Absence – A Present


“I’ll give you some privacy,” my father liked to say upon leaving a room.
And I would wonder…
“I’ll give you some privacy”…? A curious gift, this taking away of oneself…
A peculiar present, this absence… “I’ll give you some privacy”…?
What exactly was he giving me? And just how much?
Privacy isn’t the sort of thing that can be lavished on a person.
Was I supposed to thank him for it?
And was I to thank him while he was away, or wait
till he returned to take his present back?
Besides, why should I believe this was for my sake?
Maybe he just felt like being alone for a while.
Perhaps this privacy wasn’t something he was giving me
but rather, something he was taking for himself.

Still, as I sat privately assessing selfish altruism
or altruistic selfishness,
a soothing sense of essential serenity
would descend to render me grateful for the privacy.
And while I’d never thank my father for it,
I would at least be certain to return the favor.

(Mike Cohen – Feb 2006)


Go plant yourself outside the garden,
a distance from the delphiniums and the dahlias,
someplace beyond the dogwood’s shade,
and shine your yellow right back at the sun. 

You don’t require cultivation like those gently bedded dainties
whose flowering is a favor
they may mete out or withhold
depending upon how obsequiously they are pampered. 
There they laze, the delphiniums and the dahlias,
their roots deep in fertilizer,
their faces washed by some pandering gardener’s spray.

You plant yourself as you please,
make do with dirt and rain.
And when the delphiniums and dahlias are drooping,
you will remain
triumphantly shining your dandelion yellow
right back at the sun.   

(Mike Cohen – Jan 2009)




 I’m just a poet, so don’t ask me why
do we see blue when no blue’s in the sky,
birdies don’t wallow and piggies don’t fly,
Mamma won’t holler and Daddy won’t cry.
I’m just a poet, so don’t ask me why.

I’m just a poet, so don’t ask me how
one may excuse what one cannot allow,
we’re willing to play though we’re too tired to plow,
we can do so much later and so little now.
None can depend upon promise or vow.
I’m just a poet, so don’t ask me how.

 I’m just a poet, so don’t ask me why
life is a question without a reply.
To live is to stumble about till we die.
I’m just a poet, so don’t ask me why.
                                  (Mike Cohen – Apr 2010)

A poet has lots of questions and no answers, and no trust for anyone who professes to have the answers.


Be it ever so… grumble


I used to sit complacently at home,
oblivious to my invidious interior.
Now, as the ceiling fan circles suspiciously overhead,
I find myself attuned to the obstinacy of the ottoman,
the sofa’s subterfuge,
the loquacious lamps spreading rumors and telling salacious secrets.
I sense the enmity of the end tables,
resent the belligerence of the bureau,
am incensed at the animosity of the armoire,
and oh, the most deplorable of all
is that malicious mirror leering from the wall!
(Mike Cohen – Nov 2011)



It starts subtly as an innuendo
like a flock of geese approaching or a train.
Then it gradually swells to a crescendo
driving every other notion from your brain.

And the force of this rapture is looming
from front, back, below, and above,
and the thrust of its thrall is consuming
so that all you dare call it is love.

Yet despite the great power amassing,
there’s a sense that what waxes will wane,
that this passion is all just in passing,
that it’s something you cannot sustain.

Even the most potent notion
may be destined to dwindle, then cease
like the loud, but unlasting, commotion
of a train or a flock of geese.

         (Mike Cohen – Oct 2000)