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“Breath” (2004), by Linda Foard Roberts. Courtesy of the artist


Never allow your heaven to grow too large,
the raven said, when I stepped out, first light.

But it was not a raven. I am lying.
Just a crow. Still, his words stood, shrinking,
the words across my eyes, now I’m back in,
the heaven in my room diminishing
according to the dictates, smaller, smaller.

I think I will allow my heaven a place to stand,
call it a shadow of my shadow’s shadow,
allow it to grow tinier while I speak.

Oh, you of little faith now reading this.
Don’t you know we have only to surrender
to prayer, to the four sides of the sky
as they collapse the walls, the roof, my house
a speck across the skyline’s vanishing?

Don’t you know the infinite hangs in our grasp?

Peter Cooley reads “BTW”

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Peter Cooley

Peter Cooley has published nine books of poetry, most recently Night Bus to the Afterlife. An Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, he directs creative writing at Tulane University and is the Poet Laureate of Louisiana. His next collection, World Without Finishing, will be published by Carnegie Mellon in 2018.