The M.A.D. House Artists (Mom And Dad)
LARRY DON COOPER
Poet, Musician, Healer, Mystic
b. June 20, 1954 d. 1990Born in Big Springs, Texas, Larry and his oil company family moved so many times he never had a sense of belonging in one place until he hit New York City. Mainly what Larry enjoyed about New York, besides the culture, was the lack of allergenic plant life. In Houston, where Mom met Larry, there were so many allergens in the air that life was just one long box of facial tissues.
As a child in the hospital having his tonsils out, Larry had a memorable run-in with the intercom. In his sleep, Larry had somehow pushed the call button for the nurse. The nurse at the nursing station answered over the loud speaker on the wall in the hospital room, "Larry?" But no answer from the young patient. so the nurse called again, "Larry?" she said, now louder. When he did not respond she called a third time, "LARRY?!?" and the little voice over the intercom pick-up mic in the room came back to her, "What do you want, Wall?"
Larry came into Mom's life with Allen Pote. Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston hired a young music director who was very talented and very charismatic. As a first project he wrote a musical called CRESCENDO, and Larry came with Mary Kyte from Memorial High School to be in the musical. Mom was just a member of the Joyful Noise choir along with her friends Martha Felker, Catherine Welsh Bryant, Rebecca Louise Bobeck, Charlotte McNaughton, Eileen Cravens...Cathy, Martha, and Eileen all dated Larry before the idea ever occurred to Mom. But one day after high school graduation, the phone rang and it was Larry wanting Mom to make a wedding dress for him to wear in a production of THE MAIDS which was being produced with DEATH WATCH under the direction of Roger Glade at the Palmer Theatre in downtown Houston. Mom made the wedding dress, worked crew on the production, and the rest is history. With all the gay men in the cast and the director trying to attract Larry's attention, it may have been self preservation that made him romance Mom, but their love affair resulted in a long friendship and seven years married in New York City.
During their college years, Larry and Mom had a passionate long-distance relationship. He spent sleepless nights (NOT because he missed Mom, but because he drank so much coffee...) wandering from coffee cup to coffee cup writing polemic poetry and working out music on the guitar and piano. Texas A&M lasted about half a year before this lifestyle put him out flat with Mononucleosis. Meanwhile his parents were relocating to New Orleans, so that is where he went to recover his health. The work on the MOBIL Oil Rig built up his health and off he went to University of Virginia, where he worked in a book store with his friend Victor Rainey. After a few months Larry decided there was nothing U. Va. could teach him, so he elected to be an autodidact. After Larry moved to the northeast, his friends in Charlottesville published THE FOOL'S JOURNAL with Victor Rainey. Mom plodded along with her dance degree at Stephens, keeping up a lively correspondence with Larry's sister, Jackie Jo, and Jackie Jo kept Larry up on Mom's whereabouts. After Mom's Junior year at Stephens, Larry journeyed to Colorado where they took music, dance, and theatre at Stephens/Perry-Mansfield Summer School. When Larry drove the 64 Mustang home to Charlottesville from Colorado, he parked it in front of his house, and the next spring it wouldn't start. Larry called the auto shop, who sent a man out, the mechanic poured a gallon of gasoline into the tank, turned the key, and started the car....
The First book given to Mom, A SPECIAL COLLECTION, is reprinted below in its entirety. There are about 60 pages in each book. A SPECIAL COLLECTION and SONGS AND TESTAMENTS (1980) are both on this page, but as each book is about 60 pages long, the third and fourth folios will be published on their own pages, accessable by links and listed in the navigation bar to the left.
A SPECIAL COLLECTION:
The U Va Group goes north.
TOURING WITH BHASKAR DANCES OF INDIA: February 1977
How a Gemini prevented three Pices and two Capricorns from killing each other on a 5,000 mile trip in two Ford cargo vans, a set which would have fit the stage at Radio city and two East Indian Musicians....
The wedding in New York: May 13, 1977A bottle of wine, two gold rings, a fresh pear, a witness.......but Janet wouldn't eat the fruit !
The Wedding in Houston, May 13, 1978
Many friends and relations and alot of Gardenias....
Victor Rainey, the Best Man, and the groom, Larry Don Cooper.
The Whole Shebang.
1978: Study with Doctor Reiley and The Edgar Caycee Institute,
and the Swedish Massage Institute
1978 - 1982 9th Avenue,
The New York Health and Racquet club,
Below is Songs and Testaments (the 1980 version) and LOVE LINES
(the content block of the second book is still under construction),
poems for Candace
It is meant to be recited at the same time that the person reciting it is slapping his or her chest in rythm to the poem.
(TAH ta ta TAH ta ta TAH ta ta TAH, and so forth,
RIGHT right left RIGHT right left RIGHT right left RIGHT.)
