Memory goes in search of the beginning, but the beginning is just the other end.  


 Where does memory begin?
It only starts from now to spin… counter-clockwise.
And spin it will, around and round
until your lifetime is rewound… counter-clockwise.

Time marches us ahead,
up the hill of hope and fear.
We long for foresight but, instead,
we are bound to face the rear.

It is every mortal’s curse
that we can’t foretell our fate.
All we see is in reverse,
all we understand too late.

Back we look, and see regret
all the way to the beginning.
We’d do better to forget,
but memory’s spinning, always spinning –

                                                                                                                (Mike Cohen – c.1995)

Memory spins on but doesn’t always serve.


Sometimes you forget, you know?
You know… but sometimes you forget.
And not just some things.  Everything.
You know… but sometimes you forget.

Sometimes you forget who you are talking to.
You know there are certain things
you should never say in certain company,
but you say them anyway
because sometimes you forget.
You know… but sometimes you forget.

Sometimes you forget where you are,
that you’re not in Kansas,
that you are on the third planet from the sun.
You know… but sometimes you forget
that you’re not in the center of the country
or at the center of the universe.
You know… but sometimes you forget.

Sometimes you forget who you are and how you’ve become.
You know there are certain tactics, antics, and acrobatics
that you simply can’t perform anymore
(and maybe never could).
But in that momentary flash of profound forgetfulness
you make the attempt
and fail miserably,
perhaps even disastrously,
at something you know you should never have tried.
You know… but sometimes you forget.
(Mike Cohen – c. 2005)

Both ends, that is, the start and the finish, are beyond memory and experience but we all have a vision or a version of how everything might have started.


Where there seems to be no thunder
nor the very slightest stirring,

there’s the first and foremost wonder
of the universe occurring.

There is nothing…

There is nothing…

There is nothing


There is nothing…                                          

There is something –

Scarcely something, but it’s there.

Hear the music of the silence, see the glistening of the dark.
Out of space utterly frozen comes the first eternal spark.
During never, out in nowhere, somehow nothing gets a nudge;
n the silence of the stillness so does some scintilla budge.

There is nothing…                   

There is nothing…

There is nothing   

near or far…

There is nothing…

There is something –

What a miracle we are!

(Mike Cohen – c. 1990)


Eventually you see
your life from end to end,
and the connection.
The pram becomes the death-bed. And you
travel still toward an unknown destination.
Perhaps this world is through with you,
but the universe is very big.
And all the time in the world
is but a meager moment
in an eternity where galaxies frolic
and light years flash.

There is nothing Zodiacal in the starlight.
We are all born and die under the same sign
that hangs above the death-bed
as it hung above the pram.

Eventually you see
the message in the starlight sign
and your life from end to end,
and the connection.

(Mike Cohen – Jul  2008)


Has anyone ever seen the ends meet?  Really?

             A NEAR-EXPERIENCE

You see it in the distance,
feel yourself drawn
through the tunnel
toward the light
where you are greeted by
the welcoming faces
of those who preceded you.

They are seated at a great refectory table
looking at you as if
you are the guest of honor
or the main course.

And if you survive to recount this,
those desperate mortals
who sit at your small refectory table
and take their answer from your lips,
will readily join you in mistaking
the memory of birth
for the experience of death.

This mistake is not a fatal error,
as from it may yet be drawn
the impeccable conclusion
that life leads us back
where we began.
                           (Mike Cohen – Jul  2009)

Life starts at one moment and ends at another.  Nothing living or animated in any way, organically or mechanically, can go on forever.


When you get it working you are happy to make
something function, to take the inanimate
and have it dancing in your hand.

Life loves to bring things to life,
to have them join the ranks of those that go
stirring, lurching, churning, whirring, working. 

But all things working –
the gadgets, the gizmos, the contrivances,
the galaxy, the tide, your heart –
all working things
do eventually
(Mike Cohen – Dec  2005)

The fate of each is ultimately the fate of all…  

  DEFYING NATURAL LAWS                                   

For as long as you have been alive
and for quite a while before,
airplanes have been in flight,
proving that the law of gravity can be defied;
cars have been starting out and stopping
suddenly and capriciously,
proving that the laws of motion can be defied;
food has been cooked and refrigerated,
and buildings have been heated and air-conditioned,
proving that the laws of thermodynamics can be defied.

Think ahead a hundred years
to a world where people are doing things impossible today,
proving that even more natural laws can be defied.

Now think ahead a hundred thousand years
to a time when an orderly and utterly unpopulated earth
will be revolving quietly and obediently about the sun,
proving that natural laws can be defied
for only so long.
(Mike Cohen – Mar 2006)


“Till death do us part…”  Marriages begin with the pronouncement that in the end at least one of the couple will not survive the relationship.  There is the possibility of the marriage ending in a tie as in the case of Doris and Boris.


As it goes with many couples, it was not clear whether
Boris and Doris were killing themselves
or each other;
but, as they lay together dying, it struck them –
the tragedy, the irony, the absurdity of their lives and deaths.

Simultaneously they awakened to broader perspectives
as they felt themselves passing the way of
Garbo and Gandhi, B.F. Goodrich and J.F.K.,
Doc and Billie Holliday,
the Wright brothers, the Marx brothers, Marx and Lenin and Lennon, and Lincoln, and Lyndon and Andrew Johnson…
passing into the past,
joining Nero and Nicholas and the Czars, the Kaisers, the Caesars, the Napoleons and the Neanderthals,
the dodo and the dinosaurs.

In a moment it was evident
how ludicrous had been their Lilliputian lives in the midst of history,
how humble was history itself in the shadows of eons,
how even eons diminish
as the earth shrinks before stars that blaze and die,
leaving minuscule motes to infuse the universe with remnants of their passing spirit.

It was all profoundly preposterous,
from the famous to the anonymous,
from stars to quarks, from ashes to dust… 

Now, Boris and Doris knew
it was all one great extra-galactic joke.
Then they died together,
                                                                                                    (Mike Cohen – c. 1993)



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