When the Cicadas Return










Asking My Liver for Forgiveness


Asking My Liver For Forgiveness
by Rob Cook


After a subtly disturbing, two-month illness of fatigue, depression, creepy psychological states, psychotic rage, and tickles of low-grade nausea, I woke up the morning after Thanksgiving, 2013, with an itchy chest and abdomen. My immediate, pre-conscious reaction: liver is hurt, dead in six months. 

Readers’ comments on previous work by Rob Cook

"Eschewing neat closures, Cook creates poems that arguably compose one long gesture, the sections open to and echoing each other, all held together by the pain of a unblinking awareness as well as by a ubiquitous freshness in the writing—if Cook sees a worn linguistic or perceptual path in front of him, he always veers off in a new direction that challenges both himself and his reader. Fueled by a deep dismay, the poetry goes beyond Surrealism, for Breton's 'astonish me' is no longer sufficient; the many contemporary outrages of Cook's 'always lurking, indefinable country' require instead a poetic that can register the shock of 'castrated hymns' and 'the statues of sharks inside our mouths.' "

-Philip Dacey

"Cook writes admirably rhythmic poems, For instance, "After the Psalms Have Gone": there is a door /and a book of gold/and a road made of light/and mountains blowing/among the windy fallen stars. The beat of the line mirrors the revelations that are the subject of the poem and his easy and unembarrassed contemplation of the spiritual is refreshing. His tying of the intimacies of personal experience into a larger cosmic picture gives his work a profundity that might not be apparent at first glance.  You have the admirable clarity of "The Book of Iowa” I climb out of bed, listen/to you digging a cold space/under the crows and cities of corn. One has overall an impression of a poetry fuelled by melancholy and dismay, which disdains easy conclusions and simple joy. The vigour of his language and the startling freshness of his imagery are undeniable, as is his talent."

-Gareth Spark






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Rob Cook lives in New York City’s East Village. He is the author of six collections, including Blueprints for a Genocide (Spuyten Duyvil, 2012) and Empire in the Shade of a Grass Blade (Bitter Oleander Press, 2013). Work has appeared in Asheville Poetry Review, Caliban, Fence, A cappella Zoo, Zoland Poetry, Tampa Review, Minnesota Review, Aufgabe, Caketrain, Many Mountains Moving, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Colorado Review, Bomb (online), Sugar House Review, Mudfish, Pleiades, Versal, Weave, Wisconsin Review, Ur Vox, Heavy Feather Review, Phantom Drift, Osiris, etc.