This may present a challenge to the average person, but Larry was not your average person...If this is to be attempted, let us suggest you get the rythm going in your hands before you try to say the words. You have to slap your chest or you won't get the right resonance. The open barrel of your lung cavity provides the right sound.
1982 Jersey City:
Setting James Joyce's CHAMBER MUSIC poems to music.
(And Masterful job Larry did with them, too.)
1985 - 1990 A DIVORCE, ANOTHER WEDDING, A BABY,
and A VERY UNTIMELY EARLY DEATH from MELANOMA at 37.
In May of 2009, Victor wrote a poem a day in memory of his unforgettable friendship with Larry Don Cooper, L.D., and Terreson has allowed us to publish the final edition of the series below:
(to L.D. 1954 – 1990)
You were long since gone when
self-medication became a good idea.
And I got a regular job too, L.D.
You would be disappointed by the news
while my family is finally relieved.
I sometimes see you, morning or night,
in your rooms that smelled the smell of man loneliness.
And we walking the dark streets talking the open talk.
You are the only man I've ever kept after, L.D.
The only man I've thought worth
the time it takes to chase a man down.
This was all years ago and you checked out.
Tonight I got here shifts in green breeze.
What do you mean by coming back this way?
What do you want here, dead friend?
Sometimes I see you in my daughter's arms
and she is your Madonna, more like your pieta.
All dead young men should get such a reception.
Only, you were her friend too soon to leave.
I think she remembers you, L.D.
I think she sometimes thinks of me.
I didn't know you were in my wife's bed that night.
Man, except to see to my daughter, I would have cleared the scene.
You didn't stick around to explain and I got two losses, every year,
to explain to myself in new green:
You and my daughter.
maybe there you've heard the report too.
So many towns we had entered by then.
So many roads we had travelled
just to realize all roads bring a man
back around to the beginning again.
And there we were at the crossroad where
criminals and poets sport in crucifixion.
Word is we gave each other a beating that night.
The night was moonless, man, and so were we, right?
Maybe all men are moonless in nature.
But I don't think so. I think the moon has sons
like loons on a lake, like you in your body’s beauty.
The way you pushed against me in your salmon leap
I knew you had gone berserker. I knew I had one chance.
Your body built to dance the weight of the world.
My body built to dance the weight of nothings.
One chance. One chance. One chance.
L.D., I want to take back my fist slam in your face.
I want to take back that moonless night.
You melted in my arms like a lover does.
I hugged you in your body like a mother does.
as was Jackson Square and the Cafe du Monde.
Bourbon Street keeps the same, but then
a town’s sex machine always keeps the same.
Charlottesville has prettified herself, man.
Jefferson's bookstore, where we met, is gone.
The graveyards we tripped through late at night
no longer allow a poet the easy access.
Providence's Thayer Street would not allow
the likes of you or me on the hill anymore.
Philadelphia was hard on you, with every letter
the message of outcast hardness came through.
You are the best poet I've ever known. What I mean
is that you are the most lover of poetry I've ever known.
So why the final destination?
Why NYC, the town that did you in.
is still on my altar, man. By hand
you chiseled it out of your cave’s floor.
Memory is sometimes a death wish.
The music you put to
my songs made you into
a song singing down the hall.
I think you romanced the death wish.
Your guitar was overwhelming
in close space and intimate room.
Medial women answered to you.
Young men too, too much sometimes
seduce the death wish.
As do some medial women.
Maybe we never talked about the friendship. Maybe we didn’t need to talk about friendship. But I remember clearly the day we were together and I found the poetry collection carrying the tale of ancient friendship. And of ancient friendship’s loss. It was in Portuguese town, near the docks, in Providence and we were there together in that used book store. I remember as clearly too how steeped we were in the Carmina Burana songs telling tales on vagabond scholars, poets, and itinerants working in late Latin lyric.
Ausonius was landed gentry, a Roman patrician who held property in Bordeaux. You never cared about such things but he planted a vineyard still under till. Paulinus got caught up in the new, religious fervor, refused his friends, sold off his property, and finally became a bishop or an abbot or something like that.
So much holiness in Paulinus' election. But for what? This is my question tonight, L.D. For what is holiness worth? And why do I have to carry your Christ love for sacrifice? Why can't you leave me to Ausonius' love of the vineyard, of Bordeaux, and of friendship?
and my poetry
to protect me."
L.D., man, I got to tell a story on you.
Sunday afternoon here and I am late
for a most important date
with the queen of the Laundromat.
I've never known a man as much in love
with books the way you were. No joke.
Back then, of course, books were not so expensive.
This was before the Reagan years, before he
started the tax on publishers on their back list inventories.
Maybe you've had reason where you are now
to reflect upon what enemies to civ. Republicans can be.
I damn near coveted the books you bought.
