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Feb 6 · 102
What We Did
It didn't matter what we did,
Together while the light lay down--
Eat something,  watch TV, get high
On every breath we shared before
The darkness called,  like memory,
Like a thing almost remembered,
So sure we were that time would leave--
Unwanted guest, unlikely song
Jan 17 · 306
Brown Leaves
The brown leaves holding fast
To the grey branches
Of the post oak tree,
Above the unblemished snow,
Are more beautiful
Than apocryphal angels
Dec 2023 · 142
Empty Eyes
Bobby Copeland Dec 2023
Empty eyes where you
Once reflected all the world
As it existed
Oct 2023 · 217
Bobby Copeland Oct 2023
A broken heart doesn't stop.
It's like she told me;
Some things are worse than death. Yes
May 2023 · 121
Bobby Copeland May 2023
should it all be quantified,
this spirit-laden world,
broken to its smallest piece
without a secret left
except the love
that contradicts
all circumstance, defying language,
stone carvings and disease,
unguided shots at shadows,
my own transgressions sacramental
and profane,
with which
the fruit
of paradise
is tasted
a dying tongue
May 2023 · 128
Bobby Copeland May 2023
not long this measured
shall entertain
my thoughts,
if they be fancied
you understand the
the infinite uncertainty
loosely scattered in bright flashes,
dark skies,
increasing silence
laced between
the thunder
May 2023 · 259
black ink
Bobby Copeland May 2023
touch our shared confusion,
once more portrayed
as good intent,
black ink
in darkness so profound
as gravity tilts
what otherwise might stand
as roses
on a twisted stake,
unclear the aspiration
of an intermittent beauty
falling loosely
on an unmade bed
May 2023 · 129
date night
Bobby Copeland May 2023
old boneyards made the perfect sites--
the residents content to wait,
through late-night fornication rites--
for judgment at a future date

sly little sisters took their turn,
when breakups offered openings
to quench the adolescent burn
by covering a load of sins

with stories that got passed around,
a currency as firm as gold,
assuring they were never found
without a little death foretold

next day the brimstone sermons ruled,
in nodding pews post Sunday school
May 2023 · 104
Bobby Copeland May 2023
Karl's been drinking since yesterday,
when she came back for her clothes
and the dog he bought her
five or six years ago,
an Irish sitter
that never seemed to trust him,
even though he'd fed it well
and brushed its coat
for the two weeks she'd been gone,
suspecting perhaps
that the whole affair
was more his fault
than the other man's
and surely more than hers.
May 2023 · 123
nothing to say
Bobby Copeland May 2023
the man with nothing to say
stretches it
past comprehension,
echoing the future
when all
the voices
May 2023 · 75
Donald's Descent
Bobby Copeland May 2023
I do not like you,  Donald Trump,
You're what they also call a ****.
Your life of crime is such a  shame.
You should go back to where you came.
Except they wouldn't have you there,
Not even if you comb your hair.
Disguise yourself as Putin's clown.
Sell out your country going down.
Apr 2023 · 258
drop in
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
the muse drops in
on a lazy man,
an easy mark
reclining as a well-fed cat
in a spot of sun
that slants its ways
past the crosses in an old window
stuck shut yet still transparent
Apr 2023 · 168
the finest things
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
to find the finest things things the night
permits needs words & flesh subsumed,
an alchemy of second sight
from chaos yet a smidgen mined
of ecstasy through horror sung,
the pleasure of a mortal realm
where ripe fruit strangely falls unhung,
sweet taste beneath the bitter elm.
whose will can guide the hunter's barge,
forecast his raucous wanderings?
a raven or a dove in charge
of carrion and olive sprigs,
a turkish van set swim for shore,
as black and white as ancient lore
Apr 2023 · 91
more or less
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
she wanted more, then wanted less,
a finely tuned ambivalence--
great love songs written in her name,
crisp folded, flown inside the flame.
my inclination to persist
outweighed the wisdom to resist,
come hell, deep water and the past
(rearview the only looking glass)
still walking past the angels' steps,
a fool in nose deep long-legged depths,
uncertain of the punishment
for such a carnal,  tasty stunt.
