LADY, YOU SHOT ME by Darren C. Demaree

"Lady, You Shot Me" is a collection of poems by Darren C. Demaree commemorating and recounting the life and genius of Sam Cooke.
Sam Cooke, the man, the musician, the lover - his natural genius, his wanton escapades, his raw passion and his brilliant, soulful music are all here conjured in a series of poems by Darren C. Demaree. From humble gospel beginnings, to world-fame stature and cold murder, the beauty, unlikeliness and tragedy of a genius and his life are here commemorated and eternally brought to life.


Let’s say there were four angels
that found his fearful place
to be full of hunger unrealized.

That look brought every moon
into the room. They must have
been drawn to the logistics....

of his star, the physics of him
& when he saw them orbiting
his passing, he sobered into stone

that haunted every non-celestial
being that saw him that way.
Sam Cooke died in a way

that rearranged the whole
of the universe. He bled out
before we could redefine

the world with his absence.


Darren Demaree’s poems have always shaken me in the chest with their precision, and with their ability to find beauty in the smallest of margins. The poems in Demaree’s new collection, Lady, You Shot Me, are certainly no exception. Even as these poems are teeming with ghosts from the 1960s—Lou Rawls, Ali, the Beatles, Aretha Franklin, and Sam Cooke himself—they are steeped in living truths. Demaree absolutely glides through the stickiest of poetic subjects—racism, betrayal, hubris, murder, alcoholism—and we are all blessed to slide in behind him for a ride through this wonderful collection.

Jack B. Bedell, Louisiana Poet Laureate, author of No Brother, This Storm


Darren C. Demaree’s newest collection, Lady, You Shot Me, is more than a bold tribute to the famous musician, Sam Cooke— this book digs deep into the complicated life and death of Cooke with such raw beauty and integrity, it shines light into all of the multifaceted ways Cooke thrived and failed as a human and how the justice system and culture at large failed Cooke in return. What’s so compelling about this collection is how the details are presented to the reader in poetry that is gritty and stunning, much like Cooke who “[…] was gorgeous // & without shame. // […] like a flare in the darkness / of a youth’s first arousal.” But, even the accounts contained herein are “[…] only the story / of the man. How he moves / after that, matters more // because of how often / he will dervish into bodies / that don’t belong to him.” And it is true, every account of Cooke’s life, with mentions of Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, and others, are provocative yet honest enough to attempt to understand through poetry the many complicated truths about Cooke’s life. Still, the speaker admits that, “[…] if you’re asking me / for all the answers / to a black man’s death // in 1964, […] // […] then you’re / asking too much of me.”

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick, author of Before Isadore