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Published: Sun Jul 1 2012
Art by Jin Suk
How Silent the Trees

for Liam Rector, 1949–2007

How the hell are you, I want
to ask but can’t—you’re dead.

How hard the snow fell,
how slowly it melts.

How to tie a knot big enough
to choke the wild pain.

How to listen carelessly
to words used carefully.

How philosophy handles death:
with great reluctance.

How answers to questions
often contain no answer.

How to wind a watch
so tight time stops.

How silent the trees, how
loud the shots of hunters.

Wyn Cooper is the author of four collections of poetry: Chaos Is the New Calm (2010), Postcards from the Interior (2005), The Way Back (2000), and The Country of Here Below (1987). His poems appear in twenty-five anthologies of contemporary poetry. He has taught at Bennington and Marlboro Colleges, the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, the University of Utah, and the Frost Place. For ten years he was a principal organizer of the Brattleboro Literary Festival in Vermont. He has written songs with Sheryl Crow, David Broza, Jody Redhage, and David Baerwald. His second CD with Madison Smartt Bell, Postcards Out of the Blue, was released in 2008. Their songs can be heard on six television shows. He lives in Vermont and most recently worked for the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, a think tank run by the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. He works as a poetry manuscript editor for established and novice poets; more information is on the editing page of his website, www.wyncooper.com. (updated 8/2012)

Extra-credit trivia for fans of Wyn’s poetry: having come across The Country of Here Below in a used bookstore, Sheryl Crow used his poem “Fun” as the basis for her smash hit “All I Wanna Do.”

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