she'll read this bittersweet as sin,
complaining at what's never been
Apr 2023 · 81
almost you
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
almost you know who you could be
aside from words with blue shavings,
scraps really,  importunately
curling through dark cool evenings
when i could never reach your full
attention,  nevermind affect
your wandering feet, constant pull
through fathomless,  sullen aspect,
humility my wooden tool--
by now quite nearly petrified,
as if you might embrace a fool
whose words were never qualified
for verses with steady beat,
pray yet you somehow love the heat
Apr 2023 · 58
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
when this soul doesn't rise or fall,
no other places to be found
aside from dust and ash and all
the senses come at last unbound,
entangled in a glass of time,
that ever-present chimera
as silent as a painted mime
posed briefly for the camera
that shutters light and snaps like some
outrageous hound convinced that clowns
share nothing of the cumbersome
disrobing from their vested gowns
when all is taken, stones returned
unearthed and more than ever burned
Apr 2023 · 96
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
even augustine could dream--
of freedom, women, men?
and god, salvation
of the fittest--
nevermind the terror of the night
Apr 2023 · 165
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
replacement of the rugged cross
cruel Aires morning fountain pen
not nearing what is truly lost
incomprehensible to men
you might have known the passion spent
if anything is close recalled
no curtain opened only rent
now tracing of the shroud is stalled
while my unlikely mind is wrapped
around the inconsistencies
of ancient echoed thunderclap
disturbing modern witnesses
who made this testimony mine
another hand, forgotten time
Apr 2023 · 139
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
should i be excused from thoughts
indeterminate as they were
not ever knowing how they sound
in occupation of the space
a poem seeks, taking notes
on its ambitious song
Apr 2023 · 363
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
on that brief afternoon
we saw
across the campus lawn
the rain approach us
as a gift containing more
than we could ever
Apr 2023 · 67
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
Pascal could never more than hedge
and Albert's hard eight
spooked the witnesses.
It's Dostoevski in the pits
confessing to the fallen,
Jack London counting cards,
Melville with his checkerboards
and Emily, tilting
like the woeful knight,
who lift me when the obvious
shoots daggers from the looking glass.
Apr 2023 · 69
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
to slip in something obvious
with more than  thoughts might recognize
exchanged as if from loneliness
where nothing spoken will arise
uneasy with the atmosphere
descendant from a flaming sun
late celebrated praised and feared
as any light not yet outshone
a canvassing of glory land
impaired by blinded witnesses
reveals no greater hidden hand
than lately clawed from ancient seas
encountering the shifting sands
the questioning of all commands
Apr 2023 · 174
sunrise service
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
on this side of the cross
the shadow moves
with the morning sun
slow motion,
the angle more acute
as the length dissolves.
had we patience,
or set a watch,
midday would bring
a new direction
Apr 2023 · 123
Bobby Copeland Apr 2023
ephemeral morning,  page torn
from an open book
testing appearances, aurora
of a figurine fresh
from the latest carnival,
a salted composition
as the taffy and
the clowns
Jan 2023 · 101
Bobby Copeland Jan 2023
my father was an angry man
who fumed with godlike fury when
someone like me had other plans
that constituted mortal sin
or less than steady revenue,
yet kneeled beside my bed when doubt
had displaced subtly all i knew,
trained substance of the altar vow--
as if this constant crossworld death
could be persuaded to relent,
could be defeated, sparing breath,
or carved out blue as light gets bent--
a son the perfect sacrifice,
as wine is poured and bread is sliced
Dec 2022 · 542
Bobby Copeland Dec 2022
sometimes this overwhelming joy
brings earth in sight of paradise,
the anxious mind that would destroy
such ecstasy with ill advice
stilled in its ancient chattering
of good & evil understood,
imposed as bitter reckoning
beneath the stone where moses stood.
at other times the mourner's song
has wormed its way inside my head,
an occupation loud & long,
as if it pushed itself instead
of beauty, love and holiness,
insistent with its emptiness.
Oct 2022 · 100
Bobby Copeland Oct 2022
dance in bright daylight
dance in the dark winter night
dance, time disappears
Oct 2022 · 208
plugged in
Bobby Copeland Oct 2022
good pitching beat good hitting
on summer nights when Gibson took the mound
and my heart listened
cotton blanket kicked aside
through one earpiece
plugged in a plastic green transistor
radio, letting in
the world
one pitch at a time
Oct 2022 · 402
autumn leaves satori
Bobby Copeland Oct 2022
no need for conversation here
chet baker on the stereo
reminds me of the words we share
when time has no place else to go
immobile as a broken clock
still on the wall a bird inside
long separated from the flock
not knowing where to find a ride.
the need to flip the record soon
Inspires me to lay down my pen
move through the crescent-lighted moon
and drop the needle once again
then listen to the falling man
bend summer into one last stand.
