El Pescado

They gloat: the age of Pisces, it is over.
They chant to call Aquarius’ forces in.
In the deep labyrinths we sought the sign,
The two-stroke fish, walls clammy, glittering.

The old Mass book fell open in my hands:
The prayer for government, prayer for the king,
And there, engraved, the printing of a fish,
A fossil find, pressed thinner than a bloom.

Go, little fish. They spangled the dark pond,
Bright streaming kites, their sky under the bridge,
Over the escalator water-stairs,
Into the kettle of the deeper pool.

If anyone is thirsty. Lift your head.
I think you know the water-bearer’s voice.
The bread and seafood pass from hand to hand.
My Lord, my God, are you a fish? I am.



La Palma

The lion wakes us up, not with a roar,
But with a warm bright breathing on our face.
The lion walks around on velvet paws,
His morning slippers. Butterflies awake.

We’ve never heard him roar or seen him kill.
That doesn’t mean he can’t. But he prefers
Philosophy and strolls among the palms,
The smell of roses when they first wake up.

To be a hunter. First, you walk around.
You have to see the thing from every point.
You have to look like you’re not hunting, right?
He’d never hurt a groggy butterfly.

We’ve never seen him kill. We know he can
From the progressive way each step is placed.
Golf is a master-class in zoning in.
Truth has its day. Arise, Trump, kill and eat.



Monika Cooper is an American family woman.

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6 Responses

  1. James Sale

    Really like the El Pescado poem – mystical, and a very unusual take on the precession of the zodiac, and full of a suggestive spirituality that reaches a wonderful climax in the unambiguous – yet strangely mysterious – ‘I am’. Will look forward to reading more of your intriguing work.

  2. Roy Eugene Peterson

    I take the last verse of “El Pescado” as a reference to the “Great I Am” from the Bible with the feeding of the 5,000 with imagery I internalize as the “Great Provider.” I am a bit nonplussed by your second poem. As I have told others, I am not a fan of blank verse regardless of the imagery.

    • Monika Cooper

      Thank you for your reading of El Pescado. All you say is there and also His filling of all things in every way.

      I don’t always write blank verse but these are from a series that’s mostly in that form.

      Thank you again for reading and for your comment.

  3. Margaret Coats

    Remarkable concatenation of fish images and symbols from a variety of sources in “El Pescado.” The effect is deepened by the theme of a procession of ages, which may be contradicted because fish-sympathizing hearers (naturally) know the water bearer’s voice. This is a pleasingly complex poem, with a multifarious expression as conclusion (already noted by James Sale and Roy Peterson). I very much like the style.

    The title of “La Palma” is mysterious at first, but must mean something we know like the palm of our hand. And the something is a person who is both a lion and a discerning hunter–not to mention a golfer! The final “arise, kill and eat,” to any Biblically literate person, refers to divine permission in a vision for Saint Peter to neglect kosher rules. However, Peter is not to kill unclean animals but to be a fisher of men for the salvation of souls. Again, satisfyingly complex. These are not poems whose meaning can be easily stated. They demand thought and reflection from the reader.

    • Monika Cooper

      Margaret, thank you so much for these thoughts. I was hoping that readers would recognize the Acts reference in the last line of La Palma. Of course, the injunction means something different when addressed to Trump: different but not unrelated. The title refers to the palm tree rather than the palm of the hand. The palms are in the background here but part of the mythic Florida I was picturing. Thank you for reading and taking the time to write this thoughtful and sympathetic comment. I appreciate it deeply.


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