(upon reading “Of Shock,” by Nicole Cooley) 



Divided in my own unquiet skin.

I know I have read
of shock,
but wonder if this
sudden blow
is a gentle wind, the
breeze of marriage skin
(wedding cake photos, electric
current touch)
or some dark act,
a ghost nightgown against the black
the only witness?

I am haunted by
Our dark yard.
As if you have chosen this,
this unthreshed and untethered
moment, this violent collision,
a decision uncentered,

Or perhaps you are simply
a mama, knowing

A second offering for dVerse.



Of Shock
by Nicole Cooley

Sudden blow   bundle of grain   a surprise   a heap of sheaves
meaning trade

with the Dutch

A thick mass of your hair on the brush   in the pillow   in my

When an electric current passes through all or part of the body

How I wish to collide violently with myself

To throw troops into confusion by charging at them

The shock of cold water    the shock of wedding cake shoved in
my mouth

Stuttering heartbeat felt by a hand on the chest wall

A knife in a light socket

Pile or stack of unthreshed corn

And what is myself without you

Push your hair into my mouth

Will you collide violently with me

Will you be a decision inflicted upon my body

A bundle    unthreshed and untethered

The shock of

Jar   impact   collapse

Flash of my white nightgown in our dark yard



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20 Responses to Unbundled

  1. whimsygizmo says:

    I love that her piece feels quite like a found poem, as though some dictionary or encyclopedia references have snuck in there, in between the lines. I’m deeply intrigued by this piece.

  2. Mary says:

    Exellent, De. Your poem seems to be inspired especially by the end of Nicole Cooley’s poem. The ‘jar impact collapse.’ I like how you used your own examples & some of her words! And…the flow of your words and the connections you’ve drawn just WORK!

  3. Sienna says:

    I can’t handle this kind of poetry. Powerful. Fantastic. But it turns my stomach. This is why I can’t watch the news and stay abreast of what’s going on in the world. This is why I goof off so much. The world is just too real.

  4. There are those who stand
    above beds of innocents
    with knives.. awaiting
    the pleasure
    of feeling
    of other’s
    fears unwrapped..
    but fortunately they
    only number iN the
    single digits.. of
    dark now then
    in numerical
    of dead
    of the night..
    sadly.. i know
    of those and feel
    them.. oh too close..
    under the knife
    of the
    watchman soul…

  5. This is excellent , love how you brought up the image if he nightgown, but most of all the breeze of marriage skin… Wow.. You have a truly unique voice.

  6. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    Powerfully expressed!! 🙂

  7. Misky says:

    Really nice work, De. >

  8. It is a bit shocking… I like the one you did better.

  9. lillian says:

    “The breeze of marriage skin” – stunningly deep imagery.
    You’ve used the style and moved some of the original poem’s imagery into your own with your unique twist to them…most notably the night gown and the jarring 😊 ending. Both pieces are difficult to swallow – their intentions are, for me, quite jarring and harsh.
    The original poem’s use of wheat – the stuff of life – juxtaposed to this particular scene —
    Very well done.

  10. whimsygizmo says:

    Many thanks to you all for your kind comments.
    I am still pondering her poem. The more I read it, the more I wonder if it isn’t about something terrible that happened to her as a child. Had I had that thought when I first read it, I wouldn’t have chosen it, as I’m super sensitive to kids being in peril. There are so many ways her poem could go, which is what makes it good, I guess. 😉

  11. Grace says:

    Wow that is deep and far volley of a response ~ I can feel the shock and impact of those ending lines ~

  12. Bodhirose says:

    I too am one of those highly sensitive people who have stopped watching the news because of the harshness that is focused on. Nicole Cooley’s poem feels so raw and “in your face.” Your response carries its own ideas as to the images and meanings. I was intrigued by your reference to the “collapse of Motherhood.”

    • whimsygizmo says:

      I suppose I mean the collapse of self that came with it, at least for me, for some time. It took awhile to find the mojo, the balance, the sense of who I am in the middle of the mess. Of course, my kids are 16 months apart, so that could have had something to do with it. 😉 And now we’ve got all these young-teen hormones floating around.

  13. Shawna says:

    What if “troops” is code for “true P.S.”? It represents her diary, even if it’s not written down. At first, I thought her baby had been taken and destroyed. But now that I think about it, all signs do point to this being about her looking at herself, having been severed mentally by some atrocity, possibly in her youth. The hair, I think, she pulled out of her own head (figuratively speaking).

    “trade with the Dutch” makes me think of times when parents sold or gave away their daughters to some man, knowing full well they’d have a life of abuse. Like in China. What’s that movie called? Man, that was good. Yes. She’s the speaker in this poem.

    Or the hair is her mother’s. It was falling out because she had cancer, and all her daughter could do was scream into her pillow.

    The capitalized “Jar” makes me think of the word “jarhead.” So I think she’s been forced to marry this guy. And then he’s rough or abusive or scary or demented. But then, maybe she somewhat likes it or needs it. Or maybe this rough guy is someone other than her husband, which is a man she was somehow forced to marry. But this other guy is crazy-beautiful-disgusting, and she craves him.

    She’s asking him to rape her:
    “Will you be a decision inflicted upon my body” … She doesn’t want to be responsible for her decision to stray; she wants it taken forcefully from her.

    (Or more likely, this is about an unwanted pregnancy.)

    I love this: “A bundle unthreshed and untethered” … Maybe it’s a baby, still attached to the umbilical cord. Or maybe it’s this harsh man, who, at the end of it all, is a bundle in her arms, unable to be detached.

    “The shock of” … the shock-off (which sounds like a variation of “getting off”) … the show-cough (this is when you fake cough because you’re feeling uncomfortable around other people, or maybe you’re trying to play it up so you can go get some water and get away from the crowd, the watchers) … ooh, “the shock-off” could also be when you’re battling someone to see who can be the most shocking.

    Jar (marine, and jelly) impact (I’m a pact; I’m in a pact, with you and with him … husband, boyfriend, baby; they all play in) collapse (co-lapse … we’re both losing our minds together)

    The white/dark contrast at the end has to do with appearing chaste versus being unchaste. Or maybe she’s the purity in this piece, but these troops and dangerous forces stealing/killing her baby are the sinister, the dark.

    Or maybe this is all a poem about abortion.

  14. C.C. says:

    I know what you mean, De, about how the deeper you got into her poem the more you wanted to climb out and how you are still pondering it. But, your response has captured that same ability to draw the reader in to a sense of wanting to come back to ponder the words and the depth and the multiple meanings of things, as well. Really deep write.

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