Two Poems

In No Time

It wasn’t exactly an unwanted pregnancy, a ditching Baby X on the cathedral
But you are guilty of leaving a napping toddler in a sweltering car, just for one
Moment, to run in for a pack of smokes, self-debating which is safer, windows

Rolled up or down. Ever ended a relationship wearing sunglasses, via text?
Does it really matter, the difference, between sparkling wine & Champagne?
You’ve fibbed to avoid being caught in a lie! And have, of course, asked

The last person in line if this is the end of the line. Sometimes you’re so blank
You tell an imaginary Vanna White you’d like to buy a vowel, & by the way, what
Are you wearing, “Jake” from State Farm? Who hasn’t been reduced to a phone

Number inked on a palm, never dialed? Have you ever brushed a woman’s ass
In an elevator & unconvincingly said excuse me? Been drunk enough to urinate
On a semi-famous statue? What version do you tell yourself when friends don’t

Call back? Dial 1-800 how am I driving after some dingbat cuts you off?
While entertaining, have you ever lifted your sugar bowl’s lid & seen ants,
Said nothing? Ever pour your guest regular, two sugars, when she clearly

Decaf, one Sweet’N Low? You said it would be no trouble at all. Are you the
In the sink, the opposite of dried out? Guilty of indifference, you don’t experience
Amnesia but suffer from an inability to imagine the future. You will have to

The minimum payments for your entire afterlife & still never have it paid off.
Autumn leaves waffle with self-loathing but which trees are only pretending
To be trees? Every color is your favorite depending upon ________.

At Jiffy Oil Change today you saw a little girl grimacing while her mother
Violently, then re-braided her damp hair—sit still damn itit’ll be over in no
The girl seemed to sense this wouldn’t be the last she heard that version of that


The Perfect Kiss

You’re dozing on a train in amber light
Destination: unclear. The half-invisible train
In the half-invisible rain halts for no apparent reason
In the middle of a lemon grove.

Check that: it’s a field of wilting sunflowers,
A nervous million, stooping, seemingly praying.
__________The wind’s overtly whispering in an archaic dialect—
Clandestine conversations overheard, then ignored.

_____Being this far from a town, it’s peculiar to see a boy
_________________Bicycling along the tracks.
Consider the day moon & the empty space at the center
Of the bicycle wheels. This is your unlived life,
The tires the experiences, the spokes, unarticulated desires

_____Faceless passengers at the train station balance
Their valuables leaving belongings unattended.
The vibration of time is overmatched by the notion

That before you were born you did dream so life must be
___________A reaction to that dream.
Mesmerized by the abundance of sunflowers
You just want to see over the tops but there is always another top.

The point being, the accomplished actor should never appear
To be acting. So when were you not pretending?
The god of motion is not aware he is god so believes only in movement.

__________As a child you tried to explain yourself
But were hushed when grown-ups talked. Half-promises to the self,
Vows—instead of language, punctuation solely: question marks,
______Exclamation points, elliptical hesitations—emotions you wished

_____To express. The conductor walks through the linked cars
Announcing the nature of the problem & an estimated time
________________________No one comprehends. It is transitioning
Seasons, no longer autumn & not yet the next autumn.

Imagine a bucket half-filling with the rainwater, the bucket
__________With an unseen hole in the bottom. Now imagine that hole

Healing itself like ice forming, like lips sealing in a perfect kiss.



Born in the Bronx, New York, Bruce Cohen’s poems and non-fiction essays have appeared in over a hundred literary periodicals such as AGNI, The Georgia Review, The Harvard Review, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review as well as being featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. He has published three previous volumes of poetry: Disloyal Yo-Yo, which was awarded the 2007 Orphic Poetry Prize, SWERVE and PLACEBO JUNKIES CONSPIRING WITH THE HALF-ASLEEP. A new manuscript, Imminent Disappearances, Impossible Numbers & Panoramic X-Rays recently won the Green Rose Prize from New Issues Press and will be published in spring 2016. A recipient of an individual artist grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, prior to joining the Creative Writing faculty at the University of Connecticut in 2012, he directed, developed, and implemented nationally recognized academic enhancement programs at the University of Arizona, The University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Connecticut.


Back to Issue: Winter 2020