two poems by Thomas Cochran


Make an impact close to the walls

and push into the details of community.

Become a member by gardening

for this devastating disease.

Add another enticement

until next season.

Log on now—your cart is waiting

beside your family’s honor.

Challenge a brave man

who lives for fighting.

Laugh like a whipped dog

who needs amusement.

Wash away those amenities

and re-establish breakfast in bed.



The city, it is true, runs down the hill

with a clean new smell, pharmaceutical.

Familiar mechanisms invite you,

saying, “Please. This is all. Please.”

So plainspoken. So compelling. So final.

And you, a marionette, stand before the gate

calling your challenges while the archers

blow out their arms in preparation.

Still, you know the best spots

to hide the spoons and washboards,

so you push on to the bridges

from which you watch the lowering sun

sink behind the fragrant pines.

The light transcends your skepticism.



The failure here signals

a turning point in time.

We are left to wonder

how something we can’t call

bad, merely obvious, still misses

the opportunity of doing justice

to the very issues it raises.

For a while, the new project looks

as if it will offer an appeal

to nationalism, but this idea

soon gives way to softer designs,

erasing the possibility of indictment.

There is a cost to be extracted

and, indeed, the final joke is private.



Ryan Francesconi