tail. 2007), Words About James (phylum press, 2005) and Surge (Kent State, 1999). A founding editor of Quarter After Eight, and co-poetry editor of Colorado Review, he teaches at Colorado State University. More information can be found at www.matthewcooperman.com.