As I’m about to pronounce a written work complete, I notice an errant comma.  This is like noticing one mouse in the house; if you see one, you know there are more.  Funny thing about trying to correct comma gaffes…. It’s a grammatical matter.  And if there’s one thing grammar has  plenty of, it’s rules.  Trouble with commas, the rules are flexible.  So you can’t tell how to apply them.  If you look for places they might belong, you find yourself inundating your work with them.  If you look for places they might not belong, you remove so many that you find your subordinate clauses guilty of insubordination, your series not adhering to their sequence, your independent clauses losing their freedom.  It can get, in a word, ugly.
But what can you expect of the comma, a little piece of punctuation that looks like a sperm gone wrong?  Fortunately, the comma cannot get you into as much trouble as an errant sperm.  So the answer, my friend, to the question of when to use a comma seems to be: sometimes, when it feels right, but not every time it feels right.

More writing on writing…



Already there have been more poems written
that are worthwhile reading
than anyone has time to read.
So what is my point in writing?

How dare I approach a person
who may have bypassed Byron,
dismissed Dickinson,
avoided Auden,
skipped Shakespeare,
written off Whitman
poo-pooed Poe,
and brushed off the Brownings,
and foist upon that person a fistful of my poems and say,
“Here, read these.”

How dare I!  Yet,
dare I do.

(Mike Cohen – May  2010, revised June 2014)


Life is only as good as you think it is.
And if you think it is, you may just
be fooling yourself.
And if you think it isn’t, you may just
as well take up fooling yourself
because life is only as good
as you think it is.                                                                                     

(Mike Cohen – Jan  2009)