Oct 2022 · 89
as likely as not
Bobby Copeland Oct 2022
sun slanting as the trail begins
a first rate region of the mind
this month of bringing harvest in,
of leaving summer days behind
occurs to me not unlikely
that the dog outside is a real
dog, tugging at the leash of she
who must be obeyed as the deal,
a shepherd mix and woman soft
of skin, dark hair, white leather shoes--
a third my age just old enough
to buy a cigarette & *****,
as if the magdalene had come
again and this world is my home
Oct 2022 · 220
Bobby Copeland Oct 2022
if love is in your heart tonight
you'll find my foolish,
                                          failing speech
descending with the falling night,
approaching what cannot be reached
Oct 2022 · 109
barefoot roy
Bobby Copeland Oct 2022
my friend reminded me today
of barefoot roy, great-uncle roy,
who rode the baler chute all day,
and twisted wires like christmas toys,
before grass string & knotters ruled,
then big bales bucked with tractor forks
and kids were told to stay in school,
his feet resembling bottle corks,
the only man i ever knew
could walk a stubblefield full speed,
through cockleburrs & startled snakes,
without the notion or the need
for brogans where the hay's been raked;
he picked on her, he picked on me,
and prayed to god to let him be.
Sep 2022 · 509
Death of a Tractor Driver
Bobby Copeland Sep 2022
Cold silence makes the day run long,
The night as well.  She misses most
His chin, clean-shaven as a palm,
Her slanting fingers touch a ghost.
He never talked about the war,
Liked culture of the harvest land,
Sometimes an evening at the bar,
Cold mornings waiting in a stand
While  counting antlers,  powder dry,
Field dressing, hauling, freezing meat,
Indulging dogs with half the tripe,
Then sleeping in his favorite seat,
The old recliner, much repaired,
Now empty as the winter air.
Sep 2022 · 85
little flaws
Bobby Copeland Sep 2022
the little flaws in reckoning
have set the mortal coil adrift
and leaving not that much to sing
while listening fifteen times tonight,
the slanted needle in Betsy
Reed, Richard still remembering
& triple G with dreams to see,
cashed in with too much sobering
for even gypsies sharing leaves
and not to sentence anyone
to nailed up fixtures holding thieves
alongside someone else's son,
where tears and blood are fountaining--
perhaps there is some more to bring.
Sep 2022 · 66
Bobby Copeland Sep 2022
could this be all you need to see
my misdirected feet turned late
in reassessment of the need
that someone banging on the gate
must have for human consequence
for breath that moves the dust again
the spirit no less hesitant
beneath this inconsistent skin
long parched by lack of festive nights
rough sanded by the loss of time
that somehow wasn't added right
with all results disqualified
we should be keeping this discrete
well knowing it must not repeat
Sep 2022 · 195
Bobby Copeland Sep 2022
in this imperfect paradise
strung in between the quiet night
a chiseler in melting ice
ambivalent about the light
goes missing when you look away
while colors change their future
Sep 2022 · 58
Bobby Copeland Sep 2022
assurance isn't evident this year
our lord not keeping time
but speeding up
an amateur ill
fitted for an old folks band
whipping the skins
like there's no tomorrow
Aug 2022 · 196
Fool's Song
Bobby Copeland Aug 2022
Then her impending nuptials
Were what derailed our love affair,
As often is the case with fools,
Who don't have sense enough to care
That locks on bars still have a key,
And sentences expire with time,
And locked up gackers get set free
At midnight when the towers chime.
Has time run swift beneath your feet,
Enough to turn your head again--
That sideways glance, the summer heat,
At last the fall come out within,
As you, my love, conspire with Puck,
Goodfellow with a slanted look.
Aug 2022 · 94
Bobby Copeland Aug 2022
She's not close tethered to the truth,
Considering the bone-filled cage
That closes quickly after youth,
Without the service of a sage.
So offer me the opening,
Your mind, your heart,  your lips below,
And join the ****** in mortal sin
That makes the lower regions glow.
