Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Christal Ann Rice Cooper
May Flowers 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fairy Tale Imagery in Poet Kelli Allen's "IMAGINE NOT DROWNING"

Chris Rice Cooper 

*The images in this specific piece are granted copyright privilege by:  Public Domain, CCSAL, GNU Free Documentation Licenses, Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law, or given copyright privilege by the copyright holder which is identified beneath the individual photo.  

Fairy Tale Imagery In Kelli Allen’s Imagine Not Drowning
“what once upon time really means”

       On April 15, 2017 C & R Press Conscious & Responsible ( published Imagine Not Drowning by Kelli Allen (, the cover art by Eugenia Loli ( and cover design by Victoria Dinning (   

third from left, Kelli Allen copyright granted by Kelli Allen
Eugenia Loli- web photo Fair Use
Victoria Dinning - Facebook photo Fair Use 

       Allen ( is also the author of the poetry collection Otherwise Soft White Ash; and two chapbooks How We Disappear, and Some Animals. (

      The Speaker of the Poem is an adult woman mourning the loss 
of both of her parents; torn in a passionate love affair; and struggling to live amongst worlds and even between worlds.  

                     Copyright granted by Kelli Allen 

The poems are erotic, descriptive poems to her lover, the overwhelming lust they share, and the magical world they inhabit with plant life, water life, sky life, animals, insects, humans, gods, and other magical beings.  This world is pleasurable and joyous; but also deliciously violent, unstable, unpleasant and even painful.

Take every opportunity to own and wield the weapons for cutting, as
thing begs, at some sharp moment, to be severed, to be made sweetly

-- Excerpt, “Here Are Instructions for Removing the Scissors.”

                          Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper 

But the fantasy and magical worlds for these lovers is always colorful and takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride, where, by the end of the book, we don’t want to get off.
       The one theme in all of these poems is that of the fairy
tale world.  Reading Imagine Not Drowning is like being with Mary Poppins, jumping with her into Bert’s chalk painting only to have it become a fantasy world of every imaginable description one can think of.

The one Allen uses the most is that of birds and relating to birds.  And these bird descriptions engage every sense we have – the sense of sight (these black ducks/ tucked in rain-refusing jackets Feeding Birds, or, rather, Some Magic”), the sense of hearing (I remember first the gathering of sound, “The Rooster’s Daydream”), the sense of scent (how it forces our halls to smell like cinnamon until night, “Later Afternoon in Tall Grass”), the sense of taste (taste the busy stems as they/ fall beneath us, “Wishing Adeline and the Shooting Stars”), and the sense of touch (Some towns are the wing bones we crush/ in our hands  “Market Day in Someone Else’s City”).

Painting attributed to Victor Vaspetsov.  Depicting the birds of sadness and joy. Public Domain 

In “Becoming a Woman of the Brook, Shade, and Moss” the speaker of the poem is like Alice In Wonderland wheree she falls into a new world:

What if my body fell through bliss,
caught its late small toe on some hook of descent?

       The speaker of the poem mentions Ivan and the firebird from the Russian Fairytale Tsarevich Ivan, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf:

You tell me it’s easy to pretend Ivan
will make room on his flaming bird’s back,

           Ivan catching the Firebird's feather.  Attributed to Ivon Bilibin.  Public Domain 

The speaker of the poem further describes Ivan’s bird and how she and her lover hear its wings when “the fruit just drops/ jeweled carnage into the stream.”
       Ivan is mentioned again in the poem “We make nothing from instinct.”

is it you, Ivan?  We remember, at once, the feathers
don’t come from the tail, they come from the breast.

       In “Late Afternoon in Tall Grass” the speaker of the poem is on a journey with her lover playing the game of pretend that “the path to some castle must be there.”

The Papal Palace Avignon attributed to Paul Signas.  Public Domain

       There is more fairy tale imagery in the poem “Eventually, we go inside” where the speaker of the poem’s lover is building a house around her.  This house is being built out of “stones as rabbits” with the only way of finding home through “a conversation, punctuated as it would be/ with silences.”  In the same way the lovers are trying to find peace for their final home, and in the end of the poem, the last stanza, they find their path marked by pennies.
the spell cast becoming little other than pennies’
left on the path, the one we marked, some time
ago, in chalked letters, as this way, home.

