The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Rob Cook

The Beginning of the World


I saw a homeless man eating a pigeon today.
This is not hyperbole. I could hear the bird
sharpening itself inside the man’s head,
and it seemed like he was eating the last of America.

I asked someone who would not look at me
what she thought about things.
“The pigeons should eat all the homeless people
and then we should shoot all the pigeons,”
she said, flatly.

I told her that we could survive
only by keeping the pigeons alive.

The velocity of a passing cop siren
seemed everywhere in her face,
the way she gazed like a creator
at absolutely nothing,
a screen where the idea of clean skies
and drinking water lingered
only as an easily mocked, pre-digital myth.

Every time you feel depressed
it means someone you’ve harmed
is remembering you.

She flashed her cell phone mandibles at me
but did not even stop to use one of those
five-legged words for idiocy.

Why bother telling her
that the scrawled bicycles
and gang stains on the side
of a nearby tenement
looked like something trying
to get up on its own.


Rob Cook

Please No President


I followed Donald Trump, and mailed
my prayers to Donald Trump.

In person I handed Donald Trump
a tulip, my longest wishes.

He broke the tulip over his knee,
snapped it in half the way

one would snap the neck
of a pipe cleaner begging for enough

room, enough breathable dirt.
Donald Trump pointed his face at me

as the tulip fell to the ground
in many discouraged pieces.

The followers of Donald Trump,
the eminent domains of Donald Trump,

pointed their faces at me also,
and I knew that the world had already

disappeared—the kind of water
that tasted like water, the algorithms

of the tops of mountains, and then
the mountains themselves, and the streams they fed,

and every grassland, every free space once reachable
by daydream. Only people were left,

and the shoes that slaved beneath each one—
tall for one second—shoveling their bird flu children

out of the blank cell phone screens
and imagining the kindnesses of the low gray sky.




ROB COOK lives in New York City’s East Village. He is the author of a few books. Work has appeared or will appear in Sugar House Review, Versal, Bomb, Rhino, Hotel Amerika, Birmingham Poetry Review, Caliban, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Toad Suck Review, Dalhousie Review, Verse, Quiddity, Redactions, Phantom Drift, The Antioch Review, etc.



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