Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Christal Ann Rice Cooper
May Flowers 2017

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.




Snap!

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 caccoop@aol.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/christalann.ricecooper




Guest Blogger 

Victorine 

Lieske 




What do Mormons believe?

Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (https://www.lds.org/?lang=eng), 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 www.mormon.org

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.



Monday, May 8, 2017

Poet Jessica Jacobs and her chapbook "In Whatever Light Left To Us" - poems about acceptance of self and love for wife /poet Nickole Brown . . .

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.  



Chapbook by Jessica Jacobs:
In Whatever Light Left To Us
“Ecstasy of the Natural In Love and In War”

*This is an analysis of Christal Rice Cooper's interpretation of In Whatever Light Left To Us  

**Jessica Jacbos quotes from an interview between Cooper and Jacobs are italicized within the analysis. 

       In September 2016 Sibling Rivalry Press (www.siblingrivalrypresws.com) published the poetry chapbook In Whatever Light Left To Us by Jessica Jacobs.  The cover art The Bracelet is attributed to Carol Bennett (http://www.carolbennettart.com/index.html); the author photograph to Lily Darragh (https://www.facebook.com/lilydarragh?pnref=friends.search); and the cover design to Seth Pennington (https://www.facebook.com/seth.pennington1?pnref=friends.search).   

                      Carol Bennett             Lily Darragh              Seth Pennington        

       Most of the poems center on the relationship Jacobs has with her wife, poet Nickole Brown (http://www.nickolebrown.com/about):  “We met in December of 2007, just after Nickole’s first book, Sister, came out. I was living in New York and she was there to give a few readings. We ended up at the same terrible party in the East Village, staffed by bartenders-in-training. During the very long wait for drinks, amid the crowd of close-cropped New York women clad all in black, a beautiful blonde in a white tank top with Dietrich-red lip- stick made room for me at the bar. She told me she was a poet and had a reading the next night (I groaned inwardly, imagining a potentially wonderful thing about to be ruined by sub-par poetry). But I went to the reading anyway, heard Nick’s haunting, strikingly honest poems, and was lost. After a lengthy correspondence, we spent six years apart as friends—a separation that thankfully ended in 2013.”

                     Jessica Feb. 2008      Nickole 2007
                                Copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs 

       The poems In Whatever Light Left To Us were written between 2013 (“In a Thicket of Body-Bent Grass”) to 2015 (“Curly, My Tangler.”). 

Copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs 

While Jacobs was teaching her final semester as Writer-In-Residence in Hendrix College (https://www.hendrix.edu/life/), she gave a poetry reading of these poems.  Sibling Rivalry Press (https://siblingrivalrypress.com) publishers and close friends Seth Pennington and Bryan Borland were in the audience, and they were impressed with her work. 


A few days later, they said they’d be happy to publish a chapbook of those poems while I sent out the full-length to be considered by various presses. I have such admiration for them—as poets, publishers, and people—and am honored to be a part of the Sibling Rivalry Press family (https://www.facebook.com/siblingrivalrypress/).”

                    Sibling Rivalry Press Facebook Logo 

       In Whatever Light Left To Us Jessica Jacobs experiences things that can only be described in a short sentence:  ecstasy of the natural.  

                              Jessica- copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs

       And these poems are packed full of metaphors and descriptive words on nature habitat (damp earth, field, fire, forest, hill, lake silt, ponds, rivers, rocks, sky, soil, tide, translucent trails, white water mountains, waves); animal and insect life (beaks, bees, box turtles, clam shells, deer, fawn, gulls, nests, ravens, robins, spittlebug nest, swallows, tire-splayed birds, white ants); plant life (birches, blueberries, branches, crab grass, dahlias, hackberry, koi, oat grass, orange rinds, peonies, pines, poplars, redwoods, roots, stems; and anything dealing with the female body:  tongue, flesh, skin, bone, and sweat.

                                               Public Domain Photos 
                                Photoshopped by Chris Rice Cooper 

       In Whatever Light Left To Us reads like a short story in poetry:  the speaker of the poem recognizes her attraction for the female sex at the early age of seven. 

