Thomas Cochran was raised in Haynesville, Louisiana. His work
includes the novels Roughnecks (Harcourt) and Running the Dogs
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Non-fiction and poetry have appeared
under his name in Oxford American, Rattle, Mudlark, and other
publications. A schoolteacher by trade, he currently lives with his
wife on a mountain in rural northwest Arkansas (USA).


When retirement is only the beginning,
promises the ad, you are helping build
a better future, a complex adventure
with a bold itinerary featuring bluebirds
and clean airplanes in a safe environment.
Start achieving a new standard
of greatness, the perfect shield.
Understand the luxurious power
of outgrowing your shoes twice a year,
though you will never do that again
(old age being well on its way).
The promise is of excellence and success
courtesy of an innovative global shift
that will explain, at last, your portfolio.


What followed was probably
a prettier version of abstract measure,
the tribal masks providing relief
after those breathtaking salad bowls.
There is always great potential
in unexpected juxtaposition,
evidenced here by the free association
among tools, fruit, and electronics.
Stolen in the end by radiant still-lifes
(aforementioned), this jaunty show
became our first clear glimpse
at the commercial remnants
that would dominate the field
over the course of a fortnight.


I do not want to come across
as a crescent-shaped window
filled with multi-colored glass
any more than I want to accept news
disseminated through the guns
of government thugs.
Those of you who wish to understand
the underlying sexual humor
should instead talk about cars.
At this early point in our relationship
I must say that the prospects
are not as encouraging as promised.
We undoubtedly need to sit down
with the counselors and share our complaints.


Of all the sad current scenes,
it is the thirtyish mom attempting
teen sullenness that touches
the deepest nerve in our teeth.
There is new tension abroad,
urged by a failure of etiquette;
less than two percent
are capable of midriff revelation
that does not call to question
their intelligence and our empathy.
We often find an element
of psychopathic cheekiness
in such women, an unreliability
that removes their ability to charm.

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