Craig Cotter

Eye of the Tiger

The sleep tonight—

although I’d dosed myself good—

after giving you nightmares

going to that movie 

East Lansing

when we were teens.


Never a 30-year-old Beatle.


I'm afraid to sleep tonight

in a plane with my mom that was silver and had two propellers under each wing,
my dad in our backyard with a white and green Ford

wrapping chains around stumps, wheels spinning in the dirt,
stumps pulled before he planted grass.

She said
we flew together in '63 when we moved from Rochester to Sylvan Lake,
and again the next year to Aunt Nat's wedding.

And, yes, the car was a Ford, dark aqua and white
and he pulled stumps with it.


When my parents were paying for my college
I didn't know it was a recession.

Money poured in.

I never wanted to buy anything
except books.  I had 2 pairs of jeans
and Rose made good patches.

When young men smoke
it doesn't look like they'll get cancer

it keeps them young and thin
doesn't hurt.

One hand shields the wind
while the other flicks a lighter.
They are dreams

I post their pictures on TV
to see who they are, and meet them, and find out
about their lives.


If Lennon got skinny, Harrison got skinnier.
If Lennon grew his hair long, Harrison grew his longer.

When I get in the mood to kill myself
I think there are good-bye letters to write

and then it's too much work,
so I drug myself.


I hallucinated a rat the other day in my room

running under my bed.

Don’t remember what he said
other than the conversation was pleasant
and about God.

You're just prey

if she's full
a curiosity.

"Let me take you down…"
pills sing to me
in Lennon's voice. 

	—For Bernie White

Dear Malasarn

A monk let me in the pagoda

of Phra Pathom Chedi.


I'm a Californian.

Michigan swamps are the best though.
How big snappers get.


I worshipped Willie Horton as a boy in Drayton Plains.

I copied his warm-up swings exactly.

Except I batted left.
Damn that year on pace for 40 hit the left-field wall

fucked-up his shoulder.


If I were President I'd invite Willie Horton to the White House.
Al Kaline too.

Lots of those '67-'72 Tigers.
Is Frank O'Hara's brother around?  

I want to have lunch with him.


I've outlived my father
and Frank O'Hara.


Only monks were supposed to go there.


Pedro sweating in his warehouse

he tastes sweet.
He's charming and 21.

I had Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker sign the same ball
15 years apart—it took that long to bring it off.

[Thailand's Phra Pathom Chedi is one of the largest pagodas in the world, considered by many 
to be the most holy structure in Buddhism.  The original pagoda was constructed more than 
2,000 years ago in the stupa design of an upside down bowl shape.  A replica of the original 
pagoda stands south of the present one.  ln the year 1853, King Rama IV commanded the construction 
of a new, huge pagoda covering the original one.  lt has a height of 120.45 meters and a total 
length of 234.75 meters around the base.]

Craig Cotter was born in 1960 in New York and has lived in California since
 1986.  His poems have appeared in Caliban Online, California Quarterly,
 Chiron Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Court Green, Free State Review, Great
 Lakes Review, Hawai'i Review, Ottawa Arts Review, Poetry New Zealand & Tampa
 Review. His fourth book of poems, After Lunch with Frank O'Hara, is
 currently available from Chelsea Station Editions.  In 2011 his manuscript
 After Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series.  In 2019 his new
 manuscript, ALEX, was a finalist for the Tampa Review Prize.
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