                                 Jessica age 7
                                              Copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs

By age 13 she discovers her own body – all of its femaleness.  She has appreciation and sexual attraction to the female body, which she finds just as natural as saying the grass is green, the sky is blue, and milk comes from cows. 

Jessica age 14.  Copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs 

       She soon recognizes her body’s natural God given talent to dance in the form of hiking, long distance running, and long distance bicycling which she does in solitude. This solitude guides her to accept her own self and who she is, which includes being gay.

                            
Jessica Jacobs and NIckole Brown from left to right, Bryan Borland,  Laura-Anne Vosselaar (the sole witness at Jessica/Nickole's wedding),   and Seth Pennington. 

She finds poetry and then find her soul-mate poet Nickole Brown.  And all of these discoveries are natural, organic, nothing to be ashamed of, and something that is meant to be until her wife Brown faces a possible health scare (depicted in the poems "When Your Surgeon Brought Snapshots to the Waiting Room" and "Post-Op, Still Out of It, You said, I Would") and that is one darkness that she refuses to allow to enter into their light. 


       In ““There Ain’t Nothing Like Breck for Stop n’ Stare Hair” the speaker of the poem at the age of seven is fighting the attraction she has to the women in the shampoo ads.

         Prell.  Breck.  So many ways to

get your hair glossy.  So much skin
just off-screen.

I tried to keep myself from wanting
to see. 



       In “13 Birthday and Something Said to Wake Early” the speaker of the poem is in Longwood, Florida standing on a dock where she observes the beauty of one alligator slowly raising its head, breaking the water’s surface.

        At its touch, carp leapt attacking minnows, each splash triggering
a band of explosions, ripples shattering against the dock.
And there I was hovering

above a lake now boiling with fish.  Herons made their long-necked dives.  And me
in that body, newly teenager, my legs and underarms freshly clear cut, razed
by razor blade, naked to the day.  Breasts heavy and foreign as a knapsack.  Desire

just as weighted – an insistent pull in my gut, flush in my chest.  I wanted to be
anywhere else, I wanted to be, suddenly with
others.

                              Public Domain Photos
                                         Photoshopped by Chris Rice Cooper 

Perhaps this scene is not a scene of violence or a feeding frenzy or something to be ashamed or afraid of – it is simply alligator and fish doing what they are born to do – participating in a dance that is as natural as a man making love to a woman, woman making love to a woman. 
The speaker of the poem associates the odors of the pond, the alligator, the fish and the dance they participate in to the odors of her own body, the female body. 

         The brine and swell of them, the splintered smell as I lay my cheek

to the boards, new stink from my armpits, which I had not yet learned
to mask, musk from the panties I’d dreamt in – a smell I could not yet
name, the warm of it, the sweet sour ache of a body, opening.

Marlene Dietrich kisses a woman in the film MOROCCO, 1930

       In “Sex, Suddenly, Everywhere” she fears rejection and discrimination from others for simply being gay.  She becomes depressed, and finds relief from her depression by exhibiting her God-given talents her body possess - running.  

                          My body cried out for armor.  Big boned,

broad shouldered, I was built for it:  forced into a dress without shoulder pads,
I was the 80s’ littlest linebacker.  So I began to run, clanking

like a tank around cul-de-sacs.  Began to climb, building biceps
strong enough to stiff-arm the world away.  Even my heart grew
heavy, grew into one more thing to carry.

                                         Copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs

It is in this communing of body to self and self to nature she enters a natural world of wonder with insect life (black and red lovebugs in “Sex Ed”); animal life (magpies in “Though We Made Love in the Afternoons”) and plant life (red dahlias in “Post-Op, Still Out of It, You Said, I Would”).  And most of this communing is while she is running or bicycling and in solitude.

                     Basket of Dahlias.  Attributed to Henri Fantin-Latour
                    Public Domain 

       In “And That’s How I Almost Died of Foolishness in a Beautiful Florida” Jacobs continues to run mostly in solitude – late at night where there is more imagery of the alligators symbolizing water traps:

Nights, I ran golf courses whose water traps
shone red, with the eyes of alligators and rang
with their falsely innocuous chorus
of chirps.