In your rooms, on your tables, there were your books.
And they were always essential, sexy, your books.
You were into the great souls and thinkers and into
artists only who change a moment's vector.
We met in a bookstore and god damn you loved to hold a book.
I would see you down in the basement and you
taking in the book smell as if it was your oxygen.
Someday I need to tell you about the fire
an embarrassed accountant started, down in your basement.
She was fucking the manager. She destroyed so many of your books.
Her embarrassment was due to her bad math.
Her consequence involved an audit.
Then up in Providence what do you find but a bookstore job.
A mail order outfit and there you are boxing up books
like some kind of Hermes, some kind of messenger between gods and people,
boxing up communiqués. And I bet the delivery was tender.
Your last job I know about was in NYC. NYC. NYC.
A burg I've not put foot into since you died.
And your job was with another book dealer.
And why did you love books the way some men love money or power?
L.D., I am to the punch line.
It involves a question I never asked you,
never wanting to embarrass you.
You never read the books you bought or mailed out tenderly.
You never read more than a few pages or a chapter.
And this has always puzzled me!
And I am still trying to figure out the message.
I don't know, man. Maybe Hermes
sees his job differently.
Maybe the delivery is what matters to him most.
It is as if we were looking to raise the dead.
And isn't that what poets do, L.D.:
looking for commerce with the dead, the unborn,
and the not yet born?
Thinking of you makes me think of things
both dead and not yet born.
Isn't that why you put Yeats to music?
I think you fell in love with Crazy Jane that year.
And the commerce.
Isn't that why you put Joyce’s poems to music?
Still the transactions.
I think you fell in love with chamber music that year.
What was it we once talked about? How Joyce took Yeats to task
for addressing beauty from the past when he himself
wanted to speak to beauties not yet born.
I think we agreed they were both right, yes?
You were not like any other graveyard robber I've met.
What in hell or heaven were we looking for among the dead?
You could walk through like a cat parsing his steps.
You could walk through step-still and certain.
You could walk through like a mother black vulture for whom
the dead are baby fresh and darlings to her.
I remember our graveyard, late city night and city park walks.
I remember all of my questions.
I remember you never seemed to have any.
I can't remember your answers, unless
the long drag on a cigarette was your answer.
L.D., I can't shake your memory, can't slake
each day and each late night of our scansions.
You knew something about the dead and the not yet born
I didn't and still don't.
Maybe it had to do with the commerce.
whose last cut scene’s actor has no talent for delivering lines.
God damn but we were young Turks then.
You, me, the Virginian and Red.
And C’Ville was our camp town.
And we didn't care who approved us.
And we had hunger in our bellies.
You were the slender one, you in your lyrical soul.
Red was the honest one for whom word
must match to truth or meet the guillotine
(you do remember his love of things French).
The Virginian, always impeccable, slightly patrician, in inflexion,
who we all slightly deferred to and who you once said
was the best one among us.
And then me. The sorry assed Cracker drop out.
There were four of us, L.D. And that town
in the Blue Ridge foothills was where we convened
in high feast fashion when grail quest gets presented
in the Fisher King’s chancy spring.
My God but I never thought the friendships would end.
Or that the hankering after poetry could get cancelled out.
I never thought we wouldn't meet again,
year after year at feast time when friends
come back together, give their reports and forward intelligence
on sudden valleys, asphalt, sacred enclosures, and
grail quest. But it happened.
The Virginian I lost first. It might have had to do
with his wife and it might have had to do with mine.
Either way you were right. He was the best of us.
Mostly I think he got lost to poetry, wanting instead a regular life.
Red, the last I heard of Red, he was in a Russian
(Soviet) plane flying out of Africa with his teenage wife.
I miss that small man who had the courage of a century of warriors.
I got his play written in his hand about the Albigensian Crusade
(you do remember his love of things French).
Then you were gone. Your going did collateral damage on us all.
Damn it, L.D. and I am sorry for saying so, but
dying from melanoma at your age amounted to bad taste.
I am left. And I am no Percival. Not even close.
The body is wearing down, weights get heavier,
women no longer find me pretty the way they once found us.
And I am not even sure what the right questions are anymore.
I envy all of you, L.D. I just can't let go
of what we all agreed upon.
It is past posture, past text, past scenery.
You are the only man, before or since, who loved me;
in brilliant sunlight and in black night you loved me.
I failed you, man. I should have been the better friend
than the friend I was in the days of our undoing.
It isn't that you gave of yourself too much, but you did.
It isn't that I asked of you too much, but I did.
It is that you grounded me in the way no man or woman has.
It's why my wives were jealous of you in Solomon fashion.
I think you didn’t know how much I needed you.
Men never say to each other how much they need each other.
You are a dead man tonight and I am not sure
how alive I’ve been since your friendship.