Deep in the woods, way down the well, in the darkest, dampest parts of story, Cooley spins out his web. Like the best and most magical of fairy tales, cold press moon catches our anxieties and hopes, glimmers with mischief and mystery, and gloms onto something like truth. Romantic and irreverent, playful and profound, these poems work like spells to wake the vital heart.
Recipient of the 2015 League of Canadian Poets' Life Membership Award and the 2013 Manitoba Writers' Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, Dennis Cooley has been a key figure in Winnipeg's literary community for over 30 years. He has written extensively on Canadian literature, published 20 books of poetry, and edited numerous others. For years a CanLit professor at the University of Manitoba, Dennis Cooley, now retired, lives and writes in Winnipeg.
I: Gold Finger
i come to her in darkness they say I shine and they are afraid they say they close up in their eyes they feel my skin full of holes a leather that hangs from cold some say I have heard them say they can hear winter in my heart a wind they duck my shortness and they sprinkle salt look mum the funny man when I pass shh sshh it's nothing dear even the geese cringe turn cool as shadows by the well where the creosote holds water shrinks & I dream of her dream I saw her at the mill I am sure she did not see me at the bottom of the water I am lost among the goats and ducks think I am a white dwarf a crate of rickets the crickets click and drip & bugs that form in flour bite and yet they need me have lost G2 in the village they say the king is dull and pale they call him cowardly and they sense I might help have seen me do tricks with string seen a comet sizzle in the seas and the pigs have sore feet
In the prison of darkness I come to her all night whirr whirr I watch the poisson swim in the poisoned well my darkness a passion swims I crack open the hinges on cold slip through nights smooth as a mussel she hides in for her father the miller has fooled the king has told him the maiden can spin night into gold you must not cut off her hands she can draw gold filament after filament from the wheel and she weeps weeps she cannot think or sleep my lady pines and sticks pins in the back of her hand she stings herself until morning gathers from the corners darkness makes and smears on the window and wipes it up she hums & she sings drinks brandy oh yes her father the miller does not know nor the king who wants her fibres of gold that unfold in ribbons and bolts does not know she drinks brandy in a ferment weeps for me she waits under the bridge in the fraunhofer lines where I watch still as a frog and inside as smooth though she does not know already I have her ring and necklace also the night songs she dripped into the room blip blip one by one it is all I have she said to me she could hardly breathe but I know there is more and I am waiting I have sealed time behind the clang where the door closes shut and she weeps
Put up your broken, bloody feet, let your long, golden hair down, and take a deep huffing, puffing breath, folks. Gather round the boiling cauldron in the campfire as Dennis Cooley retells tales conjured by the Brothers Grimm and rewrites stories concocted by Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. The poems in Cold-Press Moon manipulate and mutate archetypes we've played with for ages: this Orpheus dares the Maenads to tear him apart, the gold of this Midas is rendered worthless, and the princess presents this Frog Prince the kiss of death. These are fables for naughty children.
--Nathan Dueck, A Very Special Episode
The world is made of monsters and Cooley bares this truth in dark tales parsed through poetry, twisting fairytale and fable.
--Jonathan Ball, The National Gallery
Cold Press Moon is Dennis Cooley at his most sinister and seductive, undressing fairy tales to their bare bones, and then riding their skeletons into a land where animals speak gentle truth, and humans wax proclitic. A beautiful truncation.
--Aritha van Herk
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