Cover for Chopstix Numbers
Craig Cotter author photo
  • Series: Modern & Contemporary 53
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-916272-68-5
  • ISBN-10: 0-916272-68-0
  • Pages: 118
  • Size: 6 x 8 x .5 in
  • Price: $14.95

Chopstix Numbers

Craig Cotter

Chopstix Numbers presents a series of meditations set in a club called Chopstix, and is essentially a book-length poem. Its speaker, Daryl Cooper, sees himself reflected in the sometimes brutal, sometimes sublime environment of Los Angeles, and comes to regard Chopstix, which transforms one night a week into a gay-Asian disco, as a haven. As the poem unfolds over the course of a year, readers become familiar with the club’s regulars, and with Cooper’s network of relationships. Using fragmentary materials—overheard bits of conversation and excerpts from notes passed inside Chopstix—in his diary-like form, Cotter’s Cooper echoes the themes of longing, loss, immigration, and belonging that possess all the book’s characters.

“A daily world and its amiably accompanying person make it all for real herewith deft and accurate surmise. Just think how many times you’ve thought of something—and never said a word! Not so with this impressive poet, who keeps it all movingperiod.” —Robert Creeley




maybe i shouldn't bother you
at work—
it's not a problem.
good to hear from you.
can i take you out
to dinner?
what time?
how about 7.
where can i pick you up?
corner of 2nd and vermont.
there's a subway station there.


a straight mexican couple
in their early 20s
as they walk north
on vermont sidewalk
the male looks at me and smiles—
i think of the restaurant co-workers
of eduardo who
laughed at him
as he took my call.




is this eduardo?
do you also work at chopstix?
men laughing
at him in the phone
eduardo's voice
stays serious & focused.


2 latino boys
around his age,
one could be him—
i want him to come alone.
they pass
& are his age
with similar hair cuts
but they are not eduardo.




walked to the intersection
& looked in the subway.


man after un-eduardo man
walks by....


now none of them
is his age.
he is apparently 19.
the sun is down
& now there is twilight.


i still glance at the walkers
like initially waiting
for his phone call
every ring could be him.


another one
that could be him.


another one that isn't.


Copyright © 2000 by Craig Cotter

Chopstix Numbers is a Dionysian vision of a young gay man’s coming-out process. The descent into hell and often into humiliation is there as he, ‘a nice white Catholic fat man,’ falls in love with and develops a fascination for slim beautiful Asian men and hangs out at an Asian gay disco club. Like Orpheus, he must make the journey to hell to try to bring back what he loves. Cotter’s spare experimental poems are written in the idiom of William Carlos Williams, with lyrical and tender moments of epiphany interspersed with narrative sketches. It’s an exciting beginning for a new writer.” —Diane Wakoski, author of The Butcher’s Apron

Craig Cotter author photoCraig Cotter was born in 1960 in New York and has lived in California since 1986. His hobbies include sailing, baseball, American arts and crafts, and package design for outdated Beatle memorabilia. This is his third book.