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Sample Poems by Marion Cohen


Freda's House


Freda's eyes don't see quality. Some people are color blind, Freda's texture blind. To her birds are birds, flowers flowers, red red. Cezanne's apples to Freda are not more subtle than those apples you get in those so-called art stores in train stations. In her living room is a painting on black velvet, right next to a still life with bad composition. In her vestibule, peeking out from behind an umbrella stand, a cement likeness of a woman, painted almost-gold. To Freda a woman is a woman, a dancer is a dancer. There's that eight-inch statue in the guest-room, leaning against a seven-inch statue of a dog. Covering an unused door is a Paris scene, non-Seurat. That door is vertical, the scene is horizontal and wider than the door. On the floor is an unusual corner, crepe paper daisies in faded red. Freda's toilet seat is padded plastic, painted by her with royal-blue buttercups. And that Dollar Store photo frame, without a photo, she bought it for the 'way too rough, 'way too thick relief of some unrecognizable animals. "I just like it," she says. "I don't know why." To Freda animals are animals, angels angels, lovers lovers, and vases vases. She just likes them, she doesn't know why.


Math


I am not willing to let
anything else remind me
that I am one of many
and that there are too many.

I am not willing to listen
to the music of the spheres.
I am able to listen only
to the humming of the lines.

Nothing else can make me say it.
Nothing else can make me do it.
Nothing else can lead me gently
into that good night.


An n of One


Falling in love is a physical process
like pregnancy, like post-partum.
It stays precious and private
for a very long time.

So I eat chocolates in bed
stare into the mirror
place my hands on my face
take baths instead of showers.

This is a vital time
a rite of passage
to observe, to take note
to honor and obey.


Sixty-Five


This is the age I want to be always, free rides everywhere, six-dollar movies, book just released, book forthcoming, book in progress, brand new marriage, nice new marriage, and still running into people who didn't know. And lots of firsts, first summer teaching, first course-developing, first math-collaborating, and no lasts, not yet.

I want to remain forever sixty-five, it's a good age, hair still naturally sun-brown, legs still running across streets and along sidewalks, body still enjoyable in at least two ways.

I'm the youngest senior, just like at one Bret was the teeniest toddler. I don't want to turn sixty-six, the next youngest senior, the end of the beginning, the beginning of the end.


Bad Buddhist


I've already gone on many journeys alone.
Journeys I've chosen, journeys that chose me.
Long day's journey into night, long night's journey into day.
I know exactly how much journeying alone I need.
And forever isn't what I have in mind.