Monday, December 8, 2014

Robert Cooperman


"I just found out," a friend heaves
a sigh big as a rogue wave, at his wife,
"that Rumsfeld's Jewish," and shakes
his head, this life too hard to bear.
"Ed Delaney at work told me.

Mary stares at him with eyes hard
as candelabras, and proclaims,
"Rumsfeld's as Jewish as Stalin,
or Mao, or God forbid, Hitler.
As for Ed," she pats Dave's face,
"he’d say anything to get a rise
out of you. Remember the time
he showed you that article
on the Jet Propulsion Lab,

“Only with the typo, it read
'Jew Propulsion Lab?'
Remember how he smirked
and said something like,
'Now those folks have the right idea
about how to deal with you folks.'

"You let him get under your skin
like a splinter every time,"
she walks away to start dinner,
shaking her head at her sweet,
gullible husband, his parents so glad
he'd finally, "Tricked a gorgeous,
sensible woman into marrying you,"
they knew not to ask if she was Jewish.

Guest editor Charles Rammelkamp reads "Reprieve":

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Cooperman confesses: "This poem grew out of the rage I still feel whenever I think about the Vietnam War, that senseless ravager. During that great lie perpetrated by Johnson and Nixon and their minions, I had been hounded by the draft board, drooling to add my corpse to all the other corpses. When I finally got out of serving, I briefly celebrated having my life back, and then realized so many other kids were in the line of fire, and would be until the War ended."

Rammelkamp's ruling: "Robert Cooperman's 'Reprieve' is a complex consideration of 'evil'. First, there's Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush's Secretary of Defense, part of Dick Cheney's cabal that was hellbent on going to war with Iraq, taking out Saddam, with disastrous consequences that continue today. When Dave, the Jewish protagonist of the poem, is told Rumsfeld is likewise Jewish, he is chagrined, ashamed for his co-religionists: Rumsfeld is a shanda. But as his wife points out, Dave is just the victim of his Jew-baiting colleague at work, Ed Delaney, whose own evil might be even more insidious than Rumsfeld's, cruel and mocking. Ed thinks he's just being 'funny'."

ROBERT COOPERMAN's latest collection is Just Drive (Brick Road Poetry Press). He won the Colorado Book Award for In the Colorado Gold Fever Mountains, a trilogy of tales about the gold boom towns of the 1860s and '70s.

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