Joanna Penn Cooper

Spring Tercets

(perimenopausal woman does a visualization)
“You are a queen.  
See your crown?  
You are a really fed-up queen.” 

(at the children’s museum) 
My son dashes off.  I find him hooked up 
to nature sounds with a little girl, saying, 
“I chose roaring waterfall for you.”

(it rains for two days) 
Steady rain, curtains of rain—
outside, the azalea bush looks split in two
but it is still whole


Therapy in a Box

I think about the years I did everything right—
went to Pilates with ballet dancers, meditated on 
the floor, saw ghosts, had heart palpitations at
the library, nursed private resentments.  OK, 
some of the time I did some of the things right. 
It’s like Abraham Lincoln said, you can fool 
the system some of the time, but after a while
the system sniffs you out.  If you’re in a slump, 
sniff some mint, eat saffron and chocolate, ride
your bike around a lake, have a hair epiphany, 
coach yourself on lucid dreaming, end up 
having a non-lucid dream, the one where 
you’re so angry at your mother your molecules
vibrate, and then she dies.  Wake up a lake 
of grief.  This is called growing up. 
This is called trying.



Joanna Penn Cooper is the author of The Itinerant Girl's Guide to Self-Hypnosis (Brooklyn Arts Press) and What Is a Domicile (Noctuary Press). Her work has appeared in South Dakota Review, Zocálo Public Square, Open Letters Monthly, Posit, Poetry International, and other journals. She is an editor at Ethel Zine and Trio House Press and lives in Durham, NC.