Daniel Cowper: a poem



Last Wishes


From the white void

hiding the sea,

familiar foghorns roll.


Why are they so worried?

There's no better way to be buried.

When it's my turn, wrap


my failed body in linen straps,

between the loops slip

skipping stones for weight.


Send me down the thermoclines

with silver dollars on my eyes,

watch me become a brightness,


shrinking and fading

as I sink. I'll take

my Thieves' Communion with the crabs, bless them. Let my meat repay the sea for meat I've taken out with line, with net and trap.


No doubt, the dogfish

will find me and weasel

their fill from the loosening linen,


but bless them too. If I leave

debts behind,

and nothing in the till


to make them good, don't pay the banks.

No, pay them, if you like,

it's no concern of mine. By then


my only business will be

with sharks and crabs

and worms, the ocean's undertakers,


among bottles and sunken

deadheads from which fishhooks

float translucent lines.



Daniel Cowper's poems and critical writings have appeared in various publications in the USA, Ireland and his native Canada, including Arc Poetry, Barren, Southword, Vallum, and Prairie Fire. In 2017 he was long-listed for the CBC Poetry Prize, and a chapbook of poems, The God of Doors, was published by Frog Hollow Press as the winner of its chapbook manuscript contest. A collection entitled Grotesque Tenderness was published in 2019 by McGill-Queen's University Press.