The Way Back


On Eight Mile

She appears as if at the edge
of a screen, her brown hair black
in this light, her legs moving the way

she wants you to want them to move.
It’s hard to see the woman you loved
dance naked in a room full of men

and come up to your table after
and ask for a light, and the light
in her eyes is still the same,

only her job has changed. So she changes
into clothes and we cross the street
to a quiet place where we can talk,

and the talk turns to me, to what
I do that makes me think I’m better
than her. I’m not and I know it,

but she won’t be convinced. Nothing
I can say will sway her the way
she sways on stage. And nothing

can make me look away.




“The country—or ‘countryside’—of Cooper’s poems, sometimes the superficially benign landscape of rural New England, sometimes the randomly decadent and violent territory of gangs, good old boys, and juvenile delinquents, is precisely on a metaphoric ‘edge of chaos,’ and only the poem, a model for consciousness, measures the difference between order and chaos.”

--Penelope Austin, Quarterly West

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"Wyn Cooper explores an overlooked territory that lies between the crafty irony of Frank O'Hara and the more unalloyed sentiments of contemporary popular culture." --T.R. Hummer
“Wyn Cooper’s superb postcard poems, deft and exemplary, say just enough, and never too much.”
--Jane Hirshfield
“Wyn Cooper’s poems are tight and pithy and fun.”
--James Tate
Wyn Cooper’s first book, which includes the poem that was made into Sheryl Crow’s song, “All I Wanna Do.”