Robert Cooperman

Stopping by Woods on Guanella Pass, Above Georgetown, Colorado

We drove from Denver for the changing leaves—
the aspens turning gold and pumpkin-wild—
and stopped to take photos among the trees.

And since the drive had been long, we relieved
ourselves off the trail; then we saw the sign
among the vividly dying autumn leaves:

“Attention! Mountain lions have been seen
in this area.” And is that a pile
of steaming scat beneath the lovely trees?

We did our business fast as rain off eaves.
and didn’t dare linger even a while
among the gorgeous, flaming, golden leaves,

but convinced ourselves something big was breath-
ing, scenting meat all down our freezing spines,
stalking us in the blazing autumn trees.

Secure in our car, we looked back, reprieved,
almost hoping to see a shadow climb
down, tawny in the gorgeous, golden leaves,
a predator’s easy gait among the trees.


The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel

“…Antonio de Montezinos, a Sephardic Jew who had escaped the Inquisition, claimed he had found the descendants of the [ten lost] tribes in the Amazon Jungle.”— City of Z

Montezinos swore natives had chanted in Hebrew,
“Hear O Israel! The Lord Our God, the Lord is One,”
to prove Israelites who had been dispersed by the Assyrians
in 722 BCE had found their way to Brazil’s Amazon basin.

Forget naval technology hadn’t reached the necessary
level, anything’s possible, with Hashem piloting their ships
through the Mediterranean, past the Pillars of Hercules,
across the Atlantic, and into the Amazon.

A guy I know read a book about pharaohs sailing
from Nubia and ending up in Illinois; he swore the tome
provided photographic proof and shoved pictures in my face.

“Look, look, there it is!” he pointed, the remains of ships
that looked like Indian longhouses, embalmed mummies
that might’ve been long dead, or buried by a zealot
who knew, just knew he was right, no matter
that experts scoffed he was mad, worse, a charlatan.

That’s the thing with belief: facts don’t count,
grand claims dearer than precious jeweled necklaces
that couldn’t possibly be paste, golden tiaras
too glittery to ever be mistaken for mere pyrite.

Still, it’s reassuring to speculate those tribes
went somewhere, and weren’t just obliterated,
like so many other Israelites, Hebrews, Jews.


Plowmen of the Earth

As boys, we loved the sports and men who played
them: worshipful as if to absolute
gods, whose exploits we hurled to win disputes
over who was greater: Williams or Ruth;
or Mantle or Aaron or “Say Hey” Mays.
It meant so much to us back in those days.

It was more than love, we wanted to be them,
to know down into our blood and our bones
what it was like to be able to float
and soar: to win the Series, to win the gold.
We never thought if they could live again
they might be happier as mortal men.

But here are some of the lives they might’ve led
if they weren’t gods, but like us, instead.

© Robert Cooperman

Robert Cooperman’s latest collection is DRAFT BOARD BLUES (FutureCycle Press).  Forthcoming from Aldrich Press is THEIR WARS and from Main Street Rag Publishing Company, THAT SUMMER.  Cooperman’s work has appeared in THE SEWANEE REVIEW, CALIFORNIA QUARTERLY, and SLANT.

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