Alan Cohen

Alan Cohen
3 Poems


Living with the Bomb

We thought it lovely in the garden
Every flower fierce with color
Challenged the fury of the shifting wind
And grass, new coalescent green
That, a firm reassurance, quiets the heart
Flaunted its cell walls before battlements of trees
Three butterflies caught by eye in a cube of space
Were the dance, the spatial coordinates, the randomness

But the bomb was falling
And we had to gather everything, rapidly
In our blanket
Losing branches, rootlets, the entire sense of symmetry
Trundling off into the shelter to refashion, reconceive

Next visit the garden was not so brilliant
The green was more suited to middle age
And again the bomb was falling
And we gathered what we could

Now we rarely sit in the garden
Spend more time in the rocking sofa
On the back porch
Daring the sky to unburden itself

We will be leaving very soon for another county
With the blanket on the back seat
Hoping to find new soil

Something Clean

All day we stared at the stones in the asphalt
Stones like nuts in a gingerbread
The oils of our faces, distracting
Despite nights deep in sleep
Nights like gardens: leaf, blossom, waterlight
Also the mosquitoes
And it was not until sundown
That we noticed the uniformed plane trees
Even the few early fallen leaves
Dry and brown
And were pulled into schemes, devices
That sent us purposeful
Down the sidewalks
Into the cafes
Only imagining that revolution
Shouting ourselves hoarse in Teheran
The hands, the voices of our brothers
So close we could hold them
Inscribe them on breast, heart, marrow
Wear them in secret in the green places
In the evening cafes, gardens
Why does it all end in blood

We are dreaming another war
While we miss this one in Afghanistan
In Ethiopa
A big war
With similar consequence
Entering cities
Looting, massacre
The underground gathering
In a warehouse with only four chairs
And sirens and searchlights
At our windows, needing cleansing
Brick buildings crumbling
Palms growing in the sidewalks
And a large cart full of plums at a second story window
War and we will bring it to Sao Paulo
Phoenix, Vladivostock, Lome, Lyons
Beginning in those green twilights
In cafes, in gardens
In innocent heart, marrow, spleen
There is nothing hollow
No sawdust, sound lumber
And it rings under the axe with joy


Today the world is gregarious
The stones make a poetry on the beach
The waves on the ocean
The seagulls in the air
The seals on the rocks
The flowers on the hillside
Torrents of decodable speech all around us
Stanzas, song, clamor
Sun and shadow
Wind in the grasses, in our shelly ears
And we understand it all
Read so many languages
Grow wise just watching and walking
Have no idea what it is all about

Alan Cohen was a poet before beginning his career as a Primary Care MD, teacher, and manager, and has been living a full and varied life. He has been writing poems for 60 years and is beginning now to share some of his discoveries. He’s been married to Anita for 40 years, and they’ve been in Eugene, OR these past 10.