Four Poems by Peter Cole

From the Collection Draw Me After

November 21, 2022  By Peter Cole


Wanting song
in the beginning
beginning to end

now we are falling

through what’s to come
needing Eden
now we are drifting

Eden undone

as if      from the ends
of earth hearing
Eden’s calling

to tend and attend

now we are sprawling
through what we’ve done
through what we’re losing

as what we’ve won

as we are falling
as Eden is calling
earth and heaven

wanting song


So the Days

So the grayish
gauzy days
lower and lift
across this slit
like a shift
the sky wore
out its welcome
matte and weather
or not it matters
more and more
within me masked
everything fraying
at what seems
to be or will it
really is
ringing us in
its silvery lingering
white through dark
over the park
or parking lots
of time and blood
on our hands
once again
the eyes have it
listen yes
that gray in-
betweenness of this
gauze and gorgeously
bandaged day


Can You Hear Me?

Can you hear me?
There at the back,
yes? Testing
1, 2, 3…?

This is working?
Great. Everything’s
working? Great.
Just checking—

you never know
what exactly’s
getting through,
do you?         It’s

a little like the
day, years ago,
I was on
a radio show—

Sound Check,
that was its name,
though at the time
I didn’t know

what it was called,
so, when
I was sent
into the studio

and the host looked
up and said—
“Just follow my lead…
This is Sound Check…”

I kept staring
slightly terrified
into his eyes
trying to hear

if we were live
or only rehearsing,
which is, in its way,
always the question.


What The Beard Said, III

is, just now, beyond me
softly—as a kind of mercy?—
here within the fat
book’s saying that
to ascend’s in fact
to sink into the heart of
what’s on high beginning
with what’s right in front
of our eyes and ears above
all else or else beneath
them when they’re close
to being closed to dying
to the world we go
now now it isn’t so
hard to imagine something
coming from nothing and not
for nothing as they say it
might just be your lucky day
or maybe someone else’s nothing
come to something or
something to naught is what I
thought I heard there in what the
beard (softly) seemed to be saying


Excerpted from Draw Me After: Poems by Peter Cole. Copyright © 2022. Available from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, a division of Macmillan, Inc.

Peter Cole
Peter Cole
Peter Cole was born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1957. His most recent book of poems is Draw Me After, and he has also translated widely from Hebrew and Arabic works—both medieval and modern. He is the recipient of many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, a National Jewish Book Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He divides his time between Jerusalem and New Haven.

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