This time the term alligators doesn’t symbolize nature but something that is unnatural – a force that is doing its best in preventing her to acknowledge that she is gay, leading her to feel despair almost to the point where she considers suicide.

                         Why I spent all day
staring at the lake, wading shoreline
where gators found their daily shade, thinking
it wouldn’t be that bad, really,
couldn’t be much worse than this
to offer myself to those jaws, those
daggered rows of teeth.


However this interpretation is not what Jacobs intended in her writing.  In a Facebook interview Jacobs writes:  “Though you’re definitely free to interpret these poems as you like, the poem is really imagining how I might have felt if I’d made the choice to stay in Florida and not live an authentic life. In my actual life, I was fortunate to never reach the point of feeling suicidal and was able to leave home for the more liberal environment of college.”



       Instead Jacobs presses on and works in a variety of career fields:  rock climbing instructor, bartender, editor, professor, and poet.

                           Jessica rock climbing.  Copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs.

       It is in “Out of Windfields” that she moves to Indiana to discover poetry, and to attend graduate school at Purdue University. 

                     Grid by grid,
dutifully, I logged my miles, the hours

on my feet, but kept track of nothing
so much as my loneliness.

                                Jessica Jacobs attributed to Lily Darragh
                                               Copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs

       She believes if she can find poetry she will be able to be like the majestic turbines, which she describes as animals – its metal covering just a fa├žade over flesh and blood.
      
majestic, amphibious animals in their proper
element.  Able to arc into the unseeable and return

with power. 

       But Jessica is unable to be a turbine despite trying for three years until she meets Brown, who is more than a poet, lover, but the creative god.
 
                                        a turbine’s
red light  pulsed its beacon through the rain.  Beneath it

your hands bound me back together.  In answering
prayer, I folded myself into the footwell; knelt

between your knees.  And my mouth
to you was every water

I’d ever tasted:


The first automatically operated wind turbine, built in Cleveland in 1887 by Charles F. Brush. It was 60 feet (18 m) tall, weighed 4 tons (3.6 metric tonnes) and powered a 12 kW generator with a photo of Jessica and Nickole at their wedding.  Public Domain and copyright by Jessica Jacobs.  Photoshopped by Chris Rice Cooper.

       Majority of the poems are love poems to her wife Brown and the love poems are universal and individual, the most compelling and emotional for Jacobs to write was   “A Question to Ask Once the Honeymoon is Over.”

                            Jessica and Nickole.  Copyright by Jessica Jacobs. 

       “It is a poem about a failure of action that made me question the kind of person I was when no one was looking.  Halfway through writing the marriage poems, I was reading a journal I’d kept after first moving to Little Rock and found this incident, which I’d forgotten (or possibly blocked out). With only minor tweaks and the addition of line breaks, this poem is directly from those pages—a very rare experience for me. Honestly, the hardest part of the whole writing process was reading this to Nickole for the first time.”

                     I hadn’t been passed
by a car for miles.  Figuring
if it was still there, I’d
pick it up on the way back, I cycled past.

                         Photo attributed to Chris Rice Cooper
                               Copyright granted by Chris Rice Cooper 
        
       At first most readers might think In Whatever Light Left To Us is just a love story between the speaker of the poem Jacobs and Brown, but it is so much more.  It is the love story of life and the naturalness of that life and the willingness to accept what the natural origin of that life is; even when there are obstacles preventing us from doing this – and these obstacles can be people unwilling to recognize the power of romantic true love between two women.  More importantly it is the power of love at war against anything trying to harm Jacobs, Brown, or their relationship.  It is no longer an “I” but a “we” and it is no longer a love story but a story of war:  the power of love conquering anything that tries to destroy whatever light is left to them.                     

                                                       But, love, the sun has lived
barely half its life. There’s time.  It’s taken half of mine to learn
the only way to make anything matter
is to have you there
               to witness it.


--Excerpt, “In a Thicket of Body-Bent Grass”

                                Jessica and Nickole on their wedding day. 
                                Copyright granted by Jessica Jacobs.