Star Needles

A star is just a bauble stuck on what
We view as sky.  Lest it let winter in,
We join sky fabric back together. When
It makes a split, a slice of light slips through
The center of each constellation, but
The weave behind the moon where stars begin
Is worn, and so the needle turns again
And gathers all the universe in, too,
Sews planets on, like buttons in a glut
Of self-protection from the solar wind.

If yon should wish on such a body, then.
Do not think any star will favor you.
Of ancient fabric, skies are thin and worn,
With rhinestones set in place when you were born.


One Day In May

on human rights in China

We, who watch who comes to your front door,
Deplore your books, your sustenance, need more.
And so, behind dark windows, we surmise
You must have questioned rules and our half lies.

Now we keep records on you from afar—
To know what kind of enemy you are,
And take away your essence at our will.
Give him another shot, he must be still.

How easy it has been to put you down
On dank cold metal, in a flimsy gown,
To saw and hack your vitals where you lay.
We’re kind to animals—you are our prey.

We’ll sell your parts at a good price today.
Let’s see what’s left, this lovely day in May.


How My Scientific Bent Got Broken

(Grade School Musings)

On my back, I watched the sky
Saw clouds pass by, and wondered why
They moved, while earth stayed solid, still.
And would not move against my will.
Copernicus had made an error!
Discovery made me the bearer.

A large balloon appeared to me
Above and I could clearly see
Gauze cotton strips fell to the ground
I gathered them, then wound them round
And placed them in a cardboard box
Midst dented tins, dried flowers, rocks

To question, and to contemplate,
But suddenly it was too late
Looked in the box—those strips weren’t there!
Such stuff had melted in the air.
Then, autumn breezes on the beach
Showed small dead crabs within my reach

And packed them up in cotton wool
There colors were so beautiful
All bronze and blue, and orange too
But soon the odors of a zoo
Were nothing to their awful stink!
My mother found them in a blink.

Yes, mother threw my crabs away
My teacher said I had to play
More volleyball and stop this mad
Penchant for research, for I had
No scientific background at
The age of seven—that was that!


A former Wilbur Fellow and six-time Pushcart nominee, Sally Cook is a regular contributor to National Review, and has appeared in venues as varied as Chronicles, Lighten Up On Line, and TRINACRIA. Also a painter, her present works in the style known as Magic Realism are represented in national collections such as the N.S.D.A.R. Museum in Washington, D.C. and The Burchfield-Penney, Buffalo, NY.



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10 Responses

  1. James A. Tweedie


    I enjoyed the first and third poems very much.

    The unusual woven rhyme scheme in Star Needles (abcd abcd abcd ee) reflected the image of a needle stitching the universe together. I found this poem to be creative, original and imaginative.

    How My Scientific Bent Was Broken was marred by two typos, fall/fell in line 9 and there/their in line 20. I found the final stanza in this witty poem to be particularly clever. These poems are a good reminder that even in classical poetic form there is room for a creative wiggle or two! No doubt, I will recall your lovely image of the Star Needle the next time the weather allows me to see a “starry, starry night” sky!

    • Sally Cook

      Dear James Tweedie –

      Thanks for your honest and civil comments on my recent poems on this site; There were some errors – the kind that always occur when rushing – you were right to point them out, and I apologize.

      Thanks also for your perceptive analysis of the poem “Star Needles.”. Hope you do think of it when again viewing the stars.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      The poems have a number of typos that are easily corrected, but they are due to the fact that Sally Cook has vision problems that sometimes prevent her from seeing the proper keys on her keyboard. I have read these poems of hers in hard-copy forms where the typos and incidental punctuation problems that you note are gone.

      Your final comment about her work, with its patronizing and snide tone, was uncalled for. I doubt very much that you’ll ever come near a Wilbur Fellowship or a Pushcart Prize nomination.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Monty, if you wanted to prove that you are a conceited popinjay, you’ve done so. Congratulations.

    How come you suddenly deleted your first post in this thread? Did you perhaps think that it was a bit nasty, as I suggested?

    “Hard-copy” means in printed or handwritten form, on paper. Where have you been for the last thirty years? Can the little French cubbyhole you reside in be that remote?

    Sally Cook has frequently sent me hard copies of her poems for commentary and critique. I’ve seen these ones before, without the typos and punctuation problems caused by her failing sight. If you don’t believe me, tant pis.

    Sally Cook is an excellent poet, a thoughtful critic in prose, and a distinguished painter whose works have sold all over the country for thousands of dollars, and some of them hang in museums. Why don’t you check out her poems and essays at The Pennsylvania Review?

    Your desperate attempt to distract from the issue at hand by criticizing my choice of words is so patently obvious that it’s laughable. Yes, you were both snide and patronizing in that first post of yours — snide because you were gratuitously nasty, and patronizing because you pretended to be superior and exalted over Sally Cook, whom you admit you don’t even know.

    Don’t argue with me about proper diction, because (not “coz”) you’re way out of your pay-grade for that. After all, you yourself have confessed you don’t read any literature written prior to — what was it, 1750? It’s hard to believe that anyone presuming to comment on formal poetry would admit that in a public forum.

    Attacking a woman because she suffers from failing eyesight is a textbook example of fallacious ad hominem argument. Your snotty final comment about eyeglasses and their availability only underlines the fact that you are a tasteless boor.

  3. C.B. Anderson

    I don’t know why most of the previous comments were deleted, but I find this unfortunate. I wanted to check down Monty’s analysis, to see whether his criticisms were justified or not. I know this: Monty is the person I want to critique any poems of mine posted here in the future, because, howsoever painful they might be, his observations are always acute. And, Monty, if you can find your way back to my most recent post (Three Poems before Sleeping) you will find my last response to the worried/buried issue that you raised.

  4. C.B. Anderson

    Never mind, Monty. I’ve just seen that you already revisited that thread. I could invest more time on it, but it’s become rather frayed.

    • Monty

      . . . and it was such a minor quibble, anyway; but I fear that it was enough to distract you from my original comments on ‘ . . Before Sleeping’ . . which included: “three quality pieces; exemplarily written; disciplined meter; clear and fluid diction; impeccable grammar; strong poems; real poems; real poetry”. And I meant, and stand by, every word.

      I ain’t got a clue as to what percentage of poems on SCP I’ve ever felt compelled to attribute such words, but I know it’s a tiny one (maybe less than 5%), so I ask that you just absorb the high praise; and forget the buried/worried thing. I only made a minor observation on what I felt; I didn’t to it to create a separate debate; and I certainly didn’t do it to detract from the poems (as if anyone could bestow such high praise on some poems.. and then wantonly detract from them). Since joining SCP, I’ve been surprised – and sometimes shocked – at the attempts by some from your side of the pond to rhyme unrhymed (to me) words; or to gain a syllable where one don’t exist . . and when I raise such points on these pages, I do so ‘cos it’s truly heartfelt: I don’t do it to engage in a debate. I can assure you that there have been many occasions when – after reading an SCP poem with a questionable rhyme – I’ve been alone indoors, loudly chanting one word repeatedly to myself; as slowly as possible; trying to pronounce it in slightly different ways . . all in the attempt to see if it could possibly rhyme with its counterpart in the poem . . and if, after all that, I feel that the two words – even at a stretch – simply can’t rhyme: then I may say so in a comment. And that is all I done with ‘. . Before Sleeping’. It was a most minor quibble at the time; now it’s 6ft under.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    I’m glad that Monty has the divinatory ability to know what I am REALLY thinking and feeling. Does he use a crystal ball?

    • Mike Bryant

      No… he’s a comedian. See, ‘How Dare You, Santa! How Dare You!’ comments…


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