Hard knowing when the noose is slack
Who'd slice it at their peril or
Who cuts and runs,  who's got your back
When things are too much to endure.
Allow me when you need to live,
To offer all I have to give.
Aug 2022 · 173
Bobby Copeland Aug 2022
of all transgressions recognized,
the worst is what misuses most
the power of a lie disguised
as love
Aug 2022 · 72
Trouble in Memphis
Bobby Copeland Aug 2022
Got trouble again in Memphis
or she wouldn't be back
in her hometown
with a teething two year old
her mother tends to
when she picks up delivery work
or has a meeting
and she goes along
Sunday mornings
with more eyes on her than the preacher
not because of interest in salvation
so much as to mollify
her anxious mother
who believes she'll find
a better man
than the Tennessee hustlers
whose provinces are underserved
by streetlamps or revivals.
Aug 2022 · 83
rough terrain
Bobby Copeland Aug 2022
young suicides have spoken out
an echo from the lower rocks
bruised souls uncertain how to shout
or even listen to the clocks
celestial or most terrene
that ridicule the future past
armed crosses planted in between
young werthers with their futures cast
corrupted out of innocence
too soon to have the stoic eyes
unblinking into providence
rejecting even death's disguise
in words like these that slant the truth
poor folks palavering like brutes
Aug 2022 · 760
Bobby Copeland Aug 2022
i want to make the good things last,
or failing that, good memories,
those moments when the veil is torn,
and sorrow is a secret prayer
Aug 2022 · 92
Bobby Copeland Aug 2022
look close, the old world moldering,
unsightly damage year by year,
the yellow sun yet billowing,
indifferent to all we fear--
the sacred disappearing,  god
reduced to holding seances
behind an aging, thin facade
of emperors and witnesses,
whose outer dark is just the street
gaslit by hawkers selling shade
half guaranteed to stand the heat
on sidewalks chalked where children played,
as life gets marked down, sold by lots,
and mothers visit mounded plots
Jul 2022 · 54
Bobby Copeland Jul 2022
reactions to the soneteer
have ranged from *** to calumny,
substantial offers of a beer
and nights that live in infamy.
supposing that i had a choice--
such suppositions have their place--
i'd give it up, this peasants' voice,
to see the pleasure in your face,
a secular beatitude
no less amazing in its grace,
that saved my soul from solitude,
than any sacrificial blaze,
or resurrection from a cave,
despite the way my songs behave
Jul 2022 · 88
not sleeping
Bobby Copeland Jul 2022
not sleeping after too much *****,
coffee & bad news & lines
of questionable length
and meter
pushing to spill something
on the sheets
as if i were the arbiter
or at least a voice recognized.
this is our wilderness
Jul 2022 · 675
Bobby Copeland Jul 2022
Sammy can't afford the pills
so he's learned to cook
with just a spoon
& some shaky friends
Jul 2022 · 63
Lover's Prayer
Bobby Copeland Jul 2022
If I could pray for something more
Each blessed day, it would be just
To always have the strength, endure
The arrows and the missing trust,
True potion from the mixing bowl
Of mine & yours and everyone's
Belief in any altered soul
That saves the nation's slaughtered sons
And daughters,  but that's not the world
We're here to see, and so this night,
As good as any, I lay curled
Inside the quickly passing light,
And praise the god who holds my hand,
She's always better than I am...
Jul 2022 · 152
Bobby Copeland Jul 2022
What matters now that time has long Resigned itself to peering in
Through black cat glasses that belong
On overwrought librarians
Flipped out on sheets like ridicules
Of mockingbirds as shy kids find
Their *** on shelves at grammar school,
At least the represented kind.
Can someone take these shelves away?
They've given books much too much space,
Quixotically arranged the day
In covers where the lost embrace
Lost lovers from a borrowed song
And lives are lived, however long.
Jul 2022 · 104
Absent Witness
Bobby Copeland Jul 2022
That scream of thought holds damaged wits
Responsible for absences
Long overlooked or spiked in fits
Of badly scattered witnesses,
Yourself the more exemplary--
If such sweet modesty allows--
For having landed here with me,
While others mouth consuming vows.
A useful god would not condemn
Such pecking at the heels of thought,
Unbowing to the seraphim,
Or even him the shepherds sought.
Tonight that child has much to grieve,
Whose mind has nothing left to leave.
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