                          Copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper 

The poem is reminiscent of the fairy tale called The Stolen Pennies about a family whose son has recently died.  They invite a neighbor for dinner and the neighbor receives a visit from the son but only the neighbor can see him.  The child appears for five days always ending up in a room digging near a floor of boards.  The family asks the neighbor to describe what he was seeing and after his description the family knows it’s their son.  The mother goes to the floor boards and opens them up and sees two pennies – that the son was supposed to give to a poor man but instead kept for himself to buy a biscuit.  The boy was appearing to the family to regain those pennies back in death so he could have peace.

Illustration depicting the little boy searching for the two pennies. Public Domain 

       In “Wishing Adeline and the Shooting Stars” the speaker of the poem admits to her lover that she “not once in my whole life have I left the/ slipper on the stairs.”  Is the speaker of the poem telling her lover she wants to go to anther world but will not leave him a mark of the path she has gone?  Or is she saying that even though she wants to say goodbye she will never runaway and therefore have cause to accidentally lose a glass slipper on the stairs?  Or perhaps the speaker of the poem is fantasizing in this magical fantasy world but realizes that in real life there are no fairy tales – even in the act of pretending?

       In “How Much Tenderness, When We Consider How to Lose”, the speaker of the poem addresses her mother and reveals to the reader that she is not only a fairy tale princess but a fairy tale orphan; her mother dying on July 3, 2012 and her father passing away in 2016. 

                     Kelli Allen's parents - her mother is pregnant with Kelli Allen. 

                             I whispered, just like Alice
in the Queen’s hall, and waited, looking down at the cylinder
wherein you, something of you, rested all dust and what must seem
like so many broken black sand shells to the fire keeper
who placed you first in the flames, and then, here in this silver


The orphan views herself as the princess and her lover as the dragon in the poems “This is the part where we don’t say “love”; “Imagine Not Drowning”; and “Quills are for the stories that stay written”.  

 Russiero Rescuing Princess Angelica from Orlando.  Gusto Dore.  Public Domain 

In “Unbreakable hour after hour” the speaker of the poem is facing the reality that there perhaps is no happily ever after for her and her lover: 

               and I am still looking up
at you, your fingers nested in my fine hair,
and we both know what once upon a time really means. 

                     Copyright granted by Kelli Allen 

       Imagine Not Drowning are poems detailing a passionate love affair amidst a world of fairytale, magic, and fantasy; and in these worlds the questions the speaker of the poem asks are questions we ask in real life:  is this real love?  Is this lover my soul mate?  How to let go of worlds that may pleasure us to the core, but are not healthy for our spirit?  How do we say goodbye to those we love and maintain a fruitful life without them without abandoning them or their memory?

                     Copyright granted by Kelli Allen 

       Allen answers these questions in the last stanza of her poem “Ghosting” which brings comfort and peace to all who read its powerful lines:

                                           What came before
certainly does not wish for us to forget
and so offers a seeding of questions, which we embrace
without intention, and this I call, not paranoia,
rather knowing-lust.  That radiance we suspect
has been threaded into our every lysosome, namelessly,
unearned, ours as a right of carrying cells upon
cells until we think we might be whole, is never      really new and so we keep vigil for signifiers.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A poem on Mental Illness and the Rubber band Therapy . . .

Christal Cooper

* Poem and pencil drawing attributed to Christal Rice Cooper and copyright granted by Christal Rice Cooper.


The rubber bands pull hairs from my wrists.
Dr. Conner told me the medicine
would never be enough
So each time the torment comes
I pull the rubber bands
way back and let go.
It hurts.  The torment goes away

for a moment.

Girl friends think my rubber bands are a statement.
They wear rainbow rubber bands
on their wrists.

Dr. Conner sees the bruises.
“You need to get rid of the rubber bands for awhile
so your wrists can heal.” 

