Robert Cooperman

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Nancy Tolliver Buys Girl Scout Cookies Outside the Wild Weed Dispensary: Denver

            “The Girl Scouts of Colorado have decided it’s now cool to peddle their baked goods
              outside marijuana dispensaries.”—The Denver Post

My Harold loves these cookies with almost
the adoration we’d have lavished
on children, had we been so blessed.
He has so few pleasures, my poor love, I left him
with the hospice nurse—who whispered it might
be better if I bought some marijuana for him,
for pain management—and drove here fast,
and buy three of every flavor, but I fear he’ll just stare,
with the longing Keats must’ve felt in his last, sad days. 

How we loved to quote his poems on our Scottish
walking tour in his footsteps, but ventured farther north,
and not sleeping rough; clean sheets and a luxurious bath
at the end of each day’s hikes, Harold massaging
my soles with his all-knowing fingers.

Keats had his companion Severn place books around
his last bed in Rome, so if he couldn’t read them,
could at least feel their beauty and wisdom seep
from their pages into his brain, heart, and soul.

Maybe that’s what Harold wants, now that everything
tastes of ashes, of dust and dirt, though I pray
these cookies will magic a cure for my darling.

Thomas Bickerstaff Buys Girl Scout Cookies Outside the Wild Weed Dispensary: Denver

“The Girl Scouts of Colorado have decided it’s now cool to peddle their baked goods outside marijuana dispensaries.”—The Denver Post

It’s about time,  
but they’re thinking too small,
like, well, like little girls,
and not a man with big ideas.

If it were me, and it will be,
they’d be selling all kinds
of munchies, not just cookies,
but brownies, marinara sauce,
and all of it laced with pot,
plus T-shirts, posters
of pop stars in Scout uniforms,
a button or two undone,
to show some creamy ta-ta’s
to appeal to stoners,
who get so crazy on a few tokes
they need instant gratification.

I almost feel like tossing away
the lid I just bought—or wait,
selling it to one of these parents
too tightly wrapped to sneak
into the Wild Weed
while their kids flog cookies—
to concentrate, instead,
on creating a company name,
logo, a marketing strategy,
and to find suppliers, designers,
seamstresses, to make tchotchkes
to my specifications.

Free enterprise!  Capitalism!
Selling everything to everybody!
What makes this country great!

Originally appeared in Horror Sleaze Trash

Babysitting Our Niece

When our niece was two or three,
her parents needed some time alone,
so they asked Beth and me to babysit.
They weren’t gone five minutes
when she woke, and beholding us, wailed,

“I want my mama!” convinced
she’d been abandoned, no matter how we tried
to reassure her, to trick her with toys, treats,
the TV she could stare at for hours,
as if tiny gods were trapped inside.

We tried rocking her, singing to her,
cooing to her as if to a love bird.
I recited every poem I’d memorized.
Nothing.  Just her sobbing,
Beth and I close to tears, as well,
praying for blessed quiet: in my case,
at least, retribution for those Saturday nights

my parents wanted, with the desperation
of their exhausted week, to enjoy
a restaurant dinner, a movie, or dancing,
while I howled, knowing they’d never
come back once they’d escaped the tiny despot
they’d allowed to rule, to ruin, their lives.


At the track, unless you have inside information—
like the gangster father of a teenage friend—
you’re doomed to lose.  I knew a guy who studied  

the racing form like the Talmud, clocked morning workouts;
when I asked how he did, he confessed he kept his losses
to five percent a year, and if not for his post office job

he’d be broke as a squeegee guy on the Bowery. 
Bored one Saturday, two friends and I drove
to Belmont and basked in the stands in the sun;

we bet a few bucks on some races, lost them all,
and on the way home, my car blew a tire
on the Belt Parkway.  If not for Steve’s skill

with a jack and lug nuts, that car would still be sitting,
crippled on the shoulder: a horse that came up lame
in a claiming race: the end of my gambling career,

except for one morning of reading the point spread
on NBA games; at one, I rubbed my eyes, knowing
in my bones the home team couldn’t cover the spread,

and mentioned that to Beth.  “Know a bookie?”
“No,” I replied, but Jeff does.”  “Call him.”  I didn’t. 
I got the line right, but God forbid, what slippery path

that one lucky stab might’ve led me down.


Robert Cooperman's latest collection is The Ghosts and Bones of Troy (Kelsay Books).  Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press is a chapbook, All Our Fare-Thee-Wells.