Love Like Weeds


poems by

Julie Ann Cook

Poetry book, 92 pages, $14 cover price

($12 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-437-2

Released: October 29, 2013.


JCook_PxJulie Ann Cook, of Rock Hill, SC, is a happily married, joyfully outnumbered mother of four boys, one who was stillborn. Between assisting in living room railroad construction and addressing concerns of who would win in a fight between Megatron and Iron Man, Julie is an author, artist, and webmaster. A graduate of Winthrop University, Julie has been published in various venues, including Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets, moonShine review,, and The Wolf. She published her first poetry chapbook, Lemonade & Rumors, in 2006, and Love Like Weeds is her inaugural book-length collection.

In this new collection, Julie Ann Cook traces the many stages of a woman’s life; and her passions, sense of humor, range of subject matter, and poetic approaches keep her voice fresh and variable. My favorite poem within, “Days,” is her elegy for Father David Valtierra. She maintains her faith through any number of trials, but the loss of this beloved priest is among the hardest to bear. This poem displays the poet’s altogether human difficulty in acceptance. Most readers, I believe, will identify with the intimacies and the honest portrayals of life seen through these poems. Love more than balances the weeds.

~Susan Ludvigson


Throughout these well-crafted poems, Cook uses vivid imagery, negative space, and concise language with grit and grace as she deals with death, explores what it means to love, and takes joy in her womanhood as mother and wife while celebrating sex, dance, jazz, her Catholic faith, and the life and language of her children. In the end, she finds herself in her husband’s embrace, where “There, poetry has no words.” Love Like Weeds is a strong collection that has both serious and humorous tones to it. And Julie Ann Cook writes in an honest and unapologetic way.

~Jonathan K. Rice


Because I was afraid,
I hid—shivering and pale—
under mountains. I dug
and spat and shook
the dirt from my eyelashes
until I was nailless, broken.

There I slept
with the restless doom
of a plastic bag caught
in kudzu.

But when I woke, the dark
was bright with a moon
that touched even the lowest
branches. Still,
the sharp wind clawed
like an angry cat
and wailed against
the walls of my stomach,
crashing against the thorns
I had swallowed
as my last meal.

There is an end somewhere.

It is not here.


Overheard at the OBGYN

Waiting, I shift on the sterile white paper. It crinkles
beneath my growing weight. Alone with the stirrups
at my knees, my legs dangling like a little girl’s, I turn
another dog-eared page of an eight-month-old
parenting magazine.

Murmurs tiptoe through thin walls. Concerned,
she questions: the OB answers. Only his tone
of assurance is audible—does this breech
doctor-patient confidentiality?

The article asserts caffeine
isn’t as dangerous during gestation
as previously warned. I crave a leaded Pepsi.
Or icy sweet-tea. Mouth watering,

I look up: through the wall, I hear
the familiar up-tempo doppler
of a fetal heartbeat. My own baby
senses my attention’s shift
and kicks me in the gut.


Like Weeds

May your love be always green: first
to break earth in spring, steadfastly
lush through dry seasons. Hearty

for each other, may it know
no bounds, take flight like thistledown
on the breath of your words and sighs,

seeds landing where they may, heedless
of paths or lawns, germinating
where they fall, never waiting

for trowel or invitation. May your love’s
radicle root anchor you, reach,
and spread, sending rhizomes,

runners, shoots, then sprouts and tendrils:
a ground cover budding and blooming wildly,
sunshine-hued blossoms and fragrant,

growing, in tight places, fruiting
strength in persistence, cracking stone, tearing
down walls. And may your love resist

pulling, revive and thrive despite.
May you love like weeds
with a love like weeds.

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