I tell him no,
Little pain is the only thing that rids big pain.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Poem By Christal Cooper: If Jesus were to give HIS mother a Mother's Day present this is what I imagine HE would give her

Chris Rice Cooper 

*Image attributed to Renee Sheridan
Poem and Image Copyright by Christal Rice Cooper 

The Garment
by Christal Rice Cooper

She dips the cloth
in, out of the water

twisting the cloth,
rubbing it against itself

placing the cloth over the flat stone
protruding from the Sea of Galilee

not quite warm beneath the sun
the flow anointing the flat rock

like  oil on King David’s head
shining like silver.

He grasps the washing beetle
bludgeoning the cloth

bacteria splatter in the air, the water.
They know cleanliness comes at a price.

She clenches her teeth to silence her sobs.
She’s learned to ponder all things in her heart.

He listens to her eyes. ponders their words.
He removes the wet cloth,

gently guides her to the flat stone
kneels at her feet, baptizing the cloth

In the Father, dry
the Son, brand new
the Holy Ghost, vibrant

purple, red, and blue garment
not even angels holy enough to touch.

He grasps the garment with both hands,
and embraces His mother’s hands.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Guest Blogger by New York Times Bestselling Author VICTORINE LIESKE: "What Do Mormons Believe?"

Chris Rice Cooper 

***Christal Rice Cooper is looking for anyone who would like to share his/her own story of faith on the blog.  Please contact Christal Rice Cooper at or her Facebook page at

Guest Blogger 



What do Mormons believe?

Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (, share many beliefs with the Christian world. 

                           Salt Lake City Mormon Temple 
We believe in the Bible, and in our Savior, Jesus Christ. We believe in grace, in the resurrection, and in heaven. But we also have some beliefs that differ from other Christian religions, and these are what I’d like to talk about today.

                                              Mormon Jesus 
We believe in God, the Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. In the Mormon religion, they are three separate beings who are one in purpose. We believe we are the literal spirit children of God, and we lived in heaven with Him before we came to earth. God and Jesus have a body made of flesh and bone, and when the bible says Moses spoke with God face to face, we take this literally. (Exodus 33:11) The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit.

Book of Mormon painting depicting Jesus and God witnessing the stoning of Stephen. 

We believe men and women can receive personal revelation from our Father in Heaven. God still speaks to His children today, and we can all pray and receive answer to prayer through the Holy Ghost. (James 1:5) We also believe in a living prophet on the earth today. In our church, we have a prophet and twelve apostles, just like Jesus set up when He was on the earth.

1st Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith receive the revelation of the Book of Mormon

Mormon prophet from 1844 - 1877 Brigham Young

Living Prophet & 16th President of the Church of Latter Day Saints Thomas Munson

We believe Jesus’ atonement is infinite. Everyone who has ever lived on the earth will have a chance to learn about Jesus Christ and accept him as their Lord and Savior. Those who have died without learning about Christ can be taught about Jesus in the spirit world. When we go to the temple, we can perform ordinances, like baptism, for our ancestors who have died without this done on the earth. We stand in proxy for them, and we believe they can either accept or reject this of their own free will. Our hearts are turned to our fathers, and we believe this is what Malachi prophesied about. Otherwise, so many people who lived and died before Jesus came to the earth, or those in other countries, would be lost.

Baptismal font in the Salt Lake Temple, circa 1912, where baptisms for the dead are performed
by proxy. The font rests on the backs of twelve oxen representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel

And finally, we believe the Book of Mormon is a record of an ancient people who lived in Jerusalem in 600 BC, and who had to leave because of persecution. They traveled on a boat to the American continent. The Book of Mormon tells of their struggles, both spiritual and physical. And after Jesus died, was resurrected, and rose up, he came down to the people on the American continent and showed himself to them. He ordained apostles, like he did in Jerusalem. We believe the Book of Mormon to be a record written by prophets of God, like the Bible. It is another testament of Jesus Christ.

In closing, I want to say how thankful I am for my religion in my life. It has taught me to be kinder to others, to be more forgiving, and loving toward my family. I’m a better person because of it. I’m so thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed everything for me. I have read the Book of Mormon many times, and I have felt the Holy Spirit testify to me that it is true. I’m happy to share my beliefs with anyone who is interested. You can learn more at

Latter-day Saints believe in the resurrection of Jesus, as depicted in this replica of Bertel Thorvaldsen's Christus statue located in the North